Friday, April 30, 2010

A Cultural Lesson and Guilty Confession

We all have our vices. Some choose liquid refreshment. Others indulge in sugary treats or fried carbohydrates. Maybe it's staying up late. Or shopping for shoes, while wearing new shoes. For me - I love trashy reality television. MTV's The Real World did it for me for a while. Then I got hooked on CBS's The Amazing Race and Big Brother. And now it's Bravo's The Real Housewives series.

The show makes me laugh. The first season of California, to me, was actually a glimpse into the real lives of real women who just so happen to have excessive amounts of money, plastic surgery, and time on their hands. But it was real. You saw real interactions with their real families. We laughed. They cried. Over the top realities were peppered in to everyday, normal lives.

Then, as more seasons came about, and more notoriety, more "celebreality" statuses were attached to the show, it became less real and more dramatic. And I loved it even more. We saw that crazy little momma in New Jersey flip a table in the restaurant as things got heated with the "strongly alleged" "prostitution whore" from the drug cartels of South America. We saw overly hyper Lisa telling the craziest drag-queen-looking-racial-identity-crisis Kim that she'd "flip her over the couch" for lying about her fake illness, only to be followed by the fabulous divalicious NeNe telling Kim to "close her legs to married men" while talking about Kim participating in an affair with a married man.

It's trashy. It's sinful. Yes, there are tender, sweet moments - but we don't watch for that. We want to see drama. We want to see glitz. If there wasn't - we'd be watching less funny versions of the Golden Girls or bad soap operas and telenovelas.

But, I must thank The Real Housewives of New York and, in particular, Countess LuAnn de Lesseps. She has provided me with the perfect teaching point for today's blog entry.

It is absolutely 100% without a doubt rude to speak negatively about people in other languages. Especially when those people don't speak your language.

On last night's episode, LuAnn was visiting new housewife Sonja's house. Sonja had agreed to let LuAnn host a charity event at her home, and the scene showed the two ladies drinking, visiting, catching up, and touring the facility. LuAnn and Sonja walked to an outdoor space, and as LuAnn passed a water feature/fountain, she commented in another language that the space had a terrible odor. The whole scene lasted maybe 15 seconds, but I couldn't get it out of my mind.

Over the last few seasons, many of the women on the show have commented about LuAnn having an attitude like she was "holier than thou", above others in stature and grace, and basically better than everyone else. I brushed it off as people not really knowing her, unfair judgements, and scripted/edited drama for the television show.

But after seeing LuAnn talk negatively, in another language, in front of her gracious friend who opened her own home for the benefit of LuAnn and the charity she was coordinating with, I now see everyone's point. For someone who seems so hellbent on being Miss Manners, having the most elegant mannerisms and professional courtesy, LuAnn should have known better. It is incredibly unacceptable to speak another language negatively about people, especially when they don't speak the language. If you have something negative or disrespectful to say, at least give the person the respect and dignity to defend or explain themselves. Maybe Sonja knew the fountain stunk and had already arranged to have it cleaned. Who knows.

I took great offense to LuAnn's behaviour, especially since I speak more than one language. I know the importance of when and where it is appropriate to speak in other languages.

There is a time and place for everything. Had LuAnn been attending a luncheon at the French Embassy in New York, it would absolutely be acceptable for LuAnn to converse in the language of her hosts. If you're attending a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce meeting in Los Angeles, you should expect to hear both Spanish and English, and it would be appropriate to speak in both tongues. Should you attend a charity benefit in Tokyo, one should prepare their Japanese. My point is, if you've been invited or are attending an event in another country, or with a specific demographic, those languages are to be used. But to speak negatively about others, in another language not spoken by the subject, it is incredibly classless. Private conversations are acceptable as well - like when LuAnn and Ramona's husband were at a party and needed to remedy a former argument. They both spoke and made amends in Italian.

The situation is only more ironic since LuAnn is promoting her new book on manners and class. Maybe she should think about practicing what she preaches.

Romona's husband was only half right. (Now that LuAnn is divorced from The Count)...She's not only countLESS, she's classLESS too.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Starbucks Rewards | Starbucks Coffee Company

Earlier this week I shared my excitement for Starbucks' reusable plastic tumblers. Someone commented to me that Starbucks was pretty expensive. So I wanted to share a little tip. For anyone who has a gift card to the famous coffee chain - register your card online. After a few purchases that are linked to the card, you'll automatically get free WiFi at every Starbucks location, plus you get complimentary refills on brewed coffee and tea drinks, free soy milk or flavoured syrups, and a free drink on your birthday. After 30 purchases linked to the card (you can always add more value to the card either online or at your local retailer), you get a personalized Starbucks Gold card, with even more benefits - including a free beverage every 15 purchases.

Check it out. Maximize your spending power. Minimize your spending.

And that's always en vogue.

My Starbucks Rewards | Starbucks Coffee Company

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Luxe Looks and Loves

(in no particular order)

Military inspired, tailor fit dress shirts for both men and women (and also military inspired shirt-dresses).

The Diesel advertisement by Saks Fifth Avenue that shows two athletic/chiseled young men sailing on a boat with the caption "think about it... Triceps, too - it takes more than bicep curls to get summer tank-top arms.". Even on a boat, I don't favour tank-tops for men, but I do love everything else in the print ad. Especially the sail boat, the great denim (jeans and denim shirt jacket), and of course, the flipflops.

Neutral tones for a relaxed elegance with wrinkled suiting or dress shirts (on purpose!), lightweight summer scarves, zippers (as details on shoes, like Cole Haan, or as utilitarian elements from RRL (that's Ralph Lauren's Double-R-L collection of authentic vintage goods along with vintage-inspired pieces).

Gingham dress shirt with preppy repp-stripe ties.

Giant canvas tote bags. Especially nautical inspired warn in options.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Starbucks Insulated Cups

So a little bluebird told me that Starbucks will be releasing their super hot, always a sellout plastic insulated cups in the US market on 4 May.

I first got the double-walled insulated, PBA-free grande sized cup a few summers ago, and I must say that it is one of the most fabulous cups I've ever (re)used. Not just because Starbucks gives you a discount every time you use it, but because it keeps your drinks cold, requires less ice, and since it's double-walled, it doesn't sweat with condensation.

Then last summer I bought the larger Venti size - and love it equally as the original grande version.

The grande and venti plastic cups are a little smaller than their disposable doubles, but don't worry - the guidelines on the side of the reusable versions are altered, as they require less ice (since they insulate and stay cooler longer). So the amount of beverage you get from the reusable cup is just the same as the disposable cup.

Reduce. Reuse. Refresh.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Must Visit: New Orleans

I am incredibly tired from a day that started too many hours ago, but having just returned from New Orleans, Louisiana - I would be committing an epic failure of monumental proportion if I didn't share a few thoughts with you before I enter my daily slumber.

First, I must apologize to the citizens of New Orleans and all who experienced the devastation and heartache known as Hurricane Katrina. Having lived in Florida for several years, I've experienced more than my share of hurricanes and horrible weather. I've lived without power, water, and basic necessities. I've seen some pretty horrible weather. During and immediately after Hurricane Katrina, I knew the area was in pretty bad shape because of the massive press coverage - but having been through my own weather trauma and ordeals, I thought the people were overreacting, overly dramatic, and a little outlandish.

But having visited New Orleans for the first time this weekend, I must tell you - the people of New Orleans are anything but my first inclination. Imagine a geography filled with people who embrace their incredibly rich American, French, Spanish (and a mash-up of other cultures and peoples) culture - including the food, the sounds, the architecture and design, and the customs of their past. Now make that cultural embrace a daily way of life. Unadulterated love for nostalgia - both the good and the bad - and a genuine effort to make tomorrow a little bit better than today, while living in the moment with love and respect. That is New Orleans.

In addition to a fabulous time at the 2010 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, I ate, drank, and experienced some awesomeness. From a few delicious cocktails at The W New Orleans Bar (thanks to a great new friend and bartender Andrew), to shopping at one of the most well appointed, organized, and visually stimulating Saks Fifth Avenue department stores I've ever been in, with the incredible culture and hipster vibe on Magazine Street (including ab/fab boutiques Style Lab, Hemline, et al.) and excellent eateries and wonderful watering holes (especially the Bulldog, Divina Gelato, and Sucré), to an oh-so-necessary visit to Cafe du Monde for those powder sugar mountains of beignets, I can't get enough.

The marketing tagline for the Crescent City should be this - "New Orleans: Come as You Are". Every city has it's problems. But not every city has the charm, the southern hospitality, the rich heritage and culture, and the genuine appreciation for beauty as New Orleans.

Merci, my friends! You shall always be en vogue.

PS - I want to give a shout out to Chynah (sounds like China - but she's way too fabulous to spell it just like the country) with White Fleet taxi company. Her incredibly spirit, amazing humour, and zest for life truly embody the New Orleans spirit. Whenever you need a life in the Crescent City - you better call her. Just be ready for the ride of your life. And if you want a place to stay with great location, comfort, and value - the Hilton Garden Inn on Gravier Street is outstanding (with an incredible staff as well!).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Must Have Jewelry

I have been consulting with a friend of mine for the past few days. She owns a wonderful luxury boutique in Winter Park, Florida, and features all things beautiful for the home, with European influence. She's got fabulous ranges like Vietri, Garnier-Thiebaut, Agraria, Juliska, Match, Mariposa...the list goes on and on like a VIP list at the Oscars.

My friend's boutique has relocated to a storied space, filled with history, amazing memories, and fabulous ambiance. It has moved into an old jewelry store on the same prestigious street as her old store, but in a much more prominent, more accessible, and higher profile locale. And she shares the space with an incredible jewelry store, that also relocated to the better position too.

So imagine, if you will, amazing jewelry in the main front room (everything that sparkles) with a long hallway leading to a cluster of five beautiful spaces and a fabulous main atrium/rotunda type centerpiece with the most amazing home goods and gifts (all things beautiful). It's the perfect one-stop-shop for gifts, necessities, and everything fabulous in your life.

While I was visiting with "the jewelry girls" as I lovingly refer to these fabulous new friends, I noticed something super special. And I must have it.

The designer - Heather Moore. The object of my desire - Jumbo Leather ID tag bracelet. This simple bracelet is personalized with your favourite quotes, words of encouragement, or song lyrics even and is available in your preferred shade of gold. ID tag measures 1.75" x 0.875" and features brown leather wrap. If you want to order your own, or learn more about it, Matina, Janice, or any of my fabulous jewelry girls at Be On Park will be pleased to assist.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Stand Up 2 Cancer 4007 Widget

Remembering Our Mothers

Today is the 3rd anniversary of my Mom's death.

We all know that when you look good, you feel better. So make the sidewalk your catwalk and stand up to cancer with me.

Join my team now at SU2C. It's called "Debbie's Dreamers".

Thank you.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

no reason to flop

I've always enjoyed reading other people's opinions on fashion, style, and trends. From being that weird kid in middle school who actually cared about fashion and read style magazines like GQ and Details, learning more about the history and tradition of fashion has been important to me.

It seems like the general consensus regarding "flipflops" or thong-style sandals is that they don't belong in fashion. And I must admit, I totally disagree. As long as your feet aren't disgusting (no festering, no fungus, no claw like toenails, no crazy callused skin, no weird bumps and bruises), I'm all for letting your feet free. Maybe it's because I live in a warm climate. Or maybe because I spent a good majority of my childhood outside, on pool deck, or on a beach.

I don't wear flipflops all the time. There are certain places you shouldn't ever wear flipflops. But there are exceptions to every rule. I'd say "don't wear flipflops to a job interview" - but if you're interviewing at a surf shop, a bar at the beach, a carwash, or for a lifeguard position, flipflops might be acceptable. Or I'd say don't wear flipflops on a date, but if you're going to be on a yacht, visiting a spa, or traveling on a plane, the sandals might be better suggestion than going closed-toe.

I love wearing flipflops. I think it goes with my personality a bit. A little understated (shocking, I know), definitely comfortable, flexible, and unconventionally simplistic. In college, I wore bright green Diesel flipflops with a navy suit when I graduated from a 2 year leadership program. And, while I was young and naive and didn't really think about what the university administration would think of my footwear choice, I got more compliments from the powers that be saying they were really impressed and humoured that I'd be so bold - that the flipflops made a positive statement about me.

So, keeping that experience in mind, when I graduated college 2 years later, I wore flipflops again. And even when I delivered the eulogy at my Mother's funeral a few years after that, I wore a fabulous Italian cotton khaki suit, with (albeit more fashion forward than your typical run-of-the-mill flipflops) brown leather John Varvatos thong-style sandals. And if I'm just being honest - when the time comes for me to walk down the aisle and marry my future bride, I wouldn't be surprised if I do so in flipflops.

And while I'm out here on a limb, I'm going to tell you about one of my favourite flipflops of all - from a store I'm not such a fan of: Abercrombie & Fitch.

I love their leather flipflops. They're surprisingly rugged, durable, amazingly comfortable, are perfectly broken in, and are made of great materials. Not like I don't already have several flipflops already, but I'll probably be adding a few of these to the rotation.

So the next time you're going out in warm weather and want to let your toes breathe a bit, don't flip flop on your decision - pick the sandals.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Ultimate Men's Store

I've written about Douglas Fir a couple of times now, but I just found a fabulous video with owner Jon Noble from and I wanted to share it. His insights, the selection of fabulous finds in store, and serious style are spot on.

If you need directions, or want them to send you something - call 1-323-651-5445.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Natural Wonderful Fashion

For those of you in the northern hemisphere, Spring is in the air! And after a long, cold winter - it couldn't be more welcomed! Flowers are blossoming, grasses are green again, trees are stretching their branches, and the Earth is bursting with a whole new livelihood!

Fashion is definitely following Mother Nature's awakening with fervor and zest. Bright spring colours are bolder than ever, with gorgeous greens, poppin' pinks, yummy yellows, and brilliant blues. Flowers are power in fashion - from adorning footwear, to prints on fabrics, and always present through hair accessories, broaches, pins, and handbags.

We're revisiting natural trends of incorporating wood, raffia and grasses, bone, and cork.
Some trends in footwear I'm absolutely loving, in no particular order:

Slingback wedge from UGG Australia - shown in espresso, but also available in black sheepskin. features 4,5" cork heel, rubber sole, and padded insole. US$140

Confetti Hearts Wedge Sandal from Burberry - shown in trench, with granulated leather straps, metallic accents and hardware, natural rope detailing, and leather insole, and 4,75" wedge heel. US$495.

Snake-embossed strappy sandal by Elie Tahari - shown in metallic Brass snake-embossed leather, features elastic backing for added comfort and security, and a gorgeous 5" wooded heel and 1,375" toe platform. US$398.

Patent Lolita Bootie from Christian Dior, featuring 4,75" cork heel and platform, shown in black patent leather with tonal top-stitching, silver hardware, iconic embossed bow detail, and zipper back. US$680.

Air Phoebe Wedge by Cole Haan - featuring NIKE Technology for comfort and performance, fully leather lined in gorgeous metallic gold, with braided suede rope detailing, leather sole with long lasting rubber insert, and 3" heel. US$198.

Ladies - put your best foot forward and make the sidewalk your catwalk!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Burberry Black Label

I love Burberry. Maybe it's the classic, military inspiration that is so brilliantly modernised by Christopher Bailey into the most fabulously tailored works of art. Or maybe it's that Thomas Burberry created Gabardine, one of the most durable, wearable fabrics of all time. Or it's the expert craft of building the perfect trench coat. Or quite possibly it's the fact that Burberry always retains their stellar heritage and history each season while still bringing something new, something fresh, and something oh so fabulous to the table. I'm guessing it's a little bit of all of these, wrapped into one plaid package. Or novacheck.

Regardless - a few summers ago I was in Tokyo and remember specifically how obsessed the Japanese were with Burberry. The giant boutique in the Omotesandō (表参道) district was absolutely stunning. So when I read this morning at MO's blog that Burberry had a special Black Label exclusively in the Japanese market, I wasn't surprised.

I love it. A little edgier. A little more British (if that's possible). As if I needed another reason to return to Tokyo, this is definitely it. Available in 3 boutiques, only in Japan. Take a look for yourself. You'll be booking your airfare in no time.

Special thanks to Melinda O'Rourke and co. for spreading the word on this fabulous collection.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

D&G's La Force

So I'm having a little predicament. Several weeks ago, I was visiting the Macy's department store in Orlando, and saw that D&G had a new addition to their collection of numbered fragrances based on astrology. The first time I smelled the fragrance, I really liked it. I asked the salesperson about it - but all they could tell me was that it was new. I gathered it was new on my own accord, seeing that I shop frequently, pay attention to new products, and saw that the fragrance didn't fit on the tester display unit. So I sprayed the fragrance and moved on. A few weeks later, I was back in Orlando and went to see if there was any literature or information they had received. The next associate still had no idea about the fragrance other than that it was new. Well, it was new - seeing as it had been on the shelf for a few weeks. So then last week, I was in Orlando again. I asked yet another associate about the fragrance. While she did know that the collection was based on astrology, and that the fragrance was new, she still had no idea about the newest fragrance, called "La Force".

I'm not thrilled. From what I gather, the fragrance is exclusively available through Macy's for the time being. I love the fragrance. But I am not exactly ready to give my money to Macy's. You'd think with the reputation of providing fabulous customer service, coupled with the knowledge of having exclusive (albeit limited) distribution of a product, that the associates would have some clue about the product.

Instead, I'll just wait until Sephora or Douglas gets the product. After all, it's up to the consumers to "reward" businesses who provide quality customer service and great experiences. Having worked luxury retail, I know that it really is all about the details and the atmosphere. So the next time you're shopping and feel like you're not getting the right information or experience, go somewhere else. Our dollars speak louder than our words.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Small Package, Big Punch

Sporty. Compact. Luxurious. I'm loving the buzz about Toyota's luxury range Lexus regarding their newest model - the CT 200h. Set to hit American streets in 2011, the luxury compact automobile will feature a hybrid engine with plenty of pep, plus the luxury and reliability we've come to expect from the Lexus name.

I really think this car will help Lexus expand their customer base and capture the younger demographic than they currently reach. Smaller sized, more fuel-efficient, yet still luxurious and comfortable are more in demand than ever before.

Congrats Lexus! I can't wait for a test drive.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mobile Luxe Guides

Last year I told you about the Luxe City Guides, a fabulous collection of guidebooks for the ultimate luxury experience while away from home. Now, the lovelies at Luxe have gone mobile!

The mobile guide is just like the version you already know and love - but available on your smartphone - like iPhone, BlackBerry, Sony Ericsson, Nokia, and HTC - and each version comes with a year of complimentary updates and upgrades automatically delivered to your mobile device. And if you're worried about expensive data plans or roaming while abroad, each mobile guide is fully functional both online and offline, so there's no need to worry. But, if you do have wifi capabilities or internet access, the application uses your phone's map/GPS function for added user friendly insight. Even better? After your first year of fabulous travel, you'll be able to extend your updates for half price!

I've said many times that the iPhone has revolutionized my life. Now, it's changing the way we travel. Bravo Luxe!