Thursday, September 27, 2012

Boden Printed A-line Skirt

One of the silly get-to-know-you questions I was asked upon starting work in the apparel business was, “What's your favorite fabric?”

A couple years later I still can’t pinpoint whether silk, cotton or cashmere “defines” me, but when it comes to pattern, I can confidently declare my partiality for polka dots. 

The retro design is classic, but having a seriously trendy moment. Though it’s super hot now in all styles and silhouettes, the timeless nature of the pattern ensures you can wear what you invest in for years. Beyond the typical blouse, I’m obsessed with the print dotting skirts, scarves – and especially tights.

Boden’s Printed A-line skirt is the quintessential trendy-meets-timeless manifestation. Not quite as daring as polka-dotted pants, the pattern on a skirt is still freshly unexpected and fashion-forward, in a whimsically ladylike way. The 100%-cotton, machine-washable piece refreshes blah business separates and the navy/forest green combo is acutely autumnal.

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Pick up a Pumpkin Spice Latte, pop on this skirt, and you’ll be fall festivity walking.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Goop Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie

Founded in 2008, Goop is Gwyneth Paltrow’s digital lifestyle publication and many women’s “most trusted girlfriend” on the web. The curated collection of fashion, wellness, travel, cooking guidance and more is updated weekly to share the kinds of tips that organically pass among your friend circle.

I only recently subscribed for issues sent straight to my inbox, but am already fully addicted, most rapidly devouring the recipe register.

Simple yet oh-so-good, the Veggie BLAT will surely become a go-to dinner, and I can’t wait to snack on the hearty homemade granola bars as I haven't found a satisfying supermarket variety. There’s also an enticing smorgasbord of juices and smoothies I’m adding to my beverage portfolio ASAP, starting with the Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie.

As someone who turns up her nose to eggs and grudgingly chokes down orange juice only when sick, breakfast has always been a stitch in my side. My family teases about the time I ordered French toast with a side of toast at a post-Mass brunch. I agree this carb-heavy kind of feast isn't ideal, but many menus don’t offer much beyond omelets and frittatas. I had no choice.

In addition to my taste bud handicap, time is a limitation. I dawdle through morning showering, blowdrying and dressing, making pancake-flipping a non-existent possibility before catching the bus. I’ve been in a yogurt routine, interspersed with the occasional English muffin, but these AM meals quickly boil into humdrum monotony.

GP’s Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie is a godsend if you experience similar restrictions, but want to start the day in a purely nutritional, energizing -- and interesting -- way. 

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The blend of greens, avocado, protein powder, almond milk, cacao and fresh mint packs serious power that sustains til lunch. A hint of minty chocolate gives the ultra-healthy drink an indulgent tastiness that is the motivation to get out of bed and get to work. 

While contributing energy equal to a heaping plate of bacon, this liquid breakfast maintains the flat-stomach feeling you wake up with instead of cooking up the bloated belly of a lumberjack. Make a batch of the beverage before bed and freeze or refrigerate so you can grab 'n go at daybreak -- perfect for lollygaggers like me. 

A one-stop shop for reliable recipes [and all things lifestyle], Goop is virtual gold. I can’t stop reading. Props, Gwyn.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Anthropologie Mirrors

I’m seeking opinions to assist a friend in a decorative decision that pins mirror against mirror.

To set the stage: the furniture is modern, built in shades of black, espresso and chocolate. Soft microsuede, leather, wood and glass constitute the couches and tables. Accents add dimension to this foundation in the form of colorful book stacks, chartreuse candles, rattan coasters and woven baskets.

The result is a savory contrast of contemporary and rustically natural.

To expand the room, a mirror must be hung above the leather loveseat. Opportunely, the pieces contending for the spot are as much art as looking glass, offering twofold functionality that justifies the retail. The question is not whether to buy, but which.

Contender 1.

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The Pros: I first saw the Tree Trunk style, and was instantly enamored with the mango wood’s obvious wilderness connotation that is tamed by a polished finish. The circular stumps are a discreet and satisfying link to her round coffee table. The mirror is just the right shade of chestnut to stand out from the darker furniture and the curvy cut of the setting resonates with K's creative side. 

The Cons: Once hung, would the right-angle-inclined part of her personality find the frame’s wandering lines distracting?

Releasing my engrossed grip from around the Tree Trunk, I scanned the remaining products on the web page – at which point the present dilemma was born.

Contender 2.

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The Pros: The Pieced Geom mirror is straight where the Trunk swerves, but the subtly jagged edges make it exponentially more eye-catching than would standard, smooth borders. There is a categorical artistry about the imperfect amalgamation of multi-sized glass bits that have my eyes hooked in steely admiration. This iron option is larger than its opponent, more fully fitting the wall space, and would capitalize on the existing modern surroundings. The hardware’s bronze tone melds seamlessly with the room’s overall color story.

The Cons: Is the dark iron too dull, sinking into the environment and failing to evoke energy?

What do you wager? Post your pick in the comments field. Muchas gracias, my discerning decorators!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Monday I was overtaken by a major book-buying binge. I think watching the On the Road movie trailer [hitting theaters in December] was the catalyst. After viewing the clip, I looked into the Jack Kerouac novel and my shock that I, a former Lit major at one of the country’s most writing-centric universities, had not yet cracked the binding on such an American classic that, according to the back cover, has “changed anyone who has ever picked it up” grew at an alarmingly panicked pace.

I had to remedy the situation immediately.

I rushed to Barnes & Noble in the middle of the workday to snag the paperback and, before departing, had bought four more. One was the result of a BOGO promo, but the other three were classics I couldn’t let elude me one second longer: two Fitzgeralds and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. My professors would be proud.

Before the abovementioned bender, I had just started reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower [available at Amazon]. In my hunger to start the next in my newly-acquired lineup, I finished the quick and engrossing 200-pager that night.

The book’s theme is participation versus passivity in the form of letters written throughout Charlie’s freshman year of high school. I won't write a review, but certain fragments from the candid correspondence stayed with me longer than the 24 hours it took to ingest.

I’ve reprinted them below – musings we should all remember, through adolescence and beyond, as we attempt to recollect that feeling of being infinite: 

“When I was driving home, I just thought about the word ‘special.’ And I thought the last person who said that about me was my aunt Helen. I was very grateful to have heard it again. Because I guess we all forget sometimes.”

“I think the idea is that every person has to live for his or her own life and then make the choice to share it with other people. Maybe that is what makes people ‘participate.’”

“I feel great! I really mean it. I have to remember this for the next time I’m having a terrible week. Have you ever done that? You feel really bad, and then it goes away, and you don’t know why, but I try to remind myself when I feel great like this that there will be another terrible week coming someday, so I should store up as many great details as I can, so during the next terrible week, I can remember those details and believe that I’ll feel great again.”

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fresh Umbrian Clay Mattifying Serum

With last week’s Sephora purchase, I received 3 samples of my choice. One became my newest beauty BFF: Umbrian Clay Mattifying Serum from Fresh.

In 1991, Fresh pioneered the use of natural ingredients in modern skin, hair and body care. At, you’ll find fascinating stories relating how the company began utilizing things like sake and lemon vine to create unique, luxurious and effective products.

The Fresh founders cultivated Umbrian Clay, one such stumbled-upon element, for their burgeoning brand following an Italian friend’s story: unearthed in a local herbal store, the naturally-occurring clay miraculously cleared the cystic acne that had plagued her for years, leaving behind a flawless complexion after weekly mask treatments.

Used in therapeutic treatments for centuries, the clay tones and hydrates while controlling shine, resulting in the long-lasting fresh matte finish I covet. Ginger root and meadowsweet extract combine with the high-mineral content clay to form the secret sauce that generations to come will worship.

P.S. The Men’s Health Award emblem stamped on the product page indicates this is a unisex serum. Don’t be greedy - order a couple of tubes today and share this transformative discovery with your husband, boyfriend or brother.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Gap Embroidered Loafers

Following yesterday’s costly craving, I decided to wax economical.

Rather than splurge on $400 Stubbs & Wootton® velvet slippers, steal Gap’s look-alike loafers.
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Paired with dark denim, navy sweater and slim puffer, these flats are tailor-made for football tailgating. The clover-colored slip-ons are 100% canvas framed by chocolate corded piping. A rounded toe makes this a relaxed shoe, but embroidered detailing gives the pair a preppy, casually-elegant vibe sure to stand out in a sea of cheering fans. A padded footbed will ensure your feet are comfortable from kickoff to game end and at $39.95, you'll have cash left over for a day's worth of chili, hot dog and hamburger-eating. 

Three cheers for that!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rag & Bone Chevron Quilted Driving Gloves

New York Fashion Week is a parade of apparel and accessories that will never find residence in my closet. These gloves are equally unattainable, but in the spirit of the past 7 days, I’m allowed to drool and dream a few more hours.

Rag & bone is known for its classic workwear aesthetic and high-quality tailoring. These two trademarks are evident in the British designers’ Chevron Quilted Driving Gloves that unite authenticity and modern luxe.

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Made of equal parts genuine lambskin and quilted metallic leather, the ovation-inducing combination is timeless without forsaking fashion. Cut-outs and a plush espresso colorbase smell of your grandfather’s sophistication, while the crystallized chevron face and slim feminine fit represent an undeniable ladylike sumptuousness.

These fabulous finger-warmers will cause a spectacle worthy of a Gotham runway when pulled from your pocket. Hit the lights, let’s strut.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ann Taylor Metropolitan Shift Dress

I once associated Ann Taylor with my career-minded mother, but as I’ve matured and AT has developed youthfulness, its styles have hit a sweet spot and eased seamlessly into my wardrobe. My shifting perspective is legitimized by the sassy Kate Hudson who lends her glowing face to the new fall collection.

Several years ago, I read the days of women immediately switching suits for lounge upon arriving home from work are gone. Today’s fashion is about pieces that transition in time with your evolving agenda.

Fittingly, the AT Metropolitan Shift is billed the “go everywhere dress.” 

To start, doubleweave fabric forms a timeless silhouette in trend-right jeweled azure. The shape is conservative, yet form-fitting, making it applicable for work, weekend, and what falls between. An exposed back zipper is just the kind of contemporary detail that has revitalized the brand and drawn a new demographic of fashion-minded consumers into its traditionally professional following.

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Not only is this highly-anticipated shift appropriate for young and old, work day & date night, but warm and cool. Mostly polyester, you can wear now with naked legs and T-straps, while 34% virgin wool fabric will keep you warm later. Delightfully, the slip-on-and-go faithful's ¾-sleeve cuts out the need for a cover-up at conservative headquarters. Just add accessories.

Revisit the retailer to lock and load go-anywhere, do-anything pieces laboring so you look effortless. 

Another can't-miss dress: 

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Shop Kate's fall favorites, Wear-to-Work essentials and the LBD boutique here. BOGO on now!

The Container Store Chef’s Cart

There’s currently one lonely bottle of Svedka idling in my freezer. As I steadily cruise by benchmarks en route to full-fledged adulthood, acquiring a well-rounded in-home bar is one milepost yet unsurpassed.  

My motive is not boozy self-service, but to accommodate guests’ prerogative to pick their poison – be it gin, whisky or wine.

The Metro Commercial Chef’s Cart from The Container Store will effectively set you on course in this endeavor. A buffed butcher-block top is a platform to store and display an array of spirits – or surplus space for cutting, chopping & peeling. Lower level racks form a modern & mobile trunk for pots, pans, accessories or art, leaving overstuffed cabinets and crannies acting as tacky alcohol arsenals in the dust.  

If you run a dry house, fashion a glass beverage dispenser filled with fresh lemonade or flavored water on the cart for trendy thirst-quenching.

Whether you seek convenience or kitchenware couture, bottle up this cart -- on sale now -- and you’ll be pushing pretty. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Clinique Age Defense BB Cream

Clinique has been my trusted skincare consultant since zapping my 7th grade zits. When a market researcher friend told me that BB Cream [BB: Blemish Balm] is the newest beauty product sweeping retailers, I knew the dermatologist-developed brand would deliver.

Pushed as the “Asian cult favorite” for perfect skin, the cream produces a photo-ready finish in seconds by combining the effects of foundation, concealer, powder and primer – including essential SPF and anti-aging elements.

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Don’t expect the multitasking cream to be the best in any one of these categories, but to cure discoloration, dullness and dryness in one step, Age Defense BB Cream is the antidote. I don’t apply daily, but on overslept work mornings and fuss-free weekends, the tube's residence in my medicine cabinet makes me praise heaven.

Further demonstrating otherworldly ability, the miracle cosmetic is built for all skin types.

Bound by a drugstore budget? Try Garnier’s rendition, advertised as instant perfection.

Garnier ad in October 2012 Cosmopolitan

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Elum Poppies & Posies Writer’s Block

Along with day planners, stationery and books, note pads are archaic accessories I’m clinging to despite this increasingly digital age.

Some enjoy storing schedules on a smart phone and devouring bestsellers on a Kindle, but I prefer monitoring my month-at-a-glance via an old-fashioned calendar hanging next to the fridge and relish the crack of a book’s binding as I read.

Maybe the Poppies & Posies Writer's Block is another sign I’m fading farther from today’s cutting edge, but some habits don’t die. The block is perfect for capturing directions, dates or times while you phone chat, or wish lists as you web surf.

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While it has practical functionality and is made with environmental sensitivity, I propose purchasing the compact cube of 700 sticky notes simply for the smart, literary motif it inherently lends to your working, cooking or lounging space. Elum is renown for designer paper products that transform stationery into art, and this artistic tool beautifully lives up to the brand’s high-style reputation.

I love my iPhone, but when it comes to this Writer’s Block, I’ll take antiquity.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

OBEY Varsity Lover Jacket

At my high school, no one wore letterman jackets. Now, what was ubiquitously un-cool is fresh and fashionable.  

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As Taylor Swift and the H&M Autumn 2012 Look Book prove, sporting a varsity jacket is no longer an announcement you’re trend illiterate – or play trombone in the school band.

The vintage, lightweight coats are making a comeback Romy and Michele style. But unlike the deceitful roommates, with the OBEY Varsity Lover Jacket around your shoulders, you won’t have to pretend you invented Post-its to score cool crowd cred.

The faux leather jacket comes ready-to-rumble with snap & zip closure, soft hoodie lining, and slit pockets. Ribbed knit cuffs, hem and shawl collar authenticate the look, but a fitted silhouette separates it from the oversized boiled wool versions of old.

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The style, available in 3 colors, is an attractive alternative to denim and anorak. Arriving on runways last fall, the look is hitting streets this year. Slide one on while it, unlike high school, is still relevant.

Want to up your game? View a slideshow of Refinery29’s 6 Pitch-Perfect Varsity Jackets for fall.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Shops at Target: Round 2

If it wasn’t the killer pair of suede and lizard Kirna Zabête Chelsea boots in the September InStyle, the barrage of TV commercials would have reminded me: the second installation of The Shops at Target drops Sunday.

So far, I want the Kirna Zabête tweed jumper with mod zippers. Heed the Soho boutique owners' motto "more is more" by layering it up with patterned tights, a knit scarf, bright blouse or cropped cardi, and the dress will log many miles this season.

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While shopping is a somewhat self-centered occupation, in the real world, it pays to give some thought to others. So, when you boot up your computer Sept. 9 to nail down your Shops selects, consider picking out 1 or 2 Odin New York articles for the man in your life.

The Odin brand is defined by the intersection of “refined and rugged” and pays special attention to fit and quality. My favorite pieces are the sweaters, and I’ve always been partial to a guy in an unintentional, fitted henley. The sweater below combines both of these appreciations.

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The oatmeal pullover with buttoned placate offers a casual and comfortable look that simultaneously satisfies a masculine need for ease and your feminine inclination that appearance is everything.

Sometime this week, flip through the look books over your lunch break so you’re ready to browse & buy purposefully come the collections’ release [available in all stores and online].

Kirna Zabête Look BookOdin Look Book

September 2012 Vogue back cover ad

Monday, September 3, 2012

Shades of Light Concentric Diamond Rug

A rug is often the finishing touch that pulls a room’s many components together in a comfortable, this-is-home way. Wooden floors look barren, furniture scattered and disjointed until a runner, bear skin or area oriental is rolled out.

Even if you have a carpeted living space, a rug enlivens and unifies what’s within your walls. The sometimes woven, braided, hooked or tufted accessory affords multicolor depth just as a wall painting grants character.

The Concentric Diamond Rug from Shades of Light [offering unique high-quality lighting, rugs & furnishings] stands out against cream, beige or brown furniture, but the earthy green color still complements a neutral theme.

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Warm up your dining or living room, patio or deck as summer cools to fall with this woven indoor/outdoor rug, suitable for all seasons.

See more colors and shop other trendy & exclusive styles here. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Tarte Lipsurgence

While normally considering the topic at hand during work meetings, last week I was distracted by a colleague’s berry lips. As I sat there naked-mouthed, feeling faintly elementary-school, I fervently pledged to incorporate the step into my beauty routine.

A pop of color on the mouth sophisticates & transforms your look two steps at a time. Even if there’s little else on your face [even eyeliner in daytime feels garish for me], a lively lip saves you from looking washed out and run-down at the end of a long day. More than that, there’s something satisfyingly indulgent about a dressed-up pucker that can be a small source of happiness through spreadsheet wrangling and database management.

Testing colors and product technology is a time-consuming task I never seem to schedule into everyday errands. Luckily, The Cut did the work for me. You can read the full matte lipstick report here, but I’ll cut to the chase. Tarte Cosmetics Lipsurgence™  beat out the best of them.

Gloss is great for summer, but fall calls for a matte finish. The chunky Tarte pencil has a smooth application and the saturated tint won’t fade throughout the day like your motivation. The product is infused with peppermint to help keep you kickin’ from 9 to 5, and peptides in the formula provide a plump appearance. The pencil packs serious moisture, so once it’s on, there's no need to give your face a second thought, freeing you up to focus on what brings home the bacon.

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A deep plum like Envy will complement your cozy fall layers and graduate you from the schoolgirl pack sooner than you can say See you in second period.

p.s. In addition to berries and burgundies, a splashy orange lip is a fun way to light up your look this fall. It may seem summery, but orange is the color of harvest, pumpkins and autumn leaves. Couldn't feel more timely to me! 
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