Day, Gym, Night – Styling Lululemon Tops

Fact – Lululemon is expensive.

Fact – I am a broke college student

Fact – You can still wear Lululemon if you keep styling options in mind!

As a shopaholic on a budget, I used to have a hard time buying pricier items. However, after some number crunching, I came to realize –  Why spend $15 on a cheap shirt I’ll wear once or twice, when I can invest more in a top that I can wear for years in different ways? So now when I shop, I keep different styling options in mind.

When I first saw the City Tank online, I KNEW I had to have it since I could see how versatile it was. I somehow managed to restrain myself and snag it on sale a few weeks later, and it has quickly worked its way to the top of my rotation. While this tank may no longer be available, any top from Lululemon will do! With a variety of shapes, fabrics, styles, and colors, you’re sure to find a piece that you can style for different occasions. For example, I’m a sucker for peplum, which is why I fell in love with the City Tank. However, I could just have easily made these looks with any other singlet or tank!

Look one – Daytime (school, running errands, etc.)

I live for the jean-cardigan-boot combo, which is how I pulled together this first outfit. As much as we all want to wear cozy sweats to school, cardigans are just as cozy.

Jeans – American Eagle

Cardigan – New York and Company

Boots – Macys

Look 2 – Active (Gym, dance, yoga!)

I’ve shamelessly worn this look to all three of the above suggestions. Simply ditch the cardigan, throw on your favorite stretchy pants, and get moving.

Shorts – Lululemon

Look Three – Night out

After your daily sweat session, spritz in some dry shampoo and easily transition your top from the gym to the bars (or, if you’re like me, the quiet pizza place across the street from your apartment).

Jacket – Express

Leather lined leggings – Macys

Boots – Macys

Wristlet – Target

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What are your favorite ways to style investment pieces? Leave a comment below, or post it to Instagram and tag @daniellenicolepurtell and #BarbellBeautyQueenFashion


Fitness Fave Friday – Yoga

Edit: yes I know it’s not Friday. Sometimes life happens and we forget to publish our drafts on time.

This past year, my shopping addiction caught the Lululemon bug. One evening, as I was laying in my small pile of new purchases, high on shopping euphoria and ignoring my growing buyers’ remorse, I realized that most of my yoga pants had never seen a yoga studio. This semester, I set out to fix that.

Every week, I’ve been taking a rest day slow flow class at aUM Yoga in Ann Arbor (happy hour classes for $7? You bet I’ll be there). Since I began doing yoga regularly, I’ve had the effects carry over into school, dance, and the gym. So my first official Fitness Fave Friday is yoga!

Why it’s awesome:

At the beginning of every class, we breathe and set an intention. This could be anything from “relax my jaw and neck more” to “learn how to be more open.” This helps me with my studying. Every time I sit down to do an assignment or study for an exam, I set an intention or goal for myself, giving myself more direction and focus.

Looking for balance (literally)? Yoga is a great option. I spend a lot of time on my toes (putting the “baller” in ballerina. Just kidding), and yoga has been helping me with my balance and control. When you’re holding poses and moving with control between them, your nervous system is firing like crazy to help you find and maintain balance. Even after class, you’ll find yourself feeling more centered and energized (thanks to increased circulation, decreased cortisol levels, and more!) This helps me in the dance studio, at the gym, and walking on ice in this awful polar vortex.

Yoga is also helping my back feel better. When I’m not throwing around heavy stuff at the gym, I’m hunched over textbooks and carrying heavy backpacks, leaving my back a painful mess. I’ve spent the past few weeks laying on foam rollers and lacrosse balls trying to relax my super-tight-super-painful thoracic spine. Nothing was working… until my one hour yoga class. Moving out and between lengthening poses in a hot room has done wonders for my back, which is why weekly yoga is a huge part of my recovery.

My favorite poses:

Inversions – I’m scared of being upside-down (I was dropped on my head once in a gymnastics class and never went back), so one of my 2015 goals is to spend more time upside-down. These take practice, but are great for balance, circulation, and cool Instagram pictures!


Dancer (Natarajasana) – Because what kind of dancer doesn’t love this pose.


Child (Balasana) – And as much as I love dancing and bending… I love laying facedown on the floor more. This is a great spine and hip stretch too!


Sun salutations in the morning – While I wait for my water to boil to make tea, I do a few sun salutations to begin the day with stretchy hamstrings and a relaxed back:

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(Shorts – Lululemon. Leotard – Gaynor Minden)

Favorite yoga poses/outfits? Your own Fitness Fave Friday? Something you think I should see? Share it on Instagram and tag @daniellenicolepurtell and #BarbellBeautyQueenFitness !

Defining Your Philosophy

Last year, while helping me prepare for a national pageant, my friend gave me the following advice:

“For interview, boil down your life philosophy – who you are and what you believe in –  to a few key points, and base all your answers off of them.”

(Side note: This is one of the benefits of pageantry – how often are girls asked to verbalize their core values and beliefs? Their goals and aspirations? Demonstrate their vision for achieving these things? Pageants teach valuable real-world skills, people)

My philosophy boiled nicely down into Danielle’s Three Rules for Life, as follows:

1: Bring yourself closer to your goals every day

I am a firm (no, obsessive) believer in goal setting, short and long term. Goals should be S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound). Once you set out a goal, you have something real to work towards. But almost as important as goal setting is the vision and action plan to achieve them. That’s where “bring yourself closer to your goals” comes into play. As an example of a short term goal, I want to score well on my physical chemistry exam next tomorrow – but it’s not enough to simply say that. My battle plan includes dividing chapters up, making concept maps and notes, and memorizing relevant equations. I can measure my progress as I move through chapters, and the process is time bound since each chapter is assigned a time slot. On the other hand, as a long term goal, I want to be Miss America. I have S.M.A.R.T goals written out for my talent, platform, interview, fitness, etc. to get there.

An important part of the action plan is saying no to things that don’t bring you closer to where you want to be. If I know I need to study, I’m not going to goof around on Facebook all night. Similarly, if I want to be Miss America (or a doctor, or any of my other plans) I can’t allow negative things into my life. In yoga and ballet class, I “set an intention” for the next hour or two – what do I want to accomplish? What do I want to learn or improve on? Setting a daily life intention of getting closer to your goals makes them attainable.

2: Be the person you would have looked up to when you where younger

I was a shy kid growing up. No, really. I was so shy that my elementary school teachers thought I was mute because I didn’t speak to them until the fourth grade. Behind my wall of silence, I’d stare with big brown eyes at the girls who were able to say and do whatever they wanted. I wanted to be brave enough to be honest with people, confident enough to wear red lipstick to the grocery store, and strong enough to fight for what I think is right. So every morning, I try to wake up and make that little girl proud.

3: Do what makes you happy

I’m obviously overscheduled and hyper-organized, and have little sets of obsessive rules for everything. But at the end of the day, the first two guidelines only matter if you’re happy. I literally ate cookies, chips, and guacamole for dinner tonight. Is that bringing me closer to my Miss America dreams? No, but it was fun and I don’t regret it. Would six year old Danielle appreciate the fact that I’ve been wearing the same sweatshirt for three days in a row? Probably not, but this is the comfiest article of clothing on the planet, and I feel like I’m wrapped in a million warm hugs right now. None of these guidelines are worth anything if you’re not smiling.

Life is messy. Short lists are not. I like short lists about life because they make everything easier.

For my readers, what is your philosophy? What are your goals? Writing them down will help you in pageants, extracurriculars, and life in general.