Archive | October, 2010


31 Oct

I love Halloween. It’s a great excuse to act like a loon and dress a bit sleazy.

Every year our neighbors hold a local Halloween parade with the little ones. From there we meet up at each other’s houses to pass out candy and dive into homemade pizzas and vino. To finish off the night we watch a categorically bad horror film – Child’s Play is screening this year.

For these kitschy holidays, I turn to some of the masters such as Rachael Ray and Martha Stewart for inspiration. Rachael Ray has a whole site dedicated to October 31 debauchery! One particular idea that I LOVE is to create goody bags for children that include fun things such as candy, erasers and bubbles, instead of just the run of the mill Snickers bar. I also like her snack ideas for young and old including worms and eyeballs and salsa cheddar dip with witches hats.

Decorating the house for Halloween is one of my favorite things to do. I skip the bizarro Halloween flags and grave stones, but I am wrapping part of the front porch in “Caution” tape, playing scary music and stretching cobwebs throughout the rafters. I also got plenty of pumpkins, candles and hay – frightfully festive!

One thing I always get a bit tripped up on is the costume. Dressing up isn’t just for kids! Get into it!
Not sure what to be this year? Get some Hollywood inspiration – check out this fun feature from my favorite magazine,  Harper’s Bazaar. Whether you mimic a Hollywood star or not, be sure to use your imagination! Also remember that a little effort goes a long way and makes for that much more of a fun night. Not sure where to get a crafty outfit? Try Boston Costume, Garment District, or your local Target from cheap and cheerful solutions.

Have fun being tricky!


Style Girl

Coaching for Confidence

27 Oct

Confidence is the best accessory a girl can have. One of my dear friends is an image consultant and career counselor out of the UK (Confidence Inside Out). She has a great website that features articles and resources for women – all of which focus on building confidence. One of her features this week really caught my attention. She summarizes a new article in the Harvard Business Review that features Michelle Obama and her influence on style and trends in American Fashion. Just like Jackie Onassis, Michelle Obama and her fashion choices have been front and center in the media and American just can’t get enough. To read the Harvard Business Review article click here.

All of this got me thinking…is it Michelle Obama’s clothing that attracts so much attention or is it her confidence? There is something magnetic about her. Her smile, her poise and yes, her ability to mix J. Crew and Marc Jacobs into the perfect ensemble. If you’re dreaming of having the kind of confidence that comes with being Michelle Obama or that perfect woman in your office who looks great all the time despite working 12 hour days, personal coaching could be the perfect tool for you. Personal coaching focuses on individual growth and often involves goal setting and skill building. The programs are often flexible and can also be affordable. The benefit to a coaching relationship is that you’re not just setting goals with your self. You’re setting goals for yourself and with SOMEONE else – meaning there is accountability. There are many resources when it comes to coaching and counseling. You can identify a peer, a mentor, a career counselor or an individual consultant (like Confidence Inside Out). You can also search for local resources but keep in mind that going off of a referral is always best.

Whether you’re changing careers, changing your look or overcoming fears that have held you back from your potential, working with a personal (life) coach can not only be rewarding, but could possibly be life changing.

Here’s a little something to get you going!


Style Girl

Pretty As a Bow

26 Oct

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but bows are everywhere this season. On bags, on shoes, on belts – everywhere. I am not usually one to wear bows. They can seem a bit over the top and junior to me. That being said, I am becoming a convert. I am really fond of the ways that designers are using bows this season. For example, the other day I was wearing a great dress that required a belt. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I left the house but what I had put on simply did NOT work. I need a quick fix and I needed it fast. This is when I’m thankful for the chain shops. I wandered into Anthropologie and picked up this beauty. Voila! Problem outfit solved.

Other ways to wear bows? I love bows on headbands. Depending how they are worn they can look very elegant (warning: it’s also easy to look like a 5-year-old so be careful here!). Here is one of my favorites from Ralph Lauren and here is one that I love from Top Shop but just don’t have the gusto to pull off. Here’s another feature on headbands from In Style magazine that might help inspire you.

Every other pair of shoes I see seems to have a bow on it. Louis Vuitton had one of the hottest bow adorned shoes on the runway and in Hollywood this fall. I only wish they were in my closet too! You can also find this look on loads of ballet flats available this season. From Nine West to Prada, you’ll be able to find a pair to suit your budget and style.

And on handbags. When it comes to bows, I prefer the smaller clutch bags. Some can be really fun –  a bit rocker and 80s. Check out this Chole bag that carries the perfectly balance between feminine and punk.  You can always count on Betsy Johnson to create something wild and perfect for the party. I love this one! And then there are the more simply stated bow purses that are a little more “day” appropriate such as this beautiful bag from Kooba (swooon).

So don’t fear the forever girly bow. Tie one on!


Style Girl

Pumpkins and Gourds, Oh My!

25 Oct

This past weekend I ventured to see good friends in Philadelphia. While it took us 7 hours to get there from Boston, it was all well worth it.  My good friend just moved into a gorgeous neighborhood on the Main Line (Ardmore) where all the houses are perfectly positioned and there isn’t a stitch of vinyl siding in sight. Most of the houses were adorned with fall decorations – pumpkins, hay, leaves, etc.  We ventured out to the pumpkin farm on Sunday to find our own harvest decor. While the “all you can carry for $19.99” deal was enticing, I was drawn to the rows and rows of oddly colored gourds. White, grey, yellow, green – it looked like a autumnal rainbow.

Pumpkins are for carving and eating – that’s about it. They are otherwise quite boring. Have some fun with color this fall and look beyond the basic pumpkins. Gourds come in a variety of sizes and colors (over 100!) and look great presented together. Not only do they make good outdoor decorations, but they work well inside too. Assuming they are kept away from moisture, your gourds should keep well until the Thanksgiving holiday so use them as centerpieces, on window sills and as stand-alone decor. You can use them as part of floral arrangements, place a group of small gourds in a glass bowl, carve out a piece and use them as votive holders or have fun with the kids and paint them. The list of gourd activity goes on (and on…)

If you’re looking for specific design ideas, check out this Better Homes and Gardens feature. Where can you get your hands on some? Check out your local supermarket or one of the many pumpkin farms/apple orchards in the area. A few of my favorites are Honey Pot Hill Orchards, Russell Orchards or Shelburne Farm.

I’m going to go enjoy my grey and white “pumpkins” now…


Style Girl


21 Oct

I saw a girl at lunch today who was wearing a black shirt, a purple skirt, purple shoes and a purple bag. I wanted to throw a bag over her head and drag her to the nearest department store . She needed help.

With the exception of the jumpsuit (a style I love but just can’t wear on my short self) and the stylish oh-so neutral pallet for fall (beige anyone?),washing yourself in one color should be avoided. No one wants to walk around looking like Barney. In addition to the costume effect, monochromatic looks can wash you out, make you appear bigger than you are (with the exception of black, of course) and makes for a dull outfit. Why not mix it up a bit? There are so many gorgeous colors and textures in stores this fall. Don’t be afraid to wear different types of plaid together, sport jewel tone sweaters with vibrant skinny belt s or wear a beige bag with red shoes. A mixed palette can work well, especially if you play to your strengths. Here are a few things to consider:

Skin tone – everyone’s skin tone falls into a different season. Understanding skin tones is important to picking clothes that will look best on you. For example, if you are a winter tone, you should avoid pastels. You can go online to learn more about your skin tone or go to your favorite make-up counter for a consult. My personal favorite in Boston is Bobbi Brown at Neiman Marcus in Copley.

Contrast – Instead of matching your clothes, try contrasting them with complimentary colors. For example…black looks great with bright blue and pink. Greens look fantastic with  blues and yellow and brown are a great combination. The rules that apply to great interior design, apply to fashion too so check out paint color palettes for new ideas.  Check out Benjamin Moore’s personal color viewer to expose yourself to new ideas and combinations – it’s a cool online tool.

Patterns – Mixing in patterns with your look is an easy way to avoid the matchy mess and keep it interesting. To avoid  overdoing it,  don’t wear two different bold patterns together – they’ll compete with each other and overwhelm your shape. Also consider the weight of the pattern – lighter weighted patterns/fabrics work well against heavier weights. Finally, consider distance – sometimes two patterns that are very different can work well together if they are placed far away from each other ( a shirt and heels, for example).

Friends, no one wants to walk around looking like an animated character. Don’t be afraid tomix it up and play with colors and patterns!


Style Girl

You Are Here

19 Oct

I’m feeling reflective.

There are so many things that I want to do and so many places that I want to go. Sometimes, in my rush to next adventure, I miss the things that are going on around me. I’m not alone in this. I think that “idea people” often have a very hard time appreciating the here and now. So, how can one be more “present”? How can you maximize all of the opportunity around you? Here are a few things that I do to keep me centered and invested…

Journal – there is amazing power in journaling. Expressing your hopes, fears and thoughts in writing is extremely therapeutic. I’m inspired by pretty journals and stationery. The right tools certainly make it more fun! Here are a few of my favorites:

Smythson – British and beautiful

Paper Source – Carries several styles that will look great as a table accessory (if nothing else…)

Black Ink – this funky shop with locations in Beacon Hill and Harvard Sqaure carries a lot of artistic options

Kate’s Paperie – this is one of my favorite shops in NY but don’t despair – you can shop online too..

Learn – I’m a life learner – always taking classes and reading up on something new. Invest in yourself by nurturing your interests! Check out some local classes offered at adult learning centers such as the BCAE and the CCAE – from cooking and photography to creative writing, you’ll be amazed at all the different classes that are offered. Or, if you’re really ready for a task, take on a Master’s program at one of the many colleges and universities in the area. You can’t use lack of options as an excuse, that’s for sure!

Give time – giving back to the community is one of the most fulfilling things you can do. I spend a lot of time with the Boston Public Library, Junior League of Boston and Dress for Success. Not sure where to start? Looking for a perfect volunteer opportunity? Check out Volunteer Match and Both sites let you input specifications that result in a list of opportunities that reflect your interests. Still not finding anything? Look local – volunteer at a local school or animal shelter.

Center – I have never successfully meditated and I generally have a hard time sitting still. I am, however, inspired and motivated by a little namaste and zen. Taking time to relax and strengthen your body and mind is so important. For many this is achieved through yoga or other physical exercise. Having a hard time getting motivated? Look for team training opportunities at your gym or find a gym buddy who will keep you on track. Sometimes finding the right environment is the key to success. I enjoy yoga at Back Bay Yoga and South Boston Yoga. Both centers have great instructors and wide open spaces to find a little “ohm” in your life.

Friends – this is last but certainly not least on my list. To enjoy your life every day, surround yourself with people who make you happy. Take time to stay connected: create a standing monthly dinner appointment with friends, call a friend to say hello (versus a quick text) or send a card. Maintaining relationships is work – but it is the most rewarding work you’ll ever do.

By focusing on some of these things, I have accepted where I am. I also feel grounded and supported.

So, where are you?


Style Girl

Second Chances

18 Oct

I believe in second chances. I really do.

Certain clothing stores have wowed us season after season and others continue to disappoint. We all have stories…times when our tried and true “go-to” store has failed us. This season I have stumbled upon a few success stories that are worth sharing.

L.L. Bean

Once a hunter’s supply store, L.L. Bean has been outfitting outdoorsy types since 1912.  It is known for quality and value and for having a relatively poor score on the style scale.  This year L.L. Bean has introduced its new Signature line. The new line has evolved the traditional “cozy” style to include great wrap dresses, beautiful leather footwear, and more modern lines. Some of the pieces actually look like something J. Crew would carry! I scored a pretty silk hunting scene blouse and a floral bohemian chic dress (think…Sienna Miller). The prices are right too. Check it out here.


Did I seriously just tell you to shop at Talbot’s? I think I did. Although still a bit stuffy, Talbots had reinvented itself a bit. In late 2008 they introduced a new chief designer (Chris Jackson from Calvin Klein) and it shows! The stores have a more youthful, modern vibe and feature a lot of fresh, on-trend colors that I am going crazy over. For example the dome button coat in cassis is adorable. It has a nice swing to it and carries a bit of a 60s vibe once on (yes, I bought it!). Another great find is a double ruffle jacket in this fun bubblegum color. Peruse the website – I bet you’ll be surprised!


This place has gone through more personalities than Lady Ga Ga but if you want to score trendy items that are of decent quality (vs. Forever 21 fall apart bargain), this may be the place. They are carrying a bunch of my favorite things right now such as sweater dresses (check out the cable cowl neck dress), a bunch of mini skirt options and fun colored tweed separates. With a price that can’t be beat and a new online store, you should give them a look.

I hope I’ve inspired forgiving behavior. Everyone deserves a second chance.


Style Girl

Jaunt to Portland

17 Oct

Fall in Maine – ahhh, pure bliss. THIS is why I live in New England.

When I think of Maine I think of hunter’s plaid, firewood and blueberries. But there’s more to it. This weekend we went up to Portland, Maine – a funky, small city on the coastline of the Pine Tree state. We started our overnight trip by heading straight to Freeport which is about 20 minutes north of Portland. This town is essentially an outlet frenzy with LLBean plopped down in the middle. I’m usually not a big outlet fan as I find them too busy and messy…the quality is sometimes lacking too BUT there are a few gems in Freeport. After raiding Cole Haan and JCrew and parading around LLBean we headed into Portland.

We stayed at a great place called Inn by the Sea. It was great – well designed interiors, dog friendly, direct access to the beach and beautiful autumnal views facing the water. After checking in we went to Crescent Beach with the dogs. They ran wild – our urban dogs were free! Got to love New England beaches after October 1.  Later, we went to our absolute favorite restaurant for dinner- Fore Street Grill. I LOVE this place. I always have something delicious here and last night was no different. The shallot and gorgonzola pizza that I had to start my meal was heaven. If I had to name a place for my last supper, I am pretty sure I’d end up at Fore Street. So, if you go – check it out and be sure to make a  reservation. Other fun  places to eat include Becky’s Diner (best pancakes), The Chef’s Table (great lunch and snackies), the Standard Baking Company (amazing breads and goodies), Street & Company (casual dinner spot), The Lobster Shack (lostahhh in Maine is the best! this place is seasonal but there are plenty of other lunch spots in town that serve up lobster year-round)  and Caiola’s (my second favorite to Fore Street nestled in a cozy part of town). Portland is actually known for being a regional culinary gem so have fun exploring all the yummy spots if you go.

After a hardy breakfast the next morning at Becky’s, we grabbed the dogs and went out to Portland Head Light which is in Fort Williams Park. This place beautiful. It’s a must see if you make the trip. The we hit the shops… Portland is a major artisanal community so thank God I’m not into pottery or I would be in trouble. Still, there are loads of great shops tucked away in the city. Some of my favorites are:  Bliss (fantab knits and leather goods), Motifs (the perfect spot for a birthday gift), Chantal (mod shop with mod fashion), Nicola’s home (ahhhmazing candles and soft textiles) and Fetch (dog stuff galore).

With that, I’m off to slip on my new Twelfth Street black bat wing sweater – purchased in Portland, of course.


Style Girl

Housewarming Rules of Engagement

16 Oct

A friend of mine hosted a lovely housewarming party last night. She’s lived in the place for over two years now but she just finished a massive renovation and has been in living under construction for the past 14 months. So, it was time to party! Her approach was perfect: proper printed invitations,  fresh flowers in every nook of the place, tasty food and great company. Despite this perfection, I left the party a bit annoyed. Not because the party wasn’t fun but because I saw too many people pop in with not so much as a card in hand. No plants, no wine, nothing. How disappointing…

Friends, people with style entertain well and appreciate those who entertain. It’s important to never show up empty-handed. Whatever gesture you choose should be thoughtful and personal and need not be expensive. Sometimes a nicely written note on your best stationery is enough! For example, I know that my friend loves the Cape and Islands so I brought her a bottle of wine from the Nantucket vineyard (the wine isn’t that yummy actually, but you see where I am going with this…)

Stumped for ideas? You don’t want to look cheap but you also don’t want to show up to someone’s open house acting as though it is Christmas in July. Here are some ideas that fit the bill…

Eats – New to the city? Try giving a gift certificate to a local restaurant. I always find the reviews on a helpful guide:

Errand Queen – People are busy and sometimes a little help is a god send. I LOVE the idea of giving someone a gift certificate for errand running. These businesses are popping up like daisies all over Boston but Whaddya Need?  has been getting rave reviews. Check it out.

Leafy things – Bringing a gift of a plant or flowers is always a nice gesture. A few things to remember…first, if you bring a plant, make it a low maintenance plant. No one wants to be a plant murderer so keep the pretty orchids at bay…low light, low maintenance plants are the best bet. Another thing? Present it in a pot…finished product, please. As for flowers? Keep the colors in line with the hosts decor/style. These aren’t flowers for you, they are flowers for them. Trying keeping the bouquets small and tidy as well. Large arrangements require work and also put pressure on the host to put it front and center. Check out Twig, Winstons Flowers and Fresco Flowers for high quality product and design.

Pretty things – Then there are other pretty things – so many pretty things! Try candles (no color please!), “thank you” stationery, pretty napkins, bright-colored cooking utensils, cookbooks and packaged soaps.  Three of my favorite shops in Boston are Flat of the Hill , Hudson and Tour De France.

WINE – a good bottle of wine is a good gift – enough said. BUT please present it in a gift bag.

Have fun at the party!


Style Girl

In With the Old

15 Oct

I had a great time at the SOWA market last weekend. My usual SOWA routine includes buying fresh bread and some herbs that rarely get used while finding more stationery to add to my endless collection. I then top it off with eating a cupcake from the cupcake truck – my favorite is chocolate salted caramel. Anyway, this time I did something different. I dove into the Antiques market with ideas in hand. It was time to mix it up!

I LOVE mixing antiques into my modern decor, particularly treasures from the 1960s/1970s. I have lamps, mirrors, paintings and glassware from decades past and I get compliments on these things all the time. No, it’s not from ABC Home or Crate and Barrel, it’s a throw back piece from a yard sale! Here’s a rather poor picture of the new lamp I scored for $25. The shade alone is worth more than that! I placed it on a round, dark wood finish table and it is FAB.

Here are three of my local hot spots for treasures.

SOWA Market (closes October 31 for the season) (hint: come with ideas in mind – it’s a mish mash)

Streamline Antiques (hint: great spot for funky salt and pepper shakers!)
I love the idea of a modern glass dining table with kitschy kitty cat shakers.  The bright colors are fantastic.

Brimfield Antique Market If you haven’t been to Brimfield, you can’t possible understand how amazing it is. This overwhelming antique market takes place three times a year in Brimfield, MA. The shows for 2010 are done but planning for 2011 has begun! The first show is slated for May 10-15. Rent a truck, take a day off of work (the weekend is MAD so a Friday is best) and get to it! (hint: go with a wish list – otherwise you’ll be overwhelmed and you’ll leave with a boatload of useless stuff).

Leather Makes it Better

I love me some leather. Streamlined, modern leather chairs are my current obsession. See image – original 1964 leather duo. I wish I had room in my place for a pair but sadly I do not. Lack of space doesn’t dissuade me from searching though! Usually retro leather furniture (in good shape) is costly. For those who like the look but don’t care for old textiles (I know many that fall into this camp), check out Restoration Hardware’s new line. I am in LOVE with this chaise – dreaming of a taupe suede lumbar pillow, a good book and a cup of tea…

So, if you’re looking for something new to add to your home and enjoy pieces with character and history, go antiquing and see what you find! Don’t be afraid to mix up styles and colors – the best decorating palette is your very own.


Style Girl

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