Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

December 30, 2016

2016: Blogging Highlights.


     Today is my final blog post of the year, and it's time to share part two of my best of 2016 recaps! Wednesday's post featured highlights of my personal life, and today's post is all about my favorite blogging moments and memories of the year. First up as I've done in years past, I'm sharing my favorite OOTD post from each month of the year!

January: "Last First Day Style"

February: "Spring Preview"

May: "My Color of the Year"

June: "A Timeless Dress Option" 

July: "The Cutest Business Casual Look"

September: "Feelin' 22!"

     2016 was definitely a great year in fashion. I feel like this was the year that I truly started to define my personal style- especially so after I graduated college and had to wear business casual clothing on a more regular basis. My style is bold and colorful, and a definite mix of classic and trendy. In past years I've always liked very loud accessories, but as you can see from the outfits that I've selected from my favorites of this year, my taste in jewelry, handbags and other accessories seems to have gotten to be a bit more simple this year. Sometimes understated can be nice against a bold outfit! Bottom line though: my passion still remains in finding affordable ways to look my best on a budget, and sharing that with all of you! 

     As far as in blogging itself- this was by far the biggest and best year yet for Southern Belle in Training. I had three major goals for 2016, and I am so blessed and pleased to say that I accomplished all three of them! The first was to finally be accepted into rewardStyle, which is the premiere affiliate program for fashion bloggers. I tried for over two years to be accepted prior to, only to be declined time and time again, It was extremely discouraging, and I didn't know what else I could try. When I first applied to rewardStyle I was a beginner blogger, but by this time last year, I had built a following, had done sponsored posts, was posting multiple times a week, had invested in a DSLR camera, and had rebranded my blog. I simply didn't know what else to do! It was getting harder and harder for me to see all of my blogging friends enjoying the benefits of rewardStyle, while I still couldn't figure out how to get in. It finally happened for me in February 2016! No joke- I cried the day that I received my acceptance email. Hard work truly does pay off. rewardStyle was one of my 2015 blogging goals, and it happened a little later than anticipated, but it did indeed happen. Never give up! 

     My two other blogging goals for 2016 were to hire a blog photographer after my college graduation (various friends and sorority sisters took my blog photos in my earlier college years, and my college suitemate Caroline did most of them for me towards the end of school), and to attend a blogging conference. I was able to do both of those things as well! I started working with the amazing Deeana of Deeana Kourtney Photography in May, and it's been such a fun journey together. Soon I hope to write a post all about picking a blog photographer! And in August, I attended The Blog Societies annual conference in Charleston. (Read all about it here!) The conference was a time of much learning and growth for my blog and brand, and I met many new blogging friends as well! A real highlight was also getting to attend a few different seminars given by some of the rewardStyle team- definitely a nice treat after getting accepted this year! 

      I still need to narrow down and finalize exactly what my 2017 blogging goals are, but I know that I have even bigger hopes in store for this year! 

    Thank-you to each and every one of you for reading and following along with me through this year! Let's make 2017 a great one.

      Happy New Year!

      xoxo Miss ALK


December 29, 2016

Winter Sorority Recruitment Outfit Ideas.

     A sweet reader emailed me last week and shared that she is going through sorority recruitment when the new spring semester begins at her college in a couple weeks. My university held Formal Recruitment for our Panhellenic sororities in the fall every year, which I think is common of most colleges, however there are many schools that still choose to hold their recruitments in the second semester! Dressing for winter recruitment can be very different that fall recruitment, as both the weather and current trends can vary a lot over just a few months. I wanted to share today just a few outfit ideas that I think would be ideal for some of the different recruitment rounds in the winter season.

     For some of the earlier rounds, a really cute look would be to wear a button up shirt or printed blouse paired with a winter-appropriate skirt and tights! The black pleated one that I shared above might be a little bit too dark for fall recruitment, but it's perfect for a winter wardrobe (and very chic and on trend!). Y'all know that I'm all about my Lilly Pulitzer... two of the three looks that I actually wore for my own sorority recruitment were Lilly! While winter isn't the season for Lilly dresses, if you are a Lilly fan it could be a great time to wear an Elsa top with a skirt or dress pants.

     And below, I'm sharing some fun dress picks that I found! Some are more casual and some are more formal- as the sorority recruitment rounds go on towards Preference round, your attire will get more dressy.

     Did any of you attend universities that held Winter Formal Recruitment? I can't believe that it's already been over six months since I've been finished with being a collegiate member of Alpha Delta Pi! To my college readers: enjoy the memories- it sounds cliche, but it really does go by fast!

      xoxo Miss ALK

December 28, 2016

2016: Highlights From My Year.

     Welcome to the first installment of my yearly recap posts! These are always some of my favorite blog posts to write each year. It's wonderful to get to reflect on all that the past year has brought- both the highs and the lows, and to be able to take the memories with me into the coming year.

     Today's post will highlight the biggest memories from my personal life in 2016. A lot of these are little memories and details which I often don't have time to share in blog posts or on my blog's social media, so I look forward to sharing many of these with y'all today!

2016 Accomplishments: 

     Quite obviously the biggest accomplishment of my year was graduating college! I graduated from Queens University of Charlotte in May, with a major in Journalism and Digital Media, and two minors in French and Sociology. I haven't really shared this on my blog until now- but it was a huge blessing that I was able to graduate on graduation day. The situation that I wrote about in this past Monday's blog post happened less than two weeks before my graduation, and almost prevented me from being able to finish my final exams. Luckily, I was able to finish everything on time and thus receive my diploma on graduation day, something which I am extremely thankful for! It just goes to show that you really can't take anything for granted!


     My parents, Aunt and Grandma (from my mom's family), and my two uncles from my dad's family all came to Charlotte to celebrate with me! The above picture was taken at the ceremony the day before graduation.

     Caroline! The best college suitemate (and blog photographer :-) ) ever! She will graduate in 2017 and I'm already so very proud. 

      My class at Queens was the first class in the history of the university that was able to decorate graduation caps! 

     A few weeks after graduation, my sweet photographer Deeana took college senior photos for me. My current roommate Ciera and my big sister in ADPi, Jess, also joined in on the fun. You can see the whole post from our photoshoot here

     My other big accomplishment from 2016 would be beginning broadcasting school! I haven't quite shared as much about that on my blog yet as I would have liked- but I do hope to be sharing more regular updates in 2017. I began broadcasting school in July 2016, and I will graduate from the program in May 2017. It's a very intense 10 months!! 

     I absolutely adore broadcasting school- not only because of the opportunities and education that it's giving me for my future career, but also because of the incredible people that I've met through the school. Something else that's been a huge blessing is that I've been interning for the school since August! I am the social media coordinator, and run the Facebook pages and Instagram not only for my campus, but as of this past month now for the other locations of the schools as well. It is a great honor to have this internship, and I love being both a student and also getting to work for the school as well. Since I do the social media, I spend most of my time taking pictures of the other students, but here's a snap of me in the campus radio studio from last month! 

    And lastly- although I don't have a photo of this accomplishment, 2016 was the year that I officially became an NC resident! Truth: I cried a few happy tears after leaving the DMV and seeing that I had a license at long last that finally said North Carolina. Something that I wasn't expecting however is that officially moving out of state had a few more steps to it than I anticipated- I'm planning to write a blog post about this in the next few months!

2016 Travels: 

     This year was the first year in a few that didn't bring any international travels, but that was okay after all of the adventures (good and bad) that studying abroad in 2015 brought. Instead, I got to re-visit three of my all-time favorite US destinations this year, and cross one new city off my bucket list as well. I also made two trips home to Maine- a very brief one in June, and I'm currently still home now for a little Christmas vacation.  

     Caroline, my dad and I enjoyed Disney World and Orlando for my final Spring Break of college! (Orlando Travel Guide post)

     My first time to Charleston for was The Blog Societies Conference in August (Conference recap post).

I spent my 22nd birthday weekend in Las Vegas with my roommate Ciera and our friend Priyanka (blog post recap here)

The week after Vegas, I was in NYC for a family reunion, and it coincided with September NYFW! I was lucky enough to get to attend a fashion presentation with other bloggers while I was there. (Blog post recap) 

Other 2016 Memories: 

     In no particular order, here are a few fond memories from the year that I don't want to forget! 

My final semester of college brought many fun weekend nights out on the town! Since graduating, I don't go out too often anymore, but I try not to be a grandma 100% of the time. ;-) 

In January was the annual senior class formal at Queens! I took my friend Ciera (who was one of my best friends at my former college, and is now my current roommate in my apartment) as my date, and we went with Jess, my Big. These were the girls that I later did my college senior photos with in the spring! While this formal itself was kind of a drag, we have really fun memories from later in the night!

Two of my sorority sisters, Hannah and Mary, helped me out with a special blog post collaboration in March! You can check out the post here

The graduating seniors in my sorority did a special photoshoot in April.

Also in April- my last sorority formal! I re-wore my senior prom dress which is pretty much my favorite dress of all time. (Blog post about my last formal)

Possibly the worst photo of me ever - but a sweet memory from my graduation day, and the last day that I lived with my senior year suitemate, Caroline! Caroline was the best college roommate ever, and I miss living with her each and every day! 

Later on graduation day- moving out of my dorm room! I lived on campus all four years of college, so this was a bittersweet goodbye.

....hello to my first apartment! Ciera and I had our housewarming party in June, complete with a Snapchat filter! (Blog post recap here)

Other fun summer memories: attending the opening party for City Lights and Craft City Social with Amy from Pastel N Pink.

Sadly I only went on one hike in 2016, and I'm hoping to go on many more next year! But it was a wonderful day trip and time spent with my dear friend Becca (one of my first friends at my former college). We visited South Mountains State Park!

Something that I didn't share too much about on the blog this year- my mom actually lived in NC for most of the summer! My mom is an artist, and this summer she enrolled in an artists program in another part of the state. It was her first time ever living outside of Maine, and it was cool to have her get to discover the South! I visited her twice, and she also came to see me in Charlotte a couple of times. 

A huge highlight of the year was that my best friend from blogging, Cara from Caralina Style, moved to Charlotte in the middle of summer!! But even before the move she had made several trips down earlier in the year, so we already had lots of fun adventures together. This is a snap from the 4th of July.

The main reason that I was in Vegas for my birthday weekend was to fulfill a lifelong dream/bucket list goal: to see Britney Spears perform! The above picture is an accurate depiction of my excitement. 

Britney was AMAZING (full blog post here)

Another big highlight of 2016: starting to work with Deeana for photography on my blog! She is an absolute sweetheart, and I'm so happy to have a photographer who is also my friend. 

Lastly, a few other fun broadcasting school pictures! When I decided to do broadcasting school after college, it was solely a career decision. I had no idea if I would make good friends there, but that wasn't why I was doing it, as I'd already had the traditional college experience. Well- I've been completely blown as everyone in broadcasting school, from fellow students to staff, are all the most incredible people!! I feel like I've gained more new friends than I can even count. :-) 

Some of the staff/interns in Fall 2016.

Halloween with the other students/staff! 

      Stay tuned for part two of my 2016 on Friday- that post will recap my favorite outfit posts of the year, and blogging accomplishments and goals! I promise that post won't be quite as long as this one... ;-) 

     Thanks so much for reading! 

     xoxo Miss ALK


December 26, 2016

Sparkling into 2017...

"...If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me
Threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud"

      This dress is a cute metallic number that would be perfect for New Year's Eve parties or festivities! Would you believe that it was actually 29 degrees on the day that Deeana and I shot these pictures? We got all of these photos done in under 5 minutes... the weather can be very motivating- ha!

      But today I actually don't want to talk predominantly about my outfit, or New Year's Eve style. I actually want to talk about something a bit more serious. Something that I haven't shared at all on my blog in 2016...

     This year, I was the victim of a crime. 

      The crime was not rape or sexual in nature, but for discretion, (since the matter was resolved legally), the above statement is all that I'm going to share about the occurrence itself.

     The reason that I am finally writing about this on my blog so many months later, is that there is something worth talking about for feeling like you have to hide an extremely painful and traumatic situation. For me, blogging is a big part of my world. To have literally gone through hell and back in 2016, and to not have shared the biggest occurrence of my life to date through the best means of stress relief that I know how- which would be blogging- was almost as unbearable as what I went through itself! For months, I felt re-victimized all over again. This whole summer, I felt that I was lying to myself and to all of you as I tried to make it seem in post after post like everything was rosy and sunny and happy in my world. I'm still thankful to God as there was much good happening and many blessings in my life to still be grateful for this year. The opportunity to stay in North Carolina following college, having a few part-time job opportunities so that I could afford to pay my own way through broadcasting school... just to name a few. But while good things were happening, I was fighting panic attacks and anxiety and random crying outbursts and days where I physically had to force myself out of bed. This was the pain and the reality of surviving the aftermath of the event that I went through earlier this year. And for many months, all of that had to be 100% hidden from the "Miss ALK" side of my life- aka my blog and social media.

     The location that these photos were taken at is the Midtown Target parking deck near Uptown Charlotte. As many of my longtime reader friends know, this spot is my favorite place in Charlotte. (True story: I always told my friends in college that if I were to meet my future husband in Charlotte, I wanted to be proposed to up there!) And it's also a place that has held a lot of significance to my blog over the years. I first did photos up here for one of my very first product review posts, and that was almost three years ago! The first time that I ever shot with a professional photographer was on this deck, and the announcement photos for when I rebranded my blog two years ago were also taken here. When I began working with Deeana Kourtney Photography this past spring, we met for our first photoshoot up here as well. (That very day in fact I told her about the situation in which I'm writing about in today's post.) I knew after we shot this NYE look on top of the deck that it was finally time to share the words that have been waiting inside of me for the better part of 2016.

     2016 has without a doubt been the darkest year of my life. I am so thankful for my parents- they have been incredibly supportive through it all. And I am also thankful for a few close friends who proved their loyalty and trustworthiness and stuck by my side through this journey. But it's time to let what's in the past be in the past, and to make peace in my heart with 2016. There are so many things that I wish I could change about this year, but I am ready to sparkle and shine my way into 2017.

     I have not a clue where 2017 will take me. I finish broadcasting school this spring, and I am more certain than ever before that radio broadcasting is the field that I want to work in. When thinking about where I want to live longterm, Charlotte of course comes to mind. I still love it here, and many people that I love reside here. I would absolutely stay here longer if employment in my field should work out. But I'm also at a a place finally where I feel confident enough to leave Charlotte, or even North Carolina. No move to Maine is back on my radar, but I do feel like I could see myself living in another part of the South, or even a totally different part of the country, if a job were to provide that opportunity. I feel confident and excited in my future endeavors. I know that all of the hardships that 2016 brought were apart of God's plan to make me stronger. My story will help others, even if not right now... someday.

     In more positive news regarding 2016, I will be sharing some of the happier highlights from this year (of which there were many of these as well) in Wednesday and Friday's posts! First up will be highlights from my favorite memories from this year in my personal life on Wednesday, and then on Friday I'll be sharing the best of this year for me in blogging moments. So please stay tuned this week for both of these posts!

     Are you ready to sparkle your way into 2017 with me?

     xoxo Miss ALK
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