Friday, July 31, 2009

Spring 2010 Cole Haan

So yesterday evening I hosted a private shopping event at Cole Haan. When you love fashion and shopping - there's nothing better than gathering friends and family at one of your favourite stores, with good food and drink, and some of the most professional, personable, and polite sales associates for an evening of shopping and good times.

While I was there, I got to preview the Spring 2010 collections, and I must say - there are a few shoes that I can't wait to see in person and on my feet! (thanks to the ab.fab. trainer Melanie for my preview!)

My favourite for women - an incredible flat sandal with a yachting inspired rope detail. Flirty, fun, and full of summer vitality.

And my first spring shoe purchase will definitely be the wing tips for men with a splattering of the most electric, acid blue colour around the toe seams. I always talk about the importance and impact a pop of colour has on an otherwise boring canvas - and this shoe brings that example to reality!

Thanks to everyone who came out last night. Not only do I appreciate your friendship and support, but your feet will thank you, too!

PS - in a totally unrelated subject - you have to watch this commercial for California Milk. It makes me laugh everytime I watch it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Must. Have. Now. Martin + Osa

I don't normally post twice in one day. But this is definitely deserving.

Throughout every season, there are certain investment pieces that carry over from collection to collection. The perfect white shirt. Classic black heels. Incredible denim. That navy blue puffer vest. A cashmere sweater and scarf. Lambskin leather gloves. And a trench coat.

I used to be obsessed with traditional Macintosh coats and Burberry's famously check lined trench coats. Until now.

Martin + Osa just released their Fall 2009 trench coat. And I must. Have. Now. The details are amazing. Classic inspiration with a twist - the double breasted coat is slim fit, providing the perfect silhouette for all seasons. The notched lapel, storm guard under collar, and adjustable buttoned cuffs actually provide real protection from harsh elements, while the vented back prevents any unnecessary perspiration and stuffiness.

Incredibly durable, yet still breathable cotton/nylon blend expertly repels rain while providing the perfect protection - and you'll look great, too! I love the removable belt - looks great belted in rain or snow storms, but also provides a bit of J'Ne se qua when left undone.

Paired with everything - denim and a vneck, or as a top coat over a suit, this coat is a must have addition to your wardrobe. You'll wear it for years to come.

Martin + Osa's Double-Breasted Trench Coat
Style: 3830/2161

Available in Dune Khaki or Seagram Black. And quite honestly - at this price, with this quality and design, I'd buy one of each colour!

PS - loving the women's version, too.

luxe loves

(in no particular order)

-- vintage (both authentic vintage and vintage inspired) accessories - like broaches, tie clips/pins, money clips, hair accessories

-- bracelets (I know, it's been a love of mine for a while - but I can't help it!)

-- couture details - like backer buttons, knife pleats, special collars and sleeves, visible darting, special stitching like top stitching or luneville

-- the perfect denim - perfect fit, perfect fabric, perfect cut, perfect wash

-- vintage leather goods - old school motorcycle jackets, warn in leather tote bags and satchels, roughed up belts, and broken in wallets - vintage leather tells a story and adds character

-- tone on tone on tone - especially now - khaki on khaki on khaki, gray on gray on gray

-- pops of colour - like silver, gold, bronze, aqua, acid yellow, ruby red, and rich purples

-- animal prints in unexpected places - like a belt, a shoe, or a coat lining

-- unending scarves (for both men and women) - luxe layers

-- unexpected kindness - picking up the tab for friends' dinner or drinks without them knowing, picking up flowers for a friend just because...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

serious skincare

Having worked in the skincare and cosmetics industry, I learned a lot about the importance of quality skincare. Your skin is one of the largest organs on your body, and it's definitely important to put your best face forward. You don't have to spend a fortune on good skincare, and you definitely don't have to use everything in a system or from one company alone. Just look for quality ingredients, the right ingredients, and what works best for you.

Here are some ingredients, how they work, and why I love them:

-- Titanium Dioxide - a key ingredient in sun protection, it's one of the only natural sun blocks, actually causing the sun's harmful rays to literally bounce off your skin. Because of this, it is a majour component of sun blocks and sun screens, because it deters the absorption of ultraviolet or UV rays. The concentration of titanium dioxide determines the product’s Sun Protection Factor, or SPF.
-- Alpha Hydroxy Acids, commonly derived from citrus and tropical fruits, aide in exfoliating the skin by helping remove dead skin cells from the surface. Using products with Alpha Hydroxy fruit acids helps give skin a brighter, younger appearance.

-- Glucosamine - The American Academy of Dermatology says that a recent study shows that glucosamine could prove to be an effective topical treatment to reverse the effects of skin cells damaged by UV exposure. Additionally, glucosamine acts as an agent in skincare that basically unlocks the glue that holds dead skin cells to the surface of our skin.

-- Soybean, licorice, and asiatica - three ingredients that soften your skin

-- Silver-tipped white tea, green tea - two powerful antioxidants that help stop the clock on aging. Prevent dehydration, deterioration, and oxidation of the skin, resulting in a younger, more radiant skin.

-- Vitamin C - another great powerful antioxidant, full of anti-aging properties

-- White China Clay, Kaolin Clay - both help absorb excess oils produced by the skin

-- Mimosa - a firming agent, helps restore skin's elasticity

-- salicylic acids - help control oils on the skin, and in higher concentrations, are amazing at taking away blemishes, black heads, and other unsightly skin impurities
-- sea harricots, oceanic flora, Rose of Jericho, Trehalose - powerful, natural ingredients that support, encourage, and sustain skin hydration on a cellular level.

-- shea butter - from the shea tree's nuts, this is an ingredient prized for it's hydration and anti-aging properties.

-- lavender - calms and purifies the skin.
-- menthol and spearmint - both stimulate the skin and awaken your senses.

-- natural sea salts - purify the skin

-- natural sugars - soften the skin

-- mica - reflects light and gives a "shimmer" effect
-- Avobenzone (trade names Parsol 1789, Eusolex 9020, Escalol 517) - is a chemically derived ingredient that absorbs the full spectrum of UVA rays. (remember, UVA stands for Ulta Violet AGING, and UVB stands for Ulta Violet BURNING - both of which are never en vogue!)

Origins, a great skincare company, has a guide to understanding your cosmetic labels:

Understanding Your Cosmetic Label
We know that reading cosmetic labels can be confusing. That’s why we’ve created this Guide to help you decipher many of the symbols and statements that may appear on our labels.

For centuries, cosmetic products have brought enjoyment and beauty to millions of people worldwide. Today, a wide range of make-up, skin care, hair care, and fragrance products are available to help you look and feel good. There are many products to choose from—each with a different purpose, benefit and range of ingredients that makes it unique, effective and pleasant to use.

We know that reading cosmetic labels can sometimes be confusing. That’s why we’ve created this Guide to help you understand the various symbols and statements that may appear on your favorite product.

These include:

1. PRODUCT IDENTITY: statement of what the product is.

2. NET CONTENTS: the amount of product in the package. The “” following the volume declaration is a guarantee that the product has been filled in accordance with the average system of measures used in the European Union (EU).

3. PRODUCT INGREDIENTS: lists all ingredients used in the formula in descending order of concentration. This is especially important for those people who are seeking a specific ingredient or want to avoid one. In addition, our ingredient listing now includes the various components of a fragrance ingredient previously not listed and therefore may be longer. This is important information for that small percentage of the population who may be sensitive to certain components of fragrances.

4. DIRECTIONS FOR USE: informs you of how, when and where to use the product.

5. NAME/LOCATION OF MANUFACTURER OR DISTRIBUTOR: informs you who made the product and where the manufacturer or distributor is located. The London address and Post Code is underlined to indicate the main contact office in the EU. Product inquiries can be sent to this address.

6. COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: the country that manufactures or produces the product.

7. tells you the recommended number of months within which the product should be used after you have first opened and used it, provided the product has been stored under normal conditions and not exposed to extreme temperatures. For example (24M) means that you should replace this product within (24 months) after first opening. The “Period After Opening” number will vary based upon the type of cosmetic product.

8. denotes that our Company contributes to European programs for the proper disposal and recycling of all packing components.Other symbols and statements you might see on our label:

9. WARNINGS/CAUTIONS: informs you what to do and not do with the product. :

10. tells you to look elsewhere in the packaging for additional information, for example in a leaflet, card or tag.

Some brands I love: Origins, Bliss, Murad, The Art of Shaving, and Patricia Wexler.

It's always a good idea to stay away from products that are full of chemicals, oils, and things you might not understand. There is increasingly convincing medical research that products with Parabens may be cancer causing or cancer supporting - apparently there were studies where cancerous tumours were cut open and the parabens inside the tumours were in the exact same form, without any decomposition, as they existed in skincare and cosmetics products. So yea, be wise. Read your labels. And know what you're putting on your skin and into your body!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Designer Online Shopping

I think every good store, and especially ever boutique, should have an e-commerce terminal.

Here's what I mean. Imagine for a moment you're walking in to your favourite store - maybe the fabulous Dean & Deluca. With a seemingly unending inventory of savory spices, delicious delicacies, and tempting tasty treats, it is easy to see that one becomes seriously overwhelmed with all of the food options. But, imagine that, after spending a few moments shopping and browsing in the store, even after purchasing a few goodies, the associate walks over to the "e-commerce terminal" with you. She gives you a brief introduction, explaining to you that the store's entire inventory is available online. She helps you register as a user, even guiding you to the registration page, where you sit and type your contact information. Then, she points and clicks your way through the entire site - seeing the various online departments, the e-shopping cart, and explaining any shipping and returning policies and procedures.

I love this idea. Stores instantly seem more "technologically advanced" because they're showing their clients a beautiful computer terminal. Additional inventories and product options may be available online, which allows stores to expand their offerings virtually without having to invest in numerous model stock items, inventory, and physical space to hose these other products. And best of all, stores provide an additional service to their clients when they actually take a few moments to walk the client through their virtual stores! It allows for seamless reordering of the clients favourite products, and instantly creates unending hours of operation - clients can shop from the privacy of their own home, office, or even mobilephones on their own time, whenever, and where ever they desire.

Remember the old days of being in a department store or other chain boutique where they had the "catalogue phones" and a house copy of each catalogue? The "e-terminal" is the new "catalogue phone". For all of your shopping needs, just call, click, or stop by.

Monday, July 27, 2009

David Guetta + Kelly Rowland

I can't get this song out of my head.

I like Beyonce - don't get me wrong - but it's so nice to see others make their own success as well.

I don't, however, like Venice Beach. Gross.

Have a great week!

Oh, on an unrelated topic, I saw the most amazing paper napkins at a store this weekend. They said:

If I keel over in Wal-mart
Drag my body to Neimans

Saturday, July 25, 2009

You'd never Guess!

In the fashion industry, I'd say that I have a competitive advantage over other consulting or personal shopping groups, as I have the point of view of three different categories - I've been an avid shopper for quite some time, so I understand what consumers are looking for; I've personal shopped for a handful of years now, so I understand the demands of the luxe client; and I've been a retail consultant for a handful of years as well now, so I understand the business side of retail as well. Being able to flip from vantage point to vantage point, I notice and analyze many trends in the industry.

One of the most essential characteristics to a store's success is the client experience. No matter what product or service a consumer is seeking, stores must capture their client's imagination, not only meet, but exceed expectations, and must lead the entire shopping experience. From the greeting, to the probing with questions to determine the client's needs, to providing the services and products desired, to wrapping up the transaction and issuing a genuine invitation to return, the process must be seamless and genuine.

Over the past several months, I've experienced this fantastic customer service from the Guess Jeans store at the St. John's Town Center in Jacksonville, FL. Both Tony and Chanell always remember my name, know exactly the style and trends I'm looking for, and are always incredibly friendly and pleasant to work with. Whether discussing trends, simply trying on new jeans, or locating products for me, they are a dream to work and converse with. Several months ago, I found a great pair of vintage inspired suede boots. They were just what I had been looking for, a quest that took nearly three years. I ended up loving the boot so much, that I bought a pair for my brother's birthday, and another for a client friend of mine in Missouri.

Recently, Tony phoned me to let me know some brand new jeans had arrived in the store. His excitement for the cut, wash, and fit of the denim was undeniable. So of course, I had to make a special visit to the store to see for myself. There, I was introduced to both Lincoln and Falcon, two of Guess's newest offerings.

Take a look:

This is the Falcon in Jones wash.

`Low rise
`Slim fit
`Bootcut legs
`Button Fly
`Jones wash
`Back flap pockets
`30" inseam
`100% Cotton
`Machine wash cold

And here is the Lincoln in Master wash. (You know I'm a sucker for darker, inky denim with the perfect amount of distress!)

`Low Rise
`Slim Fit
`Straight Leg
`Master wash
`Five pocket detail
`Contrast twill tape detail
`33” Inseam
`Machine wash cold

The jeans fit amazing, feel wonderful, and are so easy to incorporate to your already established wardrobe. Whether you're accessorizing with your favourite tshirt and flip flops, or an oxford and blazer, these new Guess jeans are sure to up your style quotient without breaking the bank.

After all, I'd never think that such a dynamic customer experience and product could be found in a strip mall like the Town Center. If you didn't know better, you'd easily expect that shopping at Guess with Tony and Chanell would be just like shopping in South Beach or West Hollywood. Who would have guessed? Only Guess.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Face to Face with Giorgio Armani

I've always loved the design aesthetic and concepts of Mr. Giorgio Armani. And now, you can learn exactly how to put your best face forward with help of Armani Cosmetics' celebrity face designer Tim Quinn. Just visit their new site to learn all the back stage secrets, tips, and tricks that you can incorporate into your daily beauty routine.

Quinn also gives some amazing tips to transform your eyes from day to night using the exact same products! Who doesn't love a tip from an Armani representative about how to be fashion forward AND be economical?!

Loving the Fall 2009 Manta Ray Collection. Sexy, smoldering, and full of style. Just what we'd expect from Giorgio Armani.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

AVIA = heaven on earth.

So a few weeks ago, as I was returning from a weekend trip to the beach with my boys, I stopped in Savannah for some quick shopping and to see an old friend. After walking around the historic city on the river, shopping at Marc Jacobs (thanks for the amazing shirts, by the way!), I was returning to my car and walked past a building that I just couldn't resist to stop in to. It happened to be the new AVIA Hotel Savannah. And my first reaction? "Oh. My. God!"

It was love at first sight. Look at these pictures:

There are only four locations so far for the AVIA Hotels collection - Savannah, The Woodlands, Napa, and Long Beach. With signature services like complimentary sampling with the chef daily at 5 PM, to a house blended organic coffee, the littlest details are given the biggest attention at AVIA.
Whether you're planning a romantic getaway for two, a middle-of-the-week retreat for your office staff, or a weekend with close friends, I definitely recommend AVIA. As soon as I actually stay at this location, I'll be sure to let you know. But until then, visit their website and enjoy a five minute virtual breath of heaven on earth.
AVIA Savannah
14 Barnard Street Savannah, Georgia 31401 912.233.2116 866.644.2842
AVIA The Woodlands
9595 Six Pines Drive, #1100 The Woodlands, Texas 77380866.644.2842
1450 First Street Napa, California 94559-2843866.644.2842
AVIA Long Beach
285 Bay Street Long Beach, California 90802-8161562.436.1047

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Presidential Fashions

From CNN Associate Produce Martina Stewart:
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sometimes even one of the most powerful men in the world has to answer to the fashion police.

President Barack Obama found himself in just that situation in an interview that aired Tuesday on NBC.

Asked about criticism of the jeans he wore recently when he threw out the first pitch last week at the Major League Baseball All-Stars game, Obama didn't make any excuses.

"Michelle – she looks fabulous," the president said of his wife who has increasingly become a global fashion super star since Election Day.

"I'm a little frumpy," Obama said of himself by comparison.

The president also offered some insights into his self-admitted lack of sartorial expertise.

"Up until a few years ago, I only had four suits," the commander-in-chief said.

"I hate to shop. Those jeans are comfortable. And for those of you who want your president to look great in his tight jeans, I'm sorry. I'm not the guy," Obama added.

Obama's jeans choice for his all-start game appearance were widely panned by fashion critics and even dubbed "mom jeans."
What do I think? Honestly, I don't really care about our President's jeans. I understand he's our first black President, the first young President we've had in quite some time, and the President with a host of global, social and economic issues, so the media is really analyzing everything he is doing. But, I really don't care about his jeans (whether good or bad!). I think the media should focus more on promises made, accountability, and balanced journalism. And best of all, international news organizations should leave the fashion analysis to fashion bloggers. Not that I'm bias or anything.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer Sips and delicious drinks

Here are a few recipes you must try. Remember, the hotter the temperature, the cooler the drink!

Passion Fruit Caipirinha

Ingredients (makes one cocktail)

1/2 medium passion fruit
2 tablespoons sugar
Crushed ice
2 ounces cachaca
Sugar cane stick, for garnish


Scoop out flesh and seeds of passion fruit and transfer to a mixing glass or cocktail shaker along with sugar, and cachaca. Shake over ice and pour into an 8-ounce glass. Garnish with sugar cane stick.

Prosecco Sangria

Ingredients (makes about 2 quarts)

1 peach
1 nectarine
3 apricots
5 ounces peach brandy
1 bottle (750 mL) chilled Prosecco, (Italian sparkling wine)
1 cup peach nectar
Superfine sugar (optional)


In a pitcher, combine peach, nectarine, and apricots, all pitted and cut into wedges. Stir in peach brandy; let sit at least 1 hour. Stir in Prosecco and peach nectar. Add superfine sugar, if desired. Serve chilled.

Now, for a spin on the Prosecco Sangria, I had an amazing drink at an Italian eatery a while back, and remember that it was sort of like the following:

In a glass carafe type pitcher, the bartender put about two to three cups of diced fruits (strawberries, peaches, mango, etc), along with a handful of fresh basil leaves, a few tablespoons of superfine sugar, and 3/4 cup or so of good vodka. Then, he mashed and muddled the entire contents of the pitcher. Next, he poured an entire bottle of chilled Italian Prosecco on top. And I may or may not have devoured the entire contents. Simply amazing.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Fashionable Anniversary

I can't believe today is my first anniversary of Thirsty.Threads! It has been such a blast to share my thoughts and ideas on fashion, style, and living the Thirsty.Threads lifestyle.

I'd like to thank all of my favourite designers - of course there're the big Europeans - Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Goyard, Chanel, Ted Baker, John Galliano, Gucci, Prada, Helmut Lang, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Energie, Diesel, Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, and Roberto Cavalli; my favourite Americans Kenneth Cole, Zac Posen, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Sandy Dalal, John Varvatos; and of course my favorite Asians Anna Sui, Monique Lhuillier, Vera Wang, and Phillip Lim; and shoe greats Manolo Blahnik, John Lobb, and Christian Louboutin.

Most importantly, I'd like to thank all of my readers. Without you, writing wouldn't be nearly as pleasing and satisfying. I hope you continue to read, get inspiration, and fine tune your own style.

If there are topics or questions you'd like me to highlight throughout the coming year, feel free to post a comment on any entry, or find Thirsty.Threads on Facebook.

"Fashions fade; style is eternal" -- Yves St. Laurent

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I am a Bad Influence

I must tell you a story. To protect the innocent (or in this case: the guilty), I am going to omit her name. Actually, I'll call her Cupcake.

So, one of my dear friends, and pseudo-clients, Cupcake is pretty fabulous. Actually, she's amazing. She's the type of woman who has amazing style and knows what she likes. She might not necessarily know why she likes something, but she's got great taste. Attention to detail, vivid colours, and tantalizing textures always draw her eye. It doesn't matter what store or which designer makes the item in question - if she likes it, she buys it. Think comfortable luxury.

I really commend Cupcake on her spirit of style and vitality. From something off the rack, to a couture gown, she could wear anything and make it look fabulous. Because the accessory she never leaves home without: confidence and grace.

Well, Cupcake and I were on the phone this evening, for what ended up being about three hours. We we talking about everything we love. Cakes, shopping, Brazilian flip flops, and more shopping. And of course, Martin + Osa.

Cupcake has been shopping at Martin + Osa for much longer than I have. But I think it's safe to say we equally love the store. She's been to the location in San Francisco, Denver, North Carolina, and a few others in between. I've only shopped the Century City location. At the beginning of our phone conversation, Cupcake had about US$350 in her shopping cart at Martin + Osa's website.

That's where I plead "guilty as charged". After I started looking through the website, I started recommending a host of items - from the best tshirts for her husband and son, to skirts and blouses and cardigans for her daughter, to an entire new wardrobe for herself. At the end of our conversation, I'm not kidding - she had about US$900 in her shopping cart. And she'll probably take almost everything. (I guess it helps a little, too, when you have someone recommend which items to mix-and-match, how you can carry certain pieces from one look to the next, and which pieces would be flattering for your body type.)

I don't blame her. Martin + Osa is incredible for many reasons. The style, the quality, and the value are three tenants that are forefront in everything they make and offer. But more importantly, when was the last time that an entire family, with different tastes, styles, and needs, has gone into a store, or shopped online for that matter, and all found things they love and just couldn't live without?! Cupcake's family all are Martin + Osa shoppers for this very reason.

Martin + Osa is like a well kept secret. I want everyone to know about it, so the company does well and the stores remain open and prosperous. But I don't want everyone to know about Martin + Osa, so it remains a little more exclusive, a little more special, and a little less mainstream.

I used to love Ruehl from Abercrombie & Fitch - but then the brand seemed to be just another extension of their parent company and lost their identity, allure, and pizazz.

Martin + Osa is the new black. It's stylish without being pretentious. It's quality without being over worked. It's trendy without being tacky. It's vivid without being loud. It's pieces for real people without being boring. And I want it all. I doubt Martin or Osa are real people. But if they are, I want to meet them for a cocktail or two or ten.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Perfect World

My senior year in highschool until the end of my freshman year in college, I worked at Origins, a skincare range owned by Estee Lauder. I started working there as a challenge, because I had never worked in skincare before, and I thought one of the girls who worked there was cute. Over that period of time, I really learned a lot about skincare, and the valuable life lesson on the importance of learning and remembering product knowledge.

I learned a lot about skincare, and the importance of finding the perfect products. And let me tell you, when I was at Origins, A Perfect World launched. Having used the product religiously since it's inception, I can vouch that my skin is pretty effing amazing if I do say so myself, and I swear it's in part to A Perfect World.

Off the top of my head (you see, once I learn a product's information, I never forget...)

A Perfect World is a white tea skin guardian treatment. It's made from silver tipped white tea that is harvested only a few weeks per year in China. You've heard of all the benefits of green tea? Well, silver tipped white tea is the baby blossoms from the green tea, and it hasn't been dried, so it contains more antioxidants and health benefits than the more mature, less healthy green tea. With just one pump of A Perfect World, your face instantly is protected from dehydration (dryness), deterioration (aging), and oxidation (aging as well). It's packed full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, and E. It's made with shea butter, so it's super hydrating. Boswellia helps maintain skin's security from added aggressors like stress, smog, pollution, and the sun. A Perfect World stops the clock on aging, and is both tested by dermatologists and ophthalmologists.

After you cleanse your skin, pat dry, and use a balancing tonic or toner to even out the skin tone. Then I apply one pump of A Perfect World, massage it into the skin, and then follow up with an SPF moisturizer and VOILA - I'm ready to go.

I can go on and on about all the products I used to sell there. When you're a dedicated sales professional who genuinely wants to know the ins and outs of what you're selling, you never seem to forget. Especially products that actually work.
Some products I'll use once or twice, then try something else, and then switch back to something else. Like shaving cremes. I'll either use a shaving creme from Bliss, The Art of Shaving, or Jack Black. I'll even switch between a few different facial washes. But my skincare stays perfect with A Perfect World.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Four Favourite Fashions

For great style, you don't need to buy an entirely new wardrobe each season. With a few key pieces, you can carry certain items from season to season, while still being current, even fashion forward.

(in no particular order)

From J. Crew.
Mister Freedom off-duty workshirt

US$239,95 item 20490

This is one for the books. We partnered with Mister Freedom, the master of old-school cool, for this original naval supply off-duty chambray shirt. Made from end-on-end 100 percent Japanese selvedge cotton with super-special details such as hand-painted metal buttons, a concealed passport pocket and reinforced elbow construction and side gussets. And in the traditional uniform style, the fit is extra snug, so order a size up if you're going for a more casual feel. Point collar. Import. Machine wash. A Collector's Item.

I'd pair this awesome shirt with super dark, inky denim and a great brown leather belt and thick, rustic flip flops for a cool summer night. Or, for a bolder statement, I'd wear it under the perfect lightweight khaki suit. I love when clothes have character, even when it's a manufactured charm. And this - I love.

From Martin + Osa
Vintage Slim Fit Jean

Style: 3430/1092

A slim that fits every body. This refined version has a more narrow leg and a slightly slimmer overall shape.

• Sits low on waist
• Narrow through hip + thigh
• 16" slim leg opening
• Button fly
• Five-pocket style

• 100% cotton, 13 oz.
• Dark rinse wash
• Logo button, rivets, embroidery, patch
• Machine wash

I love these jeans. Not too tight, not too loose. Soft, yet durable fabric wears perfectly from the first time you try them on. Paired with your favourite tshirt, this denim serves as the perfect canvas for any day.

D&G Dolce & Gabbana
Plisse-Skirt Silk Dress
from Neiman Marcus


Black/ivory. Bateau neckline; sleeveless. Ruffled detail at waist. Accordion-pleated skirt with plisse overlay. Pure silk tulle. Imported.

love, love, love this dress. I love the flirty, feminine shape, the elegant details, and the brilliant design. I love the peep toe shoe featured in the photograph, but I'd opt for a brighter shoe and bangle for the perfect pop of colour, like a coral, red, or aqua.

I'm loving all of the amazing white shirts for women at Anne Fontaine. Her designs, her draping, and her ability to glamourize a typically boring white garment are absolutely fabulous.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fall Fashion 2009 - up in smoke!

Colour trends to look forward:

-- smokey grays

-- aubergine

-- charcoal

-- metallics (any, all)

-- wines

-- cranberry

-- royal blue and royal purple

accent your wares with pops of colour - like rusty, burnt orange or bright, electric green

Friday, July 10, 2009

the product of the day

I've received the Design Within Reach catalogue for many years now, and I always look forward to flipping through the most amazing designs of furniture, accessories, and things I must have. Inevitably I could spend about US$50,000 from each catalogue in less than an hour or so.

Recently I stopped in DWR's Manhattan Beach location. I must say, if I thought I could spend a lot of money in the catalogue on things I just had to have, being in the store brought my desires to a whole new level. From the most amazing planters to the plushest of carpets, I wanted it all. But the product of the day that is definitely in my future is the Geneva Sound System.

Fill your room with music, not equipment. Presenting quality sound from a piano-lacquered wooden box with CD player, FM radio and iPod dock – all controlled by remote. With two channels and patented algorithms, the Geneva Sound System digitally adapts the left and right signals for a balanced 120-degree sound stage. A 100-watt high fidelity digital amplifier powers the system’s built-in stereo tweeters and woofers, which together deliver the sound performance found in larger systems. Everything you play will be enjoyed with a full range of frequencies – from deep, rich bass to crystal clear highs, without dropping a single note in between. An LED display on the front of the cabinet displays what’s playing. The iPod dock connectors include iPhone, iPod Video, Nano, Photo and Mini. Rubber feet help protect the adjacent surface; a floor stand is available, sold separately.

Now I must take a moment as well to give special highlight to Hillary Shugrue, the Studio Proprietor of DWR Manhattan Beach. Hillary's love of the designs, friendly nature, and product knowledge were truly impressive. She will definitely be the one who provides me business when I'm ready to purchase this incredible sound system. I highly recommend you let Hillary put design within your reach!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Origins Means Business

While there are many negative aspects to our current economic situation, I've always said there are a few positives. Stores and businesses are forced to be the most creative, innovative, and unconventional masters of their craft - providing the most memorable, comprehensive client experience, creating and sustaining the most incredible feast for the eyes by way of visual merchandising and display, and by providing an exclusive, affordable, quality spread of goods and wares. Stores become better. And as for the customer, stores are seeing a customer with a more discerning eye for design, quality, and value. Customers who simply "looked but never bought" have stopped exhausting stores' valuable resources.

One of the most amazing outcomes of this economic reality is when stores actually live their image. It's one thing to outfit a mannequin with a head-to-toe representation of your brand. But it's another thing when your store actually lives the image it portrays.

For example, Whole Foods rewards its customers who bring in their own shopping bags with a monetary credit per bag recycled. MAC Cosmetics offers free product to those who return used containers.

And Origins, one of my favourite skincare ranges ever, has one of the most beautiful stores ever. Not only does the company offer the products responsible for my fabulous skin, but they also offer oxygen and fresh air at their Century City location in Los Angeles. Just take a look:

It's one thing for a store to say it focuses on environmental responsibility, recycling, and being a responsible business owner, but it's another thing to actually live those qualities to the best of your ability. I'm not saying stores need to alter their physical spaces to incorporate extensive gardens and plant spaces, but I must applaud Origins for really practicing what they preach. Whether you visit this space in Los Angeles, or any Origins, you really get the sense that they want you you to truly experience health, happiness, and harmony. Both inside and out.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Counter Burger

I love language.  With a little knowledge, and a little word dissection, you can gain insight and understanding to more than just the meaning of the words.  Here's a wonderful example: "counter burger".

"counter" - means opposite, against.  Also describes a horizontal surface similar to a table, that is usually elevated more than just a traditional table's height; usually found in kitchens, restaurants, and bathrooms.  

"burger" - traditionally a round, patty shape of ground beef that has been grilled over open flames or sauteed on a metal surface, served on a bun or roll with lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, and any other condiment of choice.  

So if you put "counter burger" as the name of a restaurant, one might expect an "opposite experience" that is traditionally associated with a hamburger.  You may also look forward to sitting at a beautiful counter top.

I've been back in Los Angeles for a few days now.  Three to be exact.  And over the past three days, I've eaten at the new Counter Burger in El Segundo's new shopping plaza three times.  You may think this seems a little obsessive and overdone.  But you must consider the experience I've had so far.

On my first day back, just a few hours after landing, my good buddy Johnny Bananas and I were starving, and Aaron and Lindsey didn't have much food to offer.  So we went out for what was supposed to be a quick trip to Whole Foods Market to pick up some amazing fresh produce and snacks.  Before we even made it to Whole Foods, we discovered a little eatery called Counter Burger, and we had to check it out.

It was relatively slow traffic wise when we entered, so of course we had to capture the prime real estate and belly up to the counter bar.  We were heartily and promptly greeted by the bar tender/server.  I was in a good mood (like my fabulous normal self!) and so I introduced myself, and quickly learned that Cortney was her name.  Shortly after, we also met Cory.  Between this amazing pair, Johnny Bananas and I were introduced to our new favourite spot.

 And I must say, Counter Burger is everything the name implies.  Against everything that's normally associated with greasy, dirty, boring burger joints, Counter Burger is a comfortable luxury, with a beautiful stone counter top, modern stainless steel, and loft-like ceilings.  Huge garage style doors line the front and side walls, providing great window views when closed, and inviting the most amazing Californian sea breeze into the space when opened.  

The food was absolutely delicious.  Everything is built and designed by you - from deciding how big the burger will be, to whether or not you want beef, turkey, or a garden burger - you make all the choices.  Nothing pre-made.  Nothing sitting under a heat lamp.  Toppings range from the more interesting and include artisanal cheese selections, every vegetable imaginable from shredded carrots to cranberries, and a huge collection of sauces and spices.  And if you're looking for a more classic choice of lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, ketchup, and mustard - Counter Burger has that, too.  Plus, there are sweet potato fries, traditional fries, and the most amazingly light, sweet, and crunchy onion strings.  And what is a burger joint without milkshakes?  The most deliciously decadent milkshakes with Dryers (or Edy's for you East Coast readers) ice cream, the most sinful chocolate sauces, and whipped cream.  Other varieties are available, but I highly recommend the chocolate.

Needless to say, after my third trip in just three days, I love the Counter Burger.  Partly for the atmosphere, partly for the food, and partly for the "4 mini burgers and 4 beers for US$12 on Wednesdays with a DJ spinning from 8 until close", but definitely for the service.  I can't say enough good things about Cory, Cortney, and Amy.  Their attentiveness, friendly nature, and zest for life and good times was very much apparent.  I wouldn't say they're overworked, but they are definitely underpaid.  

In our current economic market, stores and restaurants can't afford to not have the utmost quality, service, and customer experience.  I congratulate Counter Burger for identifying and keeping employees who demonstrate this so naturally, so eloquently, and so consistently.