Friday, September 25, 2009

Who's That Girl??

I've always had a special place in my heart for accessories. And there is something to be said for a woman who walks in a room with a knock-out purse. It's a statement about her. It's a way she commands attention. And well, it's a carry-all for her life, too.

I'm a firm believer that every woman should own a purse that withstands the trends- a classic in time. It's often that these kind of "statement" bags are more expensive, yes, but their long term status can be powerful. So take a moment and consider, do I have a purse that says "classic" "timeless" "powerful"?

What makes a statement bag, you ask? Allow me...
  • A signature design. Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Chanel are unmistakably identifiable. You know it, you see it, you love it.
  • It's usually leather- preferably Italian leather. (not trying to make a plug for my ancestral heritage here...) And it feels like butter.
  • It doesn't have heavy hardware. The bag speaks for itself. It doesn't need additional accessories; it IS the accessory.
  • It's of a color that transcends your wardrobe. Sure, black and brown are obvious, but a deep rich purple, or emerald green would make someone look twice at your arm.
I realize it's a recession- but seriously, ladies, save your money. $25 a month over a year, and you have yourself a nice cushion of money to buy THE purse you always wanted. And if you're smart- it's a one time purchase. This purse will outlast every $30 bag you pick up at Marshall's, Target or TJ Maxx. Believe me, people will notice and ask, "Who is that girl?" (with the great bag!)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Burn, Baby Burn!

Male readers, brace yourselves: I am going to talk girl problems.

This past weekend I ran my 3rd half marathon with some stellar ladies (way to go Susan, Crista & Missy!). Perhaps you've heard that the training for a race like this is harder than the actual race (could be debated!), however, I do agree this year. It was REALLY hard when one's sports bra created a chafing problem 3 weeks before the race...

So, here's the nitty gritty. The bra is soaked (sorry for the detail), skin rubs against the material of a sports bra, and well, we get this lovely little problem called chafing. It's pretty miserable.

Now, thankfully, I had a few weeks to solve this problem before the big race. So, after a trip to my doctor (yes, some steroid action was necessary!), I needed to consult my local City Sports as I realized I probably needed to re-evaluate my sports bra situation.

The lovely saleswoman was like my own marathon angel. Here's what she shared:
  1. Sports bras should be cycled out as often as one's running shoes. FYI: Running shoes (if you are a regular runner) should be tossed after about 6 months.
  2. When a sports bra has been worn over time (and for me, over the course of 3 training sessions in 3 years), the bra loses it's ability to wick the sweat away from the body.
  3. Also, sports bras lose their elasticity over time, so the elastic band around the chest often stretches out and doesn't hold "the girls in" as well.
Do I need to go on, or are you catching my drift?
So, if you're exercising regularly, ladies, it's VITAL that you pay attention to the age of your sports bras. You simply do NOT want to deal with chafing.

Gents, all I have to say for you: Invest in a convenient little product called "Body Glide." It solves a variety of problems :)

Happy running to all!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside

One of the reasons I moved from the sunny heat of Texas to the winter friendly Northeast was the desire to enjoy actual COLD weather. I love it. But if you talk with me in February or March, I may sing a different tune...I do admit that it lasts so freakin' long here! But if I have to bundle up, then I may as well wear a fashionable coat!

Here's a few thoughts about how to get the right fit for a winter coat, and possibly a great place to find one!
  • Make sure that the shoulder width is appropriate. Nothing worse that too tight so your arms are squeezed into it, or the "football player" effect. Shoulder width should match your own.
  • Fit across the chest needs to be comfortable, but not loose. Also make sure you don't drown in it: the puffer jackets are fun, but often make us look like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man! My down jacket (Northface) fits me well across the chest, as well as goes in at the waist (slightly) and then a-lines out a bit. It makes it feel far more feminine.
  • Sleeve length is key. If the length falls too short, it will look funny! And if it's too long, get it tailored! Cuffing a jacket looks sloppy and not as refined.
  • Length of coat is also something to pay attention to: If you are petite, don't get a full length coat that makes you disappear. You want to elongate your body as much as possible, so look for styles that fall no longer than the middle of your thigh. If you're tall, you can wear the full length styles, but again, look for something that would define your waist (either with a belt or a cummerbund style waist) If you're average height, the safe call is one that falls no longer than the top of your knee.
To purchase a well fitting coat means that you establish a brand that you know fits well. But if you're on the look out: I recommend trying your outlet/sale stores. Places like Sierra Trading Post, REI (check out their outlet link) or CitySports.

I also like to check out places like Off-5th (Saks Fifth Avenue's outlet store) or even J Crew outlets have great winter coat options (usually all wool) in spectacular colors.

So as we welcome some colder months here in New England, let's fight this winter thing head on!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hello Closet!

As we welcome a new season, there is an obvious question to be asked: Do I buy new items, or try to make better use of what I have?

Perhaps you've heard of "shopping your closet"- so here's a few tips:
  • You cannot shop effectively in stores if you're not familiar with your own closet. You need to spend some time sorting through your closet, opening boxes, pulling out the storage bins...wherever you keep the goods...and take stock of what you have.
  • I like to make three piles: KEEP, GIVE AWAY, THROW AWAY. (yes, it is that simple) I realize being this decisive about your clothes can be challenging. Believe me, I've witnessed many friends struggle with my recommendation to throw away, especially when they have developed a certain emotional attachment to an item. Do your best to keep emotion out of it. That sweater your ex loved isn't worth keeping if you don't wear it!
  • To help the decision making process, I ask myself three questions:
  1. Have I worn the item once in the last year? If not, it probably should be given away or thrown out depending on its condition. Do give away gently used items- but pit stains or holes really should be trashed! For specialty items, sometimes this heuristic cannot apply: perhaps a great event hasn't presented itself. Hold onto that dress or suit (as long as it fits well) for when the occasion strikes.
  2. Does this still look good on me? Translation: Evaluate color, style, fit, proportion on your body...all of these impact the overall look of an item on you. So spend some time thinking about if you can say YES to these factors.
  3. Do I enjoy wearing it, or am I only keeping it for "just in case?" I love the "just in case" rationale...believe me, if you strongly believe you will wear it again, you wouldn't have to keep it for "just in case," you would be wearing it NOW! And you really should feel like a million bucks in it- even a basic t-shirt and jeans can do this!
  • Once you isolate the "keepers," you can then start to think about what needs to be replaced from the throw away pile, and/or what's missing to make your wardrobe more comprehensive.
The key to this process is being BRUTALLY honest with yourself about what you actually wear, what fits you well, and what makes you feel really good. If you need a friend to help you judge an item, call your local shopping blogger :)

And I like to hold out hope that you can discover something fabulous that you forgot you's like finding $20 in your winter coat pocket when you pull it back out to wear again!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Web Wonders

I do a fair bit of my shopping online (clearly when I'm too busy to get to the mall). Don't get me wrong, I prefer the action of shopping in person, but in a pinch, online shopping allows me to check out what I want ahead of time (or saves me gas in tight economic times).

So, I thought I'd share a few that serve me well when I'm surfing the web:
  • (free shipping and returns- who can beat that?!)
  • (this summer, I bought the best, cheapest sandals! Can only speak to their shoes though...)
  • ($2.95 shipping for everything...I even bought my couch here!)
  • (a great weekly email comes to me combined from my favorite stores with sale alerts)
  • (a TERRIFIC e-newsletter with tips for shoppers!)
  • (I can't say enough about the perfection of their flannel sheets!)
  • (an under-the-radar Texas jeweler whose items are timeless!)
  • (their handcrafted purses are the BEST idea for bridesmaid gifts or a great ladies outing with friends! For stores, you can visit Boston, Chicago, Kansas City or Philadelphia!)
The key to online shopping sites is to look for promotional codes that save in shipping or total discounts. Never complete your order without first doing a Google search for codes! Also, I really love these weekly sale alerts from sites like ShopItToMe- it gives me a chance to look at all of my favorite stores or brands in one fast swoop. Nothing like efficient shopping :)

If you have a favorite site to share- please comment...I'm always open to new ideas!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ode to the Travel Gods

I travel a fair bit throughout the year- visiting family, friends, vacationing, or even taking 500 college seniors to the Bahamas. (Yes, my job does require that) See, I've had quite the traveling woes over the years (as have most) with unreliable airlines, ridiculous delays because the ramp that connects the plane to the runway is malfunctioning, or my favorite: when there is weather problems. It never ceases to amaze me how the airlines can find ways to make traveling that much harder.

BUT, one assuring thing is that whenever I do arrive at my final destination, I have a well packed suitcase, complete with outfits that will make me feel good again!

I learned this trick from my mom (she's a rock star about it) whenever I pack: Choose 3 colors to coordinate your travel wardrobe and stick with it! For example, black, white and red (BWR): Bring any variety of clothing (dresses, pants, tops, accessories etc.) that use those colors, and you are assured of a coordinated outfit the whole trip! This way, you avoid bringing the black shoes, brown shoes, etc. that coordinate with just ONE outfit you bring. Instead, you maximize an item's wear, and you always know you have the pieces (with you) that look good together.

Here's a sample of what the BWR travel wardrobe might include (for a 2-3 day trip):
  • Black pants
  • White cotton button-down (wear the one with ruffles!)
  • Red chunky beaded necklace
  • Red flats (remember, Target has these!)
  • Black wrap dress (jersey knit travels well, too)
  • White jeans
  • Black t-shirt (pima cotton for sure!)
  • And for fun...bring that red patent leather purse!
Or the standard classic, a good leather black hobo handbag- it can hold everything including snacks and water for when you're delayed..AGAIN! :)

O, Travel Gods, have mercy on us!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Love those Brits

I almost hate to share this brand secret, but perhaps some of my readers are already familiar with Boden. It's a UK brand originally, but they have a catalogue and online ordering system for the States. And let me tell you, I LOVE BODEN! Their designs are classic and interesting, while practical and fun! Over the years, I've invested in a variety of their apparel: trench coat, fancy and casual tops, GREAT shoes, and many fun accessories. If you're looking for a piece that has some visual interest, I really encourage you to take a look at Boden and see what you find.

Ont thing to note: their sizing is by UK standards. So, until you get a sense of how you translate into their sizes, it may be a little challenging to find the right fit.

Another tip: make sure you do a google search for promotional codes before buying. They OFTEN have free shipping and 10% off (sometimes even weird numbers like 11% or 12% off!)- so it saves a little. Items can be on the pricey end, but well worth getting something "different."

My favorite fall items from Boden:
I hope that you enjoy this fairly undiscovered brand!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Green Thumb

As a homeowner, I am charged with the important task of developing my little piece of land behind my house, AKA my backyard. It's perfect space for someone who knows how to grow plants or landscape...two skills that were not passed onto me from my mom. She's an exceptional gardener. Tragically, my green thumb is barely a shade of sage.

HOWEVER, I'd like to redeem myself by saying I did successfully plant 7 beautiful hostas (a great low-maintenance perennial) in July, a generous gift from my co-workers. Then I came across this informative tidbit in September's issue of Real Simple magazine: September is the best time to buy plants! Apparently, gardening centers move their inventory to make way for the next season's plants, so there's tremendous sales of 30-50% off!

This was an exciting tip for me as September was welcomed in yesterday (where did August go?)- and we're starting to catch a whiff of cooler air. So, I'll be off to Lowe's or Home Depot as soon as the weekend provides me a break to catch the best deals. And then, my next task: planting them all...Better call mom...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Shiny Happy People!

There are two types of people in the world: Those who wear silver jewelry and those who wear gold. I happened to be one of the few who love the silver/gold combo. One of my prized bracelets is the Eden Cape Cod bracelet, sporting a silver band with one gold ball in the middle (which is screwed on!)- I love it!

Recently, a co-worker requested a blog about keeping silver jewelry shiny. It's no easy task, especially if you leave your silver out in the open air; it will likely tarnish because of oxidation. So, what's my trick?
  1. Keep your silver covered once it's been polished. I have small cotton pouches that I keep silver pieces in, and then store them in my jewelry box. It really does preserve the silver for a longer period of time.
  2. Invest in good silver polish. I happen to like Restoration Hardware's- but it's hard to find online. I had to go to the store and search around their furniture section to find it.
  3. Remember to rinse your silver in warm water before cleaning; It helps remove some of the tarnish!
  4. Once you rub the silver polish on your piece (using either a soft cotton cloth or sometimes silver polish comes with a mini sponge- Wright's silver polish does!), remember to rinse the piece in warm water again. I even use a little ivory soap to clean if off really well.
  5. Pat dry with paper towels, and make sure to let it dry completely before wearing again. You don't want any residue to rub off on clothes or skin.
Result: Shiny Happy People!