Spring on a budget

The Gwenyth bag by Christian Siriano for Payless.
The Gwenyth bag by Christian Siriano for Payless.

March has finally arrived & with it comes the promise, or at least hope, for warmer weather & spring, which officially starts on March 20th.  Most of us have experienced a less than ideal winter, so it’s natural to feel like a little treat, such as a spring accessory or two, will brighten our spirits & help us get through those last 18 days of winter.  For those of us on a budget, Christian Siriano for Payless will allow you to purchase several fabulous treats, starting with the Gwenyth bagSuggested Retail: now $29.99 (was $44.99). This handbag encompasses two spring trends: black & white, & perforation detail. The trend continues with footwear. Choose the perforated Haven pumpSuggested Retail: now $34.99 (was $44.99) or the Emelia side dip flatSuggested Retail: $29.99. Thanks to Christian Siriano’s amazing collection, you can start your spring shopping without any guilt. Must-have Spring shoes from Christian Siriano for Payless.

Must-have Spring shoes from Christian Siriano for Payless.
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The 2015 Oscars Red Carpet

The best dressed of the 2015 Oscars.
The best dressed of the 2015 Oscars.

And the award for best dressed goes to….Julianne Moore, in Chanel Haute Couture, with Chopard jewels, Rosamund Pike, in custom Givenchy Haute Couture, with Lorraine Schwartz jewels, Naomi Watts, in Armani Privé, & Jennifer Aniston, in Atelier Versace (a 4-way tie).

Best dressed could at the 2015 Oscars.
Best dressed duo at the 2015 Oscars.  

Best dressed couple goes to Kevin Hart with fiancee Eniko Parrish.  Eniko wore Kaufman Franco.

Best statement necklaces of the 2015 Oscars.
Best statement necklaces of the 2015 Oscars.

The best statement necklace goes to Cate Blanchett, in Maison Margiela, with Tiffany & Co. necklace, & Margot Robbie in a Saint Laurent gown with necklace originally created for the Duchess of Windsor in the 1930s, by Van Cleef & Arpels. Celebrities really have tough lives…

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90s Nostalgia

Current Elliot shortalls at Ron Herman.
Current Elliot shortalls at Ron Herman.

For better or worse, I currently live in Chicago; the weather forecast for tomorrow is -6 (and that’s without the windchill factor). So, naturally, I was daydreaming about my warm, sunny California childhood. Interestingly enough, what we all wore back in those 70-degree days, circa early 1990s, is reappearing & I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t want these fabulous items back in my closet.  I love Current Elliot’s shortalls (short overalls, above) in soft baby corduroy, Ron Herman, Suggested Retail:  $295. In addition to being super soft & comfortable, these shortalls give you an effortlessly stylish look. If we’re talking about the 1990s, we cannot forget the denim mini skirt. Balmain paid tribute to this once wardrobe staple with his distressed stretch denim mini skirt (below) with military details, providing the skirt with a chic update, Net-a-Porter, Suggested Retail: $1,605. This skirt is definitely more sophisticated than what we had as kids, & it’s not one of those inappropriately short mini skirts, so you won’t look like you are trying to squeeze into the one that you found in your parents’ attic from back in the day.

Balmain denim mini from Net-a-Porter.com.
Balmain denim mini from Net-a-Porter.com.

Last, but not least, we have to mention the revival of some of the fabulous footwear. Didn’t everyone have at least one pair of the slip-on mule, or did my shoe obsession just start early? The Finch Mule Sandal (below) will take you right back to the days when you were first learning how to walk in heels; Madewell, Suggested Retail: $158. And the shoe that you probably wore more than most is back, the Vans classic slip-on (below).  I love the Vans in Pebble Snake Glacier Gray, but the checkerboard black & white is still around if you truly want to walk down memory lane, Zapppos.com, Suggested Retail $60. Embrace this 90s moment; you’ll be pleasantly surprised that these styles look even better the second time around.

The mule & the classic vans slip-on.

The mule & the classic vans slip-on.  
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The 2015 SAG Beauties

Standouts at the 2015 SAG awards.
Standouts at the 2015 SAG awards.

Ah, red carpets. Mixing fashion with Hollywood glamour is always a treat & ’tis the season. So, who dazzled on the red carpet? There were 3 standouts. Reese Witherspoon looked stunning & sophisticated in Giorgio Armani with jewels by Harry Winston. Her hair, make-up, & accessories were ideal with the gown, making the entire look pure perfection.  Lupita Nyong’o, who consistently makes fabulous fashion choices, showed us yet again that she understands style in this Elie Saab gown. She wisely kept the jewelry simple & wore her hair in a beautiful undo so that the entire look was harmonious, rather than having competing elements.  Last, but not least, Julianne Moore looked radiant in Givenchy Haute Couture, seemingly her designer of choice since she also wore Givenchy to the Golden Globes. Bring on the next red carpet; we are ready to present our best dressed awards.

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Making sense of the sales

Prada leather knee-hight boots on sale at Saks.
Prada leather knee-hight boots on sale at Saks.

Your inbox is bombarded by emails advertising last chance sales & deep discounts; & many stores have large 70% off sales in their windows. So, how do you know if it’s worth your precious time or money to consider these tempting offers? The reality is that only a few of the sales are worth it at this point in the season.  The key is to look for classic pieces that are timeless, items that have mileage beyond the last few months of the winter season; case in point, the Prada leather knee-hight boots on sale now, Saks Fifth Avenue, Suggested Retail: $1500 now $600. You will wear these for decades & they will happily live in your closet forever, so don’t wait; this is a sale MUST!

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Let the award season begin

Best dressed at the 2015 Golden Globes.
Best dressed at the 2015 Golden Globes.

The Golden Globes marks the start of award season, where actors & actresses are honored for their work, & we rate their fashion sense as they walk the red carpet.  Last night’s broadcast did not disappoint.  Here are our favorites: Naomi Watts looked stunning in this Gucci dress, brilliantly accessorized with the Bulgari diamond snake necklace. Her look was  perfect for her figure & showed us that she is a sophisticated, elegant starlet who knows her stuff.  Julia Louis-Dreyfus, in custom Narcisco Roddriguez, was our favorite of the white gown looks. She chose the ideal chandelier earrings & wisely kept the rest of the jewelry minimal, opting for rings instead of bracelets, all jewels by Irene Neuwirth.  Julianne Moore, who won Best Actress in a Drama for her role in “Still Alice,” looked stunning in Givenchy Haute Couture, which she paired with Chopard jewels. Her entire look was every bit the part of a Golden Globe winner.  Last, but certainly not least, we love Emma Stone’s fashion forward choice of pants with a dramatic side sash & jeweled top, both by Lanvin. She looked amazing, youthful, & unique, well done, Emma.  Best dressed couple goes to George Clooney & Amal Clooney, in Dior Haute Couture. We love that the beautiful & ever so stylish Amal isn’t just arm candy, but deserving of an award in her own right for the beyond impressive work that this lawyer, author, & activist has accomplished for human rights. George, don’t worry, you looked good too & we applaude your decision to wear a”Je Suis Charlie” button on your tux. We look forward to the next red carpet show, err…we mean award show.

Best dressed couple at the 2015 Golden Globes.
Best dressed couple at the 2015 Golden Globes.
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Neckwarmers, sort of

Necklaces by J.Crew, Rosantica, & Etro, all available at Net-a-Porter.com.
Necklaces by J.Crew, Rosantica, & Etro, all available at Net-a-Porter.com.

Thankfully, with the holidays (and the great sales), you don’t really need to make excuses for buying yourself or others a fabulous necklace, but just in case, you can say that these are neckwarmers, a must for this time of year.  J.Crew’s gold-tone faux pearl necklace is a flawless choice, Net-a-Porter.com, Suggested Retail: $98, on sale now $49. It’s classy, yet modern, & subtly edgy. Summon the spirit of Cleopatra with Rosantica’s multi-strand gold-plaited onyx necklace, Net-a-Porter.com, Suggested Retail: $695, on sale now $417. A low-cut neckline or even a black turtle-neck will look striking with this addition. Lastly, Etro’s bib-style embroidered necklace provides the perfect finishing touch to your outfit, & will give your look the element of “festive attire,” which is so vaguely stated on most of your holiday party invites, Net-a-Porter.com, Suggested Retail: $660, on sale now $396.  So, don’t forget the importance of keeping your neck, & the necks of your loved ones, warm this winter ;)

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Gift giving, holiday parties, & fantastic sales: shopping is a must, start here

 

Best of Argan Essentials To Go by Josie Maran.
Best of Argan Essentials To Go by Josie Maran.

‘Tis the season for shopping, cyber or the old fashion method of physically visiting a store.  Whichever way you decide to approach purchasing, you might like some guidance to streamline the process & make your shopping experience as stress-free as possible. So, I’m sharing suggestions all month long. I also strongly believe that you shouldn’t be excluded from your wonderful spirit of giving, & I’m officially giving you the green light to get a treat for yourself too.   Let’s start with the first thing people see: your face. Are you sick of worrying about all of the potentially toxic ingredients that might be lurking in your skincare products? Well, I was too until discovering the all-natural, organic skincare line by Josie Maran. Inspired by Argon Oil, which Maran was introduced to by a 70 year old women in France who looked like she was only 40, the line has expanded to include make-up as well as skincare.  Josie Maran’s product line, featuring this hidden fountain of youth, is amazing not just because of the fabulous results it produces, but also because the brand adheres strictly to it’s “Luxury With a Conscience” motto.  They use pure, Fair Trade Argan Oil, responsibly grown and harvested by co-ops of Moroccan women, all of whom are compensated with living wages, & they use eco-friendly packaging.  The Best of Argan Essentials To Go is the perfect gift, Josie Maran, Suggested Retail: $28 (was $49).  It will give your friends a sampling of some of the wonderful products offered, all in travel-friendly size containers. Now it’s your turn to receive a gift. There are so many great options that you cannot make a wrong choice, however, I am totally obsessed with the 100% Pure Argan Oil Light, so if you don’t have it already, I would start here Sephora, Suggested Retail: $48. I know exactly what many of you are thinking; in fact, you might even be horrified at the thought of putting oil directly on your face on purpose, suspecting that it’s a recipe for an acne disaster, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, not only will you see clearer skin, but you will also see a youthful glow; seriously, this is pretty much like magic.  I haven’t tried all of the products Josie Maran offers yet, but I intend to. Happy shopping season!

100 percent Pure Argan Oil Light by Josie Maran.
100 percent Pure Argan Oil Light by Josie Maran.
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Toting style

Leather totes by Cuyana.
Leather totes by Cuyana.

I have to confess that although I advocate a look that’s polished, or at least complete in the style that one is trying to achieve, when it comes to keeping all of my paperwork together as I’m going to & fro appointments, there is room for improvement…perhaps a lot of room. Folders, envelopes, & sometimes even sheets of paper are sticking out of the top of my handbag, which doesn’t exactly convey a professional, polished, or stylish look.  However, until now I hadn’t found a handbag that was functional, fashionable, & in my budget.  Thankfully, my stylish & savvy friend Kate introduced me to Cuyana. The brand’s mission is to provide high quality, simple, timeless products that support & empower local craftsman around the globe.  Cofounders, Karla Gallardo & Shilpa Shah, have mastered the “less is more concept” & are committed to offering these wonderful products at affordable prices too. While there are many great pieces to choose from, the Leather tote (above) is an absolute must, Suggested Retail: $150. It will keep you organized while looking effortlessly chic & polished. At this price, you can treat yourself to two different colors & the monograming, & I can say goodbye to the mess of papers embarrassingly sticking out of my handbags.

Treat yourself to monograming your new Cuyana tote.
Treat yourself to monograming your new Cuyana tote.
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INTER-PRET your look

The fabulous INTER-PRET.us Scuba Coat.
The fabulous INTER-PRET.us Scuba Coat.

Sometimes when shopping, one can get déjà vu. Often times it looks like every store is selling the exact same thing & it can be challenging to choose something that sets you apart, in a good way, of course. Thankfully, the talented Derek Guillemette, Creative Director of INTER-PRET.us, has arrived to satisfy the need to look at fashion from a unique point of view.  His impressive resume includes launching Rent the Runway, & working as a Designer Buyer for Bloomingdale’s. These experiences have taken Guillemette around the world, from Paris, London, & Milan, to Marrakesh, giving him an advanced education in luxury fabrics & the importance of fit.  INTER-PRET.us expresses Guillemette’s belief that fashion should empower, not discriminate. Every piece in the collection reflects clean lines & classic design principles that are reinterpreted with cutting-edge unisex fabrics & details. Some of my favorite pieces from the Autum/Winter 2014 collection include: the Scuba Coat, which embodies style & function, Suggested Retail, $595 (above), the Scuba Shirt, made of ultra soft Japanese scuba knit described as a modern interpretation of cashmere—enough said, Suggested Retail, $225 (below), & the Scuba Jacket, featuring zip-off sleeves so you’re getting two fabulous looks in one, Suggested Retail, $425 (below). The collection is only available online & offers free shipping in addition to 10% off your first offer; it’s the perfect place for you & your sweetheart to shop together! So start filling your shopping cart with INTER-PRET.us ASAP!

The Scuba Shirt by INTER-PRET.us (think modern cashmere).
The Scuba Shirt by INTER-PRET.us (think modern cashmere).
The Scuba Jacket with zip-off sleeves; a favorite of mine from INTER-PRET.us.
The Scuba Jacket with zip-off sleeves; a favorite of mine from INTER-PRET.us.
The man behind the genius, Derek Guillemette Creative Director of INTER-PRET.us.
The man behind the genius, Derek Guillemette Creative Director of INTER-PRET.us.
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