Thursday, April 30, 2009

Infiniti FX50

Some things say a lot about you. Some things do not. People can argue your automobile says everything or nothing about your personality and your style.

Regardless of what others say or think, I must tell you. The Infiniti FX50 might possibly be the sexiest, most realistic car ever. And it will be my next automotive purchase.

A picture might be worth one thousand words. But these few photographs speak so much more.

It's been my rental car of choice for a few years now, especially when I'm in Los Angeles. Driving this car, you should change the name of the city to "Los Anjealous"'s simply amazing.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

West Third Street, West Hollywood

The Spring Stroll 2009 is coming up this weekend, 2-3 May. Shops on West Third Street, from Fairfax to La Cienega in West Hollywood all participate in this wonderful shopping and culinary delight - offering discounts, specials, and good times.

Why am I excited? Because two of my favourite stores - Douglas Fir and Krisyln Design, are both participating.

I've written about both of these stores before, but they're definitely worth mentioning, and even more so worth visiting. Douglas Fir, with it's fabulous selection of clothing and accessories for men, has an amazing collection - Maison Martin Margiela, Comme des Garcons, Paul Smith, Y's for Men, CP Co, John Smedley knits, Zanone sweaters, Watson and Pastor, and Knotty Pine to name a few. Pay special attention to the eclectic windows, the minimal aesthetic of the store, and the quaint shopping experience. Jonathan, I believe, helped me the last time I was there. You may even see celebrates. Just keep your cool. I know a certain Mr. 007 shops here, as I've seen him personally.

And Krislyn Design. The most amazing floral creations. Dreamlike sculptures. Trees from heaven. I'm not kidding. The most fantasy you could imagine. Before your eyes. When I've visited the store, I leave relaxed, inspired, and wanting everything. And I mean, everything.

So if you're in LA this weekend, be sure to hit West Third Street. And if you're not going to be in SoCal, it's not to late to book a flight. You know I love Delta Airlines. It's not a plane. It's a cocktail party in the sky.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Paris Market, Savannah

So after a random vacation with 3 of my best fraternity brothers, I took a shopping pit-stop in historic Savannah, Georgia. Noted for it's beautiful squares, cobblestone streets, and the butter and salt loving Paula Dean, I was quite impressed with some of the shopping selections the quaint river town had to offer. Marc by Marc Jacobs (company owner keeps a home here). Standard Banana Republic, Gap, and Urban Outfitters. The Savannah Bee Company with its delicious honeys, food and bodycare made with honey, and whimsical gifts and trinkets. And, best of all, The Paris Market.

My friend Christian and I ended up speaking with Paula, the owner, about a fabulous pagoda she picked up in India. The store is not hard to describe or imagine. It's heaven. From the (almost) complete range of Caldera cleaning products, to selections from Dean & Deluca, Santa Maria Novella soaps, and everything in between. Beautiful wine racks from the Netherlands, amazing furniture pieces, old world maps, decorations, accessories, and lighting.

Each "room" and style spilling over into everything in the shop. The most delicious candles light sporadically between the main floor and the basement, the smell of lavender and all things French just emit everywhere. We sat and flipped through a fabulous Vogue living book, with pictures of fabulous houses like Gianni Versace and the owners of Ferrari and Fiat. Any one of those glorious homes could have been decorated and outfitted with things from The Paris Market.

What an amazing treasure of a shop. For my own home, for my future homes, and definitely for gifts and special occasions, I'll be consulting with Paula to find the best treasures.

Friday, April 24, 2009

the perfect trunks

...and I don't mean elephants! It's swimming season (or almost that time for you in the land of the cold and dreary), and there's not much worse than wearing the wrong bathing suit.

Picking a bathing suit isn't rocket science, if you know what to avoid. Here are some tips:

-- long, baggy shorts should be left to those in high school. if you've graduated high school, or are at least over the age of 18, pick something else. if you shorts hang below your knees - they're too short. opt for something a few inches above the knee for a more refined, elegant look.

-- avoid trunks that are too short, or too tight for that matter. i don't care how many hours you spent in the gym while everyone else was out drinking their weight in beer and poorly mixed cocktails. under no circumstances should you venture to the local water hole wearing swim trunks that are too short, or too tight. the traditional speedo type racing brief was created for aerodynamics and professional swimmers, not for trips to the beach or lazy days at the pool.

-- if you've got a few extra pounds, avoid elastic waistbands. opt for the more classic styling like a snap-front board short. elastic waistbands are engineered to cling to your hips, so if you have a little excess weight, you'll end up looking like 5 pounds of sugar in a 4 pound bag. not cute.

Once you've got the perfect suit for you, it's time for fun in the sun. Just be smart, and remember your sunscreen. No matter how great your bathing suit may be, if you're sunburnt and blistered, you'll never be en vogue.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mixed Marketing 2.0, and Earth Day!

A few days ago I wrote about the Mixed Marketing trends we've seen recently in the retail world. We all love to be right. And yesterday, my point was only strengthened. I received an email from Ruehl, a concept by Abercrombie & Fitch, advertising yet another concept, Gilly Hicks - supposedly the "cheeky cousin" of the ANF brand. I know that sex sells, but you'd think ANF might try something new with their marketing schemes, other than sprawling naked men and half naked women on billboards and advertising campaigns.

On another note, today is EARTH DAY! I was talking to a friend of mine who is fairly fashion forward, and she didn't quite understand why it was so important to be kind to the Earth and celebrate today. So I tried to put it in terms she might better understand. I said, "It's like getting an Hermes Birkin bag. You have to take care of it. It's special. You want to use it as much as possible, without exhausting it or putting it in danger. You only get one." Then she said, "Joseph? I have two Birkin bags..."

So for the 99.99999% of you who don't have more than one incredibly expensive French handbag, be kind to the Earth. Plant a tree. Turn off the lights. Don't use your car. Make a difference for a perfect world.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Green is the new Black

Yesterday we kicked off Earth Day week by highlighting Loomstate for Target, a collection of designs made with organic cottons. Today, I wanted to include a few tips on how you can be eco-friendly without compromising your fabulosity.

--- recycle. and i'm not just talking about your empty champagne bottles either! bring your empty cosmetics and skincare containers to any Origins store and receive complimentary samples of ANY product in the store. And even better - when you return 6 containers or packages from MAC cosmetics, you'll get a FREE lipstick of your choice.

--- bring your own bags. big purses have always been en vogue. i used to joke that you could carry a small child in Hermes' beautiful Birkin bag. make use of your accessories and actually put things in them, rather than wasting paper and plastic and getting disposable bags at each store you purchase. or, invest in some fun cloth bags. i have 8 great bags i got from the Gap's product red campaign that i keep in the car - perfect for the grocery store, shopping sprees, and even going to the beach. they fold up to about the size of a deck of playing cards, so they don't take up much space either!

--- conserve electricity. whenever i'm in the car, i always charge my iPhone and iPod. charging your essentials in the car causes no harm, is virtually free, and helps cut down the cost of powering your home or office.

--- invest in a water purifying system. there are many alternatives to drinking bottled water. those pesky plastic bottles take forever to decompose, so do your best not to use them at all. you can purchase many inexpensive home systems, pitchers, and filtering systems.

--- choose sustainable fabrics. bamboo is one of the world's most sustainable resources - have you seen how quickly bamboo can grow?! Calvin Klein makes bamboo cotton undergarments, which have naturally anti-bacterial properties as well.

--- choose better cleaning products. i've written multiple times about my love of Preserve and Method Home products. Preserve's innovative designs are all made with recycled plastics from yogurt cups. and Method Home is a collection of fabulous cleaning products that are actually good for the environment, and still get the work done!

--- your neighbours will be green with envy when you start decorating with Branch Home - a fabulous company specializing in eco-friendly, green products for the home. they're the ones who i wrote about a few months ago who have the tote bag made from reclaimed sailboat sails. (which i still haven't purchased, so if someone wants to love me lots and send it to me, i'll be happy to provide my address)

My point is, going green doesn't have to be expensive. It doesn't have to make you look cheap, smell like dirt and granola, or any of the negative connotations you may have. Surprise yourself. Save the environment. Go green.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Loomstate for Target

I've spoken and written previously about the many paradoxes in my life. I don't like wasting gas, but I love big cars. I love working in the garden and planting new things, but I don't mind cutting down trees to build bigger homes and better shopping plazas.

Here's another paradox - designer fashion that is environmentally friendly, hip, and department store prices. Well, Loomstate is launched a collection at Target (which I think might just have to be one of my favourite stores ever) which is made of completely 100% organic cottons. Incredibly priced from US$14,99 - 44,99, the collection will be available online and at select stores throughout the United States.

I love how soft the fabrics are, the beautiful, vibrant colours, and the ability to show designer inspired pieces at an accessible price point. This isn't to say that Loomstate's range at Target will replace my favourite Loomstate Original pieces. But I'm hoping it will be the gateway for many who may not be as familiar with the company.
"We are excited to launch the Loomstate for Target collection just in time to celebrate Earth Day,” said Trish Adams, senior vice president of Target. “This collection provides great quality and environmentally responsible fashion at an affordable price for women and men everywhere.”

Scott Hahn and Rogan Gregory, the duo behind Loomstate, are definitely winning me over.
Stimulate the economy. Help save the environment. And look ravishing while you do so.
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Friday, April 17, 2009

hand written style

There's something to be said for the convenience of technology today. We love having everything instantly - with mobile phones that bring us email, Internet, and video conferencing, laptop computers that fit into envelopes and are as light as "air", and digital cameras with instant viewing, access to information is no longer delayed.

All of this is exactly why hand written cards, letters, and notes are even more special. Maybe it's the old world elegance of putting pen to paper, or the surprise of receiving something in the post other than beg letters, bills, and business offers.

When you actually hold an envelope in your hand, open the card or letter, and physically read your sender's remarks, the message is much more than what is written. Your sender, by taking the time to sit, write, and send your note, genuinely cares for you.

I love stationary. My Mother always had boxes and boxes of beautiful cards, notes, and papers. She loved Crane and Co. , cards of course from Hallmark and Papyrus . On trips to Italy, she'd always pick up a few packages from her favourite shops in Florence.

If you're going to start sending your family, friends, or business associates hand written notes, here are some tips:

... keep great cards and stationary on hand. with a variety of occasions, like anniversaries, birthdays, celebration, condolences, and encouragement.

... invest in a good pen. I'm not saying you have to go buy a Mont Blanc pen or one from Cartier (even though they are amazingly fabulous), but make sure you have something that writes well and doesn't smear.

... pick up some beautiful or fun stamps from the postal office.

... order a return address label, press, or stamp. I'm really loving the custom embosser from PSA Essentials.

So the next time you're about to send an e-card, e-mail, or text message, consider spending a few moments to actually write the person instead. It will really brighten their day! And that is always en vogue.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Free Origins facewash, today only.

So there's nothing better than F.R.E.E. Especially when it's something I actually like or will use. And you know, one of my favourite skincare companies is Origins. And today only (15 April), with all online orders, you get a complimentary facewash (there are a few to choose from).

So you know me - I had to order my favourite face mask (and get my Checks and Balances facewash for free), and then turn right around and separately order my favourite Mint Wash shampoo (in the jumbo size) to get another free Checks and Balances. You pay shipping charges for both orders, but the combined US$12 fee is still just over half what it would be for ONE facewash - and I got two.

My Mom loved Origins products too. You see, I worked there for nearly 3 years while in high school and college. And I really believe in the amazing ingredients. I have seen the results on my own skin, let alone the thousands of clients I assisted. And today just happens to be the second anniversary of my Mom's death. So I think she was reminding me that all really is well. And, if this is just a taste of what shopping is like in heaven, I can't wait to be there!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Zac Efron = style maker? Don't laugh.

Good fashion sense is good fashion sense. Whether the person is a small child with parents who have fantastic style, a seasoned politician with an affinity for perfectly tailored suits and is just as comfortable in jeans and a tshirt, or a young actor who previously was only adored by pre-pubescent young girls and gay men in the midst of midlife crises who has a great stylist and actually might know what clothes look best on him.
I'm not embarrassed to say this. After all, good fashion sense is good fashion sense. The great folks at Conde Nast just featured a few photographs of Zac Efron on their website. And I must say, I'm impressed with his style. Or, rather, the styles he wears in the photographs at least.
Gingham. Well tailored jackets. Straight leg denim (from Dior Homme, in the second picture, and from Gucci, in the third picture). Also is the iconic Thom Browne blazer in the first picture.
I'm not saying one should mimic a certain High School aesthetic. But when you exude confidence and class like in the pictures here of Mr. Efron, you'll look more like a man and less like a pubescent punk.
Fashion is fantasy. Fashion is flair. Fashion is funk. Fashion is what you make of it.
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Monday, April 13, 2009

A fashion must

in no particular order, my monthly fashion suggestions for April 2009:

.. statement colours. the colours of orange sherbert, pink grapefruit, the (unpolluted, crystal clear) sea, celery, sand, and coral.

.. vintage leathers. whether the perfect motorcycle jacket, beat up suede boots, or the perfect handbag or tote, vintage leather not only is durable and amazing to look at, but it tells a story and adds the perfect piece of intrigue.

.. colourful sandals. i love the colour, comfort, and amazing prices of havaianas from brazil.

.. printed fabrics. i'm not just talking about patchwork, madras fabric shorts or skirts either. think geometric design, fabulous flowers, dots, and stripes.

.. lighter wash denim. dark denim is for cold, wintery weather. relax. let loose. lighten up. not just your personality, but your denim, too. and i don't just mean your denim pants and skirts. try a great denim shirt. and to avoid looking like a fool, make sure your denim shirt is paired with contrasting denim pants or try a cotton khaki bottom. for your jeans and denim trousers, opt for a straight leg. the slimmer, more trim look of the pants will carry over to a slimmer, more trim look of your body. i love these two pieces from diesel.

.. deconstructed jackets. soft shoulders, gentle lapels, carefree fabrics like linen, cotton, and gabardine. for men and women.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

mixed marketing?

I have said all along that this economy is actually doing retail, especially luxury retail a huge favor and flushing the system of sub-par performers and performance. Circuit City, formerly one of America's largest electronics superstores, was never quite as good as its closest competitor Best Buy. It didn't have the expertise, the inventory selection, the convenient locations, or the national buying power as its superior competitor. Ultimately the chain went out of business.

On the other end of the spectrum, the fabulous Sound Advice also closed over the past few months. It's niche market of higher end electronics, sound systems, and accessories was definitely feeling the effects of the economy. While their staff performed well, their customers just weren't in the market for US$ 10,000 plasma televisions and the latest, trendy phone systems.

I've noticed over the past year or so that parents companies are demonstrating some unusual marketing techniques. Previously, I felt many umbrella companies (broad companies with many similar companies under one ownership or director) would always keep their respective companies separate. For example, it was fairly public knowledge that Express, Bath and Body Works, Victoria Secret, and the Limited were all owned by the same company. But the stores were run separately, had different marketing plans, etc. Until the last year or so - when suddenly you could buy Victoria's Secret body care and skincare in Bath and Body Works. And of course you can use your Limited Card at Express, or any of the other parent companies.

Similarly, I always said that Hollister & Co was marketing for high school students, Abercrombie & Fitch was for college students, and Ruehl was for the after college crowd. Ruehl, a concept from Abercrombie was test marketed in a dozen or so cities across the country. But it held a separate identity from Abercrombie. Until just a few months ago, when the Ruehl logo suddenly incorporated the A&F influence for all to see.

Even Publix Supermarkets, with their Crispers restaurant chain, even is cross marketing, selling the eatery's salads in their markets, and making sure all of the restaurant patrons know that the ice creams and produce come from the supermarket's house ranges.

To some point, the cross marketing makes sense. It saves the company money, assists in building brand awareness, and broadens their reach to potentially new consumer groups. However, I think companies really need to consider the negative effects on their business.

Cross marketing can cheapen a brand. For example, The Gap, who also owns Old Navy and Banana Republic, now allows customers to use their Gap Card, Old Navy Card, or Banana Republic Card throughout all three chains. I'm sorry, but the quality of both the clothes and the clients at Old Navy is not quite on par as the clients and products of Banana Republic. Not that Banana Republic is fabulous by any means, but their stands and image is a little more elevated than the Gap, and definitely more than Old Navy. Mixing the marketing and brand recognition of Old Navy and Banana Republic might tarnish the image of Banana Republic.

Imagine that luxe powerhouse LVMH, who owns more than their share of luxury brands including Dior, Louis Vuitton, Zenith Watches, Moet & Chandon, etc, having one LVMH credit card that could be used at all of its locations. This, unlike The Gap's credit system, would be a good representation of cross marketing - as the LVMH umbrella encompasses brands that all are luxury, exclusive, and similar in design and production.

Retail companies, especially luxury fashion brands, must be very cautious when cross marketing. Mixed signals are never en vogue.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fashion is more than just clothes!

It's true. Fashion is so much more than clothes. Fashion is having the right attitude. And I don't just mean the bitchy, overly judgemental, snobby type of attitude either.

Real fashion, the kind that is attractive, elegant, well constructed, and desired by many but replicated by few, involves a gracious yet confident, mysterious yet genuine, constructed yet natural, imagined yet honest.

You can have the most amazing clothes and accessories, but if your attitude leaves something more to be desired, your look can be instantly written off. I used to work with a woman, who quite honestly was very attractive physically - that is, until she opened her mouth and let her true personality show. Once you got to know her, you knew she was instantly the shadiest, most fake, and deceitful person you could ever imagine. Even the most exclusive designs couldn't help her.

Fashion is fantasy. And when you combine a terrible person with amazing designs, you wind up with a nightmare. Being fake, bitchy, and pretentious is so last season.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

a designer motorcycle?

When I think of "fashion" and "motorcycles", a few images flash into my mind. There's always the traditional view of the svelte Italian man, impeccably dressed in his perfectly tailored suit and shined shoes, navigating his Vespa or Piaggio scooter through the streets of Milano. Then there's the young, sexy femme fatale in her trendy skinny jeans, leather motorcycle jacket, and fierce boots racing her Ducati street bike through the roads of Prague in the most current action flick.

I normally wouldn't associate a "chopper" style motorcycle with high fashion. But seeing is believing. A few weeks ago, during my annual "spring break" with 3 of my very best friends, we were leaving a local restaurant, when I saw the following.

I'll be the first to admit I don't know very much at all about motorcycles. However, I think it's safe to say that I know a thing or two about fashion and style. Look at this motorcycle! First, my favourite colour (red), is absolutely fabulous. The contrast betwixt the bright red, the fat black tired, the ivory insets, and the chrome detail is just amazing. And my favourite aspect of this bike? You guessed it! The crocodile! Look at the seat and the bag! CROCODILE!
Seeing this bike totally reiterated the fact that crocodile is not only a luxurious leather, but it is definitely durable!
So the next time you're in the market for a handbag or small leather good, consider spending the extra money for crocodile. Not only will it look breathtaking, but it'll also last a lifetime (and then some!).

Monday, April 6, 2009

drunk designers?

OK. Really? I'm all for designers and fashion houses branching out into new markets and categories. Kenneth Cole, originally just a shoe designer, does make some pretty amazing accessories, small leather goods, and even occasionally some ready-to-wear that's actually interesting. Giorgio Armani, cultural and fashion icon, now includes with his to-die-for clothing creations, an entire range of cosmetics, footwear, fragrances, and the most luxurious home goods.

But alcohol? Really? I was shopping recently (hard to imagine, I know!) and stumbled upon Ed Hardy's latest product category entry - "designer" spirits.

Where will it end? Ed Hardy toilet paper? Floor mats for your car? Pet bowls? Feather dusters?

At some point, when your "brand" is so completely saturated into a consumer's mind, at some point they will be turned off by the overawarenss of the name. After all, clients love exclusivity. There's a certain mystique that comes with owning something from a brand not available in all places. Think Dior. Hermes. Goyard. And even (sometimes) Chanel.

So next time you're out buying something from your favorite "designer", consider their impact on the industry. Are they overly accessible? If they are, maybe you should suggest uber-retailers like Wal-mart to start carrying your ranges. Because there's nothing exclusive about Wal-mart, either.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

America the Beautiful

It's so much more than just a song. It's a true statement. While a little less than half of Americans weren't exactly thrilled that Mr. Obama became the next president, the rest of the country and world seemed to breathe in a breath of fresh air or optimism and change. How much change is actually happening thus far is debatable, but there is one thing that is changing: a renewed sense of Americana in the fashion world.

Part back yard barbeque in Savannah, part Saturday sailing in Nantucket, part museum hopping in New York, part beach scene in Miami, part hipster in Los Angeles, Americana fashion is truly unique. Less stuffy than the Europeans, less rigid than the Asians, American fashion is slightly athletic, slightly patriotic, and 100% en vogue.

With First Lady Obama dressing her kids in J. Crew, the long term popularity of designers like Kenneth Cole, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, and Ralph Lauren, and The Mr. Tom Ford, American fashion is here to stay.

Friday, April 3, 2009

luxe loves of the moment

(in no particular order)

-- 20 Pine - What do you get when you combine the most luxe living, New York City, Giorgio Armani, fabulous amenities, beautiful views, and exclusivity? 20 Pine of course! Couture living can be yours. To say this is a dream home is an understatement.

-- You can't deny talent. Music has been a huge part of my life. And Jesse McCartney singing live is pretty amazing.

-- Since 1897, Globe Trotter has made the most beautiful handmade luggage. Travel in style.

-- unexpected pops of colour, like in this sporty orange watch from Emporio Armani.

-- I've wanted the Gucci bamboo cross necklace since I first saw it a few years ago. And to be honest, I actually forgot about it. Until I was browsing the Neiman Marcus website. And there it was. And I must have it. I think this might be my next "I don't really need it but I've wanted it for a long time and it would be a meaningful addition to my collection of fabulous finds" purchase.

-- the perfect v-neck t from Martin + Osa. super soft. vintage inspiration, without being pretentious.

-- and last, but certainly not least, I love planning surprises for my friends. one of my very good friends has a birthday that coincidentally falls on the anniversary of my Mother's death. as you would expect, it's hard for me to get excited about anything on this day. so i'm planning a little rendezvous to see him and celebrate in style a few days after his birthday. he actually has moderately good style, but most importantly, he's an amazing friend. going out of your way to make someone's day, especially someone who brings value in your life, is always a good thing.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

the perfect accessory - beautiful teeth!

I was talking in a department store today with my brother. As we made our way through to cosmetics department towards the menswear, I couldn't help but think something. I didn't just think it to myself. I thought it out loud. Some may consider this a problem. But I always say, "the truth hurts, but lies worse"...and as long as it's true, it can't be wrong. So what did I think? That there were some really ugly women selling cosmetics.

How ironic? Ugly women selling beauty products. Would you actually buy a foundation or some eye shadow from a woman who looked terrible? No. I don't think so. You wouldn't take your clothes to a dry cleaner that was in a dirty, dump of a building. You wouldn't buy your groceries if the store smelled like a dirty diaper.

When making a purchase, you expect the sales people to be knowledgeable, fashionable, and put together. They should epitomize their craft.

And I must say, one of my favourite former clients Lisa, who works at the Smile Stylist in Ponte Vedra Beach, along with her two doctors, Jason and Colleen, all are the prime example of my case en pointe. Lisa, Jason, and Colleen all have the most amazing teeth. And, as Jason and Colleen are both cosmetic dentists, and Lisa is their star employee, you'd expect them to have fabulous smiles!

From laser whitening and professional strength at-home trays, to gum contouring and the uber luxe veneers, the Smile Stylists can really provide you with the most long lasting, perfect accessory of all - a beautiful smile.

It's no reflection on her musical artistry or ability to sing, but when singer Jewel opens her mouth, you can't help but think she instantly had gone from "hot" to "not"...that snaggle tooth is just terrible. She really needs to go see Drs. Jason and Colleen to fix her grille. In entertainment, and especially fashion, looks and attention to detail really are everything.

Having a fabulous wardrobe, a buff body, great hair, and terrible teeth, would be like wearing a Giorgio Armani suit with shoes from Payless or some other hideous, cheap, and sinful excuse for a proper shoe retailer. It just doesn't work.

Make the investment. Amping up your smile will instantly ramp up your style.

PS - Drs. Jason and Colleen just opened a location in New York City! So if you can't make it to sunny Ponte Vedra Beach - hit the big apple and stop by their office!