Wednesday, May 24, 2017

LET'S GO NUTS! IT'S THE NORDSTROM HALF-YEARLY SALE!

I've mentioned this quite a few times on the blog before, but it keeps coming up because, well, I still work in fashion. During my summer and winter breaks during college I worked on the sales floor at Nordstrom, and it was one of the most fun jobs I ever had. I worked in the young men's department so our team was a mix of cute girls and straight dudes—unusual for retail. We dated each other, partied together and competed somewhat aggressively for commissions while on the job.

The point is, Nordstrom has a special place in my heart and my browser history. While my days of working on the sales floor are long behind me (at least for now, tbh) I am still devoted to this particular department store as a shopper.

And wouldn't you know it—right in time for those impulse-based pre-Memorial Day Weekend purchases, the Half-Yearly sale is here. This is the perfect excuse and/or opportunity to treat yourself to a few things for your summer fashion starter kit. I don't know about you, but around this time every year I open up my closet (or pull the suitcase full of clothes out from under the bed where it lives in the off-season) and decide I hate almost everything. I seem to have an uncanny ability to purchase items that only feel "fresh" for one or two warm weather seasons. Do you feel me on this?

If so, let's do this together, eh? I rounded up about 25 items from the Nordstrom Half-Yearly sale that will have all of us feeling a little bit better about our summer wardrobes—at least for this year! There are tons of shoes that have wedding season written all over them, and dresses too (like this Robert Rodriguez number!). Everything in the sale is 40 percent off which is pretty epic, and means that popular sizes won't be available for long.

FIRST PRIORITY PICKS:


// BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE! SHOP & SCROLL MY HALF-YEARLY PICKS BELOW //

Thursday, May 18, 2017

{ STYLING NOTES } H&M IS YOUR NOT-SO-SECRET DATE NIGHT TOP DEPOT



There was a time, not so long ago, when "Going Out Tops" was a very specific category in my wardrobe. These were tops with a unique purpose—only worn at night, usually between Thursdays and Saturdays exclusively. It was an interesting time in fashion for us all. It was the early aughts.

In 2017 fashion has largely shifted into a more utilitarian mood, and those of us who were young and wild in those carefree days circa 2005 are still pretty young—duh—but also working at actual jobs and incorporating more depth of experience into our lives and naturally, our closets. Spending money on a dress or a top that's only meant to be worn to a bar or a party feels bizarre and a little too niche now. Or does it?

Recently I was bemoaning my lack of "tops" in general to Meghan. I wrote about it in this post a few weeks ago, and discussed my desire for a top I could throw on specifically for dates, which is ridiculous because I don't date nearly enough to warrant the purchasing of items specifically for that purpose. (Same reason I don't buy workout clothes—ba dum bum cha!)

Then I thought about the tagline from Field of Dreamsyou know the one. If I have more things to wear on dates, will more dates come into my life? I know this narrative is really wandering but stick with me. What if I could have it all? A top that serves this specific purpose of being "date-y" but could also be worn for more practical and frequent events, like day drinking with my friends on the weekend or just any ol' Tuesday at the office? Like magic I'd have more outfits for life in general and (maybe) more eligible gentleman in my life.

As you may have surmised from the title of this post, I found what I was looking for at H&M. Let me explain a little more about what I mean through the form of a Q+A that I questioned and answered myself.


SO WHAT, PRAY TELL, IS THIS VERY SPECIFIC DATE NIGHT TOP THAT ALSO WORKS FOR OTHER THINGS?
I would say this top is one that works specifically with your favorite, most flattering jeans or your best mini skirt—the pieces you reach for all the time no matter what the occasion. It's got to have that "I know this will look pretty good no matter how I feel," factor.

My ideal DNT-TAWFOT (Date Night Top That Also Works For Other Things) is pretty but not fussy, shows some skin, but not all of it. The fit is easy, maybe a little flowy—but not overly boxy. A DNT-TAWFOT does not make you question yourself or spend 15 minutes too long pivoting in the mirror wondering if it looks okay. You know you look good in this top—you slip it on and feel great instantly. Whatever your best features are, this top should remind you.

BUT HOW CAN I MAKE A $15 TOP LOOK EXPENSIVE? I LIKE LOOKING EXPENSIVE.
Oh! You want to look expensive in a very inexpensive top? Me too! The first thing to consider is color. Bright, bold colors tend to look cheap when they're not rendered in actual expensive fabrics like silk, cashmere or velvet. Go for subtly first—black, white, navy, cream and blush are great bets. (This top is also very neutral and easy in black/white stripes.) Plus, all of those colors look great with each other, so finding layers, jeans, skirts and accessories to wear with them is much easier.

Next—remember to take good care of your affordable finds. I refresh mine each time I wear them with a steamer, and soak my white tops for a few hours in Oxi Clean every other month to keep them bright. Never put this kind of top in the dryer, either.

Finally, of course, is what you wear with your $15 or $30 DNT-TAWFOT to make it look like it didn't come from a store where a lot of teens shop...

IS THERE A MAGIC FORMULA FOR FEELING VERY DRESSED FOR YOU BUT ALSO A LITTLE BIT DRESSED FOR HIM, TOO?
Personally, when I'm on an early date with a guy, I want my outfit to read equal parts cool, comfortable, confident and feminine. That's a lot to ask both from my clothes and from some dude—but I want what I want. To be honest I've never actually doubled back with my ex lovers to find out if my outfits gave them all those ~*ViBeZ*~ but that's because my feelings about my clothes mean more than his, always.

For me and my body—there is a formula that works every time. I suspect that some version of it will work for you, too. I pair my DNT-TAWFOT with whatever jeans I'm currently obsessed with—right now it's a pair of cropped slightly-flared jeans. (Like these black jeans from 3x1 that I really want.) Then comes shoes. In the colder months I wear my high-heel Vince ankle boots on pretty much every date—so in the spring I switch those up for a block heel sandal, usually my Steve Madden 'Irenee'—which are on sale right now for $55... Or my new M. Gemi mules that are too legit to quit.

Then it's just a couple good accessories—a structured cross body bag that can hang on the back of a chair or on that little hook under the bar, and either a few layered gold necklaces or some fun earrings. Lately that's either these Baublebar tassels or Julie Vos' Grecian-inspired gold hoops.

I'm going to cut myself off here because the truth is, you should wear whatever you want on your next date. Sometimes I wear my Vans slip-ons even though all my friends tell me not to. Sometimes I wear a really short dress because my legs are their own entirely thirsty entity that I cannot control. If you want to wear a graphic tee and culottes or head-to-toe sequins I say go for it—if he doesn't get it, screw it.


// SHOP MY FAVORITE H&M TOPS BELOW //

Friday, May 5, 2017

{ ON MY RADAR } LUXE BAGS FROM 324 NEW YORK


{ The @324ny Instagram is pretty lit }

The first designer bag I ever owned was a nylon Kate Spade messenger bag my parents got me for my sixteenth birthday. Like most girls who got the bug early, my irrational belief that you really can never have too many bags has lead me to many memorable purchases in my life. Logic would tell you that I have more (and more very nice) bags than I could ever need. And yet—fresh designs and new shapes come along; trends shift. Whether you're a bonafide bag lady like me or you're just in the market for something that combines form and function to fit your life—read on!

HOW I FOUND 324 NEW YORK
Once again (and just like Stone and Strand324 New York was an Instagram find. One of those algorithmic geniuses at Instagram/Facebook knew my taste level and hit me hard with that sponsored 'gram. It worked, and here we are.  They got the follow, a big fan and most likely a new customer, too.

WHAT THEY DO
According to the brand's website, 324 New York was conceived by its founder and creative director as the answer to a question she kept asking herself, "Why can't our bags change and evolve like we do?" Bike (BK) Bayer started her line with no technical design or production experience; she sketched her designs and took them to a manufacturer in Turkey and the process began. 324 New York includes four handbag designs, each of which can be adapted and updated with additional straps and pouches. 

WHY THEY'RE GREAT
The bags are made from premium Italian and Turkish leather and like other fashion brands I love right now (M. Gemi, Everlane) their direct-to-customer model makes their high-quality products more affordable. (They're still investment pieces though, to be sure.)

The look of the collection is, in a word, rich. The Structured bags echo the look of designer It bags from Saint Laurent, Mansur Gavriel and Loewe; they feature bold silver or gold hardware, subtle branding and versatile, alluring colors. 

But here's the kicker—what makes sets these bags apart from the "everyone has it" pack. The detachable pouches and multiple straps allow you to wear each one multiple ways. The Mini and Midi bags each come with top handles, a long leather strap and a long canvas strap, which can all be interchanged.

WHAT I WANT

*** Use the code 'FRIENDSANDFAMILY' to save 20% off your order***

Image credits: 324 New York on Instagram

Monday, May 1, 2017

IT'S MAY SO HERE ARE 7 SPRING THINGS I'M INTO RIGHT NOW


Every year when March comes around, people get really excited about "spring." Your coworker Karen complains endlessly about how it's "still" so cold. I don't know what type of amnesia Karen has but March has always been the worst. You and I know that. We get through it.

Then April comes and we feel more optimistic. Days of bright sun and temperatures in the mid-sixties are more frequent. However, you can't get too excited because everything is still brown—no leaves on trees and the only blooms to be found have been flown in to your local bodega.

Then suddenly—like the whole city is waking from a deep, dark sleep—everything is awake and alive. You look up as you walk down your street and you see the most lush, electric green bursting from the branches of those formerly sad trees. Seemingly overnight branches are sagging under the weight of thousands of cherry blossoms. The pink petals litter the sidewalk. Karen is Instagraming up a storm and you know what, you kind of want to join her—what the hell, we deserve this!

May is, objectively, one of the most beautiful months of the year. It's high spring and it's glorious. New York can't lay claim to this title alone, I'm sure wherever you are you're feeling me on this. And we have to cherish it because the truth is, while summer is fun, it gets a little bit oppressive when the heat and humidity turn the city streets into a hellish swamp from which there is no relief. But let's stay focused—right now is awesome. May has me feeling optimistic and excited about all kinds of things, so I'm going to share them with you.


// CLICK THROUGH FOR ALL THE GOODIES //

Monday, April 24, 2017

{ TRANSITIONAL SEASON DRINKING } THE SPRING BEER GUIDE

There are some days, some moments and some places when nothing but a beer will do. I've always enjoyed a good brewski, mostly on a "Can I just have something light but not so light that it tastes like water?" level. But just as my hard alcohol palette has grown up from vodka and cranberry juice to whiskey, bitters and sugar—my grasp of ales, sours, lagers and stouts has evolved a bit, too. That's mostly because I spend time with people who know a lot more about beer than I do. Chief among them is my friend Jerry, so naturally I felt it was my duty to exploit his expertise for your benefit.

Last year, I asked him to round up his favorite fall beers that you can find around NYC—he obliged and you guys loved it. So, I cajoled him into re-upping his recommendations for spring. Think of this list as your cheat sheet to being the savviest person at the bar all season. And on that note,’ll let Jerry take it from here...

Hey guys! It’s me Jerry and I’m back again to help you step up your beer game—and this time around we'll be focusing in on springtime or "warm weather" beers that are ideal for impressing people at festive outdoor gatherings. I apologize in advance for the absence of any bourbon barrel aged imperial stouts, but we’re aiming for lighter pursuits! By that I mean refreshing radlers, tart sours, or a well-balanced APA. Now, I will never turn down a glorious, juicy DIPA from Other Half but lighter beers just work better this time of year. (#summerbod, etc, etc.)

Since we last met, I’ve relocated to Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn which means my proximity to great beers is even more dangerous… And that happens to work out quite nicely for this article! The move has given me an opportunity to spend time in the superb outdoor beer garden of Threes Brewing, sampling their in-house beer as well as the other local offerings they keep on draft. Another one of my new favorites is LIC Beer Project, who offer a variety of styles—but their clean and crisp Saisons are really something to behold. Anyway… let's jump right into the list, explore what the city is pouring, and toast to the changing of the season together! Cheers!

//CLICK THROUGH FOR ALL OF JERRY'S BEER PICKS//

Thursday, March 30, 2017

{ ON MY RADAR } DECOR & FUN GIFTS FROM THREE POTATO FOUR


{ All images via the @3potato4 Instagram }

Even though I don't exactly have the time or money to redecorate my room, I spend a lot of time daydreaming about how I would do it—and "window" shopping for things online. I also like to think of myself as a good gift-giver (and guide-maker), and sites like Three Potato Four are part of the reason why.

HOW I FOUND THREE POTATO FOUR:
Over the holidays I spent most of my waking work hours putting together gift guides. Some for this blog, and many for my freelance clients. For inspiration, I spent many hours looking at the guides on other publications, and my favorites by far were from Goop. One of the site's guides included a key tag from Three Potato Four, so I followed the trail to see what else they might have. The next hour of my life was spent clicking, ogling, clicking again and generally becoming obsessed with their selection of contemporary gifts, home accessories and novelty pieces—all with a fun vintage vibe.

WHAT THEY DO:
It's hard to summarize exactly what TFP does, except to say that the company was founded by two people—Janet Morales and Stu Eli—who love to collect things, including vintage. They started the company in 2007 as a way to make funky collectors items feel new again. And they succeeded.

Based on how many "special projects" they've done, I sort of can't believe I'd never heard of Three Potato Four before. TPF has collaborated with Urban Outfitters numerous times, as well as Madewell, Nordstrom, L.L. Bean and West Elm, among others.

WHY THEY'RE GREAT:
It's just so fun to surf around their store, okay? That's basically it. The pennants, letter boards, prints and key tags are cheerful, happy nice to look at. You can hop onto the site and find a cute little gift for a friend or coworker or pick up a funky piece of decor for your apartment. Nothing is really outlandishly expensive and they even do cool custom projects for teams, companies, hotels and events. (How neat would it be to have custom key tags as the parting gift from your wedding?)

WHAT I WANT:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

{ ON MY RADAR } HOME ACCESSORIES FROM UMBRA


Could your tiny New York apartment use a little spring "sprucing?" Mine could. Have you been telling yourself that you're going to get a houseplant and raise it up like your own? Me, too. Allow me to introduce you to your new favorite design crush that will invite said sprucing and plant care-taking and make you feel like you're getting West Elm finds at Ikea prices.

HOW I FOUND UMBRA:
It all started when I was having a down day. I decided buying some house plants from Home Depot would cheer me up, and I was right. I felt so thrilled at my newfound sense of responsibility and adult decor choices that I knew what I had to do next: Get my plants fancier places to grow. During a mid-afternoon work break, I spotted these Umbra hanging planters at Urban Outfitters. From there, I began scooting all over the internet looking for more from this intriguing brand.

WHAT THEY DO:
Umbra is a Toronto-based design brand that mixes chic design with utilitarian purpose in their line of home accessories. Picture frames, mirrors, planters and tons of shelving—these are the kinds of decor accents that would appeal to  just about anyone and fit in nicely with most people's interior aesthetics.

WHY THEY'RE GREAT:
I've never been particularly "girly" when it comes to my taste in interior design, and with obvious budget restrictions, it's important to me that what I buy is a strong mix of form and function. Umbra meets those needs—their shelves, frames, planters and other accents are useful, unisex and design-centric. I love this "Cubist" floating shelf, for example, that could serve a million purposes from a "nightstand" in a small space to a planter and book nook, or a place for your kitchen tools and iPad when you're cooking. And, as with most brands that pique my interest, it's affordable!

WHAT I WANT:
  • I'm sorry, are you honestly telling me you don't want a bath caddy ($39) with a spot to hold your elegant stemmed wine glass, your expensive French bar soap and your thrilling new YA novel? Please.
  • As I mentioned above, these hanging planters ($25 for a set of two) are so cool, and a great price, too.
  • This circular mirror ($160) would look good in literally anyone's home, and if I'm being biased, especially mine.
  • I have a lot of random books that aren't really doing anything cool in my room, and these floating shelves ($29 for a set of three) could give them some real style and purpose.

You can shop all of Umbra's products on their website, as well as smaller selections over on Amazon, Urban Outfitters and Bed, Bath & Beyond.