Wednesday, November 30, 2016

{ GIFT GUIDE 2016 } FOR THE MOST FASHIONABLE WOMEN IN YOUR LIFE


I know what you're thinking. "Taylor just made this guide so that everyone in her life knows exactly what she wants for Christmas this year." While that's partly true (Hi, Santa!), I also just happen to know that many of you have a hard time shopping for your most stylish friends and family.

What I tried to curate below is a mix of fashion-y gifts but also gifts that can make every part of your life more stylish—from traveling over the holidays to decorating your home. There are pajamas and picture frames, cool leather handbags and oodles of cashmere.

Never mind me, I'll just be over here printing this out and mailing it to the North Pole...

Cuyana is one of those awesome, under-the-radar brands that, once you hear about it, you become a little obsessed. Their bag collection is small and well-edited, unfussy and classy as all get-out. I've been jaunting around the East Coast with their canvas weekend bag all year and love how sturdy and roomy it is, but this holiday season my eye is on something smaller.

Cuyana's mini saddle bag is petite and practical, and just so gift-y. I'm obsessed with bags this size because they're perfect for date nights and going out to dinner as well as bopping around town during daylight hours. Personally, I'm all-in for the scarlet color—there's just something so glamorous and a little bit special about a red bag. However, it also comes in classic black leather and soft grey suede if the woman you're shopping for leans a bit more subtle with her accessories.

Shop more of my favorite red handbags below:

I have a thing for sunglasses. I've tried many brands and gone through a lot of different frame phases. Year after year, though, there's one brand and one style that I always come back to: The Ray-Ban Wayfarer. This is the part where you shout "Duh!" at your computer screen, because everyone knows that the Wayfarer frame is one of the most enduring and universally flattering style of sunglasses on the planet. So what makes them stylish and gift-y in 2016? An oversized frame and the ability to completely customize every aspect from the lens color to the case, engraving and more.

I recently customized a pair of (admittedly sort of boring) tortoise frame Wayfarers, but I upgraded from the standard 50mm width to the 54mm size—which still sits properly on my nose but has a slightly more glamorous, almost cat eye look. I also had my initials engraved on the temples. Though if you want to go with a standard, non-customized pair (slightly more affordable at $150), both the 'Wayfarer XL and "Outsiders" versions from Nordstrom and Shopbop, respectively, have the oversized, 54mm lens.

Something (or anything) from Everlane, $15 to $350.
I've been obsessed with Everlane for some time now, and they have a nice range of prices that makes their shop ideal for gifts, especially for the stylish women on your list this year. Depending on who you're looking for, a $15 T-shirt might not do the trick, but a $58 cashmere beanie or a pretty, semi-sexy but mostly just comfy silk sleep set for just $78? I could go on. But if you're a little unsure and looking for a crowd pleaser—their cashmere crewneck sweaters are just $100! That means you can give a seriously luxe gift for a pretty reasonable price, and it comes in eight colors. (I'm weirdly obsessed with the pink!)

Shop more of my Everlane favorites below:

Explore their whole store for men and women here.

Those of you who read a lot of blogs or are pretty social media savvy have probably heard of Away travel. (It's the Everlane / Warby Parker / Glossier of luggage.) Their TSA-approved carry-on luggage has become the travel bag of choice among the influencer set, and honestly, with good reason! The bag is ultra strong and really good-looking, plus it has a built-in battery and two USB ports under the handle so you can keep your devices powered up while you wait in those endless holiday travel lines.

I put this bag on my fashionable gift guide because as a person who considers themselves "stylish," one of the times I feel least so, no matter what I wear, is at the airport. I have a great tote and a nice large suitcase for long trips, but when I travel for just a few days I'm stuck lugging a heavy weekend bag over my shoulder, which should really only be used for train and auto travel, if I'm being particular—which I am. A bag like this will make any woman (or man, duh!) feel like a sophisticated, coordinated jet-set pro. Plus, it comes in seven colors. (And they have three other bag sizes, btw.)

*Shop with this link and you'll save $20 on your purchase!*

A piece of personalized jewelry, about $50 and up.
Personal jewelry is something I happen to love for myself, but it's also one of those things that makes for a timeless, heirloom-level gift. Prices for personalized and monogrammed jewelry really run the gamut. For example, you can get a 14K gold plated signet ring from BaubleBar for $62, or a sterling silver roman numeral pendant (perfect for sentimental dates) from Mark and Graham for $248. I also happen to love the customizable "code" collection from Lulu Frost, which can run anywhere between $210 and $1000, and lets you create a secret message with gemstones. 

On the more accessible end of the spectrum, Lulu's numeral code earrings (the silver are just $75 each) and rings ($145 each) are seriously cool and not too pricey. My favorite of the bunch right now, however? Their fine zodiac collection crafted from solid 10kt gold—like this Scorpio ring. These kinds of pieces are perfect for that mix-and-match, wear as much as you want at one time look, and make for the kind of special jewelry she'll wear everyday. (And think of you, natch!)

Shop some of my favorite personal jewelry below:

Decadent, comfortable + stylish pajamas, $25 - $266

I've mentioned many times on the blog how much I love pajamas, and how much I enjoy wearing them both in and out of the bedroom. Pair a silky button-up top with jeans and you've got an unexpected happy hour look. Layer a robe over a dress and... Well, it kind of looks like a fancy boudoir look, but I'm into it—put on ankle boot so people don't get confused.

Anyway, I also happen to think that pajamas make a great gift for friends, lovers and family. Your bestie would probably love Madewell's new preppy-meets-cozy embroidered sleep shirt while a good gift for a romantic partner might be Eberjey's ultra-soft lace-trimmed nightgown. (Or for dudes, a pair of fancy Sleepy Jones boxer shorts.) Personally, I'm having a real moment for all manner of silky sleepwear-meets-going-out-where—from glamorous Lady Mary-worthy robes from Natori to cute satin tops from Aerie.

Shop my favorite (and crazy-giftable) pajamas and robes below:

A custom framed Instagram photo from Framebridge, $39.
I realize I may be slightly biased here because I partnered with Framebridge here on the blog a couple of years ago, having two gigantic Matisse prints framed for my bedroom. However, I'm still such a huge fan of their business model—everything from the affordable pricing to customization options and how easy it is to get your artwork to them—I couldn't resist giving them another shoutout. There's simply no one else out there making custom framing as affordable as it is stylish.

A framed Instagram photo is a fun and thoughtful gift, and proof that you understand that style lives outside the closet, too. Framebridge makes the process super easy, and they have a huge selection of classy, cool frames that are all the same price. My personal favorites? Brentwood and Mandalay.

*Use the code SHUTUPILOVE15 and get 15% off your first order!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

{ PERSONAL STYLE } SLIP DRESS STYLIN'


{ Mango slip dress (sold out, similar) / Cuyana turtleneck (c/o) / Schott jacket / Lulu Frost pin (c/o) / Vince ankle boots (sold out, similar) }


So here's a picture of me wearing an outfit—but would you look at that scenery? This is my new street, West 10th. Tully and I moved back in August, and even after a few months, I still can't really get over how much I love walking down our charming street. We have a delicious and tiny Italian restaurant across the street, Rosemary's just nearby and when I'm feeling really fancy, I pick up a few groceries at Citarella.

Anyway, it's been sort of a rollercoaster of temperatures out East lately, there have been quite a few days lately that have been warm enough for bare legs, followed immediately by rain and then days so cold and windy we got a few stray flakes of snow! I sort of love the unpredictability to be honest, it has allowed me to get a few more wears out of some of my fall staples, like the ankle-boots-and-bare-legs combo and my favorite Schott leather jacket.


// CLICK THROUGH FOR MORE //

Monday, November 21, 2016

{ GIFT GUIDE 2016 } FOR YOUR MOST NOSTALGIC FRIENDS AND FAMILY


Last month, Meghan and Tully and I made dinner together, piled onto Meghan's fabulous new couch, poured some wine and watched Midnight in Paris. It's such a lovely movie—one of my all-time favorites, in fact—but it got me thinking about how our current generation is definitely experiencing its own version of nostalgia obsession these days. We might not exactly hanker for the 1920s in the way that Owen Wilson's character does, but how about all these 90s fashion trends coming back? And how about one of my favorite neighborhood bars, The Garret East, holding a "bring your own vinyl" party every Monday night?

I'm not immune to the draws of decades gone by, I'm having just as much of a moment for slip dresses and Levi's 501 jeans as the next girl. And I bet there are some people on your holiday shopping list who have a hankering for something kind of old school, too. On that note, I felt inspired to kick off my gift guide series this season with my favorite "nostalgic" gifts—things that harken back to the good ol' days, to childhood, and to times when we couldn't do everything on earth on our phones.

Okay so, this shrunken, updated and pre-loaded version of the classic gaming system went on sale on November 11 and promptly sold out within hours. However, Amazon notes on their site that they will be restocking limited quantities, and you might even have luck finding it in-person at Target. Keep your browser refreshed and updated and try to snag this for your favorite video-gamer. Though honestly, even I thought this would be so much fun to have at our apartment in NYC. (I love Donkey Kong!) It comes with 30 of every 90s kid's favorite games like Super Mario Bros 1, 2 and 3, Donkey Kong, PAC-MAN and The Legend of Zelda. You can find more info on where to buy it here.

Allow me to briefly regale you with a favorite holiday story from my childhood. When I was growing up, my dad's side of the family would gather on Christmas Eve at my grandparent's house for our family dinner and celebration. After dinner, someone would fire up the record player in the rec room, cue up Mitch Miller & The Gang, hand out the tissue-thin song sheets that came with the record and sing christmas carols.

Had it not been for this longstanding tradition, I don't know if I ever would have developed an appreciation for vinyl at all. Recently I've become kind of obsessed with listening to music on this old school medium. I mentioned in this post from the summer that our house in Maine over Labor day had a record player, and listening to a crackling record of James Taylor's Sweet Baby James as we ate bagels in the morning sunshine was a visceral experience I'll never forget. Okay so my point is, a record player is such a neat gift! This portable version from Crosley comes in a rainbow of colors and it's portable. Sonos and Spotify are nice, don't get me wrong—but records are singularly wonderful.

*Why give a player without giving a record or two to go with it? If you need some suggestions for a vinyl starter collection, might I suggest Rumors, Ultimate Sinatra, Strange Trails, 22, A Million, Thriller and Graceland, just to name a few?

Columbia 'CSC Originals' fleece for men and women, $60. 
Okay so here's something I'm really obsessed with. Columbia Sportswear dug through their archive and revived a few awesomely retro styles from the 1980s and reissued them exactly as they were then. My favorite of the bunch is available for both men and women in an array of colors that I can only describe as "totally rad." This pullover quarter-zip fleece is such a fun gift for anyone in your life who has a thing for 80s neon (who doesn't?), who loves to be active in the winter or just enjoys a good fleece on a cold day. Not to mention—the $60 price point is killer. (You can find it on Amazon, Zappos and Backcounrty.)

Maybe it's just me, but I have such a hanker for all manner of entertainment these days that doesn't involve a screen. I enjoy Game of Thrones and Instagram as much as the next girl, but I don't ever look back and say, "Man, that time we watch GoT together was one of the best nights ever." I have such fond memories of re-learning chess in Paris with my first teenage love and playing "speed Scrabble" on a snowy weekend in Philadelphia with my first adult love. Not to mention playing Cards Against Humanity by candlelight with my friends as Hurricane Sandy enveloped the city. I grew up playing Gin Rummy with my dad on vacation and these days our whole family can really get into a few rounds of Yahtzee

Romance and family bonding aside, I think we forget sometimes that engaging with people over a game, in person (with wine) is so much fun. I love this personalized 3-in-1 game set from Mark & Graham because it's classy as hell (which makes it especially "gifty") but there are so many games out there you can buy for less than $25 that are guaranteed to liven up any family gathering, Christmas morning or ski vacation—or you know, just a night in with friends at your apartment. I happen to be particularly stuck on backgammon right now, but that's just me.

Books have always been one of the most reliable gifting categories, but if you have a particularly beloved reader on your list, or someone who's in dire need of starting their collection because a Kindle library doesn't count—consider giving them a customized collection of literary treasures. Juniper Books has an astonishing number of hardcover book collections, but this one that features beautifully designed Drop Caps covers is my favorite. The collection is a collaboration with Jessica Hischea designer and illustrator whose clients include Wes Anderson, Nike, and the New York Times. All you have to do is select the titles you want to compile into a gift set, and you can choose from books like Pride and PrejudiceThe Secret Life of Bees and Leaves of Grass and Selected Poems and prose—to name a few.


An "adult coloring book" and colored pencils, about $30 total. 
I read recently that coloring as an adult has some seriously relaxing powers. I was big into coloring and drawing growing up, and was a known notebook doodler throughout high school and college. I'm sure I'm not alone in this, and have found myself recently yearning to color and draw again. During the election, I colored in a darling bingo game my friend Laura Palmer designed, and both myself and my roommate found ourselves a little bit soothed, even as the results leaned more and more negative.

There are about a bajillion adult coloring books out there, but might I draw your attention to the ones that would make particularly good gifts, like Home AloneDie Hard, and The Official Game of Thrones Coloring Book.

Friday, November 11, 2016

GET TO KNOW SWORD & PLOUGH, A VETERAN-RUN ACCESSORIES LINE I LOVE


I have to say, it feels really good to have my first piece of substantive post-election content going live on Veteran's Day. While the world keeps turning and we all have work to do, this is a great opportunity to take a moment to appreciate our country, and thank our service men and women for what they do every single day, regardless of who governs us.

A few weeks ago I got to sit down at Grumpy's in Midtown with my friend Melody as well as Betsy Núñez and Emily Núñez Cavness—two sisters who founded Sword and Plough, a line of bags and accessories made from military surplus and manufactured by veterans. The 26 and 29-year-old sisters come from a military family that includes their father, uncle and cousin, and grew up on military bases.

Over coffee and pastries, we discussed everything from modern military life to starting your own business, and how Sword and Plough has found a way to include veterans in every stage of their development. The result is a collection of cool, durable and stylish accessories that both benefits and shines a spotlight on a community that needs our support. Below, check out my interview with Betsy and Emily, including their favorite spots to hang out in Denver, where they live and run their company.

// CLICK THROUGH TO READ MY INTERVIEW WITH
THE FOUNDERS OF SWORD & PLOUGH //

Thursday, November 10, 2016

RELAX AND RECHARGE THIS WEEKEND. YOU DESERVE IT.



This post was set to go live on Wednesday, November 9th. I had assumed we'd elect Hillary Clinton as our president, and sending out a note to my little community of readers about how they could enjoy the fall weather would be a welcome sparkle of joy after a triumphant night. Yesterday was such a historically divisive day, and a sad one for most of you, I imagine. It was sad for me. It didn't feel at all appropriate to post content that had no context within the results of the election and the mood of the nation. It was too important to read, to think, to cry a little and to engage in conversations about what comes next.

A day later, I don't feel much different. I'm more alert and engaged in my work, but in the back of my mind, I still feel weighty emotions, and I feel tired. Today I signed a petition to try and stop Myron Ebell from heading up the EPA transition—he's a known sceptic of climate change, and that worries me. It's a small thing, but it's something. And I think that if I—someone who has rarely engaged in politics of any kind—can start taking small and soon bigger steps like this to take a stand against policy we disagree with, that's how we start to mobilize the changes we want to see.

Anyway, as Obama mentioned in his speech on November 9th, the sun will rise every day. That said, I think that self care and embracing the opportunities around you is still so, so important. Take some time this weekend to relax, to breath deeply and be still in a place that makes you happy. Take a walk. Make dinner for your friends. Buy yourself a bottle of wine that costs more than $15. We have a lot of work to do, but we also owe it to ourselves to find joy and feel happy whenever and wherever we can.

That said, here below are three things you can do in and around New York City this weekend. Give yourself some time off. Personally, I feel the most reenergized after I've spent time in nature. I like to fix my gaze into the distance and see trees and water and sky, not just our big ol' skyscrapers (as majestic as they are). Give yourself something good and positive this weekend, and let if fuel your fires for the challenges to come.

TAKE A WALK THROUGH WAVE HILL
Meghan and I have both had the public gardens at Wave Hill on our bucket list for quite some time. So just this past Saturday, slightly bundled and bolstered with Stumptown coffee and croissants, we rode the 1 train from Christopher street to the very end—at 242nd street in The Bronx. Make no mistake, this is a long journey. You can take some of it express, but still expect to be riding the rails for at least 40 minutes. From that stop you can catch a free shuttle to the gardens, which saves you the trouble of getting a taxi or riding the public bus to Wave Hill. (You can find more travel tips here.)

Admission to the gardens is free if you arrive before noon, which we did (otherwise it's just $8). This is also a great way to avoid the (relatively small) crowds and get your scenic photos in without too much human interference. Right now the foliage is absolutely exploding both at Wave Hill and across the Hudson River—and those views are incredible. (See above!) Stroll the gardens, crunch some leaves and enjoy some seriously fresh air. The journey to get here is long for sure, but entirely worthwhile.

SPEND A DAY IN COLD SPRING, NY
A few weeks ago, Meghan, Tully and I hopped in a rental car and drove upstate to do what all East Coast girls with Instagram accounts do—go apple picking. Truth be told we did not pick any apples, but we did buy fresh apple cider and apple cider donuts and consume them while we strolled around the orchard.

After we'd gotten our apple fix, we drove to Cold Spring, NY to grab a quick bite of lunch in town before heading back to the city. Let me tell you, I'm already dying to go back! Cold Spring is easily accessible by Metro North, and you can just hop right off the train and walk into town. The views of the Hudson Valley are so beautiful—the foliage, the water and the mountains are stunning. There are tons of hiking trails in the area, so most people you see walking around town are wearing leggings and carrying backpacks.

The happening lunch spot is Hudson Hil's, but if you can't get a table there, plenty of other cute restaurants line the main street. Spend the afternoon popping into shops and just walking around. Have a coffee along the river... It's just an incredibly pleasant and easy adventure you can organize at the last minute.

GET CULTURED AT THE CLOISTERS
The Cloisters are another one of those things that every New York transplant has on their bucket list—and with good reason. This extension of The Met is one of the hidden gems of the city, and like Wave Hill, worth the long journey to get there. I went last fall with three friends, so we split the cost of Uber rides to and from the museum. However, you can take the A train all the way to 190th and then walk about 10 minutes, too.

Along with the oft-photographed cloister itself—containing pristine, lovely gardens and statues and fountains—the inside of the museum itself is rather incredible. Take your time roaming the medieval galleries and do yourself a favor and look up why there are so many unicorns in the artwork.

Like Wave Hill, the Cloisters offer beautiful views of the Hudson River, and give you plenty of reasons to just take a seat and spend some time breathing in the fresh air (can you sense a theme here?) and feeling the fleeting feeling of warm sunshine on your face.

Do you have any fall activity suggestions for me?

Friday, October 28, 2016

HELLO, 31


I sat down in front of my computer today—the big, desktop one I bought myself shortly after getting laid off from my job last year—and figured I should write something about turning 31. Today is my birthday, after all. First, I reread the emotionally fraught post I wrote for this occasion last year. I remembered how wild and uncertain the months leading up to turning 30 had felt. Then I thought about everything that's come after, trying to find symbolism or a "full circle" moment in something... Anything.

To tell you the truth, this year has been rather emotionally quiet, certainly compared to the year before. While I was 29, I felt the acute gut punch of real heartbreak for the first time. I grappled with the mixed emotions of losing my job, again. I accepted my parents' exciting new life in Sun Valley by walking around our Seattle house in the dark and crying into a piece of chocolate cake. I got a lot of piercings.

And as for being 30? I think I can say with assurance that it's been one of the most selfish, productive and challenging years of my adult life. Deciding to try and build a sustainable career as a freelance writer has taken up most of my energy, and without even fully realizing it, I put a lot of other things on the back burner.

If my front burners were turned all the way up to high, attempting to cook up a proper job situation without burning out, my back burners were still simmering delightfully, keeping the rest of my life warm—but not hot. (How do you like that for an extended metaphor?) Right alongside the ups and downs of working for myself there have been occasional romantic adventures, exciting trips and most especially—a new apartment to call home. Thirty didn't bring me as many sea changes as 29, but I'm glad for it. Far and away the most rewarding moments of the year centered around my professional accomplishments—like styling two segments for the Today show and working at InStyle magazine.

Although I lament getting older as much as the next girl, I really do feel like at this point, now that I've moved past the growing pains of my early and mid 20s, every year has been increasingly more fun, more interesting, more challenging and more rewarding. I think I must sound like a terrible Hallmark card by now, but perhaps I'm just becoming sentimental in my old age.

On that note, I am most especially looking forward to my traditional (four years running) #Birthdayween party at 169 Bar in Chinatown with my favorite people. Get in the spirit with my updated Spotify playlist, complete with on-theme guilty pleasures like "Monster Mash" and Katy Perry's "Birthday."

Photo by Bekka Palmer

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

3 FALL COATS & JACKETS THAT ARE *REALLY* WORTH THE INVESTMENT


{ My most treasured sample sale score from 2014—a fuzzy blue coat from Tibi }

People—you know fashion people—talk a big game about things that are "investment-worthy." On many occasions, I have been one of those fashion people, waxing philosophic about why you should feel great about spending a grand on a pair of boots or a designer bag. (I used to work for a luxury site, give me a break!) And really, if your budget supports it, I could certainly still direct you to some very expensive shoes and accessories that are *truly* worth that kind of money.

Alas here I am, hustling and happy as a freelancer, and shopping accordingly. The lack of a consistent salary necessitated a complete overhaul of my spending habits over the past year. I haven't quite mastered it just yet, but I'm getting there. Aside from travel expenses (try having your parents relocate to a remote ski town in Idaho, I dare ya!), the biggest fashion purchase I made last year was on a coat. This coat.

I know, I seem to go on and on about this coat both here and on social media like every other day. The thing is, this coat has changed my life. I always talked about how I wanted a classic overcoat, and I had some whimsical visions of myself feeling like a different person—if only I had a really great coat. Well, I got a really great coat and I do feel like a different person. No matter what is underneath it, when I wear that coat I feel polished. I feel mature. I feel understood by the other women on the street who are wearing a really great coat. I feel like I actually look like the stylish person I think I am in my head. (Send anyone you know who doesn't believe fashion has transformative powers my way...)

As I retrieved said really great coat from the dry cleaners last week—getting it spruced up for the season ahead—I started wondering if there were any other things I owned that made me feel as totally wonderful as this coat. There are, and wouldn't you know it, they are also coats. I felt compelled to write a bit more about this because I know that a lot of you reading this might be in the same financial spectrum, wondering which items in your digital shopping cart (or actual cart, I wouldn't presume to know) will truly be worth the investment, and show a cost-per-wear that makes you feel empowered instead of remorseful.

// CLICK THROUGH FOR 3 OUTERWEAR PIECES WORTH THAT I THINK ARE TRULY WORTH THE INVESTMENT //