READER REQUEST: AFFORDABLE MAXI DRESSES

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A reader named Kelly asked if I would share some of my favorite affordable maxi dresses for summer. I searched my favorite sites and came up with ten current favorites under $150 but be sure to comment if you have one that I missed! I like that most of these can be dressed up or down depending on what your day entails. If you have a reader request, feel free to comment below for a chance to see it featured on Design Darling. :)

NEON BRIGHTS

I’ve raved about Lilly’s Elsa top before so it’ll come as no surprise that I’m slowly adding to my collection. They’re the easiest top to throw on at a moment’s notice and walk out the door feeling put together. I usually wear mine with skinny jeans but when the temperature hits 100 degrees, scalloped shorts it is!

loft scalloped shorts

kendra scott earrings

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DSC_0327-2Lilly Pulitzer Elsa top  //  Loft scalloped shorts

Kendra Scott earrings  //  Soludos leather espadrilles

If you liked the scalloped shorts in this post, I’m happy to share that this similar pair is currently only $25! I realized my wardrobe was rather unprepared for the summer heat in Texas so I’ve been trying to focus on adding shorts and skirts to my closet even though I’d so much rather be in jeans. A fun little scalloped detail on a budget-friendly find makes it a little easier!

10 WOMEN ON MOVING IN WITH THEIR SIGNIFICANT OTHER

Will and I have been in Dallas for two months now and we’re finally getting into the swing of things. I’m adjusting to a new routine at work and we’re slowly but surely furnishing our townhouse. The one thing I haven’t talked much about on the blog is our transition to living together for the first time. I’d love to share with you what we’ve learned so far but honestly it still feels so new and I’m definitely not an expert after just a couple months of cohabitation!

Sooooo, I did what any girl would do: ask a bunch of my girlfriends to weigh in so we can all learn from their words of wisdom. I polled fellow bloggers, friends from college, friends from high school, and even my own mom in the hopes of starting a larger conversation with all of you. If you’ve just moved in with your significant other (or are talking about living together in the future!), I hope this will be helpful!

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1. When did you know you were ready to live together?

“We chose not to live together until we were married. That said, we only knew each other for 15 months when we WERE married, so…” —Hitha
“After two years of dating, packing bags, leaving toiletries at each others apartments, I was ready to put all of our things in one place. We ended up waiting another year so after three years of dating (and knowing he was the one!) we took the leap!” —Liz
“This is going to sound so cheesy but we just knew. We never wanted to spend a minute apart and we both knew in our hearts that this was forever. We discussed the fact that we wanted to live together before we got engaged to make sure that we were compatible in a living situation, which is a lot different than regular old dating!” —Julia

“It had a lot to do with timing. Our leases were up and it seemed like it just made sense, both in our relationship and financially. Why pay two rents and two sets of bills when we were staying together more often than not?” —Stephanie

“In the city it’s easier to justify moving in together because of the expense of rent. I hated the thought of an empty apartment (his or mine) at night and thinking of the wasted rent. Not to mention the time wasted going back and forth in taxi cabs. I think there should absolutely be a commitment made of some kind. I don’t think you have to be engaged– it’s not a bad idea to test drive how it will be to live together as you learn a LOT about each other really fast! And, worst case scenario, it’s 12 months lease.” —Erin
“We knew we were ready to live together when we decided to move from DC to NYC and saw that our options were either a. sell a kidney or b. move into one apartment to live within our means!” —Inslee
“We decided to live together when the timing was right for the two of us. When I graduated college, one of my best friends and I moved into the cutest two-bedroom apartment. After two years of living together in Kansas City, she decided to move to Chicago at the end of our lease and I knew I didn’t want to find a random roomate to fill her spot. Patrick and I had been dating since sophomore year in college, we did the long distance thing for a little under two years after college, and he was just about to take a new job in Kansas City. The timing could not have been more perfect. It just made sense to find a place we both loved, so we pulled the trigger and rented our first place together. Since then we have lived in two more states and are now married.” —Ali
“It turned out to be a matter of timing and economics. We were engaged and had bought an apartment to move into after our wedding so we needed to save on both of our rents in favor of funding the mortgage.” —Elizabeth (hi Mom!)
“Within a month of meeting my partner, I couldn’t shake this feeling of wanting to be close to him for the rest of my life. A big part of that desire for closeness involved the idea of making a home together — creating a space we both love and respect — and starting and ending my days (every single one!) with this person. Once I knew that my feelings were reciprocated, we knew our next step.” —Sara
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2. What was the best part about living together for the first time?

“Your other half is the last person you talk to at night and the first person you talk to in the mornings. Wade and I also love waking up together because we have coffee together in the mornings. It has kind of become our little routine.” —Amy
“The day we moved in was a huge frenzy. When it was all over and the moving team had left us and it was just us, completely alone in our first apartment with no roommates or parents or siblings, just him and me, we sat down on the floor and drank a beer together. We could feel this amazing energy of the start of a big adventure for us together – that we would never be the same now. I think it was the moment we really got married, sitting there amidst the boxes, not three years later when we finally walked down the aisle.” —Inslee

“No more wondering where that favorite pair of shoes was: at his house or mine? No more wondering whether I would see him that night because I knew I would; we could just hang out without needing to make plans.” —Elizabeth

“The best part has to be not feeling rushed when we’re together. Also, performing mundane tasks, like grocery shopping, with someone you love transforms them into absolutely joyful experiences.” —Sara

“Not having to pack things to stay over anymore! Not worrying about having the right shoes or outfit for a last minute double date. All my stuff was in one place and I no longer had to plan so much. Also, just being together all the time! Knowing that at the end of the day that you get to go home to your best friend is just the best!” —Stephanie

“Lazy weekends all of a sudden were the best. We had those kinds of weekends before but there was always at least one cab ride involved on someone’s end. It was nice to wake up on a Saturday where neither of us had anything to do and we could watch movies and eat cereal without any effort.” —Erin

“When my now husband and I first moved in together, I loved playing house. At the time, we were 25 years old and it made me feel like I was in my first real adult relationship. I started picturing us doing the same things (cooking, reading together in bed, etc) as we grow old.” —Julia

“There’s a sense of intimacy you only get when you live with someone. I love that I can sloth out on the couch with my husband and he’ll still look over and say ‘you look beautiful.’ And we were certainly nicer to each other when we first started living together!” —Hitha

“The best part of living together is that it makes everything easier. You no longer have to schedule when you are going to see each other, have dinner, or work around each other’s busy schedules. It becomes less about schedules and more about spending time together when it works for the two of you. And you rarely have to say goodbye!” —Ali

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3. What’s one thing you wish you had known before taking that next step?

“How much closet space I’d end up sacrificing! Just kidding… sort of. I wish I had known how quickly it would progress our relationship. You know really quickly that it’s going to work (and what the future holds) or that it won’t work.” —Erin

“If you are bringing two sets of pets under one roof, do your research and take it slow. Animals dislike change and take time adjusting to new surroundings; be patient with them and yourselves!” —Sara

“The importance of personal space. Dave and I spent 5-7 nights a week together when we technically lived separately but little did I know that having a separate space to myself was something I really relied on. It was a quick transition once we moved in but having a little space to call your own is really important (even if that means going to bed early and savoring your side of the bed!).” —Liz

“Honestly, we had been together almost five years when we moved in with each other so I knew what I was getting into at that point!” —Ali

“That it wasn’t as big of a step for us as some people made it out to be. I remember everyone saying how different it would be to ‘live with a boy’ but honestly, if you enjoy the person, it’s a pretty seamless transition.” —Amy

“I wish I had known how important honest and consistent communication would be. Even though we loved each other so much, we really had to learn how to communicate in our first very tiny Manhattan apartment!” —Julia

“I wish we had discussed who would do what around the house in advance. Having assigned chores works for us, but I would encourage every couple to sit down and dividing responsibilities in a manner that works for them BEFORE moving in, and re-evaluating those responsibilities monthly until you find your groove.” —Hitha

“That you have to continue to work on your relationship, to make it adventurous and exciting and with occasional surprises.” —Elizabeth

“That even though it’s easier to stay home together all the time (aka takeout and Netflix), it is important for your relationship to still get out and do things together!” —Stephanie

“You will get bedbugs.” —Inslee (editor’s note: you must read Inslee’s blog posts about this here!)

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4. Anything you didn’t know about your significant other until you cohabitated?

“How big of a NY Knicks fan he is! The man watches every. Single. Game. After 4 years of living together, I’m finally coming to terms with it.” —Julia

“How many sports he follows! He watches every sport, all year long.” —Stephanie

“He loves throwing away stuff. Including my passport. Needless to say, package receipt and disposal have become my job.” —Hitha

“It’s funny to see the different cleanliness patterns. We’re both pretty organized but when you live in a tiny apartment together some things are impossible to organize. I leave coffee mugs out and my shoes all over the place and that drives him crazy. He always has laundry to do (I used to be able to go two weeks before having to do a load!) and that drives me nuts!” —Erin

“What a neat freak he is all the time, especially when it comes to the bathroom. I try to make sure that I pick up rollers/blow dryer/makeup before I leave but sometimes I am so rushed I forget. Still working on that one!” —Amy

“We favor different sets of housework: I’m the vacuumer/counter cleaner, and he’s the dishwasher/bed maker. Also, we have completely different systems for doing laundry. As long as you voice your own preferences, you’re going to be golden.” —Sara

“I didn’t realize that Dave saves EVERYTHING. He can find a sentimental attachment to just about anything and has the hardest times letting things go. I am a purger so we have found a way to meet in the middle!” —Liz
“That he doesn’t know how to put the dishes in the dishwasher, but he is great at doing laundry (my least favorite chore!).” —Ali
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5. What advice would you give a couple who are about to move in together?

“Move into a new space together so it’s not his apartment you’re moving into or your apartment he’s moving into. Be in it together. Be clear on how expenses will work, how the responsibilities will be divided, and discuss what you need when you’re having a bad day (space? a shoulder to cry on?). Talk about that before you run into any issues so everyone’s clear when it’s time to buy groceries or when the laundry needs to be done or when you come home from work in tears.” —Erin

“Only take what you need and declutter before you move in together. You might want your college notebooks because they remind you of all the hard work and long hours — but get rid of them. Having excess stuff just makes clutter, creating chaos.” —Amy

“Make sure you each have your own space in the home that you can escape to. Decorate your home together — it should be a reflection of you both. Never delete a show or throw away a magazine without checking with the other person. Surprise each other in small ways: a baked treat, flowers, taking on one of their chores. Laugh every day. Never go to bed angry.” —Hitha

“Communicate! Talk about everything, from the biggest arguments down to the minute details, even if you don’t think you need to or shouldn’t or can’t. It will be hard and messy and terrifying and beautiful. You will stumble and most certainly fall, but the key to creating a healthy, whole relationship between two individuals is the ability to share one’s thoughts, opinions, feelings and dreams, knowing that it will be received with love and without judgement.” —Sara

“Make sure you are ready — don’t just move in because it is what you think is the right thing to do. I also suggest living with your significant other before getting married. I know this is a very controversial subject, but I learned so much about Patrick in the few years we lived together before getting engaged.  We grew closer as a couple and it forced us to make decisions together.” —Ali

“NEVER go to bed mad — say sorry even if your feelings aren’t quite there yet. Plan dates out or entertaining opportunities at home together (and make it a team effort, not just one person’s responsibility). Share chores and even help do his if you think he needs a lift!” —Elizabeth

“Be prepared to outwit him. You will win the decorating game — the woman always does — but it is a long con. Act all supportive and on board with his taste then wait until he goes to work. Then hide his Tibetan prayer flags under the bed. In six months he’ll forget he ever owned them and will, by powers of osmosis, begin to think he likes ginger jars.” —Inslee

“Learn to compromise! Sharing a living space with your partner is a big deal and can get overwhelming at first. If you can’t compromise on everything from chores to how cold you keep the AC, you’ll end up bickering constantly. Being happy is much more important than being right!” —Julia

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PINK STRIPED TANK

How darling is this criss-crossed ivy wall? Hello, dream home goals. I never thought I would wear white heels but I decided to try this pair and I’m so glad I did. They’re the perfect crisp white, didn’t break the bank, and look equally great with blue and white denim. I might even wear them with this dress for a wedding this weekend!

loft pink striped tank top

asha monogrammed clutch

kendra scott necklace

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DSC_0152-2pink striped tank  //  iridescent necklace  //  white jeans

scalloped clutch c/o  //  white heels

I’m in love with this Asha monogrammed scalloped clutch in bright cobalt. It’s made of super soft pebbled leather and is just a little bit oversized — perfect for toting essentials for a night out or wedding reception!