Monday, December 22, 2008

the gift that keeps on giving

We've all done it. It shouldn't be a surprise. At some point in our lives, we'll receive a present that will inevitably be "re-gifted". Maybe it's something we can't use. Maybe it doesn't match our taste. Or it's just down right tacky. Regardless of the reason to not be happy with the gift, it's better to give the gift to someone who will actually use and enjoy it, rather than keep it and never use it.

When giving gifts, "the thought" doesn't always necessarily count. Consider this: if John Q. Neighbour delivers an unexpected holiday gift to me, and feeling obligated to return the favour, I dig through my collection of random gifts to find something for John, he might not enjoy receiving something I didn't buy specifically for him.

If "the thought" really counts, make sure you put some thought into the gift selection process. Will the person actually use your gift? Does it match their style or tastes? Is the gift easy to use? Will it fit properly?

For all of the gifts we'll never use, never like, or never enjoy - I propose a "re-gifting party". After Christmas, gather your friends. Get some of your favourite champagne or holiday punch, some appetizers, and your closest friends. Instruct them all to bring a gift they wanted to regift. Then, amidst the party atmosphere, everyone can provide an entertaining sales pitch for their item, and then let others trade gifts for something they'll actually enjoy!

If you make the atmosphere light hearted and spritely, no one will mind getting rid of their less-than-desirable presents. After all, it's more about the presence of friends and family than the presents anyways.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Louis Vuitton Movie

Louis Vuitton's new campaign is all about travel - iconic places, iconic people, iconic style. There's one particular short movie about "journeys". You must watch it. I found it on the LV main site, and also on youtube. If I was more technologically savvy, I'd include the clip here. It's powerful. It is the perfect answer to "why I travel".

Travel is an emotional experience, a process of self-discovery. It has been the defining value for Louis Vuitton for more than 150 years. More recently, Louis Vuitton has established itself among the world's leading fashion houses. This enables Louis Vuitton to communicate in two different but complimentary ways: with seasonal fashion statements and a long-term campaign about Louis Vuitton's core values.

To convey the values, Louis Vuitton chose personalities of extraordinary stature: Mikhail Gorbachev, Catherine Deneuve, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graff. And only the world's foremost portrait photographer, Annie Liebovitz, could have captured their emotional depths, in such fresh, unexpected fashion.

Louis Vuitton also has a long-standing commitment to environmental responsibility. The core-values campaign is therefore a perfect opportunity to promote this cause, and Al Gore's Climate Project is a natural match, a truly worldwide initiative to fight global warming.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

holiday sale shopping

Every holiday season, before I go shopping for my friends and family, I always make a list.  On the list, I write down who I think I'm buying for, any ideas I may have for them, and then I assess my holiday budget.  Once I've determined how much (or how little) I'm going to spend, I then make a budget for each person. 

This list is incredibly useful when shopping - there can be so many options and items, that shopping can become overwhelming.  It also keeps you from going crazy in the spending department.  If you start early, you'll find enough options to choose from for each of your recipients.  You may also be lucky and find a sale.  Remember, if you're giving gifts that are on sale, make sure they're from the current (or most recent) season, are still in "brand new" condition, and don't appear to be spoiled or unkept.  Also, if you find something on sale, for budget purposes, you consider the original value - not the sale price.

For example, if my budget for Carl is $75, and I buy him a tshirt that was originally $50 but on sale for only $25, I would only spend an additional $25.  The extra money that I saved will go towards paying off any holiday debts.  If  you stick to your list and stick to your budget, you will still give great gifts without having to pay for weeks on end in the new year.

Be smart.  Shop smart.  Make a list.  Check it twice.  Stick to a budget that you can afford.  After all, holidays aren't about presents.  It's about the presence of friends, family, and holiday cheer.

Friday, December 12, 2008

a fashion riddle

I travel quite frequently. When I'm on the run, whether for work, play, or both, I always take a moment (or several for that matter!) to scope out the local shopping scene and squeeze in some retail therapy. Some would say I've transcended the "retail therapy" and now am just plain addicted to shopping.

Regardless, I was at a shop this morning. I took several photographs with my mobilephone. And we're going to play a game. See if you can guess where I was? I'll give you hints along the way.

Notice the higher end skincare. Strivectin. Origins. Clairns.

Notice the beautiful signage and product cards.

There's also a fragrance section.

With luxury brands like Armani...

...and Calvin Klein and DKNY.
There's a salon haircare section - with ranges like Bumble & Bumble.
Clearly labeled with lots of options...
So let's recap - there is an entire section of fine fragrances, great haircare, and an extensive selection of higher-end skincare.
This could describe many places.

Was I at Sephora? Nope.

Was I at SPACE.NK? Nope.

Was I at a Duty Free Shop in Dubai? Nope.

Was I at Harrods? Nope.

Give up yet?

I was at, none other than...

TARGET! Now, I too was shocked when I saw the amazing selection of goods. I'm such a fan of Target. Don't get me wrong, stores like Sephora and SPACE.NK for example are always beneficial to shop at, especially with their extensively trained staff and ability to get samples and professional opinions. But for those of us who know what we like already, your local Target really can be the "one stop shop". Brava, Target!

a holiday toast to you

So in honour of the 2008 holiday season, and my 100th posting here at Thirsty.Threads, I've got a fantastic drink to celebrate.

Instead of the traditional mimosa (champagne and orange juice), combine your favourite champagne with pomegranate juice. The sweet-tart flavours of the fruit juice, combined with the sprite and effervescence of the champagne, make the most beautiful coloured holiday beverage, and it tastes ab.fab.

So for 2009, and all of your future days, here's to family who are like friends, and friends who are like family.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

my 2008 Christmas gift suggestion list

I know you've been patiently awaiting my annual Christmas list. Without further delay...

1. The Converse 1HUND(RED) initiative is a year-long global project celebrating our partnership and commemorating the brand's 100th anniversary. We have brought together 100 artists from around the globe to celebrate the artistic spirit and help eliminate AIDS in Africa.

The Chuck Taylor® ALL STAR® x Africa line uses canvas sourced in Africa and features African mudcloth designs, bringing global inspiration to the classic Converse style.

Prefer to do-it-yourself? Build your perfect pair and make a difference with the customizable “MAKE MINE (RED)” option. Turn your favorite kicks into an instrument of global change.

My favourites are # 72 and #75. I wear a US size 11. I don't think these styles have been released yet, so a gift card is optimal.

2. Emporio Armani, Product Red 2-button suit. Was originally US$1,095. Now only US$658. This is absolutely an incredibly deal. So much so that I'm hesitating to even post it publicly, as I don't want it to sell out. Armani suits are top notch, and to add that 40% of the profit are donated directly to combating HIV/aids in Africa, and that it's on sale - wow. I need a size 42R, which they currently have. I know this is a lot to ask for - so gift cards work too.

3. Also from Emporio Armani's Product Red range, the Logo Card Holder is a great accessory as well. I'd love to own it. Originally US$125, now US$75.

4. I'd like a gift subscription please to (red)wire. It's US$5 per month. I get exclusive downloads and lots of other fabulous stuff.
5. Marvis makes the most delicious toothpaste. I love the Acquamint flavour - it's about US$10,50. You can buy it at anthropologie.

6. Gift certificates to Bliss and Sephora are always lovely. I use a lot of products from both of these retailers.

7. I've already got the product red iPod - but I'd love product red iTunes gift cards!

8. Marimekko's hetkia wallhanging. Was originally US$89,95 and now US$39,95. I love these wall hangings - I have a few others that I'm collecting. This piece is one of my favourites, and I've been admiring it for quite some time.

9. I know it's lame to ask for cleaning products for Christmas, but I love Method's entire cleaning range. I buy them at my local Target. So a gift card to Target would be just swell. And speaking of things are Target, I always get my Preserve toothbrushes here, and online they have the Preserve razors I've been looking for. So a Target giftcard would be multifunctional and definitely appreciated.
10. There're 2 pairs of Robert Wayne shoes I'd like from DSW. So a gift card to there would also be enjoyable. (On a side note, I know, I know, I know - "designer" and "warehouse" never go together - but I must say, if you have time to look through the endless inventory, you can randomly find a great shoe at a great price. Don't knock it. It's like a palatable garage sale for shopping addicts!).

11. Cash is always accepted. Happily.

If you see something that I just have to have, by all means - don't let me prohibit you! Christmas isn't about the presents. It's about your presence.

eco-friendly tip of the day

Whenever you drive your car, charge your mobilephone (or other important electronics). You'll save money on your home electric bill by using the energy created by driving - and it won't effect your car's driving performance either! Even on short trips, I charge my mobilephone - and can't tell you the last time I actually plugged it into a home outlet!

an ode to the Moms in our life

For those who don't know, my Mother died on April 15, 2007. She was one of the most elegant, stylish women I think I'll ever meet. She wasn't pretentious. She wasn't flashy. But she was always classy. She was the one who you would see with her traditional wool skirts that actually covered her lower half without looking frumpy or shapeless. And cashmere shells and cardigans with her favorite denim. Or her black patent mary janes from Florence. And she loved her coats. Whether pale blue lambskin, beige suede, or goose down filled puffers, or bright red trenches, she always dressed for the weather. She always wore her diamond wedding ring, and usually diamond studs or pearl earrings. It really was the little style and design elements that set her wardrobe apart.

Here are some quick tips from her wardrobe that may help other Moms (and women without children) on the go.

  • don't be afraid of wearing heels, even with kids (or a busy schedule) - just make sure they're comfortable, and that the heel is thick enough or supportive enough to be on the go. You may have small children (whether your own, students you may be teaching, or random children out) that you have to chase after/run away from. But don't think that flats can't be sexy or stylish either - a ballerina flat, a driving loafer, and even sporty trainers can have just as good of an effective and statement as their higher heeled varieties.
  • keep makeup simple. Dedicate a few moments each day to practice good skincare. Use a great facewash everyday. Follow up with a balancing tonic, a great moisturizer (with sunscreen). When your skin is healthy and radiant, you won't need to cover it up with traditional cosmetics. A concealer, a lipstick, and a bronzer can take you to new heights during the day. And you won't be constantly touching up and reapplying the makeup either.
  • spice things up with accessories. A fun watch. A great bracelet. A beautiful necklace. Earrings. Keep things fuss-free with minimal moving accessories - watches and bracelets should be fitted, like cuffs. Earrings should be studs or small hoops. This way everything is free from getting caught, damaged, tangled, or torn.
  • if you have small children, or work around/with them, consider wearing pants. You know what your schedule is like - if you're going to be crawling on the floor, climbing trees, or chasing little ones on the soccer field - dress appropriately.
  • most importantly, schedule time for yourself. Each month, set a date for just you and your spouse. No kids allowed. Break out the sexy dresses, heels, and great jewels. Similarly, ditch the diaper bag and "Mom jeans" to dress up and go out on the town with just your girls. Trust that all will be well at home with the kids and your husband and have a blast!
  • When in doubt, heels, great jeans, and a button down shirt are always classy, stylish, and age appropriate. When you find heels that fit well and are comfortable - buy them in multiple colors. Every woman I know instantly feels more beautiful, more sophisticated, and more elegant the moment the put on heels. Try it.

Just because you have children doesn't mean you have to be in a fashion rut. You don't have to pretend to be someone else. You don't have to look like you stepped out of the latest Bravo "reality" show or off of a rap video. Take a few moments each day to do something for yourself. When you look good, you feel better. And when you feel better, you look your best.

Monday, December 8, 2008

it's all in the details

If you took a cashmere sweater from J. Crew and a cashmere sweater from Loro Piana, the everyday shopper probably wouldn't notice much difference, except in the price of course. But to those who know, to those who appreciate the art of fine knitwear and fantastic design, one would instantly recognize the incredibly fine gauge. The higher the gauge, the finer the knit.

Same with a trench coat from Burberry and a trench coat from Banana Republic. Burberry, the creator of the most iconic outwear, includes phenomenal fabrics, visible darting and pin tucks for the perfect, tailored fit, and backer buttons (those little buttons on the reverse side of outer buttons that provide addition strength and durability) for additional quality. You'd be lucky to find any of these details in the cheaper, more mainstream version.

Price isn't everything. You can find great style, quality, and design at a bargain as well. But the cliche is true - you get what you pay for. Design and details aren't cheap. And the most important part of each garment is always in the details.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Please, Please don't ever...

...wear sweatpants in public. I can understand a sweat jacket on a cold day with jeans and a tshirt while visiting the local farmer's market or vintage furniture mart. I could even imagine some vintage fleece shorts to wear while working in the yard. Lounging in the house, traditional sweat-type materials are perfectly fine. As long as no one but immediate family are home.

But under no circumstances shall one ever wear sweatpants or sweatshorts during any retail activity, while dining, or doing anything that doesn't naturally cause one to break a sweat. And I don't mean sweating from a day-long power shopping surge. Hence, the term "sweat"pants.

I don't care how "fashionable" Juicy Couture or J. Lo think this look may be. It's tacky. Classless. And unattractive. You're better than that. And we deserve to look at something more pleasant.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

the perfect host/hostess gift

I never thought giving a gift could appear offensive to the recipient. Imagine someone has invited you to their home for dinner.

You could bring flowers, but that might signal to the host/hostess that you thought they didn't have good taste in planning a tablescape. Also, flowers may be a hassle - the receiver may have allergies, may not have a place for them, or may have already planned a floral arrangement for the evening's festivities.

You could bring wine, but that may signal that you don't trust your host/hostess in planning the liquid portion of the evening's event. While the wine doesn't have to be consumed that evening, your simple gesture could be in poor taste.

As are other foods and desserts. Bringing food as a gift to a dinner or dinner party signal that you second guess the cooking of the evening. Be kind.

I know it seems confusing. You're trying to show thanks for the invitation and hospitality, not offend. So follow these surefire suggestions:

1) candles and home diffusers are always en vogue. Select a light, airy fragrance that suits the attitude or tastes of your recipient.

2) beautiful pottery. Think elegant vases. Decorative bowls. Something that will actually be used and appreciated.

3) one of the best gifts I received at a dinner party I through were actually kitchen gadgets. My guests knew I loved to cook, and actually did their homework to know which gadgets I didn't already own. I also suggest Illy espresso or coffees and whimsical cups.

A little thoughtfulness. A little homework. A huge impression.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

an Environmental Christmas

I love decorating. We're "that" house that has decorations, vintage yard signs, and banners for nearly every holiday. Christmas is a very important season for my family, so I always make sure to decorate the house and yard.

This year, like many other years, I have decorated the trees in our front yard. Only this year, I've become even more environmentally friendly with my decorations, and you can too. Instead of placing lights on all of the trees, I opted for beautiful red velvet ribbon that I wrapped up the trunks of the two large trees. I've also put a half dozen large red ribbons, and probably 4-5 dozen small red ribbons throughout the branches of the three biggest trees in the yard (all of these ribbons, mind you, were reused from years past). I then hung 2-3 dozen shatter proof silver and gold ornaments throughout the tree canopy as well. When the sun hits the ornaments, they instantly shine - brighter than any electrical lights could!

Don't get me wrong - I'll still be using some electricity - and am definitely putting lights on the main tree in the front yard, just like every year. Only this year, I'm using a timer to limit when the lights are actually powered on.

Here are some other great tips for keeping your holiday spirit low cost and environmentally friendly.
  • reuse when you can. if you care for your decorations, they will last for years and save you a bundle on buying the same things year after year.
  • upgrade your holiday lights. I'm all for saving decorations to use in the future, but when advancements in technology, newer LED type lights are incredibly more efficient and durable. While initially more expensive, the lights will save you more over time.
  • don't buy a "cut" Christmas tree. Many Christmas tree farms and retailers are offering "potted" trees that can be planted after the holiday season. Artificial trees are also great options for those with allergies, and can be quite economical and durable as well. If you do buy a "cut" Christmas tree, make sure the retailer has a tree recycling program for after the holiday is over.
  • get creative with wrapping. Why buy paper and gift bags that will simply be thrown away immediately? Look for gifts and accessories that can be used as wrapping. For example, last year we gave our neighbours a "movie night" - complete with a large popcorn bowl that was filled with unpopped corn, candies, other various snacks, and a gift card to a local video store. Everything fit in the large bowl - no need to wrap! I also love the "vintage" appeal of packages wrapped in newspaper.
  • buy cards made with recycled materials and consider sending electronic cards as well.

Being "green" at the holidays doesn't mean you have to sacrifice beauty, elegance, or pizazz. You can create the most beautiful holiday scene, and still be sensible to both your economic and environmental situations! Happy Decorating!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

In Ted We Trust

The day after Thanksgiving in America is called "black Friday". Traditionally, this is the day that crazed shoppers begin their holiday shopping blitz by waking up incredibly early solely for their shopping pleasure. This increased shopping trend is usually when stores cross over from being red (or negative in terms of sales, year-to-date) to black (or positive, in terms of sales, year-to-date). Stores open as early as midnight, but mostly between 5 and 8 in the morning. Shoppers are enticed with sales, gifts-with-purchase, additional inventory and selections, and often complimentary gift wrapping and tailoring as well.

In our current economy, analysts and investors alike were closely watching the performance of Black Friday. Personally, I think shoppers have been saving a little extra cash to allow for more shopping on this Black Friday (and the entire weekend, actually). Think about it - when more stores have more merchandise for lower prices than normal, of course it would be the optimal time to shop. If you get more for your money, you get more in the end.

And I definitely did my part. My brother and I both have been stalking a particular Ted Baker jacket since it literally was placed on the sales floor of a local department store. Originally priced at US$400, I probably tried the coat on at least a dozen different times. And, the day after Thanksgiving, it just so happend that the coat was on sale for about US$140. I didn't exactly want to spend the money on the jacket. After all, I've been saving money for vacations and traveling and my brother's upcoming wedding. But since I had seen it, I compared every other jacket I saw to this jacket. I just had to have it. So, as you guessed, I'm happy to add it to my collection of wonderful wares. I've included a few photographs from Ted's website of the jacket.

I have big plans for this jacket. I'll keep it casual with my favourite tshirts (especially navy, chocolate, black, and white) and jeans. And I'll dress it up with tailored dress pants (also from the aforementioned colour scheme), a button down oxford, and great scarf.

When there's something you love, whether you can afford it or not, trust that if it's meant to be yours, it will be. If not, you can always wait until next season. Fashion is like a constant, ever-changing crush. Just when you think you're in love with something, there's something bigger and better on the horizon. And as always, In Ted We Trust.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Haute Couture? I don't think so!

I must say it. "Haute Couture" is officially the most overused, misused term in fashion today. It seems like every day another "reputable" company is using the French term to describe the fit of a garment. Some companies have even incorporated a portion of the term into their name.

Last time I checked, there is nothing "couture" about anything that Juicy Couture makes. It is indeed brilliant marketing campaigns that promote Liz Claiborne's younger, "hipper" range. You'd think that owning, in addition to their namesake, DKNY, Dana Buchman, Kensie, Lucky Brand Jeans, and Kate Spade, that they would understand that "high fashion" is far from the truth when it comes to their Juicy "Couture" line. After all, there's nothing "high fashion" about sweat pants, tank tops, and the like.

I don't want to say Juicy Couture should be sued for false advertisement, but they should indeed change their name. Enough is enough. We must put an end to overpriced goods. Especially the ugly ones.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

...from the Wall Street Journal.

Target’s New Cheap-Chic Line Kicks Off With Alexander McQueen

Target is planning to announce Wednesday that Alexander McQueen, the British enfant terrible of fashion, will design a collection of apparel for the mass-market retailer under a new program called “Designer Collaborations” in which it will partner with well-known designers to create limited-edition lines of clothing.

Mr. McQueen, who is known for edgy antics like sending robots out on the runway to spraypaint models’ white dresses, will design the first collection, which will be sold on and the retailer’s stores from March 1 through April 11.

The line, named McQ Alexander McQueen for Target, will be inspired by British rock band The Duke Spirit and will be priced within the retailer’s cheap-chic price range. (Designer Jonathan Saunder’s current pieces for Target include skirts for $18.89 and dresses for $27.99, for example.) The retailer notes that the new program differs from its GO International lines in which emerging designers like Proenza Schouler and Luella Bartley have created limited-edition lines for Target.

Target has had success with such partnerships so far — its Anya Hindmarch line of handbags sold out minutes after it started selling online in early October. The retailer says it will announce future collaborations with established designers for the new program throughout next year.

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Monday, November 24, 2008

ten great treats for the ladies in your life

Plain and simple. Ten terrific treats for the lovely ladies in your life. In no particular order.

1. Kenneth Jay Lane cocktail ring. 22-karat electroplated gunmetal with Swarovski® crystal insets. Faux amethyst center stone. Made in the USA. $165. Neiman Marcus.

2. "Lady D" by Dior. Black patent. The most classic, fashion forward, and timeless bag - all at the same time. This handbag was originally made at the request of Madam Chirac for Princess Diana as a symbol of France. It's canage pattern is a Louis XIV pattern, and was the same pattern featured on the golden chairs inside the original House of Dior (located at 30, Avenue Montaigne in Paris). Fit for even the woman-on-the-go, the bag has tiny silver "feet" on the bottom that prohibit the bag from resting on the ground. Stunningly beautiful. About $1,800.

3. Henri Bendel luxe candles. $45. The ultimate ambiance. The ultimate accessory.

4. Lacquered crackle jacket. This stunning jacket takes our breath away. A wearable piece of art (dare we say) in coated wool tweed from one of the world's finest mill's that specializes in the most avante-garde prints. We're smitten. Classic fit. No collar. Straight. Long sleeves. On-seam pockets. Double breasted with patent-leather buttons. Fully lined. Hits at hip. Part of the J.Crew Collection. Import. Dry clean. Catalog/ only. $550.

5. Norman Love chocolates. This is the man who invented Godiva Chocolatier's luxe "G" collection. Enough said.

6. Marvis toothpaste. The acquamint is delicious. And makes your teeth sparkle like diamonds. $10.

7. Speaking of diamonds. They really are a girl's best friend. And when dealing with diamonds, the only mistake you can make is going too small is size. Remember - colour, cut, clarity, and carats. And if she's extra special, Cartier.

8. Blood Orange + White Pepper body wash from Bliss. The entire range is absolutely fabulous. But especially the body wash. $24.

9. Flowers. Flowers aren't a traditional holiday gift. So be unconventional and send them at random times. Just because. If you need help picking a florist, let me know.

10. Italian homegoods, accessories, and art are always in style. The best collection outside of Italia is Villa Fiorenza in Winter Park, Florida. Ask for Lael. And tell her Joseph sent you. She'll take care of you. I love the Francesca di Stefano artwork. And the l'Object picture frames. And the handmade ornaments. The list goes on and on and on. I love this store. It's romance. With the villa, you don't just give a gift. You give a memory.

bringing the outside in

I love beautiful things. When you upgrade your choices, especially with presentation, everything is better. Imagine the difference in drinking a fantastic Italian prosecco from a disposable plastic cup, or a hand blown glass. Eating your favorite takeaway meal on fine dinnerware won't change the taste of the "food", but it definitely will enhance the experience.

And such, I love beautiful tablescapes. My favorite touches are "au naturale". Incorporating fresh elements, like fruits, nuts, flowers, plants, and even tree limbs or wood instantly add pizazz and panache to any surface.

For the holiday season, take inspiration from fruits of the moment. Fill a vase partially with fresh cranberries. Add a small bouquet of flowers. Fill the remainder of the vase with more cranberries (about the same height as you would normally fill the vase with water).

For larger vases and arrangements, you can substitute the fresh cranberries for whole vibrant oranges, beautiful royal pears, or bright green apples. Fill the container part way with the fruit, arrange small branches, dried grasses, or large stalks of flowers in the center of the container, and fill the remaining space with more fruit. You can also create a different look with nuts as well.

Bring the outdoors in. Scattering slices of wood, small branches, or bushels of holly and other ornamental shrubbery can create incredibly warm, intimate settings. I've included a few pictures from a beautiful tablescape at West Elm for your viewing pleasure.

Remember, the more creative, the better! Happy decorating!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Gucci Tattoo?

Every holiday season since 2005, Gucci's Creative Director Frida Giannini has created an accessory range in to benefit UNICEF. This year, Gucci is raising the bar. The white Tattoo Heart Collection features accessories, small leather goods, shoes, handbags, and totebags. 25% of all sales from the collection benefit orphans and children affected by HIV/aids in Africa. The collection is available at Gucci stores in over 20 countries from 19 November - 31 January.

And you know how much singer Rhianna, so when I found out she was an integral part of the advertising campaign, I had to find out more. Watch Frida Giannini explain in her own words the importance of this collection, and see what Rhianna has to say about it as well.

Make a permanent mark. Support UNICEF. The fashionable way.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

sample sale to the nth degree

So I've spent a few days in Los Angeles. I think that town should be renamed "Los An-jealous". I have no problem admitting that I'm slightly vain. I always joke that I'm not "judgemental", but simply "observant". In Southern California, image is everything. The food you eat isn't just to sustain you, but tells about the choices you make. The clothes you wear don't just cover your body, they declare your style and attention to detail. The places you go aren't merely spaces on a map, but highlight the lifestyle you associate with.

Focusing on image isn't always a bad thing. It helps you keep your "A game" at all times. And so, designers are always on their "A game" in the City of Angels. I went to a sample sale with a friend in the Cooper Building in the heart of the fashion district. I must say, it was absolute madness. Racks and racks and racks of Ella Moss, Splendid, and Splendid Mills were packed into the 8th floor open space warehouse. And there must have been at least 1,000 crazy ladies looking for a uniquely styled garment at a bargain price in just a few hours.

For those who have never been to a sample sale, most often you're not allowed to try clothes on. Prices depend on the type of garment. For example, tops would be one set price, sweaters and jackets another price, pants and shorts another price, and accessories and miscellaneous another. But at check out, you can always "convince" the cashier that an item may fit into a less expensive category.
While Alana and I were scouring the racks for cute, one-of-a-kind treasures, we definitely made the same comment at the same time. "I swear all of these people have their arms full of the ugliest things!" Right after I said this, a random woman looked up and started laughing. It's so true. Just because something is on sale does NOT mean you are obligated to buy it.

One crazy young woman had her arms FULL of clothes. So much so that she had all of her potential treasures strewn out on the floor, so she could separate what she really wanted to take home with her. Apparently she didn't notice all of the giant signs absolutely forbidding the trying on of garments, because she tried on a few items. Needless to say, the staff was NOT pleased, and promptly let her know of the violation.

After nearly an hour of waiting in line, we purchased our items and went on our merry way.

Fashion is alive. Fashion is intense. And fashion is always a good time.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The guy at Marc Jacobs...

...said it best today. "Everyone in Los Angeles is just another fashion victim." Beautifully said.

Next week you'll have the pleasure of reading about my whirlwind excursions to the City of Angels - I'll be writing about the most chaotic and visually overwhelming sample sale I've ever been to, and other adventures.

Until then, stay full of Glamour, dress in Style, and be en Vogue.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

wedding wisdom

I've known my friend Justin literally for all of my life - we were born about 3 months apart. In honor of his recent marriage to his lovely bride Christienne, I dedicate this posting to them.

When you receive an invitation, take special notice. Is there a dress code suggested? To whom was the invitation addressed? If there is no dress code, such as "black tie", always opt for classic formal wear. For men, a well tailored suit, beautiful shirt, and tie will always be in style. Don't hesitate to wear colour, too. I usually take a hint from the colours of the invitation - they'll often coordinate with the theme of the event. For women, if the wedding is before evening (meaning before 5 PM), a knee length dress and cardigan or jacket paired with heels in a fun colour will never lead you astray. If the wedding is an evening affair, opt for something either more formal or more daring. Regardless, no one but the bride wears white.

Your invitation sets the guidelines for who may accompany you. "Mr. Joseph and Guest" would allow me to invite a lovely lady. It would not be in good taste for me to invite a lovely lady, my parents, my brother, my brother's fiance, and a friend who sort of knows the groom.

If, by some infrequent event, you bring additional guests than otherwise notated on the invitation, each additional guest is obligated to bring a gift for the lovely couple. And nothing cheap either. Weddings are expensive. You don't attend weddings for the free food. Or the free drinks. You go to celebrate the couple's union and be a witness to their lifelong bonds. So don't be a pig and scarf down plates full of food, or be that guy at the bar who gets wasted and ends up dancing and dry-humping the groom's mother.

And with that, I'll close with a toast to Justin and Christienne. May all that you wish for, be the least that you get.

Monday, November 10, 2008

holiday offerings on the cheap

Throughout the next several weeks leading up to Christmas, I'll be highlighting several gift suggestions for everyone on your list. Should you have questions or additional suggestions, don't hesitate to reach out to me!

(In no particular order of excitement or price)

-- Bang & Olufsen A8 headphones. $159.95. The most comfortable, best sounding, travel friendly headphones. The first time I used these headphones, I don't know if I was more impressed with the sound quality, or the fact that more people kept commenting on how cool they looked!

-- Marvis Aquamint toothpaste. $10. Retro packaging. Delicious taste. Good for your teeth.

-- iTunes gift cards. It's safe to assume by now everyone has some sort of portable digital music player. And we all know that fashion rocks.

-- Gucci necklace with bamboo cross pendant. $290. I've seen this for several years, and always admired it's classic, simply beauty and elegant styling. Not too small, not too big. Italian made of sterling silver.

-- Prada's crocodile embossed leather card case. $150. Classic black. ...because real crocodile is very expensive. A good alternative for the fashion-forward man in your life. And if you don't have a fashion-forward man in your life, you can always remember me instead.

-- Emporio Armani's square face sport watch, yellow. $345. Stainless steel with black ion plated case. Chronograph movement. Vanilla scented yellow rubber sport strap; soft rubber pushers. Water resistant. Adds the perfect pop of colour to any wardrobe. Round-the-clock fun for all.

-- AUM shopper. $44. The perfect bag to keep in your truck. Great for the grocery store, a trip to Target, or to stash virtually anything when you're on-the-go. Made of reclaimed (recycled) sailcloth from sailboats. Eco friendly, handy, and chic.

-- Preserve Toothbrush. This toothbrush is designed by dentists and engineers. Made from recycled yogurt cups. Unique angle makes for easier cleaning. Available in seven stunning colours. And when you're done, return the toothbrush to the manufacturer to be recycled again. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

Don't worry. Very soon I'll include gift suggestions for women. Until then, happy shopping!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Jet Set Style

Some of us travel more often than others. Whether car or truck, motorcycle or bicycle, skate board or roller skate, plane or helicopter, boat or hovercraft, train or monorail, you can still look great upon arrival. Here are some quick tips:

-- if traveling by train, plane, or overnight ferry, prepare for cold air conditioning. I take a large scarf that can double as a blanket.

-- pack some essential skin and body care products for freshening up. On a recent trip to Asia, I was so thankful for packing my toothbrush, toothpaste, moisturizer for face and body, and even deodorant. As you all know, traveling can be tricky when it comes to packing liquids. Whenever I visit department stores or beauty boutiques like Douglas or Sephora, I kindly ask for skin care samples (face wash, moisturizer, exfoliants, lotion, hand creme, in addition to fragrance) - then slip those one-use packets and vials into a small plastic case. You get all the benefits of your normal skin care regime in a travel friendly, mess-free availability. You might even find a new product that you can't live without!

-- on long flights, freshen up your hands. Ask your attendant for the following on-hand items: a lemon or lime wedge, a packet of sugar, and some club soda. Then head to the lav. Dampen your hands with water. Open the sugar packet and dump contents into your cupped hand. Squeeze the citrus on top of the sugar. Rub the sugar and citrus on hands. Focus on tops, bottoms, and cuticles. Rinse when done. Instant hand exfoliation. You'll feel fresh and clean.

-- hydrate - be sure to drink lots of water. if you're having cocktails, alternate between your beverage of choice and water. The recycled air is dry to begin with; while alcohol is quenching, it's not exactly hydrating.

-- before you land, head to the lav. again to brush your teeth, hair, and reapply any makeup or fragrance. No one likes to arrive feeling less-than-clean.
-- always exit the plane wearing giant sunglasses. Jet lag is a bitch, and you want to look your best, not sleep deprived and like you've been inhaling recycled air for the last few hours.

Traveling is always in style. Now you can arrive en vogue!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

fall home accessories

fall essentials for your home(s)

-- Henri Bendel Candles (especially fig)

-- method home cleaning products

-- luxe throws (I have a fantastic silk/alpaca blend from Banana Republic Home that I got several years ago)

-- slippers (I have fantastic foot duvets with goose down and fur lining)

-- incredible bath products (especially Bliss's new Blood Orange and White Pepper)

-- fresh fruit for that special touch to drinks and desserts (cranberries, pomegranates)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

fashion feuds

Sometimes desperation leads to innovation. Tragedy can lead to tremendous success. When Christian Dior died, his young apprentice Yves St. Laurent took the reins of the famous French fashion house. I'm sure die-hard Dior fans weren't thrilled at first with the change in leadership and style, but ultimately, the house prevailed and continued to be successful. Even through the leadership of St. Laurent to Bohan to Ferre, and finally to Galliano, the history and air of elegance remains today.

In 1953, David Crystal, who already owned Izod, bought 50% of Lacoste to bring the range to America. Calling the range "Izod Lacoste", he marketed the companies signature pique polos and prep-wear. In the mid 80s, when the look of the prep was saturating the market, sales were incredibly high. But when the market was too saturated with the signature alligator embroidered polos, sales began to decline. In the mid 90s, the name and company was split - Izod to be a mid market price point, with Lacoste trying to recapture the luxe customer. In 1993, after a few other failed business attempts, Crystal's license ended on Lacoste, and he sold his half of the company back to the original owners (Sporloisirs S.A.), and sold Izod to VanHeusen. Lacoste wasn't available in America for several years, but now is reincorporated into the US Market throughout upscale department stores and freestanding boutiques.

Just like with the great schisms and evolution in fashion, I'm hoping the history and air of elegance of America continue through the future leadership of president-elect Obama.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

retail political action

America has gone Presidential Election crazy. Even retails are capitalizing on the trendiness of being politically in-tune. On a recent trip to Orlando, Florida's Mall at Millenia , I snapped some photographs with my handy dandy iPhone.

Retailers like The Gap and Betsey Johnson used great window displays to remind shoppers to vote. Not just shedding light on the Presidential Election, The Gap encourages awareness for AIDS prevention, alternative energy, the elderly, and recycling. I'm so excited for companies that encourage their shoppers to be responsible and make a difference.

And to really attract customers and entice sales, Kenneth Cole even discounted everything throughout his shops 44%, in honor of the next 44th president. I love the advertisement -"Sale to the Chief" crafty!

Even retail giant Bloomingdale's jumped on the political bandwagon and created beautiful displays, centered around voting. I'm thrilled that these retailers are being responsible, not publicly endorsing a particular candidate.

I must say, I'm anxious and nervous for the outcome of this political election. And most of all, I hope that the increased voter awareness, the political buzz, and the excitement of young people towards politics isn't just a trend that will soon fade, but that it's actually lasting.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Mickey Drexler = retail genius

Watch this interview. Learn more than you'd expect. About life. About business. And about respect. I love this man.

Mike Jeffries wants to be Mickey Drexler

I may be wrong. Then again, seeing is believing. And it seems to me that Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries must be taking a cue from J. Crew's CEO Mickey Drexler. It seems Abercrombie is abandoning their recent frat party image for employees and actually focusing on customer service. On several recent visits to multiple Abercrombie stores, I've been promptly greeted, kindly offered assistance, and even been checked up on for follow up with fit and sizes. I am pleasantly surprised to say the least. It's like Abercrombie hit "remind" on their "employee handbook time machine" to the mid-1990s, when Abercrombie focused on quality goods, quality service, and a quality shopping experience. Maybe the tough economy has actually had a positive effect on American retailers and forced better service to be implemented. After all, even the best parties eventually lose their lustre.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

fashion perspective

Perspective and point of view makes a world of a difference in fashion. Consider these:

-- a sweater hand-knitted by your great Aunt Myrtle may be sold for $5.00, while a sweater hand-knitted by the masters at Gucci may be sold for $5,000.

-- a dress made in China may be sold for $2.00, while a dress made in France may be sold for $2,000.

-- denim splattered with paint from your next door neighbor may be sold for $20, while denim splattered with paint from Andy Warhol may be sold for $500.

In fashion, every detail matters. Hand-knitted. Textiles from far off lands. Overdyed fabrics. unique aging and treatments. Visible darting. Just as the details in construction add a touch of luxe, accessories can rev up any look. The perfect shoes or belt. A scarf or hat. A broach or hair clip. Cuff links or a bracelet.

When you make something your own, when you create a look that is comfortable and enticing, your fashion perspective can open doors and start conversations without ease and comfort.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

fall/winter essentials for men

(in no particular order)

-- boots (vintage cowboy boots, motorcycle boots, racing boots, fashion boots)

-- puffer jackets, vests (especially Moncler's iconic version)

-- luxe sweaters (special emphasis on the neckline - v-neck, shawl collar)

-- scarves

-- unexpected pop of colour (especially red, acid yellow, electric blue, fuscia)

-- distressed/destroyed denim

-- designer tennis shoes (Prada's red crocodile sneakers might be my favorite)

-- unexpected luxury (like chocolate brown lambskin gloves lined with bright orange cashmere, or sheerling lined boots, or fur trimmed sweatjackets)

-- the perfect smile/teeth (no one produces better results than the Smile Stylists - Drs. Jason and Colleen Olitsky in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida!)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Merry Christmas, Neiman Marcus

I think I might, just maybe, sort of, ok definitely be obsessed with the 2008 Neiman Marcus Christmas book. This is the ultimate wish list for everyone, whether naughty or nice. Brendan Hoffman, President of Neiman Marucs Direct, has outdone himself. And not just because a portion of the proceeds benefits research for the most common child brain tumor.

Let's start with how classic and amazing the tweed jacket and skirt from Armani Collezioni are on page four. Imagine the pleasant intimidation you would evoke wearing this in to a power meeting of brilliant minds. Incredible.

And the Yves St Laurent Arabesque dress on page seven? I hear stylist Rachel Zoe saying "I die. I die" as she drools over this masterpiece. Pure silk, made in France, ivory and black. All the ingredients you'd expect from Christian Dior's apprentice.

For a little va-va-voom, try the Marchesa Couture Mink Cuff minidress on page eleven. Some clothes say nothing at all. This dress introduces you as a fashion forward, uncompromising, beautiful power.

Page fourteen's wine coloured Jimmy Choo snake skin bag is absolutely beautiful. I'm not so sure if I like the crystal mesh bag also featured with it. But I love the snakeskin. Exotic without being egotistical.

Page sixteen and seventeen almost make me stop breathing. Prada and McQueen. The Nero black shade, the animal textured pattern, the oversize zip ... there's definitely something Prada going on here. The "Raso Animalier" padded jacket and mini skirt, to be specific. Continental couture that is perfect for excursions international or domestic. Those collar and placket ruffles on Alexander's black denim frock jacket fishtail right on down the back, too. His white high-collar shirt is a stretchy poplin, with elongated cuffs to match. The black georgette leggings have some stretch for a flattering fit, with black sequins for some dazzle. The jacket and shirt are cotton and Lycra®; the leggings are silk and Lycra®. Everything is crafted in Italy.

I usually love fur coats, but there's something a bit off about Burberry's Prussian blue rabbit fur coat on page eighteen. I wonder what Christopher Bailey was thinking...or not thinking. I don't know if it's the colour...or the fit...or the entire thing. Not a fan. But Gucci's giant pave diamond ring on page nineteen makes up for Christopher's lack of excitement. And the natural rough diamonds on page twenty...I think I'm in love.

You get the point. I'm only on page twenty and there are countless pieces of fashion marvel that have not only captured my mind and attention, but my breath as well. Be sure to check out the "wow" gifts, like the $110,000 motorcycle, a Dallas Cowboys football fan's dream package for only $500,000, a record collection for a quarter of a million dollars, historical jewelery, a transformable structure/art, lifesize personal replicas made entirely from LEGO blocks, and much, much more.

It's nice to dream. It's nice to see such beauty. This isn't just fashion. It's a wearable art and investment. Neiman Marcus makes Christmas merry and bright. Bravo, amici! E Buon Natale!

Monday, October 27, 2008

High Tech Fashion

I love fashion. I love technology. So you can imagine my excitement and intrigue when I first saw (and of course had to immediately purchase) the October 2008 edition of Esquire Magazine.

Esquire used a technology called electronic ink or e-ink, which features flashing, alternating words and pictures on the front of the magazine cover. This technological triumph is completely mesmerizing. It says "The 21st century begins now. *three hours later on the west coast."

Inside the magazine are several great articles, including a spread about the 75 most influential people of the 21st century. I've included today an entry from their list - a power player I don't know much about, but already respect very highly.

Rory Stewart.

Diplomat, author, adventurer, charitable-foundation director, temporary governor of an Iraqi Provence, walking enthusiast, 35. Afghanistan, Great Britain.

Last summer in Kabul, I visited Rory Stewart at the abandoned 19th century British Embassy he renovated and now occupies for his start-up, the Turquoise Mountain Foundation. Slight-framed and slung back in a chair in the compound's courtyard, he was anything but relaxed. While sipping Afghan green tea, he arbitrated (in multiple tongues) petty feuds among staff members who come from diverse tribes, gave an interview to a British newspaper, charmed a baroness into donating thousands of dollars, and negotiated a meeting with Hamid Karzai. He may be the man to fix Afghanistan. Stewart, not Karzai.

What Stewart lacks in Churchill's girth he makes up for in intellect and grit. At 35, he has tutored princes William and Harry, graduated from Oxford, served in the British Army and Foreign Service (in Indonesia), walked 6,000 miles across Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nepal (about which he wrong The Places in Between), governed a Provence of Iraq (after which he published The Princes of the Marshes), and launched Turquoise Mountain, a community-action group that single-handedly restored artisan culture in a rundown Kabul neighborhood - for which he also sponsors public services like trash collection. Churchill fought imperial Britain's wars. Stewart is Britain's emerging conscience of the 21st century's main security problem: the postwar. The West has laser-guided weapons but few people who know Central Asia from painful wandering and hand-shaking, not from satellite images. Kipling said that the hand of friendship averts the whip of calamity. America talks of transformational diplomacy, putting officers on the ground in far-flung places; Stewart has long known diplomacy of the deed is the only kind that matters.

- Parag Khanna

How could you not want to meet this Rory Stewart? The logical side of me wonders just how exactly someone would go about walking 6,000 miles, let along across hostile, unknown territory. I wonder if this is the next level of adventure-travel we'll see offered by my favorites at Abercrombie & Kent!

Regardless, I love the October Esquire magazine, and hope you can find one still available in your local bookseller. For more information on how the cover was created, click here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Too much of a good thing... not a good thing. I was in line this morning to get some breakfast to go, and the woman in front of me seriously smelled like she just went to Sephora and sprayed every fragrance she saw all over her body. Seriously, the odor was so pungent that my eyes were watering. If you closed your eyes, you would never have known you were in a small shop with freshly baked bagels, doughnuts, breakfast sandwiches, and freshly brewed coffee. Normally, you notice these smells outside the shop!

If you use fragranced shampoos, conditioners, deodorant or antiperspirant, body washes, exfoliants, and skincare, be mindful of the fragrance combinations you may be creating.

So the next time you go to spray a bit of your favorite fragrance, remember - less is more. If you can smell yourself, you've got too much. And when in doubt, limit to 1-2 sprays per application.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

H&M Magazine

I must admit, sometimes when I find something I love, I secretly wish other people wouldn't find out about it, as to not spoil the goodness. For example, if everyone knew about my favorite restaurant in Florence, it would take forever to get a table whenever I visit. Or if people knew all of my tricks to get better service at boutiques, it wouldn't be special service anymore.

But one secret I want to share with everyone is the H&M e-magazine. Fashion forward. Full of designs and trends that are both affordable and attainable. Celebrity style (and sometimes gossip!). Well-thought articles on pop culture, fashion, style, and trends. Everything we love.

I've talked a lot recently about famous designers and fashion houses pairing with unlikely stores and brands. I'm so excited to say there is yet another designer/store jumping on this trend - and it's H&M and Comme des Garçons! Below you'll find a clip from the official press release.

It’s a thrilling coup for H&M. Debuting at H&M’s new Tokyo store on November 8th, then entering approximately 200 stores worldwide on November 13th will be a collection designed for H&M by Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. One of the most significant figures in modern fashion, Kawakubo has created a full men’s and women’s collection for H&M, complete with accessories and a unisex fragrance. The pieces all have the uncompromising Comme des Garçons spirit, yet will all be available at H&M’s brilliantly accessible prices.

“I thought it would be an exciting event to work with H&M in order to sell Comme des Garçons clothes in places where they have never been sold and to appeal to people who may not yet understand Comme des Garçons. Marrying the commercial expertise of H&M with Comme des Garçons creation was a fascinating challenge", says Rei Kawakubo, Comme des Garçons.

“This collection really reflects Kawakubo’s creative spirit and integrity. It is complete with the designer’s trademark, independent style and clever cuts - elaborate tailoring, shirts, knits and a series of playful jersey pieces in dramatic black and midnight blue with accents of white and
rose”, says H&M’s Creative Advisor Margareta van den Bosch.

Now if only H&M would incorporate online shopping to their site, or at least open a store in every city with 1,000,000+ people. (If there's not an H&M where you live, you can always browse the website and read the magazine, and use it for inspiration and replicate the looks at stores you do have!).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

political fashions

I love fashion. And I love politics. Just as fashion and music go together, fashion and politics also go hand-in-hand. We've never seen so much attention on appearances and trends in this upcoming US Presidential election. NBC's Today Show anchor Hoda Kotb pondered live on the air "I wonder what Michelle Obama does to get her hair that soft and free flowing!". Internet and television media dissected Cindy McCain's "debut" ensemble and even speculated the price of each individual item. And the maker of Gov. Palin's frameless glasses has seen record sales.

Senator Obama's camp has created a campaign called "Runway to Change" and features several items designed by some of the industry's best - Vera Wang, Tory Burch, Tracy Reese, Pharrell Williams, Zac Posen, Narcisco Rodriguez, Nanette Lapore, Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Furstenberg, Proenza Schouler, Isaac Mizrahi, and others. With $60 t-shirts and $80 tote bags, Senator Obama has obviously inspired some of the best designers and asked for their support in fundraising and spreading his message.

I hope it's not just a trend for Americans, especially young Americans, to be so interested in politics. With so many "famous" people voicing their opinions and trying to sway others' votes, I hope everyone can see past the glitz and the glamour of Hollywood and celebrities and truly vote on their own accord. Don't get me wrong, I really do love Diane von Furstenberg's work, but I don't exactly think she is the moral compass of my political ideals.

Designing dresses? Yes. Influencing the US Presidential Election? God I hope not.

Remember, taking an active role in democracy is always in style. Using your voice to shed light on important issues is always en vogue. Casting your ballot for the next leader of this republic is full of glamour. After all, we are the people.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Carmen Marc Valvo

Some pictures are worth a thousand words. I think Carmen Marc Valvo's latest chiffon dress needs much more than only one thousand. Raspberry. Strapless sweetheart neckline. Ruched crisscross detail on bodice. Pleaded skirt. Ruffled hem. Pure silk. Dry clean only. $1,150.

Monday, October 20, 2008


It's finally the time of year when cranberries are in season. I love cranberries. The taste. The look. The fragrance. I love the cranberry caipirinha at Circa in Washington DC. I love the new Infiniti FX50 crossover SUV in Cranberry with tan leather interior. I love the Cranberry fragrance at The Body Shop.

Cranberry is a perfect color for everyone this fall and winter season. It looks great with light grays, black, navy, winter whites, and khaki. I have a cranberry merino turtleneck that I absolutely am in love with. Paired under a khaki suit, it makes an incredibly strong statement of class and refinement, mixed with holiday cheer.

All the big designers are making handbags and shoes, among other accessories, in cranberry this season. It's the perfect pop of color for any occasion.

Cranberry - it's more than a garnish to turkey!

In celebration of cranberry, I've included a special recipe. Enjoy!


10 fresh cranberries, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
2 lime wedges
1/3 to a 1/2 a cup cachaça

Fill a rocks glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, using a wooden spoon, muddle the cranberries with the sugar, water and 1 of the lime wedges. Add the cachaça and a handful of ice and shake well. Strain into the glass, garnish with the remaining lime wedge and serve.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Responsible is fashionable

Part of being fashionable is being responsible. And green is the color of responsibility! I'm not saying we need to go out and hug trees or stop wearing deodorant! But if you can buy environmentally friendly foods, products, and clothing - do it!

One of my favorite eco-conscious companies is called Method. You can buy this range at retailers across the globe, but in America I always buy my Method at Target - one of my favorite stores on earth!

Method makes an entire range of cleaning products for your house - from dishwasher tablets, to antimicrobial wipes, to granite polish - if you can clean it, Method makes it! But they don't just make any household cleaner! Their approach to the formulation of products is from a perspective that's fundamentally different than the standard in the cleaning product industry. The rigor of this approach means that for each of the ingredients used can be completely certain of their human and environmental health effects, and that no product will get approved unless it meets Method's incredibly high standard for effectiveness.

Method's products are highly effective, while having a minimal impact on the environment. Plus, they have wonder fragrances (or a completely fragrance free collection as well!) and come in the most ergonomic packages!

I've talked about many other eco-friendly fashion firms - like Branch Home , Arbor Sports, and Inhabitat. Cadillac is evening making a hybrid gas-electric powered Escallade!

Think green. It saves the environment. And we all know how much every economy could use a little more green!

Friday, October 17, 2008

altered-ego fashions

I love making something my own. Whether it's a new trend, or something that has become vintage after years of love and use, there's just something special about clothes you love to wear season after season, year after year. Like my first cashmere sweater (that still fits, thank you very much!). Or my Dad's old helicopter squadron tshirts from the 70s and early 80s.

Don't get me wrong - I love great vintage stores. Almost as much as Rachel Zoe. But there's something more rewarding to having items aged on your own. It's the way your favorite pair of jeans fits. Or your favorite shoes. It just wouldn't be the same if someone else was wearing them.

I also love altering things to make them more unique. To update your denim, a few common household tools and some bleach can turn your drab jeans to fab. Rub wire brushes over the front and back of the garment to soften the texture and "open up" the fabric. You can also lightly use an electric sander to distress random portions of the fabric as well. I've even draped the denim over the edge of a cinder block, and then used the electric sander along the folded edges to create a "whiskered" effect. Spraying bleach or paints on the denim can also alter the look in a fashionable way.

And you don't have to stop at just denim. Splattering paint or bleach on khakis and other pants is an easy way for a fun update. Cutting or burning edges and hems adds an instant edge.

On another note, my loves at Diesel have extended their world from just clothing, accessories, and fragrance, and have paired up with the iconic Fiat Motor Company and created the Diesel 500. As if I needed another reason to relocate permanently to Europe?!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Now is the time to shop!

If you're lucky enough to have some liquid income or have some extra money saved, now more than ever is a wonderful time to shop! Retailers are already advertising and promoting the upcoming Christmas season, and it's not even Halloween yet. Companies world wide are scaling back employees and other expenses, and are doing everything they can to entice sales - which means lower prices, more items on clearance, and more benefits for the customer! There was a tshirt at Abercrombie that I wanted. Less than two weeks after it debuted on the sales floor, the shirt was discounted nearly 40%. Higher end department stores are extending sales periods, offering free shipping, and even free gifts with purchase.

On another note, J. Crew has debuted a "tailored fit" dress shirt that is absolutely wonderful. The fit, the construction, and design elements are worth far more than the $75 pricetag. Crisp and classic in the 100s two-ply cotton. Tailored fit—a slimmer, more tailored cut with a made-to-measure feel. Point collar with stays. Standard placket. Chest pocket. Back yoke with two pleats. Finished with bespoke-inspired signature details. Shirttail hem. And machine washable!
I definitely recommend this shirt for the office, for dinner, and for the evening! It's slimmer fit and more luxurious elements can be a great alternative to having shirts customized or tailored - a wonderful way to look great without spending a small fortune.

The more you shop, the more money you inject into the economy, the quicker we see economic stability. Like we should need a reason to shop in the first place?!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Historical Fashion?

I love how, over time, fashion is an excellent indicator of what the times were like? During World Wars, clothing was very simple, taking minimism to a whole new level thanks to strict rationing of fabric and other sewing notions. And on 12 February 1947, Christian Dior created a new look that took excess to a new level, with layers and layers of pleated fabric, long skirts, and luxurious, exotic leathers - a signal that the world was no longer forced into limits of material goods.

Even today, we see the same trends. It's no secret that the United States is in the midst of military conflict throughout the middle east, and I'm sure things in Africa and Asian regions aren't exactly stable either. In 2006, John Galliano Rebelle Bag for Dior showed this military conflict again. The bag had military style grommets, ammunition cartridge type pockets, and came in colours reminiscent of camouflage - greens, grays, browns, and blacks.

This same militaristic feel has transcended all retail tiers, including Military style hats and jackets at H&M, Ruehl, The Gap, and J. Crew. War is never in style, but supporting our troops is in fashion.

Now that our world is focusing on the economic troubles, I wonder how fashion reflect this. Will being naked be en vogue? It's definitely cheaper than buying (or even caring for!) new clothes!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Attention all passengers in the terminal!

I'm always mesmerized by what people wear in airports. Some people try  too hard to have the "it" look that they simply look ridiculous. Like the young black
woman who just walked by wearing medium washed denim jeans with a matching denim jacket and a hot pink Juicy Couture shirt.
All wrong.

There are several people in my terminal who are also wearing clothes
that are incredibly too tight. I'm not hinting that everyone should
dress up for flight or even incorporate formalwear into their travel
cases. What I am saying, however, is that you can travel in comfort
without sacrificing style and class.

Take for instance the middle aged white woman next to me. She's
wearing wide legged black wool trousers, a casual white polo style
shirt, with a black sweater artfully draped over her shoulders. Simple
diamond studs in each ear, a beautiful David Yurman bracelet and
matching ring, with an incredibly big diamond wedding ring. Her shoes
are black and khaki quilted Chanel ballerina flats. Casual,
comfortable, classy. Ages ready for business or pleasure where ever
she goes. And she's winning me over even more with her giant
Longchamp tote bag. I don't know who she is, but she is totally going

I'm always a fan of breaking "traditional fashion rules" - like
wearing white after Labor Day for example. But it still needs to be
done well. The tragic Asian woman with her too tight, too long, and
too wrinkled white cotton skirt with her ill fitting blouse really
should rethink her fashion making decisions.

I also like to mix and match patterns. Maybe a vertical stripe dress
shirt with a diagonal repp stripe tie. But not a vertical stripe shirt
with a diagonal stripe tie and a polka dot sweater vest. I kid you
not. This shit is reality for some people, nightmares for the rest of

There's the new mother with her light blue and white stripe degrade
skirt and complimentary blue knit top that looks absolutely amazing
and ready for any travel delays she may face. And her stacked kitten
heels with peep toe show that just because she gas a baby strapped to
her body doesn't mean her fashion fundamentals should be compromised.

Neck pillows are out. Especially the inflatable kind. It looks like a toilet
seat is stuck on your neck.

Zone One is now boarding. It's time to join by cocktail party in the sky.

Enjoy your day!

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bloomingdales is Blossoming

It's not often that there is one particular department store that I get really excited about. Target. Henri Bendel. Selfridges. Fred Segal. But I must admit, I'm loving Bloomingdale's right now. Maybe it's the fact that their selections are improving drastically, like my favorites - Diesel, Theory, Ted Baker, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani Jeans, Hugo Boss, Burberry...on and on. Maybe it's because they carry Bliss products. But I know for sure, they're impact and support for Breast Cancer Awareness month is incredibly pleasing. I just bought their giant pink golf umbrella.

I always associate the color pink with excitement, new beginnings, hope, and good fortune. These adjectives expertly describe how I feel towards finding a cure for cancer. And when it's raining, people usually are in need of a little reminder of these great qualities. So now this umbrella won't just contribute monetarily to finding a cure for cancer, but I also think it will cure people's boring raining days.

Let Bloomingdale's know that we appreciate their efforts for finding a cure by visiting their stores. If you can, give them your business. After all, promoting cancer awareness and finding a cure for this terrible disease is everyone's business.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

a personal card

First, you must watch this clip -

And in the Ocean's 11 movie series, Danny Ocean has a personal business card, with only his name embossed on the front. Back in the day before everyone and their baby's cousin had mobilephones, iPhones, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries, people would leave a "calling card" - simple, elegant cards with their name and phone number on it. It was away to keep in touch. To announce your arrival (or departure) and that you may again pay a visit and grace them with your presence.

As the economy is less than stellar, and the security of each and every job is suddenly in question, I move that we all bring back these so called "calling cards". Elegant, simple stationary of extremely high quality material and craftsmanship, announcing your name and numerical communication code.

After all, it's never really about the position you fill, but your ability to network, complete a task, and contribute to the next better goal. The relationships you build, and more importantly, the relationships you keep, are more valuable than any project completed or employee of the month plaque you may receive. Traditional business cards marry your existence to a particular company or position; personal calling cards are identified solely by you. Your impact upon someone, the relationship and image you create, will last forever. So ditch the preconceived notions that your company or position may bring. Step up to the plate of life. Stand out from the crowd. Be your own image. Be your calling card. Because when you take the leap to really live life and quite your mundane job, you'll be so thrilled to continue to foster the relationships you established on your own accord.

You'll need a case to keep these personal calling cards secure. I love a discrete, small leather case, like those found at Hermes and Gucci. Just as you're selective with your fashion choices, you should also be selective in whom you present your personal calling card. Don't just give them to anyone. Offer the card to new business professionals with whom you call friend, or may see yourself learning from, gaining insight or experience, or getting or giving assistance in the future. After all, "networking" is one letter different than "not working"...and the opportunity to not work is always in style.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

tip du jour

Just because something is on sale or a good price does NOT mean you have to buy it. Sometimes, less really is more. There's nothing worse than a crowded closet. It is a good idea, however, to upgrade your choices. When your budget allows, shop for nicer selections of what you already have. Then pass along the favor by donating your "older" items to worthy causes (shelters, organizations, or friends-who-are-fashion-victims are always good options).

Monday, September 29, 2008

wide leg, high waist

Trends this season focus primarily on colour and fit. The silhouette your body and clothes create is always an important quality in fashion; this season more attention is paid to the silhouette than ever before. Two looks I love for women this season are high waists and wide legs (for fit of clothes, not body types haha!). Paired with perfect shoes, especially heels, these looks are easy to carry and are a great way to shake up your wardrobe.

All looks from today's blog are available at J. Crew.

Friday, September 26, 2008

set fashion a-blaze

For both men and women, the absolute necessity this fall is a blazer. Men, keep your jacket slightly rumpled and wrinkled for the "world traveler" appeal. Paired with jeans, a great button down, and fantastic shoes. Pick interesting fabrics, like leather, velvet, and corduroy.

Women, a fitted blazer is your new best friend. Opt for a more elegant choice with cropped sleeves. Perfect to keep you warm on a cool Autumn evening.

And if you haven't seen Theory's new fall collection for men or women, I definitely encourage you to take a peek - - and you can even mix and match outfits!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

the power of pink, european edition

So I got to thinking, I know Americans are pretty interested in cancer awareness, especially when it involves shopping! So, for all of my European readers, I didn't want to leave you out of the fun! So here are some ways to be fabulous and fashionable, and still make a difference!

Selfridges has taken pink to a whole new level, even renaming themselves PINKRIDGES! Think pink! The entire of Selfridges will be 'pinked' as they help to raise money and awareness for Breast Cancer Care this September. Breast Cancer Care is the UK's leading provider of information, practical advice and emotional support for anyone affected by breast cancer. So, to offer their own support, they have a variety of exclusive Pinkridges product in-store with choices running from an exquisite Alexander McQueen silk chiffon scarf to a witty David Shrigley greeting card. With each item the amount of the donation going to the charity will be clearly labelled. On sale in-store from September 1 – October 15. Thoughts For Support - Post your well wishes and personal thoughts for loved ones on the Pink Wall in support of Breast Cancer Care. A suggested donation of £1 per message is all they ask to support Breast Cancer Care during Pinkridges.

Additionally, fashion designer and actress Sadie Frost has gathered a group of friends, including her two sisters, to support Breast Cancer Care. They have assembled a dazzling array of items generously donated by celebrities to raise money through a Pinkridges silent auction. You have the chance to own any of these special things. Just bid on-line, or visit the Oxford Street store, just head for the concept store in the Wonder Room on the Ground Floor and make a sealed bid there. They will be in touch with the winning bidders on 29 September 2008 and, of course, proceeds go to Breast Cancer Care.

And for everyone in the UK, you never really need an excuse to party. But now, throw a party for cancer! Pink Your Party has great ideas for throwing a wonderful party, and allows you to donate to cancer research and advocacy in the UK! Nearly 46,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year. Monies collected through PYP benefit Breakthrough, where scientists are dedicated to find any and all cancer cures!

For my italian friends, there's always Komen Italia!

La Komen Italia onlus è una organizzazione non-profit, basata sul volontariato, che opera dal 2000 nella lotta ai tumori del seno. La sua attività è rivolta ad un problema di grande rilevanza sociale, che direttamente o indirettamente entra in tutte le case. I tumori del seno, infatti, rappresentano le neoplasie maligne più frequenti fra le donne di tutte le età e la principale causa di morte nella popolazione femminile oltre i 35 anni. Anche gli uomini, seppure occasionalmente, possono sviluppare questa malattia (1 caso ogni 100 tumori del seno).

Nel nostro paese si registrano 36.000 nuovi casi ogni anno, con un’incidenza in continuo aumento. Sebbene dal tumore del seno sia possibile guarire in un’alta percentuale di casi (superiore al 70%), ogni anno in Italia ancora più di 11.000 donne perdono la loro battaglia.
C’è quindi ancora molto da fare e la Komen Italia opera per aumentare le possibilità di guarigione e migliorare la qualità della vita delle tante donne italiane che affrontano il tumore del seno.

Gli obiettivi strategici dell’Associazione sono:
la promozione della prevenzione secondaria, cioè della diagnosi precoce, strumento di grande efficacia per ridurre la mortalità della malattia; l’aggiornamento continuo degli operatori sanitari impegnati nella diagnosi e nella terapia di questi tumori, per aumentare la loro capacità di fornire prestazioni diagnostiche, terapeutiche ed assistenziali ottimali; l’informazione alle donne che si confrontano con la malattia, per aiutarle a compiere il loro percorso di cura in modo più consapevole e sereno; l’incremento delle opportunità di supporto psico-sociale e di riabilitazione, per garantire il recupero di un pieno benessere fisico e psichico al maggior numero possibile di donne.

Stuart Weitzman, estroso designer americano, famoso in tutto il mondo come il "re delle scarpe da sera", ha abbracciato da tempo la causa della lotta ai tumori del seno e della Komen.
Dal 2001 si svolge ogni anno una particolare asta di beneficenza che coinvolge la generosità e la creatività dei più famosi personaggi del mondo dello spettacolo, dello sport, della musica e della gastronomia. Nella prima edizione, numerose donne di successo come Manuela Arcuri e Margherita Buy, hanno messo alla prova la loro fantasia decorando una scarpa "decollete" di raso bianca secondo il proprio gusto. Le creazioni sono state poi battute all'asta ed il ricavato è stato destinato alla Komen Italia per promuovere l'importanza della prevenzione nella lotta ai tumori del seno.

Nel 2002 è toccato agli uomini di spettacolo cimentarsi in questa prova artistica. Tra loro si sono distinti personaggi come Mike Bongiorno, Renzo Arbore e Carlo Verdone.

Per l'edizione 2003, Stuart Weitzman ha pensato ai più noti sportivi del presente e del passato da Francesco Totti a Valentino Rossi, fino a Sara Simeoni e Pietro Mennea. Le scarpe sono state poi vendute sul sito di

Nel 2004 sono stati i più famosi cantanti e musicisti italiani a sfidarsi in questa singolare "tenzone". Tra loro, Luciano Pavarotti, Claudio Baglioni, Lucio Dalla e Gianni Morandi. Anche in questo caso, le scarpe sono state messe all'asta sul sito di eBay.

Nel 2005 è stato poi il turno dei più famosi chef italiani, da Heinz Beck a Gianfranco Vissani. Oltre ad aver decorato una scarpa da donna, hanno anche svelato il segreto di una propria creazione culinaria contribuendo alla realizzazione del libro di ricette "Scarpe in Tavola" (il cui ricavato è stato interamente destinato alla Komen Italia). Le foto di tutte le "opere" delle precedenti edizioni sono invece raccolte nel libro fotografico "Impronte Famose", edito da Sperling Kupfer. Anche di questa pubblicazione una parte del ricavato è stato devoluto alla Komen Italia.

Custo Barcelona has a beautiful tshirt, which all proceeds benefit the Komen Foundation as well.

In Deutschland wird inzwischen jede 8. bis 9. Frau im Laufe ihres Lebens mit der erschreckenden Diagnose Brustkrebs konfrontiert. Immer noch ist der Anteil der Frauen, bei denen die Krankheit erst spät oder zu spät erkannt wird, sehr hoch. Das wollen wir ändern!
„Wir“, das sind Menschen, die 1999 die deutsche Vertretung von Susan G. Komen for the Cure gegründet haben. KOMEN Deutschland e.V., Verein für die Heilung von Brustkrebs, ist eine gemeinnützige Organisation, die sich nicht nur für Betroffene stark macht, sondern auch für die Verbesserung der Aufklärung und der Früherkennung kämpft und modellhafte Projekte finanziert.

Drei ganz einfache Schritte zur Früherkennung sind:1. Regelmäßige Selbstuntersuchungen der Brust!2. Regelmäßige ärztliche Untersuchungen!3. Regelmäßige Mammografie ab dem 40. Lebensjahr!

Knapp 6.000 Läufer im letzten Jahr! Ein beachtliches Ergebnis, das ohne die tatkräftige Unterstützung unserer Partner nicht erzielt worden wäre. Auch 2008 haben Sie sich wieder bereit erklärt, den KOMEN Race for the Cure zu unterstützen und damit einen wesentlichen Beitrag für den Stellenwert des Laufes im Kampf gegen den Brustkrebs zu leisten.

Dafür danken wir!

No matter where you live, we can all make a difference.