Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Williams-Sonoma Chocolate Chocolate Croissants

Between weddings and lake weekends, you'll inevitably be a house guest at some point this month. If you’re bored of arriving on doorsteps bearing the standard bottle of Pinot or unoriginal floral bouquet, instead offer your hostess a bundle of tempting pastries. The delectable treat signals a special occasion [unless you indulge in lavish spreads of French baked goods regularly] and graciously lessens the effort the entertainer must exert on your behalf.

Master pastry chef Jean-Yves Charon makes an exclusive double-chocolate croissant for Williams-Sonoma that is sure to sweeten even the sourest tooth – and guarantee your invitation to return, soon.

photo courtesy of williams-sonoma.com

Cocoa powder is added to the Belgian chocolate-infused dough to create a twofold chocolate assault commonly found in boutique patisseries. After rising overnight, the buttery confections emerge from the oven [with warm, melted centers wrapped in flaky, browned shells] before your coffee cools.

Snappy one-step prep ensures no one will be quarantined in the kitchen all morning, and the group can spend the day as intended: together.  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Pottery Barn Sun Jar

If there’s one time-honored tradition I want to engage during the last full month of the year’s fleeting summer, it’s a picnic.

There’s something about the languidness of packing up a basket and indulgently enjoying its contents while basking in the afternoon heat that epitomizes the season. Next time you’re assembling an assortment of meat, cheese and fruit, add a few Pottery Barn Sun Jars to your pack and extend the event into twilight. 

photo courtesy of potterybarn.com

These romantic glass jars capture and store energy from the sun so when the rays begin to fade, your blanket will still be illuminated by the mini LED lamps’ soft glow.

Pull on a sundress, pick up a date, and embrace this wonderfully lazy, flirtatious, quintessential way to conclude summer before the frenetic buzz of back-to-school and the holidays sets you awhirl once again.

Snag more merchandise from InStyle’s Summer Picnic Must-Haves here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Topshop Mottled Viscose Scarf

Word on the street is Topshop is one of the retailers filling the space left by Bloomingdale’s at the Mall of America. I’m hoping the rumors are true as the 6-hour commute to Chicago is a tad time-consuming to make whenever a craving for the UK-based brand strikes.

For now I’m restricted to online window shopping, but still managing to find pieces to purchase. This lightweight summer scarf is one of them. Gauzy viscose fabric forms the casual neckline accessory, the perfect cherry atop a breezy maxi dress. The mottled pigment pattern lets you dip a toe in the tie-dye trend and the pink lemonade color is a refreshing shock of summer neon.

Highlight the hippie-chic piece by pairing with a neutral ensemble, or layer on faded brights to fully submerge yourself in the color craze.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

J.Crew Fall 2012 Look Book

Alert: J.Crew published its Fall 2012 Look Book. As a committed consumer of the brand, I couldn’t resist diving into the collection – just a few weeks before the leaves begin to turn.

This stunning emerald ensemble is look No. 1 in the book and quite possibly ranks the same on my list.

Let’s dissect. Turtlenecks have never gone out of style in my mind, but they’re certainly establishing a widely-endorsed resurgence this year [for women AND men]. Here, a jewel-tone shade and cozy-chic Fair Isle weave pump up the classic & conservative silhouette of the sweater. Pairing with a coordinating [but not exactly matching] spearmint hue creates a full-bodied color blast that is sharply on-trend, and the sleek fit of this pencil skirt provides essential balance to the chunky knit top.  

With such a bold and bright visual exclamation on figure, the solid [yet subtly textured] black satchel grounds the look. A fuchsia lip or pop-color stud earrings add dimension to the otherwise-monochrome sartorial statement. Finish with footwear in a soft pink pump to complement the rosiness around the face and ensure you stay within a tried-and-true three-color palette mix.

photo courtesy style.com


Other favorite looks: 
No. 14, No. 18, No. 29

View the entire book and pre-order YOUR favorites here. Happy hunting.

Monday, July 23, 2012

H&M Shorts.

I normally prefer easy shorts to fussy skirts, but comfy cut-offs will only take a girl so far. Enter H&M’s brand-spanking-hot shorts [hm.com for stores], and even non-girly girls can go the distance.

A higher waist offers the flirtatious sophistication your denim blues lack while the flashy acetate and viscose material solidifies the pair as after-dark attire fit to rival any A-line, bubble, shift or wrap. Velvety red and creamy pink trim supplies interest to the embellished shorts that is edgily trendy, given the color combo’s traditionally clashing nature, and the retro vibe ensures you’ll still radiate the sweet [if not innocent] charm skirts and dresses typically convey.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Anthropologie Astoria Bead Bracelet

Fastening this beaded bracelet around your wrist is like going to the county fair and strolling through the carnies’ stands while nibbling a fluffy sugar-tower of cotton candy – something you loved doing as a youngster and surprisingly still enjoy even though elementary school is a distant memory. Similarly, this colorful cuff reminds me of the handmade, craft-store-chic jewelry I wore as a child, but is elevated for an evolved, mature taste. 

Delicate acrylic beads form an Aztec, ikat-inspired accessory that looks stylish worn alone or layered with other textural adornments. The bright shades work harmoniously to create the illusion you’ve captured summer, displaying the season's essence in reverent bondage. A golden-bronze button closure ensures you can frolic freely from Ferris wheel to rollercoaster without losing this trendy tribal trinket.   

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Aveda Pure Abundance Style Prep

Attention fine-stranded friends and skip-a-day hair washers! This new prep product is drop-kicking dry shampoo to the curb.

Distributing a fresh fusion of passion fruit, rice bran and acacia gum, Aveda Pure Abundance Style Prep offers a strand-thickening pick-me-up for limp hair. If body isn’t enough, a natural corn-derived polymer creates volume and boost that is a scientific certainty.

For those born with lush locks, Pure Abundance refreshes and restores lift on mornings you forego a full wash.

This body-in-a-bottle potion could be the [first? next?] salon purchase you’ll make without protest following your stylist’s post-cut sales pitch.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cole Haan ‘Victoria’ Tote

A sizeable, sleek tote is highly underrated. How else to haul around a day’s worth of retail loot (or simply store the essentials Mom taught you to always carry, like a hairbrush, mini compact, floss, Altoids. . . the list goes on)?

Big bags are spotlight-stealers and it’s hard to find one in a shape and style I like well enough to be cause for such attention, but the Cole Haan 'Victoria' Tote screams bring on the stares 

This supple leather carry-all is soft enough for your shoulder to endure on extended excursions, with a wide, luxuriously-lined main compartment and magnetic snap closure for security. The hint of platinum shine offered by the gunsmoke color puts a little pep in your step, but is muted enough to make the bag versatile and transitional. Braided gussets provide a textural frame for this functional piece of art.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Essie Fear or Desire

With creamy dreamsicles at every poolside snack stand and juicy tangerines filling grocery store bins, there’s no better time than now to saturate your nails in a shade that salutes a few of summer's signature flavors.

Fear or Desire is the right-now stand-out in Essie’s latest summer collection defined by vibrant & shiny, yet softened colors. With nails dipped in this orange crush color, you’ll feel as giddy as if you were sipping a bottle of the kid-favorite, bubbly soda all day long [sans sugar rush]. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

An Editorial Nightstand + Sam Edelman ‘Aster’ Loafers

I’m no DIY-er and Pinterest sometimes stresses me out, but I wanted to share a creative way to give your nightstand splashy, colorful depth while showcasing personality.

I can never bear to toss old issues of InStyle – first, because they’re such beautiful compilations of editorial art. On every page, energetic publication design and punchy, eloquent writing unite to form a sensory surge and copywriting dream. Second, the magazines are style guides, collections of irreplacable tips and tricks, that comprise an historical archive of fashion and beauty I romantically want to cling to long past the publication dates.

A thick, substantial structure allows InStyle and Vogue to work as accent décor much the same as coffee table books. Stack the monthlies on shelving so the binding, documenting issue date and cover model, is on display. Or, incorporate the literature more organically into your living space: sliding a stack of magazines under a petite lamp on your nightstand or balancing a tray of candles and flowers atop the non-traditional base adds instant interest and unique charm to a room.

More than aesthetic accessories, the periodicals are fashion history reference tools. It's impossible to anticipate when you may want to turn back the page like I did yesterday, mindlessly lying in the sun. In the November 2011 edition featuring the funky and fashionable Gwen Stefani on cover, I found a comprehensive catalog on the best Internet retailers and style blogs,  an easy guide to finding your perfect floral fragrance, and a helpful tutorial on how to wake up your work wordrobe – all startlingly relevant stories for me, 9 months after the issue arrived in my mailbox.

Although autumn is a still a few months away, I’ll use the current weather “cool-down” [temps hovering in the high-80s compared to last week’s low-100s] as opportunity to feature an item inspired by an editorial in last fall’s treasure trove of an issue.

Since appearing in the fashion-forward publication nearly a year ago, I think it’s time the mass consumer warms up to smoking slippers. The androgynous loafers provide a sharp way to jump on the menswear wagon without donning an overly masculine bowtie or obnoixiously obvious full suit. The Sam Edelman 'Aster' loafer offers a slip-on footwear option in 100% snakeskin embossed leather that is cuttingly chic. Pair the metallic cap toe shoes with tailored shorts and a blazer for evening; cropped denim for day.

If you can’t wait til fall, it’s entirely appropriate to step into this rose gold & taupe pair now, keeping the darkly-hued, calf-hair variations on deck for September or October. As I learned this weekend, fashion is all about rotation – from year to year and season to season.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Josie Maran Bear Naked wipes

Make-up wipes are handy for after-gym and after-pool residue removal, but these towelettes call for a before-bed-routine reassessment.

Josie Maran Cosmetics is a line of eco-friendly, natural and luxurious beauty products developed by the iconic model-actress-activist. Aloe vera, cucumber and vitamin E combine in the line's Bear Naked wipes for a plush texture that cleans and refreshes while nourishing sensitive tissue. The tiny towels make cotton balls and liquid cosmetic remover seem a bumbling combination and harshly wrinkle-inducing in comparison.
With Bare Naked’s biodegradable, fragrance-free composition, you’ll cultivate not only healthy skin, but a fit conscience. A portion of profits from the precious packages benefits the endangered polar bear population.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Anthropologie Celestial Coaster Set

To guard against staining water rings and discoloration, a coaster set is necessary, but it’s a rookie mistake to sacrifice all fashion for function. Anthropologie sells a quartet that protects the vulnerable finish of coffee and accent tables while serving as a dazzling addition to living room décor.

Each square is handmade by Minneapolis potter Kerry Brooks, resulting in one-of-a-kind pieces with charming variations in design.  The soft, natural gradients of iridescent color give the clay and glass creations a quality that is at once ethereal and earthy. A smoothing glaze contains the miniature bursts and shields their sparkling anatomies from wear and tear.

If inspiration moves you, mix and match colors for a collection that is customized to your home’s palette. These expressive plaques work well propped reverently upon wall shelving or as eye-catching accents in a kitchen backsplash.

Rookie no more.

Top color picks:
·         tie dye
·         milk & honey
·         violet

Monday, July 2, 2012

Diane von Furstenberg 'Lais' Oversized Round Sunglasses

Like wide-leg and skinny denim, drop earrings and hoops, it’s important to have at least two eyewear looks. Casual shades are suitable for jogging or grocery shopping, but certain activities warrant a sophisticated frame.

If you typically bat your lashes behind aviators or wayfarers, the oversized DVF 'Lais' sunglasses are a glamorous alternative. Their old-is-new, fashionably vintage shape is finely balanced by a classic tortoise pattern in a rich caramel-chestnut blend.

Add this comfortable yet cultured pair to your sun-wear stash and you’ll be shaded and chic when the paparazzi come calling. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

gilligan by Gilligan & O’Malley® Sleep Set

The signs of a put-together person are neatly-manicured nails, a well-stocked handbag and pretty PJs. I’m currently working on all three, but ready to first tackle the sleepwear situation as it can be resolved with a one-time buy.

This delicate watercolor set from the gilligan Target line is lightweight and airy, so you’ll feel cool even bundled beneath a puffy down comforter. Feminine lace embroidery makes this mature combination more age-appropriate for a young 20-something than ratty basketball T-shirts and mismatched boy shorts, but the casual silhouette anchors it in playful modesty. Comfort features include a soft elastic waistband and adjustable spaghetti straps.

Sleep soundly and look good doing it. Zzz.