Ashley Brooke // Florida and Los Angeles Beauty and Fashion Blog by Ashley Nicholas

Monday, July 28, 2014

the top 5 back to school fashion essentials + $2500 back to school sweepstakes!

Can you believe that the summer is almost over? It seemed like just yesterday I was trying to pick out the perfect summer bikini, and suddenly it's time to start thinking about back to school shopping! While I was in school, the last few weeks of summer were always jammed with last minute beach trips, tons of homework that I'd forgotten were due the first day of school, and lots and lots of shopping. I'd drive to every single mall in the city and carefully inspect every single item of clothing in every single store, but I'd always go back to the basics in the end. When you're in a rush for school each morning, the last thing you want to worry about is matching your clothes. It's easy to look cute every single school day and be comfortable if you prepare for the year by investing in a few classic pieces. Today I'm sharing my top five back to school essentials that will help make your mornings a little simpler and keep you feeling comfortable all day long. You ladies know that I'm a bargainsta at heart, so I had to stop by the back to school sales page to see the latest coupon codes and sales for my favorite stores!

1. A Basic Cotton Dress: Dresses may seem a little upscale for school classes, but I guarantee they will be your saving grace at 7am. Cotton dresses are casual, incredibly comfortable, and take absolutely no effort to style in the morning. Simply throw on your dress and add a pair of shoes, and you're done. If you want to be extra snazzy, simply add a cute cardigan and statement necklace. This cotton fit-and-flare dress from Target is the perfect everyday dress, and it's incredibly affordable!

2. A Super Cool Backpack: There's no getting around this one. You're going to need a cool backpack. You may think a purse will look cooler, but after a few hours, you're going to realize that looking cool is less important than having an aching shoulder all day wrong. Meet in the middle and find the most stylish backpack you can find. Target has a great selection of backpacks, and I found this colorful backpack for an awesome price. they're currently offering $10 off a $40 purchase when you buy your items online and pick them up in your local Target store. Keep checking the back to school sales page to stay updated on all of Target's awesome sales!

3. Jeans That Fit Perfectly: Jeans are another absolute necessity. They match everything, and they're wearable in warm and cold weather. I'm picking up these American Eagle Skinny Jeans in a few different washes for the fall while American Eagle is discounting many of their designs to as low as $19.99! I found the coupon code for this promotion on, and they're also offering up to an additional 60% off their entire clearance section!

4. The Softest Hoodie You Can Find: Fall weather can be a bit unpredictable. One minute it's warm, and then a cool breeze sends a chill down your spine. Hoodies are the perfect addition to any fall outfit, so be sure to find the softest hoodie you can find to stay warm and comfortable while you're in class. I love the design and feel of the Aerie Hoodies and right now Aerie is offering 40% off their clearance section and free shipping on orders over $50!

4. Cute and Comfortable Shoes: When you're going to be walking around all day, you'll need comfortable shoes. Thankfully, comfortable doesn't have to mean ugly anymore. So many brands are creating the most adorable tennis shoes, ballet flats, and loafers that look great with any outfit. I'm loving these pink eyelet Keds Sneakers from 6pm has an amazing clearance section with prices up to 70% off!

Now that you have a little shopping inspiration for the back to school season, who wants to win $2500 towards their shopping trip? Enter the Back to School sweepstakes at to win up to $2500!

What are you back to school essentials? Did you enter the giveaway?

Thanks to for sponsoring this post. 

outlander, your new favorite tv show

I've been a book worm and TV/movie addict my entire life. There's nothing I love more than getting lost in a great story and being transported into a different world- not even macarons, cupcakes, shopping, or even *gasp* my beloved Diet Coke. I'll gladly spend an entire day curled up with a great novel or a new TV show, and I love taking my favorite new book with me wherever I travel. This summer, my book series of choice has been Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. After working my way through the books over the last few months, I was beyond thrilled to learn that Starz is turning the Outlander book series into a TV show! Basically, my dreams came true. Claire and Jamie on-screen for an hour each week? Yes, please!

Outlander tells the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse who is mysteriously taken back in time from Scotland in 1945 to Scotland in 1743. From her very first moments in the past, Claire is faced with life-threatening conditions and an unknown world. Trapped in the past, Claire is forced to marry Jamie, a Scottish warrior, and she becomes engulfed in a love affair that forces her to split her heart between the two men that she loves in two very different worlds. If you're a fan of romance, history, adventure, or science fiction, you will absolutely love this show!

I received the opportunity to preview the first two episodes, and let me tell you- it's so, so good. Trust me, you're going to be addicted, so just go ahead and set your Tivo to record the entire series. If you don't already have a subscription to Starz, you can contact Time Warner Cable to add it to your cable package!

Outlander features gorgeous cinematography, great acting, and a phenomenal story line that you won't be able to resist. My two favorite characters are Claire and Jamie, and their chemistry and story arch in the premiere episode will get you hooked on the show! Claire is a strong and smart woman who weaves her way through her mysterious new surroundings with courage and grace. Jamie is a brave and romantic Scottish warrior (and also a major hunk), and his heroic actions and quick wits will make him your favorite character in no time.

If you're looking for a new show to watch, I highly recommend Outlander. The series will premiere on August 9th at 9PM EST/PST and is only available on the Starz channel. You can get access to Starz and the Outlander TV series through Time Warner Cable.  Don't forget to like the Outlander Facebook page and visit the Outlander website to stay up-to-date with series news and information!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Time Warner Cable. The opinions and text are all mine.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


When I was a little girl, I just couldn't believe how beautiful and glamorous my mom was. Her long blonde hair looked just like my Barbie dolls, and her colorful makeup collection was more exciting than a new box of crayons. I used to sneak into her closet and come out wearing her wedding dress and patent leather pumps with bright red lipstick smeared all over my face. My mom would always laugh at my crazy ensembles, but she always told me that I looked beautiful. My reply was always "just like you, Mommy!" The true beauty of our dress-up sessions wasn't in learning how to style an outfit or apply lipstick properly. My mother was  helping me to develop my own personality, to feel confident in my own skin, and to learn that she loved me no matter what. She taught me that I would be a more beautiful person if I helped make other people smile and feel beautiful too. She taught me to #sharebeauty with others, whether I was helping a friend find a reason to laugh during hard times or helping one of tiny ballet students get over their stage fright with a little bit of glitter and pink lipstick. 

It may seem like style blogging is merely a frivolous form of vanity, and of course in part it is; however, I don't blog to try to show off what I have or how I look in an outfit. I want to share the excitement of finding the perfect shade of lipstick or my dream jeans not because it's important but because it's fun. Life is crazy, and stressful, and chaotic, so why not have a fun, girly space where we can laugh over our fashion faux pas or delight in our new peep-toe platforms?

I remember my mom would always help her friends and family with their beauty and fashion problems. Learning how to curl your hair or pluck your eyebrows may not seem like important lessons, but they can do wonders for your self-esteem sometimes. A new dress and a fantastic pair of shoes can help you walk into an interview with newfound confidence, so that you can get hired for a new job and enhance your career. Outer beauty shouldn't be the most important thing, but helping other people feel confident and beautiful is a wonderful thing. If wearing hot pink lipstick makes you feel like a million bucks, then work it. If you'd rather wear your hair in a ponytail with a natural face, that's great too! Personally, I'm a combination of both of those girls depending on the day!

No matter what your career may be, I encourage you to #sharebeauty with your community in a way that inspires you. If you love beauty and fashion like me, volunteer to give manicures at your local nursing home or visit a local charity to help women learn how to dress for interviews. You can donate your extra clothes and makeup to local charities or simply try to help your friends and family members develop healthy self-esteem and confidence. If you're artistically inclined, volunteer to paint with special needs children or give an art lesson at a local family shelter. No matter what your skill set and interests may be, there is a way to #sharebeauty with the world.

If you're looking for a little inspiration to #ShareBeauty, be sure to check out Regency Beauty Institute's "Beauty Grew All Around" video. It features fun animation and really cute message! I think it will put a big smile on your face!
Regency Beauty Institute and Refinery29 are holding a #ShareBeautyContest. Simply visit the #ShareBeauty contest site and see the trend of the week. When you try out the trend, share your beautiful look on Instagram with the hashtag #ShareBeautyContest. All hashtagged photos are entered to win a VIP Beauty Treatment from Regency Beauty Institute and Refinery29 worth $2,000! Your look might even be featured on the Regency website!Be sure to tag me (@ashleybrookenicholas)in all of your #ShareBeautyContest posts and use the hashtag #sharebeauty whenever you share a beautiful moment or look on your Instagram! 

Thank you to Regency Beauty Institute for sponsoring today's #ShareBeauty discussion.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

relaxing night in with the international princess project

It's easy to get caught up in the week's drama and the everyday stresses of work, relationships, and life, but it's important to take a step back every now and then to remember how blessed we truly are. I have had troubles throughout my life, but I have never had to worry about the basic necessities of life. I've never worried about having access to food or shelter, and I am blessed with a loving family, incredible support system and a country that grants me inherit freedoms. I've recently discovered the International Princess Project, which is an organization that aims "to create pathways to freedom for women escaping the ravages of sex slavery to achieve lives of hope and dignity." The International Princess Project helps women escape sex slavery by helping them to learn the trade of sewing, and they receive fair wages in addition to housing option, medical services, and even education for any children they may have. The International Princess Project sells Punjammies, a beautiful line of sleepwear and loungewear, through this program. I recently had the opportunity to try out this line during a recent relaxing night in, and I knew that I had to share this amazing organization with you!

Every girl needs a night to herself every once in a while, and it made me feel so good to know that the items I used on my relaxing evening were helping a woman somewhere in the world. My idea of a perfect night is curling up with a good book, comfortable pajamas, and lighting a pretty candle. I also have a bit of a nail polish addiction, so late night manis are quickly becoming a common occurrence in my household. This weekend I picked up The Book of Life from my local bookstore (Spoiler Alert: It's really good!) and broke out my new Punjammies.

My Punjammies in the Shaban Full with Border pattern couldn't be more beautifully made. The bright cobalt blue coloring and metallic detailing instantly made me smile, and the drawstring waistband keeps the fit extremely comfortable. Each style of Punjammies is named after one of the women who work in the International Princess Project's sewing center, so I sent a prayer and positive thoughts to Shaban. 100% of the proceeds from Punjammies go straight back into The International Princess Project, so you can feel confident that your purchase will make a true impact in the lives of women around the world.  

The Prosperity Candle in Reflect was my candle selection of the night, and it filled the room with a clean bamboo and floral scent. I will be buying several backups of this candle because it's the perfect relaxing fragrance that's suitable for any occasion. Prosperity Candle works with resettled female war refuges to create hand-poured artisan candles and portion of the proceeds from each candle goes to help women in Iraq and Haiti.  You can even see who made your Prosperity Candle on their website!

As much as I enjoyed the book, I always seem to feel the need to re-paint my nails. This weekend's mani was the LVX Nail Polish in Orchid.

 The bright orchid color of the nail polish provided the perfect accent agains the beautiful blue and metallic detailing of my new Punjammies!

 If you're interested in supporting this organization, please donate to International Princess Project or purchase Punjammies through their store. They're stylish and comfortable sleepwear that will help another woman out of a tough situation!

Follow The International Princess Project on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest to support their cause and stay up-to-date with their organization!

Monday, July 21, 2014

my perfect pair of jeans #bestfitever

I styled this cute summer outfit with jeans from Abercrombie & Fitch as part of a sponsored post for SocialStars by Crowdtap #AFStylist #BestFitEver

Like any American girl, I basically live in jeans. They're comfortable, flattering, and can be dressed up or down with the addition of a few accessories. As a 5'3 lady with extremely short legs and a whole lot of curves, it can be challenging to find denim that fits properly. I once spent an entire day at the mall trying on a dozen pairs of jeans from every single store. After hours of bad jeans and endless frustration , I stumbled into Abercrombie & Fitch and something miraculous happened. The first pair of jeans that I picked up fit perfectly...and so did the second pair...and the third pair. The short length was actually short enough, and the jeans were fitted in all the right places. This dressing room miracle convinced me to become forever loyal to Abercrombie & Fitch jeans. There's an A&F promotion going on right now where you can get any pair of jeans for only $35, so I just had to add these distressed Sloan Skinny jeans to my summer wardrobe!

As usual, I couldn't leave the A&F store without making a few additional purchases. I picked up the most precious off-the-shoulder floral peasant top and this pretty lace-trimmed tank. Combining the lace tank with my new distressed skinnies gives off a cool California vibe that I just can't get enough of. 

I wore my new jeans and flirty top to a lunch date by the lake, and I couldn't have felt more confident. My jeans fit like a glove, and the denim is soft and extremely comfortable. I added antiqued gold and turquoise accessories along with my favorite orchid nail polish to add a finishing touch to the outfit, but the star of the show was my new pair of jeans. 

A&F creates jeans in a variety of fits and lengths, so there's a perfect fit for every body type. The fit of the Abercrombie & Fitch Sloan Skinnies is perfection to me. It's definitely my #bestfitever! They hug my curves without being too tight, and the distressed details on the dark denim are in just the right places. When jeans are this flattering, you can bet that I'll be wearing them every single chance I get. They're comfortable enough to pair with a t-shirt and sneakers, but they're cute enough to wear to a lunch date with my espadrille wedges and lots of gold jewelry.

If you haven't stopped by Abercrombie & Fitch lately, run to your car and head to your local mall immediately to take advantage of the promotion to discount any one pair of jeans to only $35! Their summer line is seriously adorable and more pieces will be making their way into my closet very, very soon. Let me know which A&F style is your #bestfitever and be sure to tag me on social media! I'd love to see how you cute you look in your new Abercrombie & Fitch jeans!

Let me know what your perfect fit is in the comment section below! Are you a skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans, high-waisted jeans, or jeggings kind of girl?

power meeting ootd + twice #summerjamgiveaway

There's nothing like wearing a cute new outfit for the first time. Unfortunately, no matter how much I love something when I buy clothing, I inevitably either get bored with the item or completely forget that I own it. Both options leave me spending too much money on new clothes. I've been trying to be a bit more frugal and sell my lightly worn clothing pieces that just don't get enough love from me. I had high hopes, but it's honestly a time consuming and annoying process to photograph, list, and monitor your items online. I was just about to give up on the whole process, but then I found TwiceTwice is basically a fashionista's best friend. You can easily buy lightly used designer clothes at majorly discounted prices or sell your lightly used clothes quickly and easily. I was looking for a few pieces to add to my summer wardrobe for business meetings and local events, and I found some beautiful pieces from J.Crew and Madewell for 70% off!

J.Crew Tank c/o Twice  |  Madewell Skirt c/o Twice  |  Heels: Forever 21  |  Necklace c/o The Red Ruby
Bracelets: Sears  |  Rings: Windsor  |  Lipstick: Revlon Rio Rush |  Nails: LVX Orchid

My Twice purchases arrived quickly and in impeccable condition. I still can't believe I bought a Madewell skirt AND a J.Crew tank for such a great price. They're classic and pair perfectly with my nude pumps, gold bracelets, and tortoiseshell statement necklace from The Red Ruby to create a summer power outfit ideal for any work event.

So, now that I've gushed about Twice, let me tell you how it works. Simply sign up for a Twice account (super easy AND you get $10 off your first purchase and $10 towards your first sale!), and you can browse my designer, price, or type of clothing. Twice carries all of my favorite brands ( J.Crew, Madewell, Lilly Pulitzer, Kate Spade, Free People, Tory Burch, and so many more), so you're guaranteed to find something you love at an incredible price. Selling your clothes is just as easy. Twice will mail you a shipping label and/or a shipping container, and you simply fill it with your lightly worn designer clothing. Twice takes care of all of the hard work (photographing, listing, selling), and you get paid right away. I'd just go ahead and bookmark the site.

Who wants to win a gift certificate to Twice plus an assortment of awesome prizes? Simply enter the Rafflecopter below from now until August 3rd for your chance to win:

$50 Gift Card to Twice
Strawfoot Handmade Dopp Kit: Strawfoot creates handcrafted bags in Santa Cruz!
Cappellos Cookie Dough: Cappellos is a Colorado-based company that crates gourmet, gluten-free and grain-free products!
Projecteo's Mini Projector: Projecteo is the cutest tiny Instagram projector you ever did see.
Nar Gourmet Orange Peel Jam: Nar Gourmet makes healthy, organic Mediterranean products!
Fjord Timepiece: Fjord Timepieces crafts elegant timepieces and jewelry inspired by the Scandinavian landscape.

My beautiful blogger friends Mash Elle, The Rachel Ross, and Pancake Stacker are also participating in this fun giveaway. Be sure to stop by their blogs and check out their fabulous outfits!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

my top ten summer fashion essentials

No matter how many summers I spend in Florida, I always forget about how horrible and unrelenting the heat, humidity, and daily thunderstorms can be. As uncomfortable as the weather may be, I just can't say no to spending time outdoors in the bright sunshine. The blue skies and summer flowers are just too tempting to resist. While the temperature may rise above 100 degrees, I still like to look my best at every summer event. Extreme weather does not prevent this girl from trying to look cute. These ten summer fashion staples (including everything from a fabulous bikini to my secret weapon shapewear from Maidenform) are my main wardrobe pieces for the warmer months. Mixing and matching any of these ten items will help you look hot while you stay cool!

1. Fun Hats: Let's face it. It is actually impossible to keep your hair looking good when you're a sweaty mess. Add a few fun hats to your wardrobe and you can add personality to any outfit while hiding your hair and protecting your face from the sun!
2. Killer Sandals: Show off your bright summer pedicure with a killer pair of sandals. I'm all about gladiator sandals and studded sandals for this season. These shoes will match any summer outfit and keep your feet comfortable in the heat.
3. Boho Chic Handbag: Lightweight, casual handbags are best for the warmer months, and I just can't get over leather fringe handbags- especially in neutral colors.

4. Off-the-Shoulder Tops: Show off your tanned shoulders in a flirty off-the-shoulder top. This design is completely on-trend and will help allow your skin to breathe in the scorching weather!
5. Flirty Sundresses: Lightweight dresses are a lifesaver during this time of year. It's the easiest outfit ever. Slip on a sundress, add your sandals, hat, a pair of sunnies, and you're good to go! You'll look feminine and put together with minimal effort.
6. Cute Rompers: I'll admit that it took me a few seasons to embrace the romper trend, but I can't get enough of them this season. The loose fit of rompers won't stick to your skin, so you'll stay cool all day long.

7. Your Power Bikini: When you're headed to the beach or a friend's pool party, you're going to want to rock a bikini. Every season, I pick out a bikini that flatters my body type. There's no use wearing a bikini if you're going to feel self-conscious, so choose a swimsuit that makes you feel like a supermodel!
8. Cat Eye Sunglasses: Protect your eyes against damaging UV rays and add a major wow factor to any outfit with a unique pair of sunnies. I've been gravitating towards cat eye designs in tortoiseshell patterns.
9. Turquoise Anything: Natural stones look phenomenal against tanned skin, and turquoise is my absolute favorite for summer. Instead of layering on lots of jewelry that will only get uncomfortable throughout the day, accent your summer outfit with one big statement piece in turquoise.

10. Shapewear: We've now reached the most important item in my top 10 list: shapewear. With so many itty bitty fashion pieces to flaunt this summer, you want to focus on feeling confident. By adding Maidenform shapewear to my summer outfits, I don't have to worry about any lumps and bumps peeking out from my outfit. My Maidenform Comfort Devotion Natural Boost bra keeps me supported and secure up top, and my Weightless Comfort Shortie Slimmer shorts allow me to wear short dresses and rompers with ease. When I'm wearing a sexy, form-fitting dress to a summer party, I always wear my Maidenform Comfort Devotion Smooth Body Full Slip to cinch my waist and smooth my hips and thighs. To me, proper undergarments and shapewear help me feel more comfortable and confident, and they make my clothes fit even better!

What are your summer fashion essentials?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Maidenform. The opinions and text are all mine. #MFSummerSurvival