A Girls' Road Trip to Calgary & Banff, AB #3: In the City

This was the day of my trip that made my dreams come true. That may be a little dramatic but not really because I have been dying to see real skyscrapers since I’m pretty sure the BUILDINGS in Des Moines don’t classify as that. As Calgary was our main destination on this trip, I was thrilled to finally start exploring all this big city had to offer. Kirsten and us girls had spent a couple nights deciding on what we wanted to see and had in mind a couple amazing spots. This post is the third part of a four part series in which I recap the amazing trip God blessed us with between me, my mom, and cousin Kir and aunt Corrine. I’m so thankful for all we were able to do, and if you’re not caught up on all the adventures and lessons along the way, you can read the first post here, all about our road trip up to Canada, and the second post here, all about exploring Banff. This post is going to recap one of my favorite things…the city.

Wow. It’s so hard for me to pick a favorite day of this trip, let alone a favorite thing or memory. But Kirsten asked me on the way home what part was my favorite… Honestly, I don’t know if I can pick any one thing, as all of it blends together in the most amazing, memorable way, and each part was beyond special in its own way. But if I absolutely HAD to choose a day…something that stood out just a little bit more…I guess what can I say, I’m a city girl, and exploring this city was truly a dream for me. Walking downtown and seeing all these true skyscrapers left me speechless and giddy, the views were something I could only dream of, and at the end of the day we wrapped it up with some shopping, and I scored some deals at my favorite store (in Canada!!), and then we ate pasta. The city, shopping, and carbs, what more can I ask for!

All of these pictures are some of my favorites, the best I’ve ever had in my life. I am so thankful to God for all of this trip but especially this little part in particular. He knew I wanted to see a city, and these views He blessed me with the ability to see did not let me down at all. In fact, they were better than I could have imagined.


Day Four continued: Beginning to Explore the City

A Canadian Walmart

The first thing we did once we got back from Banff was head to a nearby Walmart, close to our hotel. Our hotel was still in the city, so there was lots around us. Since we wouldn’t be having breakfast at our hotel, we needed to go pick out some breakfast foods and stock back up on our party snacks. It was a lot colder in Calgary maybe because a front went through or something, so I turned into a snowflake as we walked inside, and then we all had to find the bathroom basically and Kir and I went right back to capturing photos hahaha. This Walmart was quite different, though. Like Kirsten had said, it seemed more like a Target, maybe because of the lighting or how big it was. Mom found Hunter a couple Calgary Flames shirts he’d requested, which is their NHL team. They had pretty nice quality shirts—made by the NHL. We looked around and picked up some stuff while solidifying our plans for the next day. Our day in Banff turned in to just that—a full day, so we got home around suppertime, which didn’t leave time for much else. Kirsten had mentioned this cafe type restaurant in the city she’d wanted to try, called Regrub, so that was another thing we thought we were going to have to do the next day.

But before I forget… I literally couldn’t believe what happened at their Walmart. Like I honestly laughed out loud. They have those self checkout things like ours, but at the end, it asks how many grocery bags of theirs you used. You have to enter a number, and THEN THEY CHARGE YOU like five cents per bag. It’s socialism at its finest.

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Regrub

God worked a little miracle for us then in that it just so happened Regrub ended up being across the street from Walmart. Kirsten was so excited and like that’s the place, so all we had to do was put our groceries in the car and walk over, since it was just on the other side of their parking lot. We had supper that night there instead, making it one less thing we had to worry about finding the next day. I love God moments like that.

Regrub is a burger bar and that is basically all there is: burgers and shakes. Which was perfect! Kirsten had read about it on another blog and knew she wanted to try it after seeing a picture of one of their elaborate shakes. The place seemed to be inside a big building with an industrialized theme, and from my spot at the table I could see other places way on the other side that looked either closed or out of business. The decor was so cute. I also raved about their water haha because I thought it was some of the best “natural” water I’d had at a restaurant. I’m like that girl on Signs who’s so picky about how water tastes haha. The service was also impeccable here. Right away, the girl and the guy running it were welcoming and gave us menus. It’s convenient because we took our table number (on this cute bunny haha) and then could look over the menu, then we would walk back up to the counter and order, allowing you all the time you need. They had this pretty mural on the wall next to us, too.

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Mom and I decided we’d split a cheeseburger, since we guessed they’d be fairly big, and neither one of us can usually finish a whole one to ourselves. We just got that plain except with Ketchup of course because we figured the shakes would be very filling. The guy was so sweet and made sure he recorded exactly what we wanted on the burger since we asked for it plain haha. Then we decided we’d split a shake, and Kirsten and Corrine did between each other also. We all went with the Dr. Peanut, which had ice cream mixed with LOTS of peanut butter of course, a Reese’s peanut butter cup, and Reese’s peanut butter M&M’s. They brought the food to us and were all around very nice. That was one good thing also, that as the days went on, we did meet some nice Canadians haha. Mom talked with a nice older man who pumped our gas for us at one of the gas stations when we filled up before heading to Banff earlier in the day, and he welcomed us to Alberta after Mom told him we hadn’t met some nice people. Also, when Kirsten and Corrine checked into the hotel, they mentioned our incident on the road, and they scored some drink coupons haha. Being kind is far undervalued in society; never underestimate the power of having good character and doing the right thing for the glory of God.

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How adorable is this setup? They know the drill!

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At the Hotel

Staying in hotels and the memories made there were some of the more underrated memories of this trip. I enjoyed FaceTiming the boys back home and seeing my dog, too, of course. I enjoyed always hounding Kirsten to send me the day’s worth of photos, which she always had to do via Messenger because we didn’t have reception, and it would take forever for all of them to go through. Somewhere around midnight, though, when we were turning in for the night, they would come in and I’d be thrilled. It took a couple days for them to come through in Canada, so when they finally did I was in heaven. I have some of the best, most heartwarming memories of everyone in the hotel room doing our own thing and just talking and reflecting on it all.

We went to the hot tub again, all of us, and it was cold! We wore our robes out, but the hot tub would actually get so hot that I would take my arms out and feel the cool breeze blow across. It was a nice combination. We had some good heart to hearts out there as well. We knew they were doing fireworks in the city for Canada Day, but we were too far out to see them unfortunately, but someone told us we probably would be. We had a moment on our trip that definitely made up for it, though, which will be recapped in the next post.


Day Five: Exploring Calgary

I was not sure what to expect from exploring the city but was definitely eager to get the adventure started. I couldn’t yet fathom how the skyscrapers would look being so close to them, just like I couldn’t imagine how the mountains would look either. I took my backpack again, we had some of our breakfast foods, and then we were on the road again, off to our first destination.

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Peace Bridge

Before we arrived in the heart of Calgary to start our adventure, I took a photo of our hotel from the highway. Then we made our way to the Peace Bridge, which looked beautiful in photos, and Kirsten and I knew we had to go there.

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There are those skyscrapers!! I absolutely could not wait to be right next to them.

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Okay, now onto the Peace Bridge. There was parking alongside the road by it, so we hopped out into the cool breezy day with quite a bit of cloud cover, leaving everything at a good temperature. I had brought my leather jacket along, though, because I get cold easily, and plus I liked the edge it added to my outfit. As we were walking across the street and onto the sidewalk to the bridge, I was already in awe of the views. I can only imagine what they would be like at night. And being so close to the skyscrapers left me thrilled at all to come!

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Finding Parking

This was an adventure itself but not really all that great haha. Navigating inner city traffic like that is stressful I’m sure. I’m so thankful Corrine was able to do it for us while Mom helped with directions. We did pretty good all in all for not having any reception or a map. Eventually we just paid to park along a certain road, and one of the security guys was really nice in helping us figure out how to do it. I took plenty of photos of the skyscrapers! I was IN AWE. I didn’t know how big they would actually be, but they were MASSIVE.

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I loved how the building below had such a clear reflection; it looks like water almost. Just seeing one building after another towering over us and the people walking…it was like something out of a dream. I love that lifestyle.

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This skyscraper was so luminous I had to tilt my phone just to get it all in a video.

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Calgary Tower

When we did find parking, we set out on foot to go to the Calgary Tower. I knew I wanted to go up in a skyscraper somehow, and while this wasn’t technically a skyscraper it still counts. It was a bit chilly, and as we walked I didn’t really know what to expect with this. I was envisioning something like the tower at SeaWorld we went to in Orlando, where you sat in a chair and just stayed there while it spun you to the top. However, this was so much more amazing than I could have dreamed. It was funny because we had just been talking about the tower in Chicago with that glass floor, and I said I’d like to do something like that. After getting our tickets, we went into an elevator with a bunch of other people, and to my surprise this elevator takes you all the way to the top. Once at the top, you can walk in a circle to see the panoramic views of the city, AND they had a glass floor at the edge of the entrance! I was a little freaked out by it at first but quickly warmed up to it. There was a lot of people there at first taking pictures so we had to wait, which got me a little frazzled, but it all turned out great, and these are some of my favorite pictures ever.

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Me probably thinking it’s so beautiful I could cry…haha.

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For whatever reason this picture of Kirsten kills me…because her head is literally inside of the camera…

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It was interesting to see them working on one of these skyscrapers—the one on the left, at the very top.

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But really…the views were surreal. To be that high up and seeing it from that transparent perspective, like I’m sitting on top of other skyscrapers or the main roads…it just blows my mind. I loved it so much.

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We walked around taking photos and videos of these views. We could even see the mountains way off on the horizon, which was surreal to think we had actually seen them. They also had a mini theater inside a room at the center of the tower, and we went in and watched a clip about how it was created and its construction process, which was neat to see. It has lights at night, and I think it would be amazing to see it in the dark.

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When we were trying to find parking, we ended up finding the Saddledome haha, which Hunter wanted a picture of because it’s the home of the Calgary Flames NHL team. We were also of course able to see it from the tower. It makes me dream haha!!

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Here we are repping our hotel with their lovely water bottle we forgot to move… This photo literally could have been perfect but no, there always has to be a photobomb. I still like it anyways, though.

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Walking Downtown

One of the best things after that high (literally though haha because we were up in a tower…), we just decided to walk downtown. We were going to try and find this mall that was downtown, but we ended up deciding to go to this mall that I thought had the best selection, so then we turned around to find our car, especially because we didn’t have much time left to be parked where we were. Walking around, though, right by the skyscrapers, was a dream for me. That was so much fun and just stopping to take pictures and talking with Kir and the girls. They had this luxury pet hotel we found funny. Everything seemed so fancy except for this one bridge we had to walk under haha. All of the buildings had such cool designs, though, and the sidewalks were pretty nice. There was quite a bit of construction in some areas, though. It was fun to just explore like that, though, and my backpack turned out perfect for this day, except I almost forgot it in the tower and about had a heart attack because I left it by the glass and then we walked around and I realized I didn’t have it… Thank God no one took it, though.

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I had so much fun taking the picture below, and a young lady walking by gave us a big smile haha. Being tourists and being in awe of something really is a wonderful thing. I never want to lose the wonder and awe for life, for God, for the seemingly little things… Some people get so bored and passive about life, just because they’ve been more privileged or just don’t have that passion and zest. I think it’s sad to be that way, and regardless, I know I want to always keep that fire for God and all He puts in my life.

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Since the Calgary Tower took up a bit of time and we decided to go to a different mall than one they had downtown, we decided to then head back to our car before our parking time ran out. We cut through some outlet mall like building, and I tried to squeeze into the revolving door with Kirsten, which didn’t work out the greatest haha.

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CF Market Mall

This is the mall I had looked up the day before and thought I would like to visit. They had a big directory of stores I recognized and liked, and on the way back from Banff, we actually went right by the name of the road it was on, and I pointed that out. This was clear on the other side of Calgary, though, so it took us some time to find it. While we got turned around a couple times, I think we did pretty good for not having a GPS in a big city! This mall had all of my favorite stores as well as stores the rest of the girls were interested in, too, so we were all able to get something we liked. They had a Disney store Corrine got a lot at, and I believe Kirsten found some things she wanted also, and Mom got a bunch of Canada blankets she loves. And I found one of my favorite stores so we were all happy. We entered through Topshop, which is a store I’ve heard of thanks to fashion bloggers but we don’t have one in Iowa, and talk about overwhelming. I had a million things I liked there, but it was so big there was almost too much to choose from. I thought I’d come back to it but after getting lost and taking the long way to my store with Kirsten, I was too worn out to find anything else, plus I’d already gotten what I wanted.

I almost didn’t get any of the stuff I’d picked out, though, because they kept declining our cards, which freaked us all out because we had been using them constantly on our trip (it’s way cheaper using your card than cash in Canada because with cash you lose money since ours is worth more). The machines were just super picky about how the cards were inserted, though, so finally we got it. Gotta love when you need more retail therapy for the retail therapy that ends up causing stress haha. I loved what I got, though, and by the time we got back to the hotel and I took pictures of all of it, I was just thankful to have gotten it.

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The Old Spaghetti Factory

After seeing (and smelling!) this in Banff at their mall, we decided we’d have to eat here the next day. After having our fill of shopping, we made our way to find this. I don’t think this was too far from the mall—the mall was actually in the area of our hotel—but on the road it was on, there was a train going down the middle of it, which was cool to see with its station and all. Corrine also spotted a Dollarama nearby. Kirsten was very thankful we didn’t end up going to it.

We didn’t have to wait too long to be seated, and the restaurant had a nice look and warm feel to it.

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I was just in the mood for simple spaghetti because you can’t go wrong with that. Corrine and I were both wearing white haha, and she did spill a little bit on her shirt, but hey, this was our first time eating all day long since breakfast in our hotel room, except Mom had to get a pretzel at the mall because she gets super hangry when she shops without food. She just won’t do it.

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Back at the Hotel

Really, my obsession with shopping and this store is kinda bad. But look at the pink bags! How could I not love it? It’s a total girly girl’s fashion dreams!

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One of my favorite things about each day was picking out new outfits to wear and pajamas for each night and then packing other stuff away. Something as simple as that can teach me gratitude as I thank God for all the material things He’s provided me and blessed me with. Living out of a suitcase was a blast for awhile, but like Mom was saying, it’s a blessing to be able to have somewhere to come back to, a place to call home.

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We stayed out late since it was our last night in the hot tub, and then Kirsten and I took photos of the city view in the dark.

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I was quite sad to be leaving the city and to think that was our last night, plus that hot tub was super nice. I was so filled, though, after a day like this. What more can I say about it? It was a dream come true for me, and I loved getting to talk to God through all of it, when a desire like that does become fulfilled because of His abundant provision and love. Not to mention how being surrounded by people in a populated area like that always gives me that longing and wistfulness to share His love and light with the world. That’s what I hope these recaps can do despite all the photos and such, is show His faithfulness and how He is always with us and what life is about. I was also thankful we had quite a bit to look forward to on the way home. We booked our hotels that night (Kirsten cracks me up because she says she’s a hotel snob, and we were looking at this one we booked where the town had two of them, and one looked exceptionally nice while the other was still nice, too, but Kirsten goes “we got the crap” hahaha even though ALL the hotels were nice especially considering their price). We also had things to look forward to on the way back, like Glacier National Park. Stay tuned for the last and final post finishing up the recap, as well as my reflection on how God used this trip to reveal more to me about Himself and the life He’s calling me to live. Thank you all so much for following along with me!

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Summer Fashion & Modesty

Okay, I have loved fashion and wearing pretty things for as long as I can remember. It's obvious that my sense of style has definitely evolved as I've gotten older—despite the pink and sparkles, which is never going to change I promise. When I'm picking out new clothing, I try to focus on these three things mainly: how pretty it is (duh, you know I care about my aesthetics), how comfortable it is (I try not to sacrifice this no matter how pretty something is, but of course there are exceptions because I, like, really care about how pretty some things are), and then the last would be how it looks on me and if it remains true to my values. Since style is an expression of who you are, I try to make sure mine is consistent with the person I am, and that includes making sure I'm not conveying anything that goes against my beliefs.

There is, of course, numerous debates in the Christian world over what is modest or not on girls. I have even found myself asking questions like how much is too much, questions like whether I should buy a bikini or stick with a one-piece. I definitely think it's wise to consider modesty when making clothing decisions, because the Bible says our bodies are meant to glorify God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), so we definitely should consider what messages we're putting out there when we dress. Unfortunately, I really haven't found Christian blogs to be that helpful when it comes to advice on modesty. I'd love it if they could just give me clear yes or no answers on whether it's okay to wear a bikini or not, but of course, you get this big long post that tells you just about everything but, instead leaving the decision up to you at your judgment. Which is fine. I understand that with a lot of these, there is no clear definition on what is too much, which makes it that much harder.

Personally, I think there are two extremes when it comes to modesty and fashion, and I don't agree with either one of them because I think both are degrading to women. So the first extreme is that women can't wear ANYTHING that is the slightest bit revealing or form flattering. I think that's degrading because there comes a fine line where it's like, that's how we're made, and trying to conceal that to the extreme is acting like we should be embarrassed or ashamed of how we're made. Yet then you get the other extreme, where women can dress anyway they want and just, you know, leave it ALL out there practically, and I think that's degrading too, because it's like have enough dignity for yourself to not just put it all out there for attention. So like most things, I think it's about finding a balance that works for you and your relationship with God. Like most things—and I know this is another cliche but just hear me out because it's true—it really does come down to your motives and attitudes for wanting to wear something. More often than not I see a lot of girls taking the second extreme where they are so flippant about what they wear, not caring at all about honoring God or themselves in their fashion choices, and they just throw out excuses like how He doesn't really care or it's not that important. Well, maybe these little choices aren't as important as some, but I can assure you that God still cares because the little choices you make on a daily basis are what end up defining you as a person whether you like it or not. I've been very disappointed with a lot of supposed Christians who repeatedly wear very revealing outfits even though they claim modesty is important, and I don't take their advice for anything in the faith as a result, because seriously, talk about hypocritical. If you're gonna talk the talk, you have to walk the walk, period. So that's something I try to be conscious of always, is making sure that I live up to what I believe.

Anyway, here are some of my summer outfits that I've put together. I figured I would post these so I have an excuse for making Grams take all of these pictures of me besides me being conceited. ;)

Well, first, I should show you what I used to wear—four years ago, so like when I was eleven and started this blog, I was obsessed with the store Justice haha, and so I had all the sets of tops and shorts to match... Oh, those were good days. I do miss some of their fashion pieces honestly because as I said earlier, PINK AND SPARKLES. You really don't find too much of that in the women's clothing, but don't worry, I'm going to scour everything to find out because you know the saying... If there's anything pink or sparkly, of course I want it. :) My dog was only a baby in this photo, too... Like where does the time go.

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I loved these sparkly shorts... I have yet to find another pair like them.

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Then I also started wearing a lot of sporty outfits because that was the big trend, but now I read fashion blogs so... Haha. They give me a lot of ideas, but above all I try to buy outfits that reflect my own style and not somebody else's because that's the fun in it, and you don't need to worry about being just like somebody else because you have your own personality.

Also, can we just take a moment with this photo... This was me in SIXTH GRADE, the night before it started. Also the first month of me writing this blog (read my first post here!).

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This is me on the first day of sixth grade. This was actually one of my fave outfits; I would still wear it if I could. For summer, my style largely consists of blouses or tees with jean shorts and sandals. I'm not big on accessorizing, but I have my ears pierced and so really I should be wearing different earrings because I have a bunch, but you know, maybe one day I'll get around to doing that...

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summer 2k17

So during this whole week I was with my grandparents last month (read all about it here!), I made Grams take a picture of me everyday because I brought my whole summer closet basically, so I had a new outfit to wear everyday. Some are more basic than others, but for simple days going to town those work fine. If I'm going to a dressier occasion, I definitely wear sandals instead of flip flops, and I also have a pair of dress pants that I'd pair with a summer, dressy top. Or I also have this dress I have yet to wear because I can't find an occasion that warrants it, but I could also wear that with sandals, too.

This outfit is one of the more basic ones with the simple black flip flops (they have glitter on the straps though!!!). I just wanted a basic pair to match outfits like these, and I think I got these ones on DSW for a really good price.

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I also have quite a few sheer tops in my wardrobe. I don't necessarily mean to buy them that way, but some are definitely more sheer than others, and usually the white ones are a lot like that. I can't remember where I read this, but if you're looking to get away with wearing a sheer top without anything underneath such as a cami (because I hate layering, especially in the summer), wear a nude bra. Seriously, it works; you can't see anything. I tried wearing white ones thinking that if it matches the color it would work, but really, wearing a nude one is the way to go. Also, with bralettes being a huge trend right now, you could also wear one of those underneath a more sheer top. I think this is also one of those situations where using your best judgment on modesty comes into play, too, because some sheer tops can easily not be modest—in fact I've seen girls wear completely sheer tops that are made just for the purpose of showing off a bralette, meaning you can easily see what they're wearing underneath. And I don't think that's very modest, but I think if you get a top that's more concealing with some sheerness and then want to wear a bralette, I think that's fine. I have a new bralette I have yet to really break in, but I think I do have a picture where you can kinda see the straps of it that I'll show later.

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Here I'm wearing a more casual outfit with my favorite pair of flip flops that are on the fancier side, they're Michael Kors! Haha. Unfortunately they're about shot, though, because I wore them so much.

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This is one of the more dressier tops below, along with the sandals. In fact I think I wore this exact outfit to a special event and just swapped the jean shorts for a pair of dress pants.

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So this top was kind of a struggle for me in the outfit below because I think I got it from my cousin when she asked if I wanted it, but it's just a little too big on me, but I liked it so much I took it anyway and thought, oh, I'll just make it work! Anyway, it does work well for the most part, but since it is a little big on me and I'm moderately tall, it's one of those awkward situations where if I pull it up, it's like a crop top on me, which I don't like, but if I pull it down too far, it shows too much in the chest area. So if my body looks like it's at an awkward angle in this photo that's probably why... But I was so happy I found a top to match these pink flip flops I'd had for awhile AND my purse!

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This is that same outfit except with my leather jacket over it. It adds to any casual summer look, if it's not 90 degrees out haha like when this was taken.

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Sometimes I'll also wear crops or capris. I like my pants to fit tight; I don't know why, but I've just always preferred that. I think that as long as your clothing covers what it needs to, I wouldn't be as critical about how tight or form fitting something is. I know some people have a fit over leggings and whether those are modest or not. Personally, I wear them everyday in the wintertime basically, and I'm okay with doing that because I usually wear chunky sweaters over them, so it's more a means of comfort than hey, look at my legs! Again, I think it really comes down to your attitudes on why you're wearing something and using your best judgment on something. I don't think there's any excuse for wearing clothing that is super revealing because MOST of the time those things aren't unintentional where it just kinda happens. Like if you happen to wear a larger v-neck shirt, that may be unintentional, but then are some tops that are low cut on purpose, for the point of showing off and revealing more. That's what I don't think is okay. And trust me when I say that you can tell the difference between people who are unintentionally wearing a top like that or people who are deliberately doing it. I remember seeing this one girl who wore what I thought was a really revealing top, but I decided to let it pass because I thought maybe it was just one of those tops where she couldn't really make it cover more. But after seeing twenty more pictures of her in various different tops that were all like that and some you know were designed for it, that's how I knew she dressed like that on purpose, and I thought that was upsetting because she was a Christian and even MARRIED, so it was like what are you trying to prove?

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Below is the photo with the bralette I mentioned earlier, where you can sorta see the straps. I think it adds a nice pop of color to an otherwise rather dull look.

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That's all I currently have on summer fashion, but if you enjoyed posts like this with fashion, just let me know and I could always do more! I'm by no means a fashion blogger, but I do like to buy what they tell me to. ;) I try not to break the bank either; I've gotten pretty good at finding designer items on sale if I do say so myself. Now if I can just find this dream Michael Kors crossbody I want on sale...

Also, hopefully my views on modesty make sense. If you're confused about what I mean by some of my views, just let me know, and I'll try to clarify. I also want to say that I'm NOT trying to act overly judgmental or nit-picky about these types of things. At least, that isn't my intent to make you feel that way. I don't want to be one of those Christians who makes up rules or goes by man-made religion along those lines, but I don't think modesty is about following a set of guidelines, I think it's about making pure choices that will best honor God and yourself. After seeing so many "Christians" completely not care, I just had to shake my head because it sets a terrible example. Knowing Jesus is about having a relationship with Him, but everyone knows that relationships are a two way thing, so to just not care about the little choices you make because you think He won't care is, first off ignorant, but it's also taking advantage of grace. And it's ignorant because God DOES care, but does that mean you're going to hell if you wear a top more on the lower cut side? Um, no, but again, use good judgment. If a top is way too low and you can pick a better one, then why don't you? Being modest is also about knowing your own worth in Christ, too, though: when you dress modestly, you're showing respect for yourself because let's face it, immodest clothes are designed for attention, but that cheap attention is not the meaningful kind you want—you want to be valued as a whole person and not just for your body, so I think we should dress like that. But hopefully this post can also show you that dressing modestly isn't some boring chore; you can still dress trendy, cute, and stylish while being modest at the same time.

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