Blog, Crafts, Featured

DIY Kentucky Derby Hat



Wow! It has been a few weeks since I have posted, but I assure you that I have been nothing but busy at working hard to accomplish goals! I am SUPER proud and excited to announce that I passed my preliminary examination defense, and I am officially now a doctoral candidate! It is so rewarding to be recognized for hard work and to know that I am one step closer towards getting my Ph.D.! The past few weeks I have been busy with prelims, finishing up coursework, grading, and managing research projects. My favorite way to take a break from the chaos and relax is by crafting! I know it’s just more work, (and trust me I definitely took some “self care” time to binge watch shows on Netflix!), but it keeps me busy and makes me happy!



The annual Kentucky Derby is always the first weekend in May. I have actually discussed with Mike that once we are both finished with school that I plan on having an annual derby party/brunch that will be a formal and classy affair. My Pinterest board is already filled with awesome recipes and ideas. My favorite part about the Kentucky Derby is the classic, preppy style that perfectly syncs with my idea of how we should always dress. All of the pastels, seersucker, florals, and sundresses are essential to derby style. Guys should deck out in seersucker and bow ties. I even made sure that my dog, Cotton, was derby ready and have him sporting a seersucker bow tie from Crew La La.



The most important piece for ladies is the derby hat. I have seen simple to extravagantly creative derby hats. Most are wide-brimmed sun hats with a sash and flowers (fascinators are another option, too!). I wanted to have a simple hat, but something that was unique and classy. If you know me, I stand by Jackie Kennedy’s quote that “pearls are always appropriate”, so although I have never seen pearls on a derby hat, I thought it would be a “pearl”fect addition to a hat! I also wanted my hat to match my dress from Vineyard Vines, so I actually had some really pretty pink pinstripe fabric lying around. I absolutely LOVE this dress, mostly because it has pockets! I don’t know what it is about a dress with pockets, but I always get so excited when they do! And no outfit is complete without pearl jewelry. My absolute favorite is from Kiel James Patrick.

Here are DIY instructions for how I made my own derby hat!


  • Sun hat (I got mine at Walmart for less than $5!)
  • Pearl strands ($1ish each at Joanne’s in the jewelry section, I bought 4 but only needed 3)
  • 6 x 50 piece of fabric (I wanted seersucker, but I already had a pink pinstripe fabric)
  • 3 x 50 piece of fusible (iron-on) interface
  • Hot glue gun
  • I used a sewing machine, but if you don’t have one, fusible glue and tape are available now and I am sure that would work just fine.
  1. First you need to iron your 6 x 50 piece of fabric in half (it should be 3 inches now).
  2. Lay the interface on top of the fabric and sew down the edges.
  3. On each end (depending on how “sharp” you want the tips to be) measure about 1-2 inches from the side and make a mark.
  4. From the tip of the edge that you just sewed, draw a diagonal line inwards towards the folded side of the fabric. Do this on both ends.
  5. Now, sew along one of the diagonal line and reverse over it to make it stable.
  6. On the other end, only sew about halfway to 3/4 of the way and leave an opening.
  7. Trim excess fabric and interface close to the sewn edge, but not too close!
  8. Now, the tricky part. I have this amazing loop-turning tool that you can just insert and hook at the end of the piece and pull it out so the seams are on the inside. I absolutely love this tool and they’re super cheap. If you don’t have one, I suggest getting a safety pin and attaching a piece of string to it. Let the safety pin drop all the way to the sewn end and hook it to the fabric. Now, just pull the string and your piece should be flipped out!
  9. Iron the “tube” to make it flat and crisp.
  10. For the small opening, I used permanent fabric glue to seal the end.
  11. Now, find the middle of your piece and fold and make a crease so you know that’s the middle. This will help to make your bow even!
  12. Think of an “awareness” ribbon (like for breast cancer awareness) and fold your piece like that. There should be a loop at the top, and the ends should be crossed.
  13. Pinch this all together to the center mark and take a small, clear rubber band to secure it all together.
  14. Pull and twist your bow to your liking.
  15. When you get the bow just how you want it, make a small middle piece of the same fabric and glue a dab on the back of the bow. Place the middle piece on this glue and wrap it around towards the front and then to the back. Glue the end down.
  16. I then just took the pearl strands and glued them to the edges of the “head” of the hat. I left a small gap where I knew the bow would be.
  17. Glue the bow to the hat.

There you have it! You’re own simple, yet classy derby hat! I can’t wait to see everyone else’s derby dresses and hats!


Featured, Style

Dress to Celebrate Success


Today was my first day teaching a university course! In my doctoral program (and I’m sure this is the same for most), second year students are allowed to teach courses (given that they have taken all of the pre-reqs and such). I am beyond excited and nervous to start gaining experience in the classroom. It’s just another step and milestone closer to accomplishing my goal of getting my Ph.D. and starting my professional career. So, what better was to celebrate than by dressing up for the occasion?

Shop my outfit here.
Tote: Kate Spade | Cashmere Sweater: Macy’s | Shirt: Express | Skirt: Express | Shoes: J. Crew Factory | Pearl Necklace: Lauren Ralph Lauren | Pearl Earrings: Lauren Ralph Lauren | Bangle: Kate Spade

Everyone knows the saying, “dress for success” or “dress to impress”, but I think we should also dress to celebrate success! Achieving professional goals and milestones is such a rewarding feeling, and we should allow ourselves to be proud of our progress and accomplishments, no matter how big or small. Celebrating surface milestones–the goals that others can see–makes all of hard work and perseverance that others don’t see worthwhile. And just to make the day even better, Mike had a bouquet of lilies, champagne, and dinner waiting for me when I got home to celebrate this small marker in my career.


When deciding on the outfit that I was going to wear my first day of teaching, there were a few factors that influenced my decision. My outfit needed to:

  • Be classy
  • Give me confidence
  • Be comfortable
  • Appropriate for the setting
  • Give a great first impression

So, I went with a classic look by layering a poplin button-up shirt underneath a crew neck sweater and pairing it with a high-waist pencil skirt. In my opinion, no outfit is complete without pearls–they’re the “pearl”fect touch of class!–and they really did help to bring my outfit together.


I also feel that your outfit should have some sort of “pop”–an item that stands out. Kate Spade is by far my favorite designer because she always has a great selection of colors and designs for all of her products, while maintaining a classic-modern-chic style. This tote was the perfect “pop” for my outfit!

Most importantly, I had to save my best outfit for the second day of class. Mike always tells me that growing up he would save his best outfit for the second day of school. This makes a lot of sense! So, stay tuned for my day two outfit!

What is your go-to outfit for celebrating success or your first day at work? What is your “closet staple” that always completes an outfit? I’d really like to know your thoughts and opinions!




Southern Tide Giveaway Trip to the Army Navy Game

At the beginning of the football season this year, Mike and I went to the highly anticipated Florida State vs Alabama game to cheer on the Noles and tailgate. While we were there, Southern Tide had a sponsored tailgate to promote their Tailgate Tour. We entered their contest (through Cotton’s Instagram account) for a chance to win tickets to the Army Navy game in Philadelphia. Normally, you just don’t win these types of things, but a month or so later, it turns out that we (well Cotton) won! We were SO excited (even though Cotton wasn’t so thrilled he wasn’t able to come along on the trip he had won for us!) and couldn’t wait to plan our trip!


Shop Our Gameday Outifts Here
My Outfit: Sweater: Southern Tide | Shirt: Southern Tide | Pants: Southern Tide | Beanie: The North Face | Coat: Steve Madden | Boots: Frye | Hand Mitt: Southern Tide
Mike’s Outfit: Jacket: The North Face | Pants: Southern Tide | Beanie: American Eagle Outfitters | Boots: UGG

The day of the game, we took over Southern Tide’s Instagram (which was pretty cool!). Southern Tide outfitted us for the game, gave us tickets to the game (not to mention Club Level access), gift cards, and paid expenses. Although it was at a busy time during the semester for us, for a graduate and law student, this was a much needed trip!

Sweater: Southern Tide | Shirt: Southern Tide | Hat: Southern Tide | Vest: J. Crew Factory | Pearls: Lauren Ralph Lauren | Boots: Frye

We were SO excited to visit Philadelphia and check out all of the sites and history, like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Also, Mike has never seen snow before (he’s from Florida), and boy did he get a great first experience of snow because it seemed like a blizzard hit during the game! Which by the way, this Southern boy had only packed boat shoes from Kiel James Patrick for the trip so we had to swing by the mall to pick him up a pair of UGG boots to keep him warm!

The bar and food scene in Philly is incredible. There is a huge debate over which establishment has the best cheesesteak, and although we didn’t go to Pat’s or Geno’s, we did try out Jim’s on South Street, and man was that the best cheesesteak I have ever had in my life!

Shop this look here

We also stumbled upon this amazing candy store, only to find out it is the oldest confectionary in America. So, if you’re ever in Philadephia, be sure to check out Shane confectionary. The staff there is amazing, not to mention, the chocolate is to die for. They will even make custom chocolate boxes for you!

Although it snowed during our trip, I think it definitely added to the experience and made everything so dreamy! Not to mention we were able to take some pretty wonderful pics! I think my favorite place we stumbled upon was Elfreth’s Alley which is America’s oldest residential street! I’m so glad we took pictures there, but it was even dreamier after the snow!


Welcome to The Classy Academic


Hi! I’m Kelly, and welcome to my blog!

Novellus et Penicullus translates to “The Young and Stylish”, and my goal is to provide life, classy and preppy style, and travel tips and guides for the young professional.

I am currently a doctoral student at Florida State University pursuing my Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Sciences. I started this blog because I am surrounded by colleagues and future professionals in the college setting who love style or aren’t really sure how to style themselves in this day and age, and I wanted to provide insight, shed light, and start a conversation around how to dress classy and trendy for young professionals in the work environment.

I am happily married to my handsome husband, Mike who is finishing law school (it’s a race to the finish!). He may be a guy, but he does have a great sense of fashion, so I will also be sharing life and style posts for gentlemen, too!

When we are not busy with school, we share a wonderful life of adventures in the South with our absolutely crazy and loving German Shorthaired Pointer, Cotton (You’ll be reading about him quite frequently, I’m sure!). Cotton is more famous than I could ever hope to be, so I also have to manage his Instagram daily (@cotton_gsp). I also am co-owner of a dog accessory company, Prep on Point, that carries bows for the classy ladies and bow ties for the dapper gentlemen, be sure to check it out!

Not only am I busy with finishing school, teaching, being a wife, keeping up with Cotton, blogging, and running a small business, I absolutely love crafting, organizing, music, and traveling. I plan on sharing my projects and travels on my blog, too!

I am SO excited to start this new adventure with all of you!