Outfit Idea: Polka Dots for Everyone

I know, I know.  You are very concerned about what you are going to wear to your 4th of July celebration next week.  On a bit more serious note, it may have not crossed your mind yet, but as you can imagine I have been thinking about it... a lot. I am trying to pack for a week at Cape Cod, and I always find it extremely challenging due to the unpredictable weather at the Cape.  Since I know that no one thinks about clothes as much as I do, I thought I would let you in on my thoughts...

First, I find it interesting how this holiday always brings to mind a very wholesome image of family bbq's and fireworks, while the winter holidays make me think of larger, more formal gatherings.  I suppose it is all based on your own personal experiences.  Anywho, I am digressing...

Due to this wholesome image and the explosion of polka dots this spring/summer, I thought what better way to celebrate this national holiday with a look that invokes a vintage feel.  A look that is reminiscent of something right out of Pleasantville... with a twist, of course.  Whether you or not you are one to wear red, white & blue, why not wear a two of the three colors or try all three if you are feeling brave.

J.Crew's Scatter-Dot Dress is a cute option that will flatter any figure...

pair it with a sophisticated yet fun pair of shoes, such as the DVF Tafari Orange Patent Wedges.

Who says your shoes can't match your bag?  J.Crew's Brompton Straw Clutch is the perfect way to add a touch more color.

If that is too traditional, give a vintage Liz Claiborne midi skirt a whirl...

pair it with some boho chic accessories, such as the Tory Burch Wood & Resin Bangles.

This retro feeling Ferragamo suede clutch (it's on sale!) would be a perfect complement.

There is always the elegant and versatile route.  This Limited Dotted Strapless Dress is affordable (under $100!), super cute and has the ability to be dressed up or down... perfect!

Then you can spend all the money you saved buying the affordable dress on the fab Tory Burch Elastic Belt.  These two pieces would look so great together... however, this is the reasoning that always gets me into loads of trouble!

In keeping with the red, white & blue theme, I had to feature these Elizabeth and James Tara High Heel Sandals... fun and elegant, but they are not going to help you save money.  Really any neutral sandal or wedge would complete this look, just make sure they aren't too chunky.

So you see, polka dots can be lots of fun.  This only a sampling of options based on the "trying to be patriotic without looking like you tried to be patriotic" theme.  Now, go buy some polka dots!

                                                                                                              - Allison

*Photos courtesy of jcrew.com, freepeople.com, couture.zappos.com, neimanmarcus.com, mytheresa.com, thelimited.com, nordstrom.com, shopbop.com.


Sample Sale: The Very Cool Richard Chai

Alright ladies (& gentlemen), who doesn't love a sample sale?!  For those of you in and around the NYC area, you need to get yourselves down to the East Village ASAP.  More specifically you need to hail a cab to 330 East 11th Street for the Richard Chai sample sale (see details below).  It began over the weekend (I was unable to post this before due to technical difficulties) and ends on Sunday, July 8th.

Richard Chai is a very hip women's and men's fashion designer.  He is an NYC native, which explains his seemingly effortless sophisticated, casual and cool designs.  Richard studied at Parson's, helped to launch the Marc by Marc Jacobs line, revamped the TSE label and started his own designer womenswear label, Richard Chai, in 2005.  He went on to create a men's line, Richard Chai Menswear, in 2008 and launched a women's contemporary line, Richard Chai LOVE, in 2010.  

Let's just say that you might want to run (forget walking) down to the East Village sometime this week.    I have it on good authority that there will be a wide range of women's flirty dresses and blouses, classic separates, and many pieces with lots of color and bold prints.  There will also be select shirts and bottoms for men.  The perfect time to pick up some fab pieces for summer and beyond.

Just to give you an idea of Richard's style, these are a few pics from his Spring RTW LOVE show...

Happy Shopping!

WHAT: Richard Chai-LOVE Sample Sale
WHERE: 330 East 11th Street, New York, NY 10003 (between 1st and 2nd ave)
WHEN: Daily from Saturday June 23rd to Sunday July 8th
HOURS: Monday through Saturday: 12:00pm - 8:00pm, Sunday: 12:00pm - 7:00pm

                                               - Allison

*Photos courtesy of style.com.

The Block Party: A 1st Birthday Not to Be Missed

The very chic women's boutique, Luxe, is turning one this week.  As with any other first birthday, this will be quite a celebration.  This party even has a title... The Block Party (sounds like fun, doesn't it?!).  The Block Party will be held on Thursday, June 28th from 4-8 pm.  With music by Power 105.1's DJ Self & Mustafa, plus lots of fashion food, art and music, this will be one block party that you won't want to miss!

Luxe Boutique offers a range of fab fashion to women of all sizes.  Whether you are looking for clothes to hit the town in, bum around on a Saturday afternoon or to wear to your next backyard/rooftop bbq... Luxe will have something for you.  Luxe is located at 83 Halsey Street (between New St & Linden St) in Newark, NJ.

If you haven't visited Luxe yet, a party is the perfect reason to check it out!

                                                - Allison

Outfit Idea: Layering to a Tee

Happy Monday, ladies!  The race begins yet again, and I am pretty sure that what you are going to wear is not at the top of your priority list.  Whether you are trying to keep yourself or your entire family organized, it just seems so much more difficult in the summer. 

Therefore, what better way to start the week than with an easy outfit idea?!  Let’s revisit the chic and easy tee.  Whether it is long sleeve or short, white, blue or black… the little tee should be one of your best friends.  Last time I wrote about the white tee being a great canvas for your statement jewelry.  Today, it’s all about layering with the tee.

One of the reasons I love clothing with clean, simple lines and really fairly basic structure, is that you can play with these pieces much more than ones with lots of frills and details.  I was playing around over the weekend, looking for something to wear on a cooler day… I did not want to wear another sweater and skinny jeans.

After some thought, I grabbed a navy long sleeve tee, my dusty blue ballerina dress, my ankle-wrap sandals and some trusty pearls… Don't laugh, I needed to shake things up a bit.  Don't you always hang your clothes from a tree?!

If my photographer wasn’t sick, I may have had a better shot for you.  Today, my closet will just have to do…

I felt very elegant considering I was just wearing a simple tee... easy summer dressing.

                                                                                                                   - Allison


Hair How-to: The Fishtail

When it comes to keeping cool, sometimes it isn't your clothing that is the problem.  Unless you have a chic little bob, what do you do with your hair on a sweltering day?  If you are at all like me, it can be quite an issue.  I am completely challenged in the art of hair styling, and I would give anything for some new ideas on a hot day.  Let's just say a ponytail, a knot and a basic braid get a bit old after awhile.

This has gotten me thinking about braiding my hair.  It has been quite a popular trend lately, but we aren't talking about your basic french braid.  The styles that I have seen take braiding to a whole new level.  Some looks are very complicated, while others seem quite possible for those challenged in skill and time.  Why not give them a shot, right?

To beat the summer heat, I plan on sharing with you some of my fave styles during the summer. However, since I am still perfecting my technique, I will link you to my favorite posts rather than demonstrate myself.  Believe me, you don't want to see that!

Right now I am dying to try fishtailing.  It's funny... I vaguely remember doing this to my hair aeons ago, but now it's time for a refresher course.  This fashionable cousin of the braid is definitely a must have for your repertoire.  From A Beautiful Mess...

Click here for full instructions...

The weekend is the perfect time to try and perfect your look.  Good luck!

                                                                                                                    - Allison        

*Photos courtesy of abeautifulmess.typepad.com.


Beat the Heat: It's all about the Fabric!

It certainly didn't take very long, did it?  Summer has begun, and coming in right on its heels is the oppressive heat.  I know that in my neck of the woods, where it is humid and hot, all cares about fashion go right out the window at about 90 degrees and above.  It isn't a surprise due to the fact that you feel like you are walking around in a wet blanket and dripping with sweat all of the time.

Unfortunately there isn't much you can do to beat the heat. If you are lucky enough to be by a pool, ocean or have very strong air conditioning, it's not so bad.  For everyone else, I have one little secret that might help keeping you look good... washable silk.

I have come to discover that washable silk becomes your best friend during a heat wave.  It is light, airy, doesn't cling and can get wet... no worries.  Technically, the garments may not be 100% silk.  Sometimes you might find a cotton/silk combo or possibly modal/silk, etc... it doesn't matter.  The key is that there is a silky smoothness to the fabric that keeps it from being clingy... such as a cotton tank might feel when you start to get hot and a little sweaty.

I realized this a few years back when I purchased a sundress at J.Crew.  Not for the material, but because it was on sale, pretty and had a loose fit (I had just had a baby).  I soon discovered that this was one of my best purchases ever... the breeze blows right through it, it doesn't stick to me and if I get it wet, it dries quickly.  I have come to depend on this dress every summer, and when I am finished wearing it, I throw it in the wash.

Once I discovered the beauty of this fabric, I am always on the lookout for new pieces.  Unfortunately I haven't been able to find too many, but J.Crew usually seems to have a few...

The Silk Cami - in other words, your new best friend.  This went to Disney me last year and was a life saver.  I would have one if every color if I could, however, they always sell out quickly.

The Silk Ruffle Cami is a new addition at J.Crew, but serves the same purpose.  Its a bit more professional looking, and could take you from the office (layered) and then out on the town (add earrings, ditch the outer layer).

I am in love with this Silk Stripe Maxi Dress.  Perfect as a beach cover up or for just looking cool while hanging out.

I have recently discovered that Boden makes quite a few lighter weight, silk blend pieces. They are on the more conservative side, but perfect for those heading into the office everyday.  One of my favorites from Boden is the Glamorous Maxi.  Shhh... it's on sale!

There is really no easy way to look good when you are sweating buckets (just sayin'), but at least washable silk can help!

                                                                                                                      - Allison
*Photos courtesy of jcrew.com and bodenusa.com.


Outfit Idea: The Striped Silk Cami

I suppose it is inevitable.  I have realized that there is a point in time, unbeknownst to us, when we start to become our mothers.  Whether it is in looks, behavior, or style... it will happen.  The question is when???

Well, I have come to discover that this change might happen very early in life.  I would like to think that at 33, I am still fairly young.  I would have thought that at this age, I am still original and completely me.  However, I am not sure it that is really true...

After my mom's (aka Mimi's) recent visit, I have been questioning my originality quite a bit.  The long and short of it is that during a shopping trip to our favorite J.Crew (at the Garden State Plaza), the most unimaginable thing happened...

Let me preface this with the fact that Mimi and I were both looking for a cute top, but for completely different purposes... mine to wear with pants/shorts and hers was to wear with a pencil skirt to an upcoming bridal shower.

Mimi was busy trying on different tops, while I searched around the store for a blouse/cami that would be perfect to showcase a necklace or possibly a bunch of bracelets.  I was having a tough time finding  anything until I spied a very pretty soft white silk cami with light blue stripes... it was perfect.  I quickly found my size and headed to the fitting room.

I loved the top!  It was cute, flattering, the perfect length... all that you could ask for.  That's when Mimi noticed it.  I stepped out of the fitting room and her eyes lit up..."I love it, Allison!  What size it?  Can I try it on?"  "Sure", I replied.  It's my mom, what am I supposed to say?

Quickly Mimi tried on the tank, it looked good on her (but better on me!).  The moment she stepped out of the dressing room, I knew it was over.  I had lost my tank.  "This would be perfect with my skirt, and the sandals I was thinking about... "  Ugh... my mom stole the shirt right off my back!

Yes, I know that I look like my mom.  I laugh like her, I act like her, and now, apparently, I dress like her too.  It ended up that we both purchased the Striped Silk Cami that day.  However, we styled it in completely different ways...

Mimi chose to wear the striped cami with the aforementioned ivory pencil skirt, gold sandals, a very cool Cork Invitation Clutch from J.Crew as well as orange necklaces that she also purchased on our shopping trip.  With the help of my sister Meredith (Jack Thread's Stylist Extraordinaire) she sent me some fab pics of her ensemble...

I, on the other hand, wore mine a bit more casually... I added my "vintage" boyfriend jeans (also from J.Crew) and my blue suede shoes.  Since, I haven't updated my clutches in a bit, I had to grab my trusty animal print clutch, although, I would have preferred one like Mimi's...

What do you think?  The fun part is that there are many more ways to wear this cami... I would say we both made a great purchase.  It's destined to be a classic.

                                                                                                                       - Allison

*Photo courtesy of jcrew.com.


Shoe Shopping with Rachelle Bergstein... lucky me!

Who doesn't love shoes?  I honestly can't think of any woman I know who doesn't jump at the chance to shop for shoes, but have you ever really thought about how the very large and diverse women's shoe departments came to be?  Neither did I until I met author Rachelle Bergstein.

Rachelle recently wrote "Women from the Ankle Down:  The History of Shoes and How They Define Us".  It is has been getting rave reviews for her fun and witty look at the history of the women's shoes in the nineteenth century.  Even more interesting, how the history of our shoes has mirrored women's changing roles throughout the 1900's... definitely a must read this summer!

I had the pleasure of shoe shopping with Rachelle at my local Neiman Marcus.  Not only is Rachelle completely fabulous, she takes shoe shopping to an entirely new level.  Her knowledge and the way she appreciates each individual shoe's design is very cool.

After I finish her book, I think I just might go back and re-watch the entire Sex and the City series...

To read more about my shopping trip with Rachelle, check my post on NMdaily.

                                                 - Allison


Fab Find: The Magic Dress

It is true what they say about finding great things at unexpected times... not that I would compare this to finding the love of your life, but it is pretty special.  I happened to be shopping around Chatham, MA over Memorial Day weekend and stumbled onto a very unexpected store.  Through the thick the fog that had suddenly rolled in, I spied a very pretty dress (a maxi - surprise, surprise!) billowing in the breeze.  My radar went off as I quickly made a mad dash over to the store.

The name on the store was one that I was not familiar with... Sara Campbell.  What I quickly learned is that Sara Campbell is a very talented designer.  She has had a long career designing clothing for private labels such as Neiman Marcus.  Several years ago she went out on her own and began designing under her own label.  She now has seven stores the majority of which are located in Massachusetts.  Now living in Boston, all of her clothes are designed and made in and around the city (Yay! for supporting U.S. industry).

More importantly, let's discuss the clothes... her style is a mix of J.Crew, Lilly, Talbot's and Tory Burch and the pricing is more in the contemporary range, but not everything is $300.  In other words, there is something for everyone.  The overall tone is more that of a conservative look, but as individual pieces there are some really great finds.  She designs the type of clothes that my mom and I would both wear, but in very different ways.

A perfect print for summer...

One of my faves is Sara's "Magic Dress".  This is her most popular style - a ruched sheath that comes in different colors and patterns depending on the season.  The dress is very elegant and can be dressed up or down.  I absolutely love the fact that it comes to the knee (I am not a very big fan of "pencil skirts" that don't actually hit the knee - they just aren't that flattering).  Plus the ruching helps to camouflage problem areas (hips, tummy, bum).  Even if you haven't had kids, I think we all could use a bit of help in these areas.

Definitely take a trip over to Sara's website, it will be well worth your time.  She has a fab selection of summer dresses... perfect for those afternoon events that are usually so hard to dress for...  I even found the coolest black maxi dress - very simple, with longer sleeves and a thick colorful belt.  I saw it in the store that day, but haven't found in on the website.  I have been thinking about this dress a lot... I know it would be on heavy rotation in my closet!  It just goes to show that great finds can be in the most unexpected places...

*Photos courtesy of saracampbell.com.


Revisiting the LWD: A Summer Essential

As my life gets more and more hectic, I am all about simplifying my wardrobe.  I want to look good, but I don't want to spend hours agonizing over what to wear.  In keeping with my new summer theme of getting back to basics, I revisited my LWD over the weekend.

I was trying to figure out what to wear to an afternoon/early evening party and thought my white shift would be perfect (plus it had sleeves, which is a bonus on a chillier day).  I wanted my outfit to be fun, but not too dressy... I guess you would say I was going for "casual chic".

As I started to mull over accessories, it occurred to me how easy it is to change the personality of your look with a simple change in jewelry and shoes.  Just like the white tee, a great fitting white dress is the perfect canvas for many different looks.  Let's just say that the LWD is an essential piece for your summer wardrobe.

Option 1 -  I add my favorite frog necklace for some color and fun.  I will keep it sophisticated with the nude sandal.   My "luncheon look"...


Option 2 -  More preppy chic... navy pearls and Jack Rogers.  My "beach club look"...

Option 3 -  A tad more edgy. but still preppy... my "Palm Springs look".

I love the simplicity.  I love classic pieces that are made well, fit well and that you can wear again and again and no one will be the wiser.  Next time you are deciding between the really cool print dress that you won't be able to wear too many times or the basic dress, make sure you have the basic dress first.  Then you can add in the fun, fashionable pieces.  

                                                                                                           - Allison


Outfit Idea: Afternoon Delight

What to wear?  A very familiar question that we find ourselves asking constantly.  For me, it happens more when I am faced with daytime event.  They type of event that doesn't require a "business look", casual clothes won't work and something that I would wear out to dinner just doesn't seem appropriate.

These occasions always seem to pop up randomly, but definitely more so in the summer.  Bridal showers, lunches, afternoon birthday parties, bbq's... you would think I would be more prepared by now, but for some reason I always feel that I am lacking in this category.

My lack of daytime ensembles has put me in quite a pickle.  I am meeting with an author at Neiman Marcus tomorrow afternoon (more on that later!), and I want to look cute... chic.  But, obviously not like I tried too hard, and I would like to be a bit unique.

Sooo, it is time to think outside the box.  I am sure that I have the right pieces... I just need to put them together differently.  Well, at least I have nice weather on my side.

I am still on my shorts kick, so that might be a good option.  However, I have been wearing my yellow shorts on many occasions.  They might need a break this weekend.  Since I have been doing the brights a lot lately, what if I went with pastels...
I love this peach sweater from Club Monaco... especially the bow in the back.

Oh, and I love a good snake print to complement pastels...

Silver and pearls would be a good accent...

I think I like it...

So much so, I could swap the heels for sandals and wear it to run errands!

                                        - Allison


Fab Find: Shop Terrain

Each year, as the spring gives way to the summer, my desire to develop my green thumb grows right along with the skyrocketing temps.  I tend to daydream about all of the fabulous things that I would do with my yard... The reality is that I am usually only able to plant flowers in the most essential containers... by the front door, and the 6 very big empty planters that we inherited with the house.  As the years pass and my daughter's get older, gardening becomes easier and easier.  I am thinking that one of these days, I might actually plant the garden that I have always wanted.

There is a point to this story, I promise!  During my weekend in Westport, CT a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the most amazing garden center/home/lifestyle store... Terrain.  We drove by this store several times throughout the weekend, and every time I just stared.  It just had a very cool vibe and the plants were so beautiful... I couldn't stand it anymore, I had to go in!

As my husband and I wandered around in awe, I said to him that it felt like an Anthropologie for the home and garden.  Sure enough, it was.  It is the latest from the genius behind Urban Outfitters.  First BLHDN and now Terrain.  As it turned out, the store had just opened.  There is one other Terrain in PA, near the UO headquarters.  I did find out that the PA store has been open for several years... who knew?!

The flowers are gorgeous, the planters are of the style that I had always wanted, there are vases, dishes, furniture, books... you name it.  Feeling hungry?  There is also a cafe!  Oh, and if you needed to shop for yourself as well, there are scarves, jewelry and handbags.  It just might be the most perfect store.

There is one problem, it is a bit expensive.  How could it be this beautiful and not be, I guess...

Whether you visit the store/website for inspiration or a purchase, you must check it out.

They did such a good job setting up the outside.  I would have loved to find a little spot and curl up with a book.

One thing is for sure, this is a great concept.  This store left me with a very strong desire to work very hard on my yard.  One of my favorite finds... the Moss Milkshake.  The perfect recipe for growing moss where grass won't grow (packaged in a milk carton!).... love it!

                                                                                                                    - Allison