Out & About: Tablescaping at Frontgate With Denise McGaha

Franki Durbin Denise McGaha

If ever a designer lived and breathed her design confidence, it’s Denise McGaha. I’ve long been impressed with her bold interiors and personal style. And while I’ve spent a bit of time with her at various High Point or Dallas showrooms, October provided my first opportunity to see her give a demostration or speak at an event. The ever-popular Frontgate location near my home hosted an evening with Denise showing us how to tablescape like a boss and deck the halls with confidence this season.

Denise McGaha

I can speak for all of us in attendance when I tell you it was well worth the time on a busy weeknight to hear her wise tidbits and decorating strategies. More importantly, she sparked in all of us a renewed sense of confidence and empowerment as we prepared our homes for guests - or even decorated merely for ourselves.

Clearly, the Frontgate team felt the same. Denise now only transformed one table for the event - but four complete table vignettes plus the rear of the store featuring a massive hearth. Suffice it to say she was a hit!

If you’ve ever been to one of these showrooms it’s a wonderland of the prettiest home furnishings & accessories you can imagine. So in the hands of a master designer, the gold place settings, beaded runners & oak tables took on a new life.

But, back to the event…

As Denise toured us around the various scenes, she encouraged us to forget about fussy “rules” or stodgy guidelines for entertaining. Fresh eucalyptus stems in a water pitcher? Of course. Ornaments as place markers? Absolutely. A garden stool as a center piece? You bet. In addition to marvelous visual inspiration, Denise empowered every one of us to decorate with confidence and not worry about what was considered traditional. If you love it, it probably works.

In addition to marvelous visual inspiration, Denise empowered every one of us to decorate with confidence and not worry about what was considered traditional. If you love it, it probably works.

Her ONE rule (if you will): if and when you do use a tablecloth, please ensure it still covers the table once you add the leaf to your dining table. A “too short” tablecloth was her one “no” of the evening. Otherwise, she encouraged us to play, experiment and boldly innovate to create whimsical ways of decorating for entertaining.

Her first table was all about Christmas. Reds, silver, a mix of place settings and - of course - greenery. Right off the bat, she encouraged us to mix reds (yes, even of they were two shades off!) and have fun with differing dishes as well. Stack them, mix them, enjoy them. I love how she used sterling silver vessels for flowers, as sort of a cheeky nod to tradition.

Her next two transformation areas were less about the holidays, and more about infusing your tables - and your home - with classic pieces utilized in unexpected ways. Tall patio lanterns served as centerpieces stacked on a garden stool seemed perfectly chic the way Denise styled them. The lush magnolia branches (a southern favorite!) added a rich, luxurious feel to the scene. On yet another table she used chinoiserie canisters and hurricane candleholders to set the stage for entertaining.

My favorite, however, was her final tablescaping flourish: The GOLD & orange table! Who knew the humble “cutie” could be reimagined as a posh holiday table accent? From clear lucite obelisks (drool-worthy) to luxe gold beaded quatrefoil placemats, this scene had my name written all over it. I love how she played with height for maximum impact and set gold decorative trees on dessert pedestals for even more drama. This was a rulebreaker’s table if there ever was one. And I loved it. Look at those magnolia leaves cradling the spilled fruits? Honestly, girl. You’ve got game!

Who is Denise McGaha?

If you’re not familiar with her interior design work, prepare to be amazed. Here are just a few photos from one of my favorite projects. When I tell you she is a master of design, I am not kidding. I could go on ad nauseum about the architectural & design details in these photos, but her portfolio speaks for itself. Her work has been widely celebrated in the press, with every publication from Traditional Home to Modern Luxury taking notice of her masterful approach to design & living. Visit denisemcgaha.com for more and be sure to follow her on Instagram for daily inspiration.

Photography by the talented Stephen Karlisch.

Denise McGaha

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY

Get Gorgeous in Dallas: An Interview With Dr. Stephanie Teotia

Get Gorgeous in Dallas

Hello, friends! As promised, I have a wonderful new interview with Dr. Teotia. So many of you are passionate about skin care, treatments and looking your best. I tapped Dallas’s finest skin care guru (who is a total knockout herself) to tell us what’s changing in her industry and what’s hot with her clients. Like any great doctor, she also dishes some solid medical wisdom as well.

I hope you enjoy this follow up to our previous conversation…

Hello, Dr. Teotia! We met three years ago to talk about skin-saving strategies and the fascinating world of in-office procedures. How have things changed for your medical practice since then? 

I continue to offer both cosmetic and reconstructive surgical procedures. However, the cosmetic side of the practice has really taken off. The focus is on facial rejuvenation and breast procedures.

I’ve noticed incredible advancements in beauty treatments in such a short period of time. What new treatments or procedures are you really excited about right now? What are your clients loving?

Patients are thrilled about the Mini Necklift and Mini Facelift procedures. Most of my patients have busy lives and cannot have extended downtime. They love these surgical procedures, because they offer beautiful, natural and rejuvenated results. These two procedures are performed in my office under local anesthesia as opposed to general anesthesia (being "put to sleep"). In addition, they are almost half the cost of a full neck and facelift, and the recovery time is only one week. 

In your opinion, how has the perception of injectables changed over the past few years? How has the “selfie” culture impacted your clientele?

The consistent increase in popularity of injectables over the past several years is remarkable! The longer these products are on the market and proven to be safe, the more comfortable patients become with facial injections.  

What treatments are they seeking? 

Our younger generation of patients typically inquire about nonsurgical rejuvenation and correction techniques. I offer a variety of nonsurgical procedures including facial fillers (Juvederm, Restylane, etc), Botox, Sculptra, chemical peels, Cellfina (cellulite treatment) and Ultherapy for skin tightening. 

As a patient, you need to do your research.
— Dr. Stephanie Teotia

I hear people are asking less to look like this celebrity or that one. And more like their own FaceTuned or filtered selves. Has this been true for your clientele and how do you feel about that shift? 

Fortunately, it has been quite awhile since a patient requested to look like a celebrity! Thankfully, that request does not happen very often. I’m very upfront with my patients regarding the expected outcome. My goal is to enhance their appearance and provide correction. Committing to a celebrity look-alike result or a "filtered" appearance is unrealistic. My goal is to make my patient a refreshed version of him or herself.

The proliferation of medispas on virtually every corner cannot be ignored. You are a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. I certainly know why I trust you, and I recognize your innate and professionally honed gifts. But what can you tell my fellow readers who are also just seeking a little Botox or lip plumping? Why is it important to see a Board Certified physician for these treatments? 

The state of Texas allows non-physicians to inject patients. Unfortunately, these injectors may not be well trained or supervised. It may be tempting to use a Groupon at a medical spa…until you end up with a poor result. There are also complications that are much more serious than an overfilled lip. There are reports of patients who have experienced blindness and tissue loss from soft filler injections into blood vessels.

I cannot overstate the importance of knowing facial anatomy. Surgical procedures should always be performed by a surgeon. Board Certification matters.
— Dr. Stephanie Teotia

I cannot overstate the importance of knowing facial anatomy. Surgical procedures should always be performed by a surgeon. Board Certification matters. A Board Certified Cosmetic Surgeon is not the same as a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. A Cosmetic Surgeon is trained in an area other than plastic surgery (OB/GYN, ED, Pediatrics, etc). A plastic surgeon has a minimum of six years of surgical training in the field. As a patient, you need to do your research.

You mentioned a few innovative in-office treatments you provide for some of your surgical clients. These sound game-changing for ladies (or men!) seeking procedures with reduced down-time. Would you mind sharing more details with readers? Who is the ideal client for this type of procedure?

This would be the Mini Facelift and Mini Necklift that I discussed earlier. The ideal client has mild to moderate skin laxity. The patient is in good health, a non smoker and has realistic expectations. I also perform a Mini Brachioplasty (arm lift) for upper arm skin laxity. This procedure is also performed in the clinic. Unlike a traditional brachioplasty, the scar is well hidden in the axilla (arm pit). 

Skincare: at my last visit you introduced me to the new skincare line available at your office. SkinBetter. I can hardly explain how much I love this collection. The facial cleanser alone is a miracle product for my often confused combination skin. Why do you love this line? What makes it different?

I’ve had several skincare lines over the years. I have liked specific products, but not an entire line. Then I found SkinBetter. I’m very results driven and SkinBetter delivers. Our most popular product is InterFuse Lines. This product reduces the appearance of wrinkles through the topical application of Hyaluronic Acid. The majority of the facial soft tissue fillers that I use in my practice are made of Hyaluronic Acid. Many of my injection patients begin this product to supplement and prolong the injection results. This is a medical grade skincare line that can only be purchased through a physician. {Editor’s note: I’ll be writing a separate post about this line!. I’m tough to please or persuade when it comes to skin care, but I LOVE this line. }

 Dr. Stephanie Teotia

Dr. Stephanie Teotia

Hot tip to readers:

Follow her on Facebook for her monthly specials on treatments.

Dr. Stephanie Teotia MD
4231 Cedar Springs Road | Dallas, TX 75219
(214) 823-9652
drstephanieteotia.com

Inspiration: When Flowers & Fashion Illustrations Become One

That moment when you realize there are talented souls like Hanaco Hanasakura creating remarkable creations with simple (yet fabulous) materials. Consider me humbled and a new fan. Follow her on instagram for more of her endless creativity!

Get Gorgeous in Dallas: My Go-To Pros for That Coveted Glow

Dallas

From freshly colored locks to buttery smooth skin, every girl needs her go-to experts to help her look her best. And in Dallas, we are blessed with an abundance of flagship stores, blowout boutiques, top rated derms & other fantastic options. Too many, in face. Often, sifting through the sheer volume of choices can be overwhelming. Thankfully, among my friends I’m recognized as having a talent for finding “the one” and recommending the perfect people to address their needs. Now, I’m sharing hose with you! After almost a decade in Dallas, I have finally found my go-to dream team for skin, hair, face & body. And I can’t wait to share them all with you over the next few weeks!

GET READY… HERE’s how to Get Gorgeous in Dallas…


1.

HAIR

Hands down, Daniel Lewis is the best hair guru I’ve ever met. You may know him as stylist to the stars (he is not only friends with the beauties from Real Housewives of Dallas, he was also Bravo himself as a competitor on Sheer Genius). That aside, he’s a hair celebrity in his own right, and very in-demand with a loyal clientele. In upcoming posts, I’ll take you to his Aveda concept salon as I get my “hair did” by this hair coloring savant and cutting genius. Trust me, he is positively the best in the business and one of he nicest, most fun people I’ve ever met. I adore him and so will you!


2.

FACE

Ahh, Dr. Stephanie Teotia. The only woman in town I trust implicitly with next-level skin care treatments. Dry Texas air is harsh on anyone’s skin, but those of us 30 and up are not shy about looking for a little restoration from sun damage, signs of aging and the stress of modern life. The lovely Dr. Teotia has a special gift for making you look like YOU, but somewhat refreshed. You’ll look as though you’ve finally had that trip to Tahiti & slept 10 hours each night. I can’t wait to tell you more about specialties, her in-office treatments, what I love having done and why she is a MUST on my get gorgeous squad and a wonderful person to top it off.


3.

SKIN CARE

From cult classics like Omorovicza to that long awaited Victoria Beckham beauty line, the team at Neiman Marcus at Willow Bend in Plano have been my loyal skin care saviors for years. When I need the absolute best, there is no better resource for their vast selection of luxury essences, serums, plumping masks and such. They always have heir fingers on the cusp of innovative new products and hos many in-store meet & greets with brand CEOs & industry pros. They are my go-to resource for all things repair & replenish. I’ll show you my must-have skin care lineup & introduce you to the staff I can count on for insider tips & life-changing facials.


4.

FRAGRANCE

In addition to playing host to some of the most luxurious beauty brands in the business, Neiman Marcus Willow Bend crushes it when to comes to fragrance selection. With grandiose displays beginning the moment you enter the door, this iconic shopping location boasts more upscale perfume brands, posh home fragrance options and exclusive lines than you can count. Fan favorite Jo Malone anchors the space with a counter lined with their coveted bottles, exclusive releases and (of course) their incredible scents. I’ll share my personal favorites and introduce you to their trusty team who somehow know exactly what scent I need for a mood boost or change in attitude.


5.

FITNESS

I agree with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley: the best beauty “secret” really is a lit-from-within glow from being active & living healthy. There’s no faking a truly healthy glow. For me, this means attending early morning hot yoga at least 3 times a week (4 if possible) and eating clean. I’ll introduce you to Howard, Dalton, Tanya and the rest of the yogis that keep me glowing, flowing and blissed out from the best hot vinyasa classes around. I’ll also share my latest chocolate smoothie recipe which has (almost!) replaced my morning coffee and certainly given me a fitness boost.


6.

FACIALS

Fancy yourself a pore vanishing treatment? A collagen stimulating facial? A crinkle banishing session? If you look closely within the popular skin care mecca Blue Mercury, you’ll discover a team of experts ready to make your lines disappear and restore that nymph-like rosy glow to your visage. Let me take you behind-the-scenes and share my favorite treatments at the Legacy Plano location as well as showcase their incredible range of hard-to-find brands & cult favorite products.


7.

AT-HOME CARE

Experts & gurus are essential, and assembling your signature routine (while never being a slave to it) together is an art form. I’ve definitely edited my glamming “musts”, and found a few shortcuts in the process. In upcoming posts I’ll be sharing the facial cleanser I’m completely obsessed with (via the delightful Dr. Teotia), the skin-firming device I wish I’d discovered years ago (miraculous!) and my perennial get glam essentials. Stay tuned for skin care routine tricks, beauty sleep tips and hair styling hacks - all learned from these generous pros and my own time-tested experience.


So get ready to get gorgeous, ladies! have so much to share with you! And be sure to follow along on my Instagram stories so you don’t miss a thing!

Wardobe Management: Restocking the Closet With Luxury Basics...

{images via Pinterest + Pinterest}

In several previous posts I shared my unique method for stripping away the excess in my closet. I literally removed everything from the space, redesigned the closet (hello, happy white shelves & smooth-gliding drawers!) and then gave every item a hard evaluation before deciding what deserved to go back in. That's right. It wasn't an exercise in elimination. It was placing a positive spin on the daunting process. It's not what goes away. It's more a matter of "what fabulous pieces do I already own that deserve to be housed in this sparkling new space?" Which of you lovely pieces are closet worthy?

As you might imagine, many items were kicked to the curb via donations & selling online. This is an exercise in patience as I am still listing items on Tradesy in my down time. Yet the effort was (and continues to be) so worth it. In fact, the pieces in my "before" closet served a previous version of me. She loved shopping, had time to peruse the racks at Neimans & Saks and those precious big sales, she had the leisure to grab coffee on Saturdays before window shopping with friends. She was more willing to bypass the perfect black tee (so boring) for a boldly printed chiffon DVF blouse she "discovered" on a rack at Saks while popping out of the office for a bite to eat. The previous me enjoyed the thrill of the unexpected hunt and had ample time to peruse department stores and specialty boutiques in a never ending quest for "special" pieces. Former me was an unpredictable shopping gunslinger rapidly aiming her weapon in the direction of occasionally fabulous but often "almost ideal" items. She was eager to add to her closet and willing to experiment.

This retail wild west chracater no longer exists. Today, I'm a focused sniper. A trained retail sharpshooter peering through the cross-hairs of my scope carefully observing my retail prey. Rather than a quick pull on the trigger & hope for the best, I'm an expert closet curator who carefully plans each purchase and stalks each item with relentless research. I study how an item looks on other bloggers, read reviews, pay special attention to measurements and determine how handbags will function, blouses will billow, denim will wear and dresses will hang on my petite frame.

Small children and a busy digital business keep my feet mostly out of physical stores and firmly entrenched in the online shopping experience. And let's not forget that redone closet. It's given me a clear lens through which to focus my attention. With my recently streamlined wardrobe I now experience on a daily basis where the voids are in my wardrobe. I can now respect the need (yes need) of the perfect black tee and the functional benefits a small crossbody bag would add to my lifestyle. I can see the vacancies now in glaring detail that were once obscured by the abundance of "almost perfect" pieces. The chaos cleared, there's now a crystal clear picture of what exists, what is needed and what would be thrilling to add to my tightly edited collection. 

Pressed for time (and craving as much information as possible) I prefer to shop almost exclusively online. There are no more unexpected purchases, things are carefully considered and planned. Rather than casting a wide net I visit favorite brands and trusted sites loyally and favor them for their excellent products and perfect customer service (and of course, sales!). This isn't to say the quest for the new and unexpected is gone, that's the thrill of life, right? The excited shopper is still thriving and alive, but her reckless former form has been replaced with a careful curator who obsesses over button placement, fabric weight and the integration of said fashion into my busy lifestyle.

The new shopper in me is a perfectionist. She can't believe she every selected an "almost perfect" anything. Rather than spending on a frilly frock that will one day be perfect if I'm invited to Diddy's White Party (is that still a thing?) I'm investing in pieces I will enjoy for many years. Fact is, they may require a bigger financial commitment, but the quality will be commensurate with price and the luxurious fit and durability will more than make up for the price. Also - I LOVE my newly thinned out wardrobe and reject the idea of "good enough" pieces when I can hold out and wait for the ideal piece to appear.

My style is pretty much Olivia Palermo meets Olivia Pope. Clean lines, stylish classics, beautiful pieces. Feminine style with a confident lean. With that, here a few timeless pieces I'm stalking for fall that will fill some of the aforementioned gaps in my wardrobe and my life. Remember, I circle the drain for some time before making the purchase. I look at each piece for versatility, longevity and how wearing it will make me feel.

THE URGENT FALL SHOPPING LIST

Franki Durbin // Fall Fashion

Miss Dior Absolutely Blooming // Splendid Fitted Soft Touch Tees (also see Hanro here & here) // DVF Leopard Scarf (also here) // Saint Laurent Crossbody Tassel bag (also here & here) // Frame Le Crop Mini Bootcut Jeans (also at Nordstrom) // Gucci Horsebit Leather Mules (also here)

  • Crop flared denim for an everyday for that are just as perfect with flat loafers as they are with sneaks or heels.

  • A high quality small-ish crossbody bag with gold hardware. Large enough for a wallet, iPhone, fey fob and lip gloss but needn't carry anything else. Versatility is key here. Ideally it will work as a clutch, shoulder bag or crossbody to play a multitude of roles.

  • Perfect black & white tees. So basic. So easy to delay. Yet so crucial to daily life. When I discover "the one" I'll invest in a handful of them in black and white as I could easily wear them daily.

  • Chunky heels. Fall's version of a wedge, the chunky mules gives any outfit a little "lift" and elongates my petite frame. Black (duh) is ideal and you can bet I'll be sliding my feet into these on the regular.

  • A new signature fragrance for fall, this new Dior perfume is my current love

ROUND TWO WILL INCLUDE

  • A statement jacket (or two). In all fairness, I'm a bit jacket obsessed. This is an area of "freedom" in my wardrobe where I color outside the lines and can easily justify a lilac quilted leather jacket (and I do) or a faux fur sequinned creation (because it's fabulous). When the "great edit" went down, I was left with a lovely collection of denim, handbags and jackets - quickly realizing that I needed to add more shirts to my game lest I be nekkid under those pretty blazers & cropped jackets. What I don't own, however, is a pink jacket (the horror!) or a classic black moto jacket.

  • Fall/winter boots. Leather with a stacked heel. Not a sky-high heel, but not squatty either I have denim that only work when worn with heels, so at least 3" will be required.

  • A black bow blouse. Who doesn't love a good bow blouse? This was on my list last year as well but I never quite found "the one" at the price point I was seeking. Perhaps this season I'll find my perfect match.

For the moment, that's the list. It's longer than I'd like it to be, but the reality is I can skip the jackets and be perfectly fine. Those are long-term acquisition goals whereas the others are things I long for every day. What are you hunting for this season? Are you a color lover or do you go flock to neutrals? What do you consider basic?

(Note: If you'd like to shop my Tradesy closet, here's a link to save $20 on your purchase.)

RELATED POSTS YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY

Current Obsessions: Classic Femininity with Edge...

I don't think fall shopping for weekend wear could possibly get any easier. Skinny jeans, a billowy white chiffon blouse, a quilted leather cropped moto jacket and girly accessories. Think: nude heels & a pretty tote to soften what could otherwise be seen as edgy.

Right now I'm loving the simplicity of chain link bracelets and gold hoop earrings. Tie this all up in one neat bow an call it the new weekend wardrobe. No reason to complicate things any further. For me, the beauty of this look is the balance of softness, toughness and ready to conquer the world confidence.

Scouring the web turned up the best of the bunch in each category. White House Black Market seems to have cornered the market on what they are deeming the "iconic" white blouse. I agree with them, and of their pretty options I'm dying over the Artist's version the most, but all of their new white blouses have the necessary swagger you crave. Add fab accessories, sunnies to die for and roll out the door with a skip in your step. Rest assured: You. Look. Fabulous.  

FINDING FEMININITY WITH EDGE

via // via // via // via // via

Foundations: Building a Fall Wardrobe From Scratch...

 {L'Academie via  Revolve Clothing }

{L'Academie via Revolve Clothing}

As you might have seen in this post, I'm on a clear path to start fresh when it comes to my wardrobe. Only this time I'm armed by what to add to an emptied closet versus what to keep in an overstuffed one. I'm very nailed down in my personal style and preferences, it's just a matter of aligning my creative vision with the reality of what is actually in said closet. The edge I have here is the idea of a truly blank slate. Imagining (or making it a reality) that I'm beginning from scratch.

What, exactly would I bring into a new, fabulous and EMPTY closet? What anchor pieces would be deserving of the privilege of becoming mainstays in my newly pared down, completely curated closet? Since I'm in a fall state of mind it makes sense to offer you my perspective on my autumn must-have list. But remember, this is a strictly pared down version of a closet. There shall be no "fluff" here. My only two area of "wiggle room" are blouses and jackets. I love classics in my denim, my tops (think: black and white fitted tees & long sleeved tops) and dresses. But when it comes to blouses and jackets I love to add variety to my life. So those two areas aside we're looking at adding as few pieces as possible and trying to stick to the below list as much as possible. 

The criteria? Here are a few:

  • Classic, timeless pieces: No trendy goods allowed.

  • Versatile: every item should be able to mix and match with many other pieces in closet

  • Well made: no poor quality pieces here. Invest in the best possible pieces

  • Color restriction: Focus on black, white, pink and a few fun animal print pieces

  • Fit is everything: Never compromise on fit. Ever.

  • Know thyself: have your ideal look in mind and stick with it. No compromises.

You may wonder why this is such an obsession of mine. It's simple - I only want excellence in my life. As the years pass and my collection of goods have changed, I've evolved. It's time to shake off some of these "old personas" and old memories. I love the feeling of letting go of things. I'm not a hoarder and I find donating and selling things very freeing - so long as I am ready to release them. Applying the Kon Mari question "Does it spark joy?" to each item, I am left with a firm "No" on many pieces in my closet. Thus, the idea of repeating this process in the future in not an option. We rebuild from scratch now and don't look back.  We fill the closet with joy inducing pieces designed (intended) to last me for ages. A "collection of friends" in my closet waiting to say hello each morning and come out at play. Sounds fun, right? Joyous, right? So this, friends, is worth the work and the slow investment process of acquiring those new "friends" (a term borrowed from Diane von Furstenberg) for my closet. 

These guidelines in mind, here's what I'm loving right now:

BUILDING A FALL WARDROBE FROM SCRATCH








These won't all be "allowed in" but these are a few key pieces I'm evaluating as I map out short and long term additions. The handbags are clearly investment pieces. Solid black tops are key foundation pieces for me, and I'm a real stickler for fabric and fit. Denim is always a good investment and I'm delighted to have two brands I adore (AG Jeans fit me like a glove and WHBM offers several styles I adore). 

The key here. Know thyself! Know what you love and focus on those things with unwavering attention. Don't haphazardly build out your wardrobe. Craft a very specific vision of the woman (or man) you wish to be and add in only those pieces that support that vision. Trust me when I tell you that clothes do indeed make the (wo)man and you'll feel better about life and your place in the world when dressed in accordance with your idealized view of yourself. 

Sometimes, those internal changes are kickstarted by an outward shift. Don't be afraid to raise your standards. And certainly don't be afraid to donate all those clothes and begin anew. A new you awaits!!

Foundations: Building a Killer Collection of Chic Jackets & Blazers...

kerr.jpg

You'll often find me flipping much of my wardrobe on ebay, poshmark & others. But several categories of my closet are strictly off limits: shoes, handbags & jackets. Those items are cherished, carefully selected and fit me like a perfect white tee (which is an entirely different post you should look for in the coming weeks).  

So... how do YOU build a small collection of jackets & blazers you adore? A few rules of thumb apply. 

  1. INVEST IN THE BEST
    Dolce & Gabbana may very well not be in the budget. But I bet you can snag a great deal on a solidly made jacket on sale at J. Crew or at Nordstrom Rack. The point here is to find a great deal of a very well constructed classic piece. Spare your cash & skip the poorly made pieces. Take time to inspect seams, interior construction and lining. All of these elements matter.

  2. KNOW THY SELF
    Know your style AND get to know what different brands offer. Theory is a brand well known for killer basics, but perhaps you're on the petite side (like myself). In this case, familiarize yourself with brands that cater to your body type. I've found incredible pieces that fit me fabulously at J. Crew, WHBM and Ann Taylor. All of whom offer great buys for those of us with smaller frames.

  3. FIT IS EVERYTHING
    Here's the harsh truth: fit is everything when it comes to jackets & blazers. Sleeves can be tailored, waists can be nipped in, but shoulders must fit from the moment you discover a piece. Be sure your natural shoulder width works with the cut of the acket. And don't forget to inspect the view from the back. Beware of puckering or drooping when viewed in the three-way mirror. It never lies.

  4. CONSIDER A LITTLE NIP & TUCK
    While shoulders should fit from the get go (refer to Rule #3), you may want to have the sides or sleeves of a jacket taken in to get the perfect fit. But beware: carefully consider the jacket needing significant tailoring. I've often found that the cost to do so could have been avoided if I'd simply coughed up the cash to invest in a better brand (see Rule #1 above)

  5. SHAKE IT OFF
    Cherish those moments alone in the fitting room or changing area. Take a few moments to raise your arms or shimmy to the beat to see how a jacket moves with your body. It might seem "tailored" for a second and feel like a straightjacket when you raise your arms. Conversely, "roomy" one moment may feel boxy and shapeless when you go to wear it to lunch the next day. Evaluate how you look and feel in motion in clothing before buying.

The above are shopping tips, now let's get to the business of building that killer collection of jackets. Here's what I love owning: 

NOT-SO-BASIC BLACK

Don't underestimate the power of a fabulous black jacket. Paired with jeans & heels or a dress and pearls, these pieces are key to any woman's closet.  It doesn't matter if you're a self-employed artists or a corner office queen bee, you'll need at least one of this wardrobe essential. I love having one summer weight and one light wool blazer for cooler months. 

TERRIFIC IN TWEED

My favorite jackets are my chunky tweed pieces. Some are cropped with embellished crew necks, some are East Coast prep, others are in-between. Their real charm comes from their versatility. Again the "jeans & heels" vs "dress & pearls" question comes to mind. This category of jacket pairs well with both and makes for a smart fashion acquisition. Think of this as your Coco Chanel moment. I like to let freedom rule here. Over time add a wide variety of styles to the mix. I find these useful in every season, and once you begin adding them you'll feel the same way.  

Since a range of options abound here, I'll tell you some of the hallmarks I look for: raw or frayed edges for modern edge. I strictly choose cropped or belted & flared styles. These are the most flattering. That said, I have only one belted, as the cropped variety is so much cooler and flatters my frame the best. Bracelet sleeves (those falling between elbow & wrist length) are a girl's dream come true as it keeps you from looking like you're going or coming from a board meeting. And color. I love color here. Think pink, minty green, icy white or (since it is tweed) a melange of colors all woven together. Bonus points if a jacket has metallic threads woven throughout. Those are the best.

My go-to brands for these is Milly , Rebecca Taylor or Nanette Lepore. All three of these offer incredible construction and a surprisingly tailored fit. While stepping more into the investment category, these are impeccably made and require zero alterations to fit your body flawlessly. At least that's been my experience. But J. Crew, Ann Taylor & WHBM cannot be underestimated. I have at least one amazing tweed jacket or blazer from each of these brands that I wouldn't trade for anything. Fit & quality are supreme! 


 

DECKED OUT IN DENIM

Like Yolanda Foster, white denim reigns supreme in my world. But then again I live in the warm south. The key for me with a denim jacket is details. I love mine cropped and not too distressed. Also (despite what might be trendy) I'm not a fan of denim on denim UNLESS it's white paired with blue. But: fashion is fun so set your own rules. Regardless, these pretty pieces pair as well with sundresses as they do with more dressy options. Consider adding one white and one darker rinse version to your wardrobe and watch the myriad options present themselves. Caution: shy away from faded denim & any vests. Not chic. Not timeless. Not investment pieces. 

THE NOVELTY PIECE

Another favorite category: anything goes. I love having a heavily embellished jacket to toss on over a simple tank & jeans for a "where is she going?" effect. Or how about a Barbie pink blazer? Why not, right? The novelty blazer will quickly become an "outfit making" addition to your wardrobe. Word to the wise: add these in slowly and only when you really fall in love with a jacket. That said, there are no rules. Boleros, ostrich feather cropped pieces and other wildcards all are welcome. 


Keep in mind, these are not outerwear pieces. These are lighter blazers & jackets intended to be part of your ensemble. By building a stable of killer jackets in your closet you'll find it gets easier and easier to pull together a great look with minimal fuss. My collection of blazers & jackets have proven invaluable for years and still stand the test of time. Experiment with brands and fit to determine what really works for your body type and your personal style. Decide what you love and make plans to acquire your staples first and your wildcards later on. Build this collection slowly and with a discriminating eye, investing only in pieces that truly make you happy. 

One of the best tips I ever received about buying jackets was from a salesgirl who wasn't afraid to push the boundaries. She demonstrated the cool "it girl" appeal of what looked like "little old lady" jackets on the rack. It's that effortless mix of a nonchalant fringed tweed jacket with sky high heels & skinny denim that looks so great together. It's youthful and fresh and fun. My perspective on tweeds and less typical jackets was forever changed and my eyes opened to the stylish possibilities. Since then I've been a self-proclaimed connoisseur of jackets and my closet thanks me daily. 

Now... happy hunting to you all! Don't be afraid to experiment! 

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY

Beauty: Silk Pillowcases, the Jen Atkin-Endorsed Luxury You Need Immediately...

It's no secret that lying down is a fresh blowout's sworn enemy. To combat this, many a girl has invested in Egyptian cotton sateen sheets & pillowcases to extend the life of her 'do. What you may not know is that those high thread count cotton sheets also leech hydration from your skin and your hair while you get your beauty sleep. Yes, the slumber you so crave is actually drying out your hair and leaving your pretty skin parched. The fix is easy and wonderful, but does come at a small price.

Silk pillowcases. I've been a fan of Slip for a while and have worn silk eye masks for about a decade now (don't judge, it's the Zsa Zsa Gabor in me) and can tell you they absolutely make a difference. Especially when paired together. Hair glides effortlessly over the surface of the pillowcase and skin unharmed during sleep. Effective immediately, famed celebrity hair guru Jen Atkin is brand ambassador for the brand Slip, maker of luxurious silk pillowcases and eye masks in a range of stunningly subtle colors. This brilliant pairing is genius, as it now thrusts this boutique brand to the forefront of our cultural obsession with silken tresses and age-defying skin care.

Hairstyles are not going to go back to complication... I’m teaching women to find something in their day to help with their hair health.

If you've not seen Slip mentioned here or in other places, it is a growing Australian line of silk goods created with proprietary fibers. Beauty editors everywhere have fallen for their high quality and soft sorbet-like color range (think blushy pink and creamy vanilla) that fits in with anyone's decor.

Why Atkin? She's the go-to tress tamer du jour for the Kardashians, Jessica Alba and many other Hollywood stars, Her debut hair care line OUAI has won acclaim from customers and critics alike.

According to the hair expert herself...

What I’ve noticed the most is that women want to take care of themselves and are focused on overall health.
— Jen Atkin

Bottom line, if Jen Atkin tells us to stop sleeping on cotton once and for all, it's time to listen and obey. Why lovingly care for skin and hair by day and cause (avoidable and unnecessary) damage by night? Here's what I'm loving form Slip right now...

SHOP MY SLIP & OUAI FAVORITES

Why black, you ask? Simple: you'll never accidentally put it in the laundry with your other linens. Pink for the same reason. I feel the difference in color will prolong the life of your investment as you will see the pillowcase (or mask) as unique and special. They also come in creamy white, caramel and charcoal.

I love the idea of a black mask for optimal light blocking why trying to sleep in and pink for the pillowcase for the reasons stated above. It's pretty, makes its presence known and you'll never accidentally leave it behind at the hotel while on vacation.

Which colors would you choose? Shop Net-a-Porter, Sephora, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom & Anthropologie and say bye bye to creased skin and bed head for good an wake up to your gorgeous, silky haired self.

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY

Loving: Fanciful Fall Espadrilles

Espadrilles

While Instagram would have you believe it's fall, it's still hitting 100 here in Dallas. Perhaps this is why I am relieved to see that my favorite arbiter of cool (no pun intended), Net-a-Porter, is showcasing espadrilles even though the peak of summer has long since passed. Trust this petite babe when she tells you that few choices can beat a cushy platform.

My faves at the moment are decidedly transitional with saddle brown leather or black with nary a seashell or pompom in sight. While this may not work for my babes up north (looking at you, Connecticut friends!), I assure you my southern friends can agree it's still open-toe season for quite some time.

WHAT I'M LOVING NOW

Tastemakers: An Interview with Interior Designer Lonni Paul...

Can I just say I love Lonni? Popularly recognized for her appearance on Design Star and her nursery furniture & bedding line PetitNest, this Los Angeles designer is one I always look to when I need a dose of West Coast inspiration. Perhaps inspired by the laid-back California lifestyle and all that sunshine, this LA designer manages to effortlessly balance glamour and a "come on in and take your shoes off" air of relaxation in their work. I admire that skill greatly. 

When Lonni's smiling face appeared on Giuliana & Bill it was a welcome surprise. As the celebrity couple's designer, we saw her navigate the needs of these two very different personalities and the usual (and occasionally opposing) husband and wife desires in terms of interior design. The results (and broad client smiles) speak for themselves. 

The beautiful images seen here show her ability to balance the needs of a young family with those of a professional couple that loves to entertain. It's chic, it's pretty and yet it graciously lends itself to that laid-back vibe we all crave. Mom to twins herself, Lonni is a natural at serving up that special blend of glam-meets-casual. The result is a warm and inviting suburban pad with a generous helping of up downtown high-rise elegance. 

Design fans will note that the feature in Traditional Home appeared last fall. but I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Lonni, so it seemed apropos to showcase her work for the celebrity duo again. 

I am excited to share my interview with Lonni below. Suffice it to say this talented designer is just as lovely as her work. Read on to gain insight on how you can channel that West Coast cool into your interiors, relate to her love of wallpaper and learn how a good blowout can make a busy modern girl's life easier (and decidedly more fabulous)... 


Between Design Star and Giuliana & Bill, television has played a very positive role in expanding your fan (and hopefully client) base. You are such a natural in front of the camera. Since you’re based in LA, is being on air a natural extension of your brand building strategy - or were these happy professional surprises?
The shows I’ve worked on were really not part of a strategy.  In fact, I was very reluctant to audition for Design Star but was called several times and asked to send in a tape.  I finally did and as difficult as that experience was I’m glad I did it. 

For Giuliana & Bill, someone involved in the show’s production saw a house I had designed and recommended me.  Their show has definitely expanded my client base.  It’s amazing how many people watch the show!  It’s also been such a great experience. 

The Rancics are definitely the same people on and off camera and it’s been such a pleasure getting to know them and their families.  We have become close friends over the last few years. They are very supportive of me and truly want me to succeed.   

CHANNEL YOUR INNER CELEBRITY CLIENT

Club House Chair // Orchid Vessel // Bungalow Side Chairs // Safavieh Handknotted Wool Rug // Etched Mercury Glass Vessels // Venetian Mirror

PetitNest: It has always been very difficult to source great nursery furniture. Your line is modern, cool and yet somehow classic. As your twins grow are you looking to expand into beds and “young child” furniture? 
Thanks so much!  My twins, Jett and Sophie both have PetitNest dressers in their rooms.  Jett has the Odile, and Sophie has the Sophie of course!  I designed a bed for Sophie’s room as part of a young child's line for PetitNest.  I haven’t put them into production yet but it’s in the works!

How else do you see that line evolving over the coming years? 
I’d love to design a line of PetitNest accessories and a party line too!  

Tell me about LA style. Your work has such an effortlessly chic vibe to it. Nothing is forced and yet everything is fabulous. How would you describe your approach to interior style? How does the laid back California lifestyle reflect itself in your work? 
Wow!  Thank you so much for that!  That’s what I strive for so I’m happy you see it that way.   I think LA has such a relaxed atmosphere because the weather allows us to be involved in an indoor/outdoor lifestyle!  My approach to design is to sit down with my clients and really have a conversation about how they live. 

What do they do when they wake up?  How do they spend their weekends & evenings?  How do they entertain?  Do they have kids, dogs, parents that visit often or live with them?  So I take the clients lifestyle and put together an interior that works for the lifestyle. 

I love so many different styles of design. I like modern design but I also like classic.  So my designs usually lean toward classic with an updated feel.  It’s funny, I was just in Chicago at a dinner and someone asked me “what is your style”?  I said 'it’s whatever the client will love for years long after I’m out of there'. 

A contractor at the dinner said “oh no, she figures out the style and before she’s done she convinces you it was all your idea!!”  I thought that was very funny but maybe true.  It’s important to not only give your client a home they will love and feel comfortable in but to educate them along the way with ideas to make it even better than they were expecting.  Everybody needs somebody to help them push outside of their comfort zone a little!

Let’s talk balance: We all know work/life balance doesn’t really exist. How do your lovely twins influence your work? Are they quick to offer input on your designs or do you compartmentalize those portions of your life? 
You’re so right! It really doesn’t exist.  No matter how hard I try it’s such a hard line to walk.  I don’t always do the best job at it.  I travel a lot so when I’m home I definitely try to have alone time with each of them individually and together too. 

I chose to work from home (I have two separate offices there) so that I would be there when they come in after school before their activities start and then when they get home in the early evening.  It isn’t a perfect situation though. 

At the end of the day I can be on the phone with a client and hear someone bounding up the stairs yelling “MOM”!  I used to worry it came off as unprofessional but I’ve never had a client have a problem with it.  Anyone who’s a parent gets it!  And those that don’t are also understanding when I let them know my reasons for working from home.  

Recharging: The west coast offers so much visual inspiration. What are some of your favorite spots to catch the sunset or get out in nature to unwind? 
The ocean has always had such a calming affect on me, as I’m sure it does to most people.  I love to go down to Santa Monica or Malibu and watch the sunset from the beach.  I also love to try different restaurants with friends.  I love the food and the ambience!   I have a client from England who comes over several times a year and I think we spend more time eating than working!  

Beauty: You manage to stay so gorgeous while chasing twins and rocking it out for celebrity clients. Are there any beauty tricks or special products you’d love to share? 
Oh wow!!  You’re so kind to say that!  You haven’t seen me at the end of the day or when I drag myself out of bed! ha! I can’t stand to spend time on my hair or in front of the mirror.  I can put my face on in 5 minutes flat. I’m really lucky that I have thick hair so it doesn’t show easily that it’s dirty. 

I love DryBar.  It would take me twice as long to do it myself and it lasts over a week!  (unless I go to the gym—so I use it as an excuse—I can’t go to the gym and ruin my blow dry!)  My beauty regime is really simple. 

I use Clarins tinted moisturizer with sunscreen, Clinique blush, Clinique eyeshadow and Revlon mascara.  Oh, and Chanel lip gloss.  I do the same when I’m shooting but I just darken everything and add lip pencil, eyeliner and powder. I don’t wear powder in the day because I hate that dry feeling.  I have a lot of allergies so I’m very limited in things I can use.  I wash my face with Borage cleansing gel and moisturize with Borage sensitive skin lotion from Whole Foods!  

SHOP LONNI'S BEAUTY FAVES

Clarins UV Plus with Tint // Clinique Blush // Chanel Glossimer Trio // Drybar Morning After Kit // Buttercup Blowout Kit

Let’s talk shopping! LA is known for amazing boutiques and legendary flea markets. What insider sourcing favorites would you say are a “don’t miss” for a designer visiting Los Angeles for a week? 
I love finding going down to the La Cienega Design Quarter on La Brea.  There’s some great shops there.  I love the Pacific Design Center to shop for fabrics and wallcoverings.  Beverly Blvd near Robertson is great for a more modern vibe and design inspiration.  

Your design for Giuliana & Bill’s Brentwood home was every bit chic, but definitely family friendly. That’s no easy feat. As a mom yourself, you must love designing for families. What are some of your favorite design strategies when creating a home for adults and children? 
I do love designing for families.  When I first started PetitNest I made all my gliders in fabrics that were normally used outdoors.  People thought it was such a good idea!  I thought it was common sense.  The glider in my twins’ room was heinous after a couple of years so that’s where it started for me.  I think an investment in a piece of furniture should last longer than that.  There are a lot more indoor/outdoor fabric choices now and more designers are using them indoors.  I just think about practicality. 

Depending on the home I like to have a casual family room that never feels off limits and then use the living room as more of an adult space but still doesn’t feel like it shouldn’t be used.  What’s the point of a room you can’t live in?!  In the family room I love a deep sofa so the family can spend time together watching movies. 

I also like to use a fabric ottoman because it’s much better for kids that are running around but I always add a big tray in the center for snacks!  When space permits I always put a small sofa in a nursery along with the glider so the dad and/or siblings have a place to sit when mom is feeding the baby. 

I LOVE LOVE LOVE wallpaper.  I really explain that small hands with chocolate or a sharpie is a death sentence for grass cloth but when people are fine with it, I use it in the living room and master.  If kids are older it’s great everywhere.  Many now come with a wipeable sealant on them!

You’ve really mastered “calm sophistication” in your work, yet you are not afraid to throw in some fun patterns and bold color. It is truly an art! What are your secrets for mixing patterns while still maintaining your signature sense of luxe zen in a space? 
I think it’s important to go neutral with your big investment pieces like sofas, but I love to bring in color and pattern on pillows, walls, accessories and even a chair.  It’s easy to change the look of a room with new pillows.  I always change my rooms up for fall and summer and then at Christmas it’s a whole new thing too!  

And finally… What’s next for Lonni Paul Design?
Right now I’m working with a production company on a new show. I’m also working on Giuliana and Bill’s new Chicago home and I’ve fallen in love with the city and the people.   I’m planning to open an office there next.  I work all over the US so it’s a good location for an east coast office.  I’m designing an adult line of furniture, a lighting line and fabrics!  I always keep myself open to new ideas and opportunities.  I feel fortunate to be doing something I love, so I’m really grateful everyday!


Don't you just love her? So refreshingly candid and so at ease doling out sage design advice. Hopefully we'll be seeing much more of Lonni and her work in print and broadcast. Her natural warmth and expertise comes through in everything she does. I'm sure her clients (celebs and otherwise) truly enjoy the process and find they've made a friend during the design process as well as a sensational living space. 

Thank you for reading! For more of Lonni's insights and inspirational design, find her on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. Until next time... live stylishly! 

{images via Traditional Home

Buon Weekend: Take it Outside...

This week marked a small but subtle change in my life. I moved my yoga practice outside. The first evening I was serenaded by the moon up high in blue cloudy sky while it was still daylight. As I moved through my poses I'd see it and smile. The next morning it was quite possibly the most perfect outdoor morning ever. Picture perfect blue skies, puffy white clouds and perfect temps: Not too coo, not too sunny. 

Although I find yoga to be excellent for clearing my head, I realized I need more greenery outside. Let's just say I'm all about improving my "yoga studio" this year to accommodate my new location for my vinyasa flow. 

Dallas, you see, has but three seasons: sleet, perfection and summer. Right now we're in that weird moment of perfection that seems to last forever and at the same time only half a moment. Spring and fall are fabulous here but never last quite as long as you'd like them to. Our sole goal as locals is to dine on every patio, walk every path and shop every outdoor plaza during these fleeting moments of outdoor bliss. 

Coming up this weekend: a review of Charlotte Moss Garden Inspirations. Expect to see much more on the topic of beautifying your outdoor spaces. Trust me on this: it's worth it. 

Buon Weekend: Embrace Your Undeniable Glow...

 {image via  PicPicx.com }

{image via PicPicx.com}

Happy (last day of) the weekend! If you're hustling hard, I hope you'll at least enjoy some of the day with a bit of "you" time. And let's talk about you, while we're on the topic. You're magical, you know? Yes you. You are a unique and amazing creature born to do incredible things. Things only you were destined to do. Personal expressions of your individual talents and yearnings. Things that if you don't do will simply go undone.  

It's easy to forget that you have a specific purpose in this life, but you shouldn't. You need to embrace the essence of your true self and celebrate "you" more often. Decide that you're happy being you and do something nice for yourself today. Stretch your mind and your body. Paint your toenails. Read a best seller. Breathe in the early fall air. Embrace today and yourself. You only get one of each.

ON MY REPLENISH LIST  

What to Wear: Channeling Effortless Island Style...

I've just finished reading the latest India Hicks book, Island Style, and it not only transported me to a breezier, more relaxed way of living, it has inspired me to loosen up my approach to spring and summer dressing. 

A kaftan is surely necessary. In fact, after this brutal winter (yes, even here in the south it was punishing by our standards) I'm eschewing the idea of any restrictive clothing. My mission: dresses & skirts all day every day. With one exception: culottes. My summer fashion edict is t approach the season with easy, breezy style that perhaps - just maybe - can help me channel some of India's unfussy approach to glamour. Think: Calypso St. Barths and you've nailed it. 

With this you'll see I've found the PERFECT summer tote. And I do mean perfect. Leave it to Tory to absolutely nail the straw tote. Pair it with these amazing metallic espadrilles and you are ready for the resort, the corner cafe or a fun afternoon out and about. 

GET THE LOOK: RESORT CHIC


And of course, no belle du jour look is complete without a sun-kissed glow on your beaming visage. I love a good bronzer-blush duo to give my face a milk dusting of bronzy-peachy goodness. Gloss up legs with a good gel to get that coveted gleaming gams look. Finish with a swipe of balm in the most delicious shade of tropical punch. You. Are. Done. 

SUN-KISSED BEAUTY

DRESSED FOR THE LAID-BACK OCCASION


Above are few more dresses to help you channel that vacation state of mind - even if it's Monday. I like them simple and swingy, but figure flattering too. And while I chiefly choose solids, a few prints are fun to mix it up. 

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY

Loving: The Enduring Allure of Palm Beach Chic...

Blame it on CZ Guest and those yummy Slim Aarons books that litter the tables of Mecox Gardens, but the shocking heat of August in Texas makes my mind wander to other sunny destinations. Namely, costal retreats. When I think of well-heeled socialites enjoying summer by the pool, I go to the thin strip of land that draws society types like bees to pollen: Palm Beach.  

We associate such a specific design aesthetic and sophisticated lifestyle to this area. Pink walls, Greek key fretwork, palm fronds, bamboo accents, cabana stripes, pretty floral chintz here, pops of pink there and heavy hand with white and gold. It's all in the mix and it's fabulous. IChinoiserie chic is all about happy colors and lovely design elements.

Country club lifestyle aside, it is impossible to deny the allure of white beaches, palm trees and fresh seafood caught moments before your sunset meal. If you're thinking of going, don't pass up your opportunity to stay at The Breakers, a classic in its own right.

In case you haven't noticed, ticket prices have been dropping (thank you, Jesus!) and flights to Florida are actually reasonable (despite all Buzzfeed is doing to deter you from heading to the state's white sandy shores). I love a good end of summer/early fall escape, and a jaunt to white sandy shores is just a quick flight away.

Another option if hotels are too 2013 for you? A sweet rental with Airbnb (this place is totally gorgeous) or if you're a really baller check out these Luxury Retreats on Palm Island. Swanky!. After all, renting a private pad gets you closer to that posh lifestyle Slim Aarons famously celebrated. 

What to wear? If you're not in a breezy coverup enjoying the view of crashing waves, it's all about those happy Lilly Pulitzer prints and sandals. Palm Beach chic for the home and for the closet is a style that makes us believe - if only for a moment - that we are part of that elusive lifestyle we've come to know and love. Thank goodness we can visit and sit in our own cabana and bask in the same sunshine. 

What about you? Do these long days make you dream of other sunny places? Where are you eager to go before cool weather returns? Are you a Palm Beach lover or is the quieter vibe of 30A (think: Rosemary Beach & Watercolor) more your vacation style? I love them both for various reasons. If you can't get away, enjoy these fabulous pieces below inspired by Palm Beach chic:

INSPIRED BY PALM BEACH CHIC





What to Wear: Weekend Escape to Laguna's Montage...

One great thing about having close girlfriends with similar taste? They ask me what to pack for their upcoming trips. One such bestie is headed out to a personal favorite spot: Laguna Beach. Ahhhh, California living epitomized at the stylish Montage Hotel. Yes, darling, I can definitely pack your getaway bag for you! 

First, let's scope out the scene. The Montage is known for its unobstructed views of the Pacific, five-star culinary experiences and incredible spa. Did I mention the gorgeous suites? This is an ideal spot to escape with your partner and let the sound of the crashing waves below & palm tree fronds above take all your cares away. California dreaming? Definitely. So let's get on with the business of mapping out this weekend wardrobe, shall we? 

The vibe? Relaxed yet chic. Elegantly undone. It's the west coast, after all. The mood? Sunny & romantic in a quietly upscale way. The look? A versatile mix of flowy pieces that will take her from poolside chaise to reservations at 8:00 looking flawless and feeling free. So... let's get down to the business of packing, shall we? 

  • First rule: versatility is key. Select pieces that pack easily and play nicely with others.
  • Rule two: no iron is the best iron. Think: jersey knits or linen items that embrace the crinkled look.
  • Rule three: When in doubt, go for the gold. Metallic accessories elevate even a simple black slip-on dress. Embrace them.
  • Finally: less is more. Fewer colors + fewer pieces = fewer decisions + a more enjoyable trip

WHAT TO WEAR: WEEKEND ESCAPE TO LAGUNA // DAY ONE

Net-a-Porter Travel Set // Eres Black Essentials Suit // Saint Laurent Metallic Clutch or Shoulder Bag

The result? Simple outfits that take you from day to night with the simple change of a shoe (graduating to higher heels for night) and swapping the necklace for the sunnies as the sun sets. Boss move? Slip a chic clutch into your tote for maximum versatility and pull it out for after dark glamour. And do NOT forget the sunscreen ladies! (Here's my choice via Omorovicza). Happy travels! xoxo

In the Mood For: Jovial Spring Tablescapes...

It's sunny and bright outside this week, hinting that winter is a mere blip on the calendar. A minor inconvenience on the way to brighter days, lighter moods and cheerier outlooks. Knowing this, I'm already in the mood for spring and the colorful palette that it affords. Pink macarons, pastel dinnerware, fresh blooms and a carefree attitude tod=wards entertaining and life itself. I'm already hearing the birds chip. Already seeing the cloudy skies. Already breathing in the roses. What are you in the mood for today? {scene above via}

IN THE MOOD FOR


Tastemakers: The Softness of Saladino...

My first meaningful exposure to professional interior design was the result of discovering the work of John Saladino. This legend has a way of infusing a space with his signature softness without leaving any telltale designer fingerprints. The heady mix of classic yet streamlined upholstery in touchable textures amidst vast open spaces occupied by whitewashed solid surfaces is intoxicating. Even in still photos I can almost feel the breeze blowing and smell the Belgian linen in his spaces.

Hallmarks of his work: lots of linen, few if any patterns, classic silhouettes, unfussy styles, skirted chairs and sofas and an undeniably serene quality to houses he has designed. I love his barely there signature style which allows the architecture and a few exquisite pieces to shine. Nothing is forced. Nothing is overdone. Nothing is complex.  

A few images above are from project he recently completed for clients in Palm Springs as featured in Veranda. Seeing him use vivid pink fabric is such a surprise to me, but a welcome one. 

Artist that he is, John possesses the ability to use even this punchy color judiciously in an effort to allow the expansive views to be the focal point of the room. Which isn't to say that the interiors are anything less than spectacular. His pretty combo of neutrals, lilac and butter yellow act like a soothing balm to the soul. Can you imagine coming home to such a peaceful pad? Dreamy.  

Looking to channel John's effortless luxe look? While no one can rock his signature cool look quite like John, you can look at the broader strokes of his brush work to pick up some of his laid back luxury goodness. Here are the pieces I suggest to infuse your home with his softly welcoming style. 

Regency-Style Bench // Safaveih Vegetable Vines Rug // Matilda Skirted Sofa with Dressmaker Details // Mango Wood Pedestal Table

For a better look at John's work overall, don't miss his sophisticated portfolio. Designer friends: John offers his 10 best tips for making new construction feel aged and familiar. 

From the Window Seat: My On-the-Go Luxuries...

I had the pleasure of being featured in the spring/summer issue of Ligné Magazine showcasing all manner of jet set chic features and luxurious travel stories. They asked me to share the products I can't live without when I head out on a trip, a topic I'm clearly passionate about (8 years of blog posts can confirm this!) and hold many tips I'm eager to share.  

Below are what I shared with the lifestyle magazine as my jet set all-stars. The reality is that most of these products are winners at home, too. I hope you'll discover a few gems to add to your private arsenal for journeys far and wide. After all, every day in itself is an adventure and an opportunity to experience new things. 

With that... enjoy my list of personal luxuries...

IN-FLIGHT LUXURIES

The Chic Multiwheel Cabin Bag
When it comes to a carryon, it’s all about the wheels and protecting those precious goods inside. I’m loving the hardbody of this sleek bag. Best part? It’s TSA approved and navigates those airport turnstiles like a dream. Bonus: your beauty goods & fabulous shoes won’t lose their precious shape inside. Options abound for small in-flight workhorses. Hard-bodied Victorinox Swiss Army luggage is hard to beat (and easy to spy on the carousel, should you decide to check it), as is an ever-reliable black Tumi. But my heart will always be with a classic Vuitton carryon, as it speaks to the heritage of travel itself. 

The Universally Flattering Black Jumpsuit
Some things you can just count on. Death. Taxes. My love of packing an all-black travel wardrobe. Give me a fabulous jumpsuit and I’m a happy girl. Dress it up, play it down. You can’t go wrong with these wardrobe workhorses. My favorites are sleeveless and black. This one is absolutely perfect. Pro tip: this Norma Kamali version is perfect for a long day of wrinkle-free travel but looks dinner-ready when paired with jewelry and heels. The Swiss Army knife of your wardrobe.

The Chic Ballet Flat
Nothing makes you appreciate a good flat like travel. I love the easy on / easy off quality of a ballet flat but they usually lack any arch support. These Cole Haans are not only comfortable, they are light as a feather and allow your feet to breathe. Yes, this high heel diva has learned to love (and enjoy) a hard working flat for long travel days and exploring the city on foot. 

Saint Laurent Monogram Crossbody Tassel Bag
I’m a firm believer in a cross-body bag that can go from day to night and tarmac to rooftop. This Saint Laurent bag does it all - not to mention it slides neatly into a larger tote during the flight. 

Chloe “Marcie” Sunglasses
Never underestimate the power of oversized sunglasses. They disguise tired eyes (hello, jet lag!) and add instant polish and intrigue to your look - day or night. My current faves the lightweight acetate frames with vintage-styling & glam gold hardware. Very Rachel Zoe.  Shop them here.

iPhone 6
There is no better travel luxury than my beloved iPhone 6. All the technology a girl could hope for right at my fingertips. From instagramming my coffee moments to keeping tabs on clients to capturing precious family moments on video, the ultimate travel accessory rests in the palm of my hand. How did we ever survive before? I would never go anywhere without this lovely golden modern miracle! 

PRE & POST-TAKEOFF ESSENTIALS

Eric Javitz Squishee Sun Cap
If I’m going anywhere sunny, a hat is a must. I love that this one can be tossed in a bag and still retain its shape perfectly. Better yet? This one allows for a ponytail in the back. Yes, long-haired girls can rejoice and those of you with short & chic 'do's can enjoy the stylish silhouette! You have to love a chic hat that keeps the harsh sun at bay and helps you have fab hair. Winner!

Clarins Broad-Spectrum UV Plus 
Speaking of sunshine… nothing will ever replace Clarins UV Plus in my cosmetic pouch. This tiny bottle lasts forever and is my saving grace for the delicate skin of my face, décolletage & hands. I can’t say enough great things about it and would never board a plane (or leave my house) without it. This is my main squeeze when it comes to sun protection and I basically hoard it for fear they'll discontinue it. Fortunately the small bottle is TSA-friendly (read: small enough to carry on) and makes for invisible, easy application. If you've been looking for "the one" this is it!

Clarins Sun Care Milk SPF 50+
Somewhere between the best moisturizer ever and the most lightweight body SPF ever, this dreamy bottle appears. I discovered it last summer and am now a dedicated fan. A few easy sprays by the pool and I’m ready to catch up on my reading without fear of too much sun. Bonus: it leaves skin as smooth as silk and beautifully hydrated. Don't be tempted to use it on your face - the formula is completely different from the facial formulation. This falls squarely into the "great from the neck down" category. 

The Glam Lightweight Cashmere Scarf
Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a month long journey, I always pack scarves. Right now I’m loving Diane’s leopard version. It’s featherlight and goes with anything. Toss around your neck pre-flight for a pop of pattern and a way to keep that cold cabin air at bay. During the trip its uses will be nearly limitless. Not to mention they weigh almost nothing and can be tossed in your tote the moment you want to take it off. For me, these gauzy creations are the absolutely perfect travel accessory. DVF makes high quality versions that are truly timeless and will make you look and feel like a million bucks in any city. 

The Large Black Nylon Tote
Travel bags must be roomy and incredibly lightweight. I prefer nylon totes that can take the abuse they will inevitably face on a trip. Let's face it, air travel and car rides aren't good for our precious bags. I’m a big fan of Longchamp’s understated appeal and nearly bulletproof construction. This one has a zip top (for added security) and is roomy enough to hold my magazines, iPad, water bottles and anything else I’d love to keep on hand. 

Omorovicza Plumping Cream
My facialist and the gugus at the brand's counter call this “Cinderella cream” for good reason. One simple treatment and your face looks dewy, plump and youthful, like a fairy tale. Boom! Instant Plumping Cream is my go-to special occasion moisturizer for combating the dry skin and unsightly dehydration that always accompanies air travel. Frankly, I love this at home as well. It's an investment, but well worth its myriad benefits.

A Powerhouse Beauty Elixir Mist
Now that I’ve discovered the magic of beauty mists, there’s no turning back. These dew-inducing, skin-plumping miracle workers refresh your face and boost your mood in mere seconds. The best of the bunch are filled with anti-aging powerhouses that work hard to fight free radicals and turn back the clock. Another perk? A light fragrance is mood elevating and tells your senses "you've arrived" once it's wheels down in your destination of choice. This version from Caudalie is tiny enough to toss in your tote for the flight. Also try Omorovicza's Queen of Hungary Mist - a spectacular version of the mist category that is to be used in conjunction with their Instant Plumping Cream mentioned above. A serious one-two punch for revitalizing your face. 

Molton Brown Pink Pepperpod Body Scrub
Body scrubs are a favorite beauty product for me at home. When traveling I like to kick it up a notch with a more invigorating variety of body exfoliator. Molton Brown’s Pink Pepperpod scrub turbo charges my showers with its exotic fragrance and body-tingling (hello, ginger!) qualities. This beauty staple never fails to get me in a vacation state of mind. 

Cris Notti Silk Eye Masks
Seriously, I live for these lovely little creations. I use a silk eye mask every night at home and on trips I always pack more than one because (I’ve learned this the hard way) losing one along the way means losing precious sleep. These soft silk masks are absolutely perfect for mid-flight catnaps but more importantly, they guarantee you’ll be able to sleep in long after the sun peeks through the sheers at the hotel. 

Illuminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillow
In lieu of taking my own pillow while trailing, I opt instead for a high-tech (and silky soft) pillowcase. This one is constructed from copper-oxide rich fibers and is not only easier on your lovely visage,it actually combats the signs of aging. Those are all qualities I’m going to say “yes, please” to, especially after a long flight. Say "nighty night" to creases, lines and other would-be beauty enemies. 

Don't miss the rest of the superb issue of Ligné Magazine which features many familiar faces and exciting places. I look forward to receiving the next issue to discover which luxe topic they tackle next. Have a great day, everyone! Life life fabulously.  

Mind & Body: Spring Forward With a Dietary Reboot...

 {image credit  WelleCo Blog }

{image credit WelleCo Blog}

Health & wellness. Where to begin? It seems the cleaner and more purely I strive to live and eat, the further I realize I am from the goal.  Not from my own doing, but from the challenge of fully trusting where your food is coming from and what nasty substances are entering your body. From known chemicals in my sunblock to questions about pesticides, nutrients and GMOs, it feels like an uphill battle many days, doesn't it? 

As a fan of the Super Elixir (note: this is NOT sponsored, I order mine from Net-a-Porter & love the free shipping and pretty black box!), I receive their periodic emails. LOVED this simple four week body reboot to inch both mind & body closer to "clean" and summer-ready. Whether you're concerned about fitting into that bikini or simply want the sparkle back in your eyes and the spring in your step, this simple process will help you strip away the junk you've been consuming and move closer to radiant health. Always the goal, right? 

Here's the four week countdown to feeling (and as a lovely byproduct, looking) fabulous...

WEEK ONE

WEEK TWO

  • Build on the above tips
  • + replace one meal a day with THE SUPER ELIXIR Nourishing Protein, with 400ml of cold almond milk and 1-2 fruits as a super delicious smoothie. {Editor's note: I mix mine with SO Delicious Coconut milk and blend to a rich frothy chocolately drink!}

WEEK THREE

  • Build on the above
  • + add cayenne pepper to at least one meal a day. It will boost metabolism and create a thermogenic effect, which helps burn calories.

WEEK FOUR

  • Build on the above,
  • + for one week cut all sugar, dairy and starchy carbs (you can do it!)
  • + increase intake of green vegetables. 

Fairly simple, right? Eat fresh, eat right. Nourish your way to clear skin, better sleep and a healthier body. I did want to share with you this list I discovered that reveals the fruits & veggies that contained the most pesticides of any on the market. Yet another reason to shop your local farmer's market or select produce that is organic & pesticide free. The "dirty dozen" below are foods that we eat with the skin on, thus increasing our ingestion of those icky substances. SO please, shop wisely from the start and clean that produce before consuming. 

THE DIRTY DOZEN

  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Sweet bell Peppers
  • Nectarines
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Snap peas
  • Potatoes

SHOP MY ELIXIR  FAVORITES

SHOPPING (AND MONEY-SAVING) TIP

If it's your first time, invest in the refill pouch version of the greens (a less costly way to give it a go with heavy duty resealable top) and the travel packs of the protein. This is how I dipped my toes in the brand. I'm not a convert and would not want to go a day without my greens! Let's get healthier together! 

Also, Google for nearby farmer's markets happening. It's a great way to save on your weekly grocery trips and have a little fun in the process. Make it a part of your weekend ritual and don't be shy about trying out new foods. You just may discover a favorite!