Hermes Tray DIY

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’ve undertaken an office-makeover project at work.  I’ve posted a couple of updates so far, but today got lots of questions about one of the items in my post: an Hermès tray!

Hermes Tray Vintage, http://chicinacademia.comVintage Hermes Tray, (Photo: 1stdibs)

The one pictured above is a vintage tray that sells for $875.  If you’ve read my blog once or twice, you know that I’m not one to pay retail, but that instead, I’m one to seek luxe for less.  Well, that’s exactly what I did…again!

I’d known for some time that I wanted one, so I searched Pinterest for possible places to purchase one that wasn’t going to cost me an arm and a leg.  Pinterest is a great place to seek inspiration.  If you’re not a big ‘pinner’ feel free to peruse my boards from time to time!  Anyway, after searching Pinterest a few times, I did find some replicas or ‘inspired’ trays that were reasonably priced; but as I am decorating this office on a budget, I really wanted to pay less than $50 for mine. Here are a couple of ones I found, both which are priced $125 or less:

Hermes Tray Replica // http://chicinacademia.comHermès Tray Replica,, $99.00 (Photo: Artfire)

Hermes Tray Replica Etsy, http://chicinacademia.comHermès Tray Replica,, $125 (Photo: Etsy Seller)

I still felt like $100 was too much for a replica.  So, I searched for just a simple tray instead.  That’s when I found this one I decided for in the end on eBay!

Orange Lacquer Tray eBay Timeless Settings, http://chicinacademia.comOrange Lacquer Tray, eBay, $20 (Photo: Timeless Settings)

I like that it has the mirrored bottom, and also loved the price!  You can find this one on eBay from seller Timeless-Settings for a mere $20!  Score!  There is also a round one you can buy for $52 dollars, but again, that starts to get a bit out of my price range, so I stuck with the $20 tray.  You can find the round one, here.

Honestly, initially, I didn’t have plans to make my own Hermès DIY tray; but, then, I happened to come across this decal while shopping for decals for my office wall and decided I’d give it a try!

Hermes Logo Trading Phrases, http://chicinacademia.comHermès Wall Decal, Trading Phrases, $14.99 (Photo: Trading Phrases)

They have several sizes, but happen to have a decal that measures 5.5″ x 1″.  The size is perfect for the side of the tray I found on eBay!!  I ordered both and one week later, I had my own Hermès replica tray for about $35!  Here’s a sneak peak of the tray:

Tray without logo, http://chicinacademia.comTray without logo (Photo: Chic In Academia)

Tray without logo, http://chicinacademia.comTray without logo, another view (Photo: Chic in Academia)

Tray with Logo on Bar Cart, http://chicinacademia.comTray with logo.  DIY Success!! (Photo: Chic in Academia)

What do you think?!  I’m personally pretty excited about the way it turned out!  I’m not quite done decorating and this bar cart is not quite styled the way I want it yet, so stay tuned for an update on the make over and all the final details.  In the meantime, I wanted to share this with you before the trays sell out!  Keep up with my updates on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.  I’d  also love to hear what you think about the DIY or what you think of the bar styling so far, so leave a comment below!  I hope you all have a fantastic weekend and I can’t wait to hear from you!

Until next time!  Stay chic!

The ‘No-Limits’ Tank Review

I mentioned in my Chic and Fit 2014 challenge update that I happen to own both the Lululemon ‘No Limits’ tank, as well as the Target version of the ‘No Limits’ tank.  You may or may not have already heard about the ‘No Limits’ tank before, but let me tell ya…there is a lot of hype about it and it lives up to it all!  So what’s the hype you ask??  Well…let me count the ways (or if you will, the pro’s and con’s):

1.  PRO: It’s a bra and a tank top, all-in-one, without the bulk!

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2.  PRO: It’s got a great design and perfect for working out in warmer temps. Built-in ventilation, so to speak. 

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3.  PRO: It’s slouchy, so it can sit at your waist, or be worn long so that it sits at your hips.

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 11.52.20 PM

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4.  PRO: The support is amazing!  I didn’t feel like I needed a second sports bra underneath.

So, what’s wrong with it??  Well, the price quite frankly.  Lululemon takes $64 + tax of your hard earned dollars for each of these tanks!!  While $64+ is not a completely outrageous price, it is on the higher side for a workout top.  I was fortunate enough to receive this tank as a Christmas gift, but hesitated otherwise, whenever I considered purchasing one for myself.

Imagine my excitement when Target came out with their ‘No Limits’ tank dupe!  I present you with the C9 by Champion, Women’s Layered Tank with Bra:

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 11.23.55 PMNow, after researching this top for this blog post, I realized that this exact version is NO LONGER available at Target.  The new version has a drawstring bottom, but otherwise, is still fairly similar to the ‘No Limits’ tank:

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 11.24.39 PMSo, how does the Target version compare to the Lululemon original?

1.  PRO:  The design USED to be nearly identical, but is now similar enough to make me consider buying it.  The two major differences: a drawstring bottom and placement of the tank top attachment to the bra.

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2.  PRO:  The Target version also has the peek-a-boo action that so many women love:

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Me: Wearing the Target version.

3.  PRO:  The length, much like the Lululemon version, is great for wearing low at your hips, or at your waist for a slouchier fit:

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4.  The price is so amazingly affordable! Each top is priced at no more than $22.99!  Give me 3!

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AND!!  These tops (among other items at Target) are currently buy one, get one 50% off!  Even better!! #winning 😀

So what’s wrong with the Target top??  Sigh, the support leaves much to be desired.  I did have to wear another bra underneath to get the support I wanted/needed, which really defeats the purpose and design of the top, in my opinion. One thing to consider is sizing down.  So if you normally wear a ‘large’, perhaps consider wearing a ‘medium’ instead?  Definitely worth trying!

In general, both tops have decent quality. I didn’t notice a huge difference in the quality of the fabric, nor in their ability to absorb sweat.  The two are really neck and neck in terms of looks, quality, and design.  My one complaint about the Target top, was – as I mentioned before – the support.  But at $22.99, you can afford to buy a $9.99 thin-strapped C9 by Champion for Target sports bra to wear underneath, still save money by not spending the $64 on a the Lululemon version, and call it a day. 😉

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Le sigh.  But, ‘I can’t stop thinking about the Lululemon version’, you say.  ‘All the cool girls are wearing the Lululemon ‘No Limits’ tank’, you say.  If you HAVE to have it, then eBay is the place for you.  That’s where I got my second ‘No Limits’ tank, prior to finding the Target version, but after getting hooked on the original ‘No Limits’ tank I got for Christmas!

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Lululemon ‘No Limits’ tank purchased on eBay

I only paid $18 for this tank and it was barely used!  A quick search on eBay just now shows that there are some very affordably-priced ‘No Limits’ tanks in pre-owned condition!  This one I found is currently priced at $9.99 and only has 2 days left for the auction.  There are lots of others like this one too!

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 12.36.05 AM

Photo Credit: eBay seller laurenfaith77

So, now that you are able to make an informed decision, I hope that you will buy which ever version floats your boat, so long as you get up, get fit, and get active!  Chic and fit!!

Feel free to comment below if you have any thoughts on these tops, my review, or simply if you think I may have missed something important.  Otherwise, come say hello on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter! 🙂

Stay Chic!!

5 wardrobe staples for dressing ‘Chic in Academia’ while expecting

So…you’re knocked up. Haha, just kidding!  But really, you are.  So, congrats!!  Super exciting times lie ahead for you!! Let’s see…sleepless nights, hormonal adjustments, very little ‘me’ time, and a body that is dismorphed (possibly temporarily, possibly permanently), to name a few.

Now you’re thinking, “It’s hard enough to be chic with a normal body, much less a gigantic belly protruding from my body!”  And, honestly, you’re right.  No sugar coating there.  I will say this though:  I’ve now been pregnant twice during my tenure as an academician (is that even a word?!).  The first time I was a 1st year PhD student and the second time, I was a 1st year postdoc.  Actually, both kids were also born in June, right before the summer.  Interestingly, neither was planned… A-NY-WAY….I digress. But, that said, I’ve had some experience with having to find maternity clothing that was outfit appropriate.

Here are a few pointers for dressing for your new, baby-in-utero-body:

1) The Long-Length Blazer Jacket

Think in terms of body proportions.  First and foremost.  You want to wear clothes that make you look, well, proportional!  Hard to do when you have a giant belly, but feasible with a few key pieces.

Take for example the two Kardashian sisters with babies, Kim and Kourtney.  You may love or hate them, but these girls can dress!  And dressing chic while pregnant was something they both did well!  I especially like what Kim Kardashian wore during her pregnancy, because like me, she had major edema towards the end of her pregnancy (I had it with both boys), so I feel a certain type of kinship with her.  Anyway, so, to even out her body a bit, she took to wearing blazers.

Pregnant Kim Kardashian

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I loved wearing blazers as well.  Here is one example, taken May 2012 (one month before my second son was born, and one of the only pics I had on my current phone!):

PregnantIt’s a little hard to tell here, but I’m basically wearing a non-maternity dress (Prabal Gurung for Target and a Forever 21 blazer, one size larger than usual).  The key for me to wearing blazers, was to find ones that were a little longer than usual, in length (i.e. ones that cover your bottom).  Theory blazers are great (super expensive in store, averaging $400 or so for the blazer alone…though a great investment; and less expensive on eBay), as are Forever 21 Boyfriend Blazers (if you want a way less expensive option, averaging about $30).

And on blogger, Morgan from Allen and Co:

Great style during pregnancy can be done!

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2.  The High Waisted Pencil Skirt

I LOVE pencil skirts.  Pregnant or not!  I just think they are incredibly flattering, and work well on most body types.  When pregnant, I really feel that pencil skirts work well.  For those of us who are not blessed with long, slender legs, pencil skirts also help to give the illusion of length and to add, well, proportion!  Here are some examples I love:

Love, love, love these colors as well as the fit of the skirt.  For me, below the knee is key for work-appropriate looks.  This one in particular hits right below the knee, so it really works to give the illusion of (or enhance) an hour-glass figure.

Pregnant Kim Kardashian in Los Angeles on March 12, 2013

Asos maternity pieces are also great staples while pregnant!  They are inexpensive and well-made for the price.  Here’s a popular skirt from their maternity line:


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NOTE:  Also in this picture are the opaque maternity tights.  Though they don’t really qualify as a staple because you can only REALLY wear them during the fall/winter, they are amazing during pregnancy!!  Let’s be real, for those of us without a thigh gap, they prevent thigh-chaffing; they usually are control top, so they keep your baby-belly nice and snug and your thighs and buttocks in place when wearing tight-fitting clothes; and, finally, keep you from having to shave EVERY.SINGLE.DAY during the winter (don’t judge me!!).  My favorite tights come from Target and can be found here.

Here’s an example of the longer-length blazer paired well with an above the knee-pencil skirt on Ivanka Trump.  A similar skirt can be found at Destination Maternity.

So chic!  *Almost* makes me want to be pregnant again...*almost*.

And finally, this look from Sydney (blogger, The Daybook):



3.  The Skinny Pant or Jean

Okay, so you may be able to give me some insight on great-fitting maternity slacks for the work place, but I was unsuccessful in finding ANY while pregnant with both my boys.  I found maternity slacks to be all around ill-fitting, making me look like I had both a saggy bottom and a saggy belly!  They also were usually didn’t fit well in the thigh area and bottom/tummy area simultaneously.  I did wear one pair that I bought on eBay for $1 (plus shipping, of course) during both pregnancies, but nothing else.  For the most part, I stuck to black leggings with boots (during the winter), and skinny pants/jeans during the spring.

Here are some legging/blazer examples I loved re-creating:

#fabulous and pregnant

Photo Credit: Some pap…eventually Pinterest.


Um, clearly we are ignoring her facial expression here, haha! 😛 Photo Credit: Some pap…eventually Pinterest.


Here are some examples of work-appropriate looks with the skinny pant or jean:

Zadie Skinny Maternity Jeans in Blue | Isabella Oliver | Maternity Capsule Collection

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And from one of the most chic bloggers, pregnant and not, Anh from 9 to 5 Chic:

Day Time Maternity with Rockstud Flats

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And, if you are a bit adventurous and like to wear color to work (I personally DO NOT shy away from this!), here’s a look from Karen from one of my favorite Instagram accounts, @mychicbump:

I give it a couple more weeks before I need a whole new closet to fit my baby bump.


4.  The Long Length Tank Top

Omgosh, these are heaven sent during and after pregnancy.  You can wear them alone with your blazer and skinny jeans or pencil skirt; under dresses or tops with low-necklines, under tops or sweaters that don’t cover your belly and/or butt; but most of all, to help keep your pants up that don’t quite button during the earlier phases of pregnancy when you can still manage to wear your non-maternity pants/jeans!

Here, Andee Layne (blogger – The Honeybee – who inspired my preggers-style for my second pregnancy) in a Liz Lange for Target tank top styled in an all-black look with the jacket as the pop of color (though this color is more muted since this was worn during the fall/winter):

All Saints Jacket, Liz Lange Maternity tank from Target, Hudson wide leg maternity jeans

Another great, all-black look with pop-of-color blazer from Red Soles and Red Wine blogger (also a target Maternity tank):

Zara Floral Blazer  |  Target Maternity Tank  |  Citizens of Humanity Skinny Denim  |  Zara Flower  |  Christian Louboutin Slingbacks  |  Chanel Bag  |    t+j Designs jewelry:  Mint Jeweled Necklace  |  Black Faux Leather Square Bangle  |    White Faux Leather Square Bangle  |

Here’s the coveted, all-around amazing, Target tank (though, any long length tank will work of course!):



5.  The Fitted Maternity Dress

I was really a fan of the fitted dress.  I think one of the best things about being pregnant is that, for the first time, it is actually socially acceptable to wear fitted clothing with a protruding belly! 😛  For me, anything that was not fitted, make me look HUGE and kind of as if I was wearing a tent. 😦  So, fitted dresses for me!  Here are some looks I used for inspiration during my pregnancies:

for office wear

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Different shoes for the office, but this look from Kim K. would definitely work for the office, and very chic, might I add:

Ms. Kim Kardashian (Pregnant) ...XoXo

I loved this look too!  A bit short for the office, but could work with a longer dress:

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And finally, the business formal fitted dress look.  Sometimes, we have dinners to attend, galas, or other ‘dress-up’ functions!  Dresses like the following work well paired with a nice blazer during the day, and alone for the evening event.  Here’s Reese Witherspoon with a rouched-black fitted dress that I loved paired with the pink heels (similar here):

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And this floral number from



So there you have it!  My 5 wardrobe essentials for dressing ‘Chic in Academia’ while pregnant!  Of course, there are a variety of other clothing options, and omgosh, let’s not even get into shoes!!  The options are endless!  But, I really do feel like these 5 options work well for most work-appropriate outfits, and furthermore, staples that can be mixed and matched so that you don’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe to accommodate your growing baby belly!  Stay tuned for my dressing ‘Chic in Academia’ while breastfeeding/postpartum!  I also have a ‘Pregnancy board’ on Pinterest that you can follow for outfit inspiration or other pregnancy-related pins!

Stay chic!!