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Holiday Gift Guide #1 / For Her

November 6, 2019

I’m getting ahead of the game this year and doing my holiday shopping early. And while I’m doing that shopping, I wanted to make sure to get ahead of the gift guides and provide you with some of my favorite gifts for different people in your life.

First up? My gift guide for the woman in your life – be it a friend, your mom, sister, mother-in-law, etc. Basically the list below is me rounding up my favorite of favorite items in the last year and recommending them to you. You can rest assured that I’ve put my hands on every single item listed below and use + love each item on the regular.

Cuyana Baby Alpaca Square Edged Cape
I was gifted this beautiful cape/wrap on a Beautycounter trip in January and it’s completely dreamy! Soft, high quality, and so versatile. My mom has been hinting that she wants one for herself.

Cuyana Leather Travel Case Set
I don’t personally own a set of these – but I’ve gifted at least a dozen of them to people both on my Beautycounter team and for previous holidays. I gave a set to my mom last year and she loves them. Bonus? You can personalize them and high end cosmetics travel cases are something I think most people are reluctant to buy for themselves.

KitchenAid Sparkling Beverage Maker
Joe gifted this to me last Christmas and I use it every single day! I LOVE sparkling water and my habit of buying cans of sparkling water was getting expensive. This is a more eco and budget-friendly way of enjoying sparkling water at home. The canisters of CO2 can be exchanged at Walmart, Target and other retailers for a fraction of the cost.

Mini Lip Gloss Vault
For the makeup lover in your life! The colors in this lip gloss vault are to die for, and nearly all of them are universally flattering. I was shocked at how many of the colors I ended up loving – which is saying something for a neutral lip color gal like myself.

Rothy’s Chelsea Bootie
These have quickly become my go-to mom shoes. I slip them on nearly every day for preschool drop-off and pick-up. They are SO comfortable and versatile and I’m already eyeing another pair.

Everlane Cashmere Crew
The most classic Christmas gift choice around is a cashmere sweater, right? I love this sweater from Everlane. I’ve had a couple of their cashmere crews over the last few years in different colors.

Everlane Link Stitch Pullover
I recently purchased this and love it! I sized up to a medium for a more roomy fit and it’s quickly become the sweater I reach for most often.

Eye Sparklers Palette
The holidays are the perfect time to add a hint of sparkle to your eye makeup, and this little 4-pan palette is a fun way to to do so. It would make a fantastic stocking stuffer!

When Less Becomes More by Emily Ley
Full disclosure: I haven’t actually read this book yet, but I’ve read Emily’s other books and loved them and am equally excited to read this one. I think her books would all make fantastic gifts to any time-crunched momma trying to prioritize what matters.

Risen Motherhood (book) by Laura Wifler and Emily Jensen
I love my friends at Risen Motherhood and am so encouraged by their recently-released book named after their popular podcast. I can’t think of a better encouragement and gift to mommas in your life than to help bring them closer to the heart of Jesus as they mother their kiddos.

Fawn Design Original Diaper Bag
I have this diaper bag and got it before Collins was born. It’s my absolute FAVORITE. It’s roomy enough to tote around all the things you need for baby + toddler + other kiddos but it’s cute enough that it doesn’t scream “diaper bag!” Meaning that when I travel for work I still take this bag with me because I love it that much.

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Truett’s CHD Story (Part 1)

October 22, 2019

First, I want to say that I’m writing this mainly for myself. As I’ve navigated the last two months post heart surgery and all that transpired with Truett, I’ve been blessed (or sometimes I think cursed) with a crystal clear memory of all that transpired. And before those memories fade, I want to make sure I have documented this tender, terrifying and miraculous time in our lives and in Truett’s life. Some may find this helpful, others may find it entirely irrelevant. Be forewarned that what is to come is probably going to be one of the longest posts ever to grace Espresso and Cream.

Truett was born on Friday, August 2nd at a healthy, chunky 9 lbs. 1 oz. He had Apgar scores of 8 and 9 and in all regards checked out perfectly healthy. We were discharged two days later and started our life as a family of five. Our first week with Truett at home was uneventful and filled with the typical new baby things – finding a new family rhythm, working on feeding, trying to get a few minutes of shut-eye. You know the drill.

Truett was a champ eater from the moment he entered the world, and he continued to eat and gain weight well during the first week at home. The following Friday, August 9th we had Truett’s one week appointment. He had regained his birth weight and then some, and checked out well in all regards. Joe’s side of the family came to visit us that weekend and we spent our time together enjoying introducing Truett to his cousins and aunts and uncles. That Saturday night I remember particularly well as we spent it at home, snuggled on the couch, soaking up all the new baby goodness late into the night.

Sunday morning was our first Sunday at home and after a full weekend spent with family, Joe and I were exhausted and debated keeping our family home from church. Ultimately, we decided to go and I’m so very thankful we did. As most of you with multiple kiddos know, subsequent babies don’t get as much individual attention as the first baby does. While we were in church, Collins was having a hard time sitting still, so we took her to nursery and Ainsley stayed in nursery with Collins for moral support. With our two big kiddos in nursery, it allowed us to focus our attention on Truett.

Before we had left for church, Joe had made a comment about Truett’s breathing. He said, “Is his breathing always this rapid?” We both dismissed it as normal baby breathing variances. While he was sitting in his car seat sleeping, I noticed that his breathing was, again, very rapid. I took him out of his car seat and let him sleep in my lap. The vision of him sitting in my lap is still so clear in my mind. As he laid in my lap sleeping, I continued to count his breaths per minute – they were consistently rapid. I pulled out my phone and googled “normal baby breaths per minute” and was informed by Dr. Google that it’s typical to see a range of 30 to 60 breaths per minute. I pulled out my stopwatch app on the phone and counted: 80 breaths per minute. I gave it a few more minutes and counted again: 75. I counted again: 85. At this point, alarms started going off in my head. I continued to watch him, and whisper to Joe that I thought something was wrong. He seemed otherwise fine, but his breathing concerned me.

After the service wrapped up, I told Joe I thought we might need to take him into the ER. We debated if it was necessary, and settled on calling into the nurse station. The nurse on call told me that 80 breaths per minute did, indeed, seem on the high side and was probably worth taking a look at. I loaded Truett up in his car seat, I was still dressed in my church clothes, and told Joe I would be back soon. Honest to goodness, I thought they would check him out, tell me everything was fine, and we would be home in an hour or two.

When we got to the ER they took his temp (normal) and hooked him up to check his pulse ox. His levels were a little on the low side, though still in the 90’s. They also checked his respiratory rate, which was also on the high side as I had noted. He wasn’t fussy and seemed otherwise fine. They started to run some blood work to check for viral and bacterial infections, and sent us to X-ray to check his lungs for any type of pneumonia or other issues that might be impacting his breathing.

While we waited for his results to come back, the doctor on call said that they would be moving us to a room to keep us overnight for observation. He didn’t seem overly concerned but said since he was a young baby, and they didn’t know what was going on, it was probably best to keep him for observation.

At this point I called Joe to tell him I would need to pack and bag to stay overnight at the hospital. Ainsley was with my mom, so Joe called his parents to come take Collins so Joe could be at the hospital with me. When Joe arrived we were already in our room for our overnight stay. He took over with Truett so I could run home and pack a bag. I zipped home and shoved a bunch of random items into a bag. Thankfully the nurse had told me to pack my breast pump – something I assumed was totally unnecessary at the time – but was a saving grace looking back. I made a smoothie because I was famished (#breastfeeding) and sped back to the hospital as quickly as I could. When I got back to the room they had moved Truett to supplemental oxygen with a nasal canula. For some reason seeing him hooked up to oxygen stopped me in my tracks and sent off alarms in my head.

The respiratory therapist told us that they were going to keep him on oxygen to keep his levels where they wanted them. He was doing well at that point on a low dose of oxygen and continued to seem content and peaceful otherwise. When the doctor on call returned to the room he said that the X-ray hadn’t revealed anything unusual and they were still waiting on some of the blood results. At this point, he had no answers as to why Truett was breathing rapidly or having issues keeping his oxygen levels up.

Since we live in a small town with more limited medical resources for small babies, he said we could stay for observation or we could opt to head to Sioux Falls – about an hour and a half away where they have a NICU and more advanced medical resources. I asked what he would recommend, and he said it was up to us what we decided to do. We opted to have Truett sent to Sioux Falls after being told that the extent of what they could do at our hospital was to put him on the oxygen they already had him on. I felt better playing it safe, even though it might not be necessary.

After we decided to have him transferred, things started to move very quickly. We were initially told he would be transferred via ambulance, but after they called up to Sioux Falls they opted to have him transferred via helicopter so Sioux Falls could provide their own crew of medical professionals with additional medical resources. At this point, things started to get scary to me. As we waited for the crew from Sioux Falls to arrive, I held my baby and just prayed over his little body. I remember looking at him and the thing that echoed through my mind was, “He is yours, God, not mine. I’m just the lucky one who gets to care for him here on earth.”

When the crew from Sioux Falls arrived I was greeted by two women – the nurse and the nurse practitioner – whose faces literally looked like angels to me. They were both tall (for some reason it stood out to me) and they had the kindest faces. Their demeanor and reassurances put me at ease – or as much at ease as I could be in that moment knowing I would be putting my baby into their care on a helicopter and would not be able to go with him. Things started moving really fast once the crew arrived. They got an IV line in Truett, and began taking blood to run more tests. At this point Truett was very angry about getting his blood drawn and I remember them telling me it was a good sign he was angry as it meant he had a lot of fight in him. They told me they would be running a bunch of tests – that it could be anything from a viral or bacterial infection to a metabolic disorder to a heart issue.

A heart issue. It can’t be a heart issue. There can’t be anything wrong with this heart. And yet I knew, in my gut, that it was a heart issue. Something deep inside – although in denial at the time – knew that was what was wrong.

The crew assured me they would take the best care of Truett possible and would call me as soon as they arrived in Sioux Falls. We would follow behind in our car. Was it scary to send him off with them? Yes. But at the time it wasn’t as scary as it could have been because we didn’t really know what was wrong.

As Joe and I drove together (with our bags packed meagerly for one night at our local hospital) we both tried to put on brave faces but took turns crying as we processed and prayed and updated friends and family on what was going on with Truett. We got a phone call along the way from the crew letting us know Truett did well with the transfer and was getting settled into his room in the NICU.

When we arrived at the NICU we were immediately greeted by the transfer crew who was updating the NICU staff on Truett’s case. We also talked with the neonatologist on duty who let us know that they were waiting to get the blood results back which would rule out bacterial and viral infections as well as metabolic disorders. He said the cardiology team would also come up and run an echo on Truett to look at his heart. I remember him saying, “Based on what I’m seeing, it doesn’t look like a heart issue, it doesn’t smell like a heart issue, but we need to run the echo to be safe.”

I still remember the face of the echo tech, Sam, as I spent a good deal of time studying her movements and watching her face while she performed Truett’s echo. In fact, I remembered her face so well that I remembered her when she did Truett’s follow-up echo nearly two months later. After the echo was performed the neonatologist returned to the room to tell us that Truett had a serious congenital heart defect called coarctation of the aorta.

While many of the moments of Truett’s CHD story are very clear to me, the next few hours were a bit of a blur. Words like “life threatening condition” were tossed around and my brain struggled to keep pace with what was happening. Truett went from being hooked up to a couple monitors while I held him and a small canula of oxygen to many more monitors and medications. I remember putting him on the warming bed in the NICU, not realizing that it would be the last time I actually held my baby for nearly five days.

I do remember looking at Joe as soon as we got the news about Truett’s coarctation and hearing Joe say, “If it was going to happen to anyone, it would be us. And we can handle this.” And while my first reaction was certainly fear when faced with my son’s diagnosis, I vividly remember feeling God’s gracious hand over the situation, and nearly instantly being brought to tears thinking of how gracious God was to offer us the gift of catching Truett’s condition when we did.

We waited some amount of time (time was a blur that day/night) for the cardiologist to arrive to talk through Truett’s case in more detail and make a plan for surgery. Sioux Falls didn’t have the capability to perform the surgery, so we knew we would need to be transported elsewhere to have the surgery performed.

When the cardiologist arrived, she explained that when babies are in the womb, they have something called a PDA which is a temporary structure that exists for babies in the womb. Since babies don’t use their lungs in the womb, there is no need for the heart to pump blood to the lungs, and the PDA allows the heart to bypass the lungs. When a baby is a few days old, the PDA closes/deteriorates and the aorta begins to function to bring blood to the kidneys, liver and lower extremities. A hormone called prostaglandin, which is provided by the mother in the womb keeps the PDA open. Because Truett’s coarctation and narrowing of the aortic arch so severe, when the PDA closed he began to deteriorate rapidly. Which is why he appeared to be so well initially and then declined so rapidly.

What was unusual in our situation was that Truett’s severe coarctation presented itself very late – at nine days old. When they started the prostaglandin to try and re-open the PDA, it had already started to deteriorate and the prostaglandin was only marginally successful at opening back up the PDA to maintain blood flow. When they realized that the prostaglandin wasn’t working as well as they hoped, it went from “we will likely transport you for surgery within the next day or two” to “we are going to get you out tonight.”

One huge grace in all of this was the fact that our early detection of Truett’s rapid breathing and the medical team’s quick action to catch the coarctation meant that his heart didn’t have to struggle to pump blood very long. We were so thankful that his heart showed no signs of damage because it was caught so early!

We were given a couple options of where to send Truett for surgery, but it was clear that our cardiologist thought most highly of the team at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. And so, hearing that, we made the decision to head to Ann Arbor.

Part 2 to come.

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Beautycounter Holiday Collection 2019

October 9, 2019

Friends! I’m checking in today with a FUN post filled with clean beauty goodies. For those of you who share either my love of clean beauty OR my love for great makeup and fun ways to pamper yourself (or both?!) this post is for you.

I’ve been waiting for a few weeks to officially unveil the 2019 Beautycounter Holiday Collection and this week is the week I can finally do so! Each year, Beautycounter launches a host of new/exclusive products and collections designed specifically for gift-giving. And while most of us are probably not quite ready to do our holiday shopping, I wanted to give you the jump on snagging your favorite items both for yourself and those you love. So, let’s get to it!

MAKEUP COLLECTIONS //

Mini Lip Gloss Vault ($89)
This is a repeat of last year, with different colors! Ten different colors in mini lip gloss tubes, including nine brand-new colors. Personally, I’m thinking of gifting the set to my younger sister, but I may also buy another set to break up and use as hostess gifts and little goodies for friends throughout the year.

Rosewood Lip Trio ($49)
Rosewood is HANDS DOWN my favorite lip gloss color, and now it is packaged in a trio: Rosewood Lip Gloss, Rosewood Lip Sheer and Rosewood Lip Intense. In my opinion, Rosewood is THE best fall color for nearly any complexion!

Fresh-Faced Trio ($45)
A little makeup starter kit! Our amazing Lengthening Mascara, a Clear Brow Gel and Jelly Lip Gloss in Sorbet. I can see this being a particularly great gift for teens/tweens and those makeup minimalists out there!

The Jellies ($39)
Oh my 90’s loving heart be still! These are the clean beauty version of the old Lancome Juicy Tubes! Anyone else remember those? They smell amazing and are lightly sweetened with stevia for a sweet taste.

Starlight Eye Shadow Palette ($36)
I know many of you have been asking for a smaller sized eye shadow palette and now I have one for you! This is a 5-color palette rather than our typical 9-color palettes in shades perfect for the holidays!

SKINCARE COLLECTIONS //

Counter+ Skin Care Favorites ($89)
Some of our best-selling products from our Counter+ line, packaged together at a stellar price point! This contains the Lotus Glow Cleansing Stick, Overnight Resurfacing Peel, Brightening Face Oil and Charcoal Face Mask. It’s a great “treatment” set so you’re set for a spa night at home any night!

Glow Getters Trio ($89)
Gah! I love this set. It contains our super-popular Illuminating Glow Cream from last year – which is a moisturizer that has a little shimmer in it to leave your skin looking radiant – paired with our best-selling Overnight Resurfacing Peel and Rose Glow Highlighter Stick.

Bright Eyes Treatment Set ($89)
The Eye Revive Cooling Masks from last year’s holiday collections are BACK! They were such a hit and I’m so excited they’re making a comeback. These single-use eye patches are paired with our amazing Countertime Ultra Renewal Eye Cream. This is my ultimate tired-momma gift! In fact, I may buy a few extras to have on hand to gift to new mommas in my life!

Hand Cream Trio ($34)
Every year Beautycounter has hand creams in limited edition scents. Every single year they are one of the first things to sell out. How CUTE are this year’s hand creams? And they smell amazing, too! Perfectly sized for keeping in your car or purse!

Body Butter Trio ($49)
The same scents as the hand creams, this trio of body butters is adorable. I plan on buying a few sets of hand creams and body butters and breaking up the sets to gift teachers a hand cream + body butter + gift card. So fun, right?

Beautycounter Travel Companion ($35)
Travel sizes of some of my favorite Beautycounter basics! Shampoo + Conditioner + Body Wash + Body Lotion!

Counterman Carry-On ($45)
For the man in your life! Honestly, I’m going to buy a set for Joe just to have on hand and may also gift my dad a set, too, since he travels so much. Even if it’s not a gift for the man in your life, it would be a great way to have your man dip his toes into the clean beauty world at a great price point!

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My Fave Baby Products After 3 Babies (0-3 month edition)

October 6, 2019

Now that we are three babies into this parenthood journey, I’ve been thinking a LOT lately about baby gear. I’ve reflected a lot lately on what products I’ve loved through all three kiddos, what has stood the test of time and what was worth the money spent. I figured it was high time I did a round-up of those favorite products in case it might be helpful!

Note: One of the things that stands out to me most is that I wish I would have just gone with quality from the outset. There are plenty of expensive baby products that are not worth splurging on, in my opinion, but when it comes to basics, it’s worth spending a little more money for quality that will last through multiple kids.

Our Favorite Car Seat // UPPAbaby Mesa Car Seat
I love this car seat! It’s lasted us through three kiddos and is fantastic quality. It’s easy to install/use, looks great and all our kids have enjoyed being in it while they were babies.

Also: I was encouraged when I read this review from Lindsay Dahl about car seat toxicity and how well the UPPAbaby Mesa rates.

Our Favorite Car Seat Adaptable Stroller // UPPAbaby Vista Stroller
Full disclosure: We did NOT buy the UPPAbaby Vista at retail price. We actually stalked our local Craigslist ads for people selling this stroller and bought ours used – so it looks a lot less cool than the newer models – but it’s worked great! The frame is AMAZING for easily collapsing and storing in the back of our car and I use it all the time when our babies have been little enough to be carried around in the actual car seat since it snaps in and out easily.

Our Favorite Jogging Stroller // BabyJogger Summit X3 + Summit X3 Double
We have LOVED this stroller – both in the single and double versions. I balked at the price of jogging strollers when we were first looking into them, but we have put hundreds of miles on both strollers and frequently take the kiddos on runs/long walks in the strollers. I love that it lays back nearly flat. We have traveled through airports with this stroller and during times when unexpected delays happen, the fact that this stroller reclines nearly flat is great for a makeshift bed for little people.

Note: This stroller is also adaptable with the UPPAbaby Mesa Car seat with the correct clips, if that is of interest to you.

Our Favorite Changing Pad // Keekaroo Peanut Changer
WORTH EVERY PENNY. In fact, I would pay even more than it costs for this thing. I can’t even imagine having a changing pad that was fabric or needed a cover. When your kiddo gets pee or poop on the pad, just wipe it right up and move on with life! We have it in the oatmeal color and it’s worked great for all three kiddos!

Soft Baby Carrier // MOBY Wrap
Full disclosure: I didn’t have this for all three kiddos. I actually had the Solly Baby Wrap for the first two but bought this one for Truett and love it more than the Solly. I love the material – how it’s both substantial yet soft and Truett loves being in the wrap. I have the classic wrap!

Structured Baby Carrier // Ergo 360 Baby Carrier
Our kiddos have LOVED this thing! Especially as they get older + bigger and start to have better head and neck control. Collins especially loved that she could be outward-facing in the front carry in this carrier – I wore her a LOT during the first year of her life in this thing.

Diaper Bag // Fawn Design Bag
I love this backpack diaper bag! I didn’t really have a diaper bag I loved when Ainsley was a baby, so when I found this bag while Collins was a baby it was love at first sight. It’s functional + cute and relatively reasonably priced. Plus, I love it even when I don’t have my kiddos with me!

Our Favorite Baby Gym // Skip Hop Cloud Baby Gym + Play Mat
We had a different baby gym for our first two kiddos, but I got so sick of looking at that primary-colored baby gym every day. I’m so much happier looking at this cute baby gym!

Our Favorite Baby Seat // Baby Bjorn Bouncer
This seems crazy expensive at first glance, but it’s 100% worth it! I borrowed one from someone when Collins was a baby and then asked them if I could buy it from them because we got so much use out of it and I knew that we would want one for our next baby. Now, Truett is enjoying it just as much!

Our Favorite Pacis // Avent Soothie Paci
Our first two were never really Paci babies, but Treat sure is! He has LOVED these paces – and we have tried many different brands – but these continue to be his favorites. We buy them in a jumbo pack to make sure we have plenty on hand.

Our Favorite Swaddle // Love to Dream Swaddle Up
Our kids have all loved the Swaddle Up! I love that it’s easy to use properly and find that my kiddos seem to enjoy having their hands up like this vs. a traditional swaddle.

Our Favorite Sleep Sack // Merino Kids Sleep Sack
This is more of a big-kid thing rather than a little baby thing, but I wanted to include this since around 3 months is usually when people are transitioning out of swaddle products and into sleep sacks and the like. I bought two of these when Ainsley was a baby and about died at the price – they were SO expensive. Was it worth it? 100% yes! I’ve bought other less expensive sleep sacks and they have all broken down over time, but these Merino Kids Sleep Sacks have gotten years of use between my two girls and been washed hundreds of times and still look great! Collins is actually still sleeping in one of the larger versions!

Things we wish we would have purchase differently:
-I would have purchased a better + nicer portable crib/pack and play. There are a lot of great, functionally-designed and portable options out there that I think would have been worth the money.

-I would have purchased a NICE umbrella stroller for the kiddos as they got bigger. I’ve spent a good deal of money on cheap umbrella strollers that break and don’t last the test of time.

-I’m glad that we didn’t spend any money on expensive niche things like wipe warmers, bottle warmers, baby formula bottle makers, etc. In general, I love the phrase “go in the way you wish to continue!” Meaning that if you don’t want to always have to warm up your baby’s bottle of formula, don’t get them used to it at home, etc. 😉

-We bought an expensive video monitor with Ainsley and it broke twice. After that, I switched to a cheap audio-only monitor and enjoyed it much more. For someone like me, I found being able to hear/see every little movement just caused me more anxiety than it was worth! It’s a very personal thing, though.

Fashion

Everlane Faves

September 30, 2019

Hi there, friends! Postpartum momma searching for clothes that fit her body right NOW and make her feel great when going on nights of little sleep and full/crazy days. Can anyone relate? Regardless if you’re postpartum or not, Everlane has become one of my favorite stores to shop for beautifully made basics for any stage of life. They are also a company focused on making ethical clothing at affordable prices – which is something I can totally get behind!

As I’ve refreshed my wardrobe for fall, I thought I would share some of my favorite finds from Everlane this season. Read on for the full run-down!

Everlane Cashmere Crew Sweater
I have this in black in a size small that I’ve owned for years and the golden color pictured above in a size medium for a looser fit. I love both and have worn the black one time and time again. It’s such a versatile piece!

Everlane Link-Stitch Crew Neck Sweater
This is pictured in white above. It’s one of my most favorite sweaters to date! It’s great quality and such a great fit. It’s casual enough to wear with jeans yet pretty enough to dress up with a skirt or dress pants.

Everlane High-Rise Skinny Jean
I have been a Madewell jean gal for years but I gave these a shot because the price is great and I had heard good things from so many people. Now, my only question is WHY did I wait so long to get a pair? They are so comfortable ad the fit is fantastic!

Everyone The Italian GoWeave Easy Pant
These are perfection! (Pictured above in olive) They are casual enough to dress down with a sweatshirt – I can see them being perfect airport/travel pants with the comfy elastic waist – but the material makes them dressy enough to wear with a sweater and heels or mules for the office/church/events. I’m planning on buying them in every color.

Everlane The Clean Silk Short Sleeved Square Shirt
I am wearing this in the striped pattern above. It’s nothing special on the site and when it arrived I didn’t think it would look great on, but I was wrong. It’s so easy to wear and great for tucking into jeans or pants.

Everlane The Cotton Turtleneck
I have this in navy and it’s another easy-to-wear sweater going into fall/winter. I love it! It’s not heavy or scratchy and has a great fit. It runs true to size!