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! 

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


Perspective: Small Steps Forward = Major Results...

I recently read a statement that caused an ah-ha moment for in my life. To paraphrase (because I can no longer find the original text) it dropped this wisdom: 

To make any life-altering changes to your life, you must select one personal daily habit and do it differently.

Boom. Simple truth. Profound impact. What might this mean for you? Does it mean getting up and working out right away every day? Does it mean changing what you do (or eat) for lunch? Does it mean making calls to family and friends each afternoon instead of surfing the web? Does it mean eating breakfast outside on the patio and watching the sunrise in lieu of grabbing a protein bar and dashing out the door? 

Most of mine will involve healthy habits or time efficiency, as these are personal priorities. Perhaps yours are financial changes. What if you skipped the $8 a day coffee shop habit and saved the cash. What if you dropped your usual lunch habit and applied that income instead toward a vacation fund? 

Think of these more as tiny pivot points that lead to big differences in our life experience. Minimal tweaks that produce dramatic emotional shifts. 

Can you think of a few small steps (or even just one) you could make in your life on a consistent daily basis that would cause a ripple effect in your life? Does it mean putting down the coffee cup and sipping matcha? Or starting your day with prayer & meditation? Or setting specific personal boundaries on when you lose hours staring at your iPhone? Maybe you could begin each day with a look at your goal sheet or inspiration board and let the messages wash over you. How might that small daily practice overflow into other areas of your life? 

What lifestyle habit could you alter that might feel like a tiny change yielding massive results? 

THE CRUSH LIST

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.  

What to Wear: New Year & Beyond...

New Year's Eve

Oh, holiday glamour! One of the perks of being a girly girl is the opportunity to dress up. The key is to not overthink your look. Keep your regular vibe and just add a bit more verve, a bit more shimmer and a bit more shine. Love a faux fur jacket? Rock it with a sparkly dress on NYE and jeans next weekend. A gold clutch is just as killer with denim as lace. Diamond (or faux diamond!) stud earrings pair just as well with your yoga mat as they do high heels. And that gold clutch? You know you want it for those nights out and for special occasions. Invest in classic keepers and you'll never, ever regret it.

The key here, ladies? Wear what makes you FEEL good. It might be your favorite black skinnies or even a fuzzy blush sweater that drapes just right off the shoulders. It might just be a fragrance that makes you feel like a bombshell. If it makes you feel gorgeous, wear it! Here's what I'm loving for New Year's Eve which will easily slide into the wardrobe to mix & match with other staples throughout the year.

WHAT TO WEAR

For Everyone: Last Minute Holiday Shipping Saves the Day!

Thank goodness for last minute shipping! I scored some thoughtful additions to round out gifts for the Mr. this morning thanks to Williams-Sonoma with code FREESHIP. Completely free shipping. No minimum order. Delivered by December 24. Check! 

Who else is playing the role of Santa? Neiman Marcus, just use code QUICKSHIP. Nordstrom offers shopping online & store pickup (and option I have long been a fan of!). You can even search to see which of the nearby locations has the items you want. Always awesome. J. Crew will overnight anything your pretty heart desires for just $10. Not a bad idea considering thew 30% off savings on all full prince and an extra 40% off sale. Helloooo, sweet deals!  

For a small fee, Trina Turk can save the gold medallion day. She's loaded the site up with smart gift guides & oodles of glam options for everyone on your list. 

Don't overlook the joys of Sur la Table. They have plenty of amazing ideas for everyone on your list - chefs and kids alike - and still offer pre-Christmas delivery.

And of course... Amazon. They are killing it on deliveries on everything under the sun. And today is THE LAST DAY to order to receive by Christmas. This is when the Prime membership really shows its value! 

Happy (last minute) shopping! 

Perspective: White Out...

We don't get a blanket of white powder in the south very often. While we're unlikely to see a blanket of snowy accumulation today, it's drizzling and a chilly 30 degrees out there this morning. It's a dream, of course, but we're all silently thinking, "let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" inside our hearts. What better way to begin the new year than with a blank canvas both mentally and visually. Even a fine dusting of snowflakes does the trick. It seems to cover all manner of detail and leaves the view outside your frosted window looking absolutely gorgeous. Pristine. Pure. Snow obscures most of the detail you normally see and highlights textures you hadn't noticed before. It plays tricks on the mind, simplifying things... beautifying things. 

For the start of this fresh page of the calendar I wish for a blank canvas for each of us. A new beginning. A pure start. A new awakening. A clear line drawn on the timeline of your life to actively leave the past behind you and step boldly into a new you, a better you, a more high achieving you. 

This is when I'm craving my annual "mind cleanse" and life adjustment kickstart. It's time to fully assess my life goals and determine how to create maximum results to get where I know I'm destined to arrive. It's time to plan trips and book vacations. It's time to reach out to friends old and new and spark up flames of friendship you cherish. It's time to rethink your outlook, your mental roadmap and your life course. It's time to recalibrate and get back on track if you've drifted - or move your target further away if you're achieving your goals like a boss. 

Use today wisely. Cherish it. Relish it. Enjoy the completely blank page on your calendar and leverage the freedom that it extends to you. I challenge you to fill that journal with delirious, delicious, ridiculous goals that frighten you. Use your pen and articulate your thoughts in a way that feels a bit uncomfortable. Write out things as you truly wish in your heart of hearts they were in reality. Do this even if your present situation seems blah and uninspiring. Do this even if your wildest dreams are already coming true. Reach higher. Much higher. Strive to live a life of excellence and awe. It's time you stepped up your game and you know it. Stop settling. Stop coasting. Stop waiting for someone else to make your dreams come true. That person is you and only you. 

Write down your goals, your plans, your wishes, your aspirations and your deepest longings. Write them down in incredible detail. What perfume will you wear when you are the woman you've always wanted to be? How will you walk? What will you wear? Where does this version of you you shop? What does she buy? How does she enter a room? Is she regal like Grace Kelly or sultry like Angelina? Does she do yoga or is she a runner? Where does she go to get her sweat on? Find that place. Drive to that place. See yourself there. See yourself fit and fabulous. Visualize this new version of you happening.

Make "your life: the remix" your new reality by penning it in great detail in a journal, a book, on a napkin, on a scrap of paper, on the floor, on your wall - SOMEWHERE. But do it in pen and don't do it on a laptop. Write that out old school with a pen and look at it. Design the life you want, and design it in the finest of detail. It needn't be in a fancy leather bound book, but it needs to be written down. Get those ideas out and don't stop writing until you feel you've gushed and gushed. Word of wisdom: If your inner longings don't scare you you are not thinking boldly enough! 

NEED MORE INSPIRATION? READ ON...

Foundations: Preparing for a Fashionable Winter...

As many of you have observed, I've been refining and refining my closet for a few years. This past summer I stumbled upon the most effective method of all for finally cropping it down to a tightly edited closet. It was the pivotal moment in the lengthy personal wardrobe purge. The result? Peace of mind and a walk-in that brings a smile to my face daily. 

So now I'm "there" on my goal of a slimmed down wardrobe. Excess has been eliminated and I love what is left. One advantage is the ability to clearly see what needs to be replaced, updated or added to (more fitted black tees, please!). The other clear advantage of the streamlined result is this: as each new season approaches I can see exactly what is lacking and where the "holes" are in my bulletproof closet. Hence, my current situation. 

Why am I lacking winter foundational pieces? It's that spicy Dallas weather. It is so unbelievably hot in Texas each summer that I can hardly imagine cold weather. It makes it almost impossible to imagine what is necessary for cold winter days. The idea of nailing down tall boots when it is 98 degrees is unreasonable at best, torturous at worst. 

That said, when the mercury does drop it drops with urgency. Chilly weather descents upon our pretty city with a major attitude. Days are suddenly overcast and dreary (where art thou, great sun?), and the brisk air is unforgiving. Very unforgiving. Suddenly it is crystal clear what timeless pieces I'll need to add to the mix to pull off this season and many winters in the future. 

Those just joining in should know I'm an investment shopper. Fewer, better, more fabulous additions to the wardrobe are all that are allowed. No fast fashion fixes. No placeholders. No ill fits. No substitutes. Examine each potential new acquisition and take care to source the best of the bunch, considering personal preferences and budget. 

So... what is on the present list for the season? Here it is...

Simple, straightforward and relatively easy to find.... right? It would be if I were merely plugging holes. Remember: this is finding the perfect item at the perfect price in the perfect size. Simple. But simple is not always easy.

I'll tackle a few of my fashion targets in a moment, but explore them more deeply in separate posts. After all, the selection process is a thorough one. You might wonder how (or if) I can shop online for such key pieces. My answer? A few factors come into play here: 

  1. SIZING 
    I'm petite, but it only matters in terms of pants and certain jackets. Eve so,  shopping online is pretty much a necessity as finding petite jeans is rarely an option even in the best of stores.
     
  2. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
    I live for and adore reading customer reviews. Criticisms and praise over items (as well as details such as age and body type) offer tremendous wisdom.
     
  3. SELECTION
    No store will ever offer as to choose from much as the great wide web. If it's out at Neimans, Shopbop may well have it. One I hone in on an item I search far and wide to pin it down in my size. 
     
  4. KNOW THY SELF
    I know my key brands and am always adding a few more trusted labels to the mix (as others are shuffled out).
     
  5. TRY & TRY AGAIN
    Be willing to experiment by ordering several pairs of jeans or a few jackets to see which suits you best. Know the return policies, abide by the basic tenets of being a good customer and simply ship back (typically for free) the items (new with tags, of course) that did not fit. I try to ship back the very next day to avoid any hiccups, but you often have as much as 30 days or more to make decisions. 
     
  6. CONVENIENCE (OR NECESSITY)
    I have two very small girls at home. While I have to take them out to try on shoes and help me find new moisturizers etc, I order online quite a bit. Why? Delivery straight to my door (and return pickup from home as well) are a dream come true. Why run about unnecessarily? I adore shopping and do plenty of it, but there's also a certain thrill in opening those glamorous ribboned Net-a-Porter boxes after the doorbell rings. 

With that... here are a few current contenders for the vacancies above in my wardrobe...

FASHIONABLE WINTER INVESTMENTS


 

ESSENTIAL RELATED READING: WARDROBE MANAGEMENT

RELATED READING: FOUNDATIONS

Wanderlusting: Drop Dead Gorgeous Hotel Pools Around the World...

A quick google search will turn up lists everywhere touting the "top infinity pools", "the most luxurious pools", the "most exclusive pools", and even the most photogenic pools in the world. At the moment, I'm reading (perhaps the more appropriate phrasing is "ogling") Dream Pools: Enchnating Pools of Italy's Emerald Coast. And as you might imagine, it's making me rethink everything I'm doing with my life and pulling out my copy of Tim Ferriss's 4-Hour Work Week (essential reading, by the way). But for today we're just looking at a few stunning images of what I would label as some of the most beautiful hotel pools in the world. Of course, I'm packing my imaginary bag quickly. Won't you join me? 

WHAT TO PACK? ONLY THE ESSENTIALS





What's coming up next week? Book reviews. Three of them as well as a closer look at what I'm crushing on right now. In the meantime, have a great weekend and get out here and LIVE. 

What to Wear: Spectacular Holiday Party Shoes...

It's all about the accessories, girls. You can wear the most basic black dress and style it properly and be the enviable belle of the ball - so long as those accessories are on point. Asked by a very close girlfriend to suggest holiday party shoes, I thought it best to offer that same wisdom here. Ready ladies? Let's get to steppin...

HIGH HEELS

Some of you love your stilts (raising hand) and want to lengthen those legs as much as possible. My five foot tall frame (and six-foot personality) is with you. Let's review my current favorite sky high heel options with price points for all to enjoy: 


NOT-SO-HIGH HEELS

This particular friend requested some not so tipsy teetering heels, and I can't blame her. It's tough to mix and mingle for hours on end when you're struggling to maintain your balance. No one wants to look as though she's has a touch to many flutes of bubbly at the holiday fête. For those of you who share her love of solid (yet fabulous) footwear, may I suggest the following...


See girls, style and investment levels for everyone. Although I will say my suggestion is to go for it and snag yourself a pair of these and call it a most happy day. After all, you only have one chance to make a first impression. 

These Jimmy Choo Anouk dégradé glitter-finished leather pumps have my name written all over them & I hope Santa baby thinks of me when he's tossing these in his red bag this year. Happy holiday shoe shopping, everyone! 

What to Wear: Your Flawless Holiday Party Look...

Whether you're a private jet to Ibiza kind of girl or a night in with friends, getting dolled up for the holidays is just part of our genetic makeup. We love it. We live for it. We embrace it. If you're looking for the PERFECT outfit to take you from dusk 'til dawn, this is surely it. A feminine frock, dazzling heels, a timeless clutch and gold & crystal J. Crew earrings. 

The dress will be an investment, yes. But I am sure you'll seek out more opps to wear this amazing LBD. The accessories will all be just as chic at your lazy next day brunch with jeans and a simple white tee. Classic investments and unbelievable pieces to usher out the old and ring in the new. 

SHOP THE LOOK

Lanvin Metallic fil coupe mini dress // Saint Laurent Monogram Clutch // Jimmy Choo glitter pumps // J. Crew Earrings

Extraordinary Journeys: The Life-Affirming African Safari...

Recently the epic conversation starter "what would you do if..." came up. Specifically, we explored how we would spend our last precious weeks here on this water-covered rock if given news that our number was up. I'm talking Queen Latifah in Last Holiday type of trip. Cash it in. Spend it all. No looking back. For me, there's no question exactly what I would do. Travel. In fact, I'd keep on going until... well, until the movie ended if you know what I mean. ;) 

So where would I go? Many places. And I plan to craft many posts featuring each of them. So buckle up, you bucket listers! It's a whirlwind trip around the globe and we've all got first class tickets and generous uncles sympathetic to our globetrotting cause. 

First up: the African safari. Non-negotiable, my very first experience would be amongst the most menacing predators on earth and the most sensational scenery. There is no other travel experience that even comes close to rivaling the thrill of seeing the "big five" from the comfort of a tricked out jeep with skilled (and let's not kid ourselves here: armed) tour guides. One such company offering the most luxurious safari experience is And Beyond. They keep it chic and make camping in the wilderness seem like the most logical thing in the world.

Regardless of your travel partner of choice, my focus is still the same: dinner under a vast sky where the beauty of our galaxy is actually visible. The very real life-threatening thrill of lurking big game nearby the camp (hello, lions!). The juxtaposition of fine white tablecloth dining amongst the tall grass in a remote game reserve. And, if lucky, playing witness to the great migration and some pretty vivid food chain activities (I'm talking about you, crazy hyenas). The idea of seeing cheetah, prides of lions and massive African elephants up close is beyond thrilling to me. And frankly, I think most people perish from pure lack of passion & excitement in their life. A trip of this magnitude would wake up the most tied of souls and (yes, I'll say it) perhaps even cure you. 

Naturally I would want my husband and girls to go, the inner core of my tight posse. Watching big game with my crew is everything this luxe loving babe could hope for. But... the Mr. being the extremely risk-averse person he is, I'm certain he'd put the kibosh on any plans to bring our little ones. Hyenas, wildebeest and some of the world's most potent predators in close proximity to our daughters strikes him as reckless and irresponsible. I disagree. These stunning creatures are some of the most magnificent on the planet. How can we not expose our girls to beautiful animals in their natural habitat? What if we can witness grazing gazelles and those gorgeous giraffes up close and personal. Together. Talk about a life-changing trip for all of us. 

Now, some of you may be asking why I'd spend my last days on earth (in this hypothetical situation) traveling. If you have to ask, you don't suffer from wanderlust. Plain and simple. Those of us with an unquenchable thirst to move about the globe simply won't be sated until we've seen it all. And then we'll want to go BACK to our favorite places. So if you're married to one of us, brace yourself. The trips will be many, they will be awesome. They will be the best investments you ever make. And they will be what you'll be expected to join us in doing for our entire lives. So keep the passports active. 

Can't get away? Enjoy these safari inspired objects...

VIRTUAL LUXE SAFARI

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Luxe Accommodations: Ralph Lauren's Carribean Dream...

While you might not immediately pair Ralph Lauren and Jamaica in your mind, Round Hill is out to prove the pairing is a match made in design heaven. Crisp linens, four poster beds, attention to detail and undeniably soothing interiors prove that the signature RL look is certainly at home in the Caribbean.

When you're not swinging in the hammock under the shade of a swaying palm, try out a bit of snorkeling or kayaking. But... who are we kidding? You'll be enjoying your private pool and the incredible chef-prepared cuisine between long siestas in those dreamy white luxury sheets as the ocean breeze blows in through the sheers. And that's precisely what Ralph hopes you do in this decadent island paradise. 

Holiday Glamour: Deck the Halls & Trim the Trees...

Although Instagram would say otherwise, I know I'm not alone when I say I have not decorated for the holidays yet. Aside from a fabulous garland I laid atop the mantle last night (I caved, okay?) we've neither acquired nor trimmed a tree. But... thankfully Horchow has a sweet 30% off holiday decor situation in the works which means that you and I can deck the halls in (aptly discounted) style. 

What do I suggest? One is predictable: Kim Seybert for the win, baby! Her holiday decor is simply unmatched. There's simply no substitute. You can stop looking, Kim has all the jeweled stockings and ornate skirts you could dream of having. 

Also "winning" in my book is Horchow's own Sugarplum Chic collection. Absolutely stunning, and the gilded organic elements tie in nicely with Kim's luxe decorative accessories. 

Aside from the opulence of these pieces, I like to keep my holiday decor simple. A few tips: 

Choose a color palette and stick to it. 
Gold or silver, blue or red. Choose a color or color combo and rock it out everywhere. I gravitate towards warmer tones like gold and plum with clear lights. I like tossing in accents of aqua to liven up the mix (and tie in my home decor). 

Carry the holidays through the home.
Nothing livens up a guest bath like a bowl of ornaments or a boxwood wreath hanging on the mirror. It can be simple, but adding a touch of holiday decor to even the smallest of public spaces is a thoughtful touch. 

Don't forget the door.
Ahhhh, wreaths. While I applaud those of you who can muster up seasonal decor for the door all year long, the Christmas season is when my front door wears its golden crown. Measure your door and don't be shy about size. I like my wreaths to be lush and large. Those over-the-door holders can be convenient here if nails or hooks are not an option, just be sure to add felt cushions to protect your door from damage. 

Add some aromatic elements. 
You have (at least) five senses. This is the time to tantalize your olfactory receptors with fragrant candles or live garland. We used to love grabbing a handful of live, lush garland at the tree tents and placing it on sideboards and mantles. The smell instantly puts you in the holiday spirit. Now that my littlest is seemingly allergic to everything I stick to tried and true holiday fragrances like Nest's Pumpkin Chai candle and (new favorite) Nest's Japanese Black Currant. Both lend an air of intoxicating cheer to the atmosphere. 

Grand or small, the time to get those decorations planned and ordered (or at the very least unpacked) is now. December has crept in upon us quietly and is begging us to take note. Now, head on over to Horchow and snag your holiday glamour at a festive price. Your barren mantle will thank you! 

Destinations: A Sleek Escape to Singapore...

All I can say over this hotel is a mouth agape WOW. Singapore is one of those amazing places I simply can't wait to visit. The celebration of the city-state's superrich new money society was widely celebrated in Crazy Rich Asians (a must-read, by the way) and enlightened many of us to the wonders of this hot spot on the tip of the Malay peninsula. Singapore is a wondrous land of business deals and bank accounts only barely eclipsed by the height of the insane height of the shining downtown skyscrapers. 

Where to stay? The Fullerton Bay Hotel looks amazing in every respect, although the Marina Bay Sands boasts the infinity pool that is much the obsession of travelers, pinners and thrill-seekers everywhere. Fullerton shines like a polished gem in the Marina Bay district. A sparkling steel creation with opulent interiors worthy of adoration, it actually reads "low key" compared to its more ostentatious neighbors. Just look at those well-appointed rooms, plush velvet sofas and iridescent textural walls. As a design fan I assure you, this is one swanky place to rest your weary shopping-fatigued feet.

Speaking of shopping... what to wear, what to wear in Singapore, you ask? I'm so glad you inquired. Let's pack a make-believe suitcase. I love to pack for comfort and style. A black jumpsuit is a standby I am grateful for constantly. It takes you from airport to sky bar without skipping a beat. Wear a crossbody bag for convenience and security and by all means, don't be shy about wearing flats. Especially if you'll be checking out the sights, a comfy pair of shoes (especially of the studded variety) will look far more chic than you hobbling through the lobby on your blistered feet.  

Along those lines, I love to pack away a neutral makeup set that has a bit of everything in one compact palette. Laura Mercier always turns it out with her amazing sets. The compact size makes it easy to freshen up post-landing. Spritz on some of your favorite exotic fragrance to add to the "we're just a 85 miles north of the equator" vibe and you're all set. Sunglasses, of course, are a must. My favorite are all oversized and exude an effortless air of mystery while still protecting you letting your jet lag show. Fine luggage: chic. Bags under eyes: not so chic. 

For the flight itself, don't skip wrapping a luxe scarf around your neck for warmth and comfort. Once you've headed out for dinner & drinks, switch it out for a glam bib necklace. Also post-flight: Omorovicza makes the most amazing facial mist. Somehow, some way this delicately fragranced mist brings tired skin back to life. In addition to the skin plumping qualities, the aromatic wonders of this Hungarian spray are almost magical. Toss a travel kit into your tote for a pre-landing zhush session. 

Rimowa Topas Titanium Multiwheel Weekender // Rachel Pally Heathcliff Jersey Jumpsuit // See by Chloe Beki Tote // Saint Laurent Cross Body Monogram Bag // Valentino Rockstud Flats // Tory Burch Leopard Scarf // Kate Spade Statement Necklace // Chloe "Marcie" Oversized Glasses // Byredo Baudeliare Eau de Parfum // Omorocicza Travel Essentials Kit // Laura Mercier "Nude" Limited Edition Set

Now... on to the business of what to do in this lively environment? Try the surprisingly fun hawker food markets for anything you can dream of dining (and many things you'd never have imagined). Indulge in a night safari at the zoo. Shopping is almost a natural sport, of course. But if Instagram is to be believed (and of course, it is) the Singaporean experience is all about the rooftop. Swimming, dining, sipping cocktails and taking in the panoramic views from any of the city's many cloud kissing buildings. Don't miss your chance to take the elevator to the top and enjoy the sunset (or sunrise as it may be) from your choice of venues. 

So... do dish my traveling friends! Have you been to Singapore? What spots do you suggest? Is it all business or is it actually a fun tourist destination. Will there be more to it than just taking a luxe cab ride to a strand of high end boutiques and swimming in an infinity edge pool? Do tell, do tell! 

Interviews: William T. Baker on Designing Exceptional Residences for Exceptional Clients...

William T. Baker

We've all had the experience of driving into a community and encountering a stunning house that takes our breath away. The type of residence that makes us pause to quietly wonder.. Who precisely lives there? What type of fabulous fetes do they host - and for whom? What do they do for a living? And (if you're even one bit like me) what fabulous fashion investments are safely stored in the master closet? Oh, if walls (and Chanel bags) could talk!

We know these magnificent homes. Fellow Dallas friends can agree these are the noteworthy addresses embossed on invites for significant holiday parties, charity events or designer show houses. Once you've stepped inside one, life can never - ever - be the same. 

While we may daydream about the fabulous lives of the inhabitants (and one day intend to be one ourselves), I happen to know someone who designs such estates. The esteemed William T. Baker. This award-winning residential designer will be familiar to many of you in the interior design industry. He's been featured in glossy publications such Veranda, Arch Digest, Elle Decor, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles and many others. I've written about his work here numerous times (see here & here) and have always admired his impeccable style. His homes are often decorated by such noted talents as Suzanne Kasler & Melanie Turner - two of my favorite interior designers.

Let's step inside the the mind of the man responsible for designing the private homes of influential citizens, successful corporate titans and successful entrepreneurs all over the globe. In celebration of his latest book, Great American Homes Volume III, I've take a moment to interview the talented Mr. Baker to learn more about the creation of these dreamy residences and what evolution he's noticing in the market.

Here's what he had to say...

Tell us what excites you most about the release of Great American Homes Volume III.
Having the opportunity to design families' dream homes is such a privilege! I am excited to share some of these incredible homes with the public.  These homes represent the finest in both comfortable living as well as residential architecture that will stand the test of time.  The reader will find that the book is illustrated with the floor plan for each home as well as the landscape plan. Together with the interior photographs , a reader can form a good impression of the total project. A careful study of the plans will reveal the continuing evolution of the American house plan.   

What project within the book do you feel will surprise readers & fans the most?
One of the hallmarks of my firm's work is that we are adept at designing homes in a number of vernacular styles. While some firms have a single trademark look, we pride ourselves in being able to "speak" many architectural languages. The readers will find a wide variety of homes from grand estates to more simple shake style homes.

Why is that? What makes that residence stand out from the others? A departure in style? An unusual location?
One of the reasons people love to follow my work is that there is an careful handling of the architectural scale and proportions. The details are thoughtfully considered and executed.  Our houses definitely set high standard for their communities and become cherished architectural treasures in the years ahead.   

Our expectations of “home” evolve over time. What changes are you seeing lately in terms of features your clients are requesting in their homes?
The trend toward more casual living is continuing to the point that we are seeing the formal dining room evolving into a more open room located toward the rear of the house rather than being located on the front as is traditionally the case. We are also seeing the wine function moving upstairs from he basement so that it is now a feature wall in the butler's pantry or even the dining room itself. Master closets continue to expand and the in the master bath we are receiving see requests for his and her toilet compartments or even his and her baths.

For busy professionals, we often hear of the need for a separate exit from the master suite so the person with an early schedule can exit without disturbing their sleeping partner.  We are also seeing an amazing number of requests for indoor sport courts. These require 20' ceilings and are usually located below ground so they are major structures.
 
Your ability to personalize your projects to accommodate the unique collections or preferences of your clients has always impressed me. From statement-making leaded glass windows to antique French paneled walls, I love seeing spaces with treasured art pieces infused into the architecture of the home. Is there an aspect of a project featured in Great American Homes III that stands out for your creative collaboration efforts with the owners? Tell us about that project. 
The cover house certainly comes to mind as that was a wonderful collaboration between myself and the owner. The inspiration was a house in France that the owner knew and thus began a journey to create a limestone clad house with overtones from the original. The floor plan was designed around a major acquisition of a stained glass window for the paneled library. The axis of the central hallway allows the window to be seen from the owner's chair in the dining room. Furthermore, the great room is double height and we broke up the volume with banding and paneling that gives the room scale. 

These large rooms often feel cavernous but with the architecture of the paneled walls, this room feels comfortable whether its two or two hundred people using it. Lastly, we wanted the family room off the kitchen to have dramatic architecture so we designed it with a coffer barrel ceiling.  It took the trim carpenters weeks to build it out! But as the reader will see, the effect is wonderful. 
     

And finally, what can we expect next from William T. Baker & Associates?
Most people think of me as a designer of grand estates. But I have designed a number of resort homes at various coastal resorts, lakes, and mountain retreats. I think it would be fun to create a book featuring some of these amazing homes from around the country. 


William T. Baker

William T. Baker

JOIN WILLIAM T. BAKER FOR A BOOK SIGNING IN NEW YORK....

In Manhattan? Meet Mr. Baker this Wednesday (November 29, 2017) from 6 to 8 pm at Rizzoli Bookstore on Broadway where he'll be signing copies of Great American Homes Volume III and participating in a panel discussion with Suzanne Kasler and Alec Michaelides for further exploration of the spectacular residences in this book and the families who call them home.

Beauty: Give Your Skin that Coveted Supermodel Glow...

{image via  Pinterest }

{image via Pinterest}

When it comes to how I feel about makeup, it begins with great skin, focus on eyes & eyebrows and a somewhat glossy nude-pink lip. While great genetics will take you far, few of us are rocking supermodel genes (or jeans, for that matter). But with a little know how, some experimentation and honed skills, you too can have a face that radiates that ethereal glow we've all come to associate with modern beauty. 

First: water. Sorry girls. There's no getting around this foundational aspect of great skin. DRINK UP. If you don't have a water filter, get one to eliminate some of the toxins and microbial particles in your tap water. Better yet, add some lemon. Trust: it does a body (and a face) good. 

But let's talk products. There are definitely some tips and tricks I can share from my ample experimentation and my quest to find the very best. Let's begin with a fresh face, shall we? Bliss  Youth as We Know It Anti-Aging Cleanser was my go-to for years and CeraVe is an excellent (and super inexpensive) option. These days, however, it's hard to resist the siren call of Kate Somerville's Cleansing Milk. "WOW" is my response to this amazing cleanser. It is packed with active ingredients and leaves my skin soft & prepped for a day of looking gorgeous. That pump dispenser keeps things bacteria free, too. I was told by my Kate Somerville guru that it was developed for more mature ladies, but I don't care. My skin loves this stuff and it smells dreamy. It's worth every sulfate-free penny. 

Next, grab a serum. Ole Henricksen Truth Serum wins those magazine beauty awards every year for good reason. It isn't sticky, doesn't leave you "wet" and somehow magically makes you better looking. Loaded with Vitamin C, used daily it will indeed generate a glowing complexion and a more firm face. I especially love the "super sized" option as it's a great value. 

Finally, hydrate. I'm a huge Prevage by Elizabeth Arden fan. I actually use the body moisturizer on my face and décolletage (it just works for me) and love, love, love the way it sinks right into my skin and leaves that beautifully hydrated finish. I actually mix it with my Clarins UV Plus before applying to face, neck and shoulder area. Prevention truly is the best cure, after all. 

Wait half a beat for the moisturizer to sink in most of the way (but not quite completely dried) then apply Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer. My go-to color is Nude, which is pretty spot on for my skin tone. They offer a wide range of shades for girls of every color of the rainbow. (Tip: Stick to the original, as I do not care for the illuminating or oil-free versions.) Apply a thin layer beginning in the center of your face and work outwards. Dot extra on any troublesome areas (like around the nose or apples of cheeks) and stand back to appreciate your dewy glow. Done right, this will result in that perfect "no makeup" look you crave but don't have the nerve to actually try. I prefer a light-to-medium coverage and appreciate that this product is NEVER caked or thick. My skin can breathe and it looks and feels healthy.

My super secret weapon? Step a little closer to the screen... wait for it... wait for it...  Laura Mercier Mineral Illuminating Loose Powder. This is one beauty product that changed my look from so-so to boom-boom-pow. Used sparingly with one of these brushes in areas of the face you would normally apply bronzer to it will produce an "I just jetted back from Ibiza" glow that doesn't look overdone. In summer I use more to achieve that golden glow, but this is one product I'm happy to incorporate all year long. Brush just below cheekbones, up to temples and lightly dust on forehead, nose and chin. It comes in two shades: starlight and candlelight. I prefer the latter, as it is warmer and less yellow. My makeup artist friend and Nordstrom also emphasizes that it is the more universally flattering of the two. Next, use NARS Orgasm (aka the only blush you'll ever need) on apples of your cheeks and call it a day. Voilà! You, are Gisele Bundchen. 

If I can offer one final tip it would be to use a gentle exfoliator. I love to use Clarins Gentle Exfoliating One Step Cleanser at night for keeping skin fresh and smooth. This amazing product offers the perfect doze of skin buffing goodness to keep your skin ready to be radiant again tomorrow. Can't imagine living without this great find! 

1. Kate Somerville Cleansing Milk // 2. Ole Henricksen Truth Serum // 3. Prevage by Elizabeth Arden // 4. Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer // 5. Laura Mercier Mineral Illuminating Loose Powder

This step by step guide is only for skin. I'll touch upon eyes in a subsequent post but this will get you started. The result of the products and application methods above will not only give your skin a temporary glow, it will actually protect and repair your beautiful face. The cleansing milk is packed with active skin-perfecting active ingredients, the moisturizer is loaded with antioxidants, the SPF is one of the best on the market, the serum will stimulate collagen production and the tinted moisturizer contains a bit of sun protection as well. These are top notch products at reasonable prices. My goal is to go beyond a temporary healthy glow resulting from clever makeup tricks. I'm striving to actually look radiant with my makeup off and treat my skin with the care it deserves. I suspect you are too.

Word to the wise: It's the only face you'll ever have, so treat yours lovingly and with respect.  And by all means keep drinking that filtered water, girls! It might just be the fountain of youth you've been looking for all these years. 

Ciao!