Let’s Shop Like We Care

This is me in the greenroom at the Fashion Innovation conference during NYC Fashion Week. I was on a panel about sustainable fashion.

In my day job, I focus on fashion and innovation.  When we think about innovation, it often leads to the question of how to make fashion more sustainable.  My concept of SHOPPING YOUR CLOSET not only speaks to my philosophy on spending, but it also meets my desire to support a better environment.  Globally, 80 percent of discarded textiles end up in landfills or are burned.  An alarming 20 percent of textiles are recycled or reused.  Yes, I said 20 percent.  Help the planet!!!  In an effort to promote the benefits of conscious fashion, these are my top five ways to be a sustainable fashion consumer.

  1. Avoid over shopping.  When I shop, I often ask myself these questions – does this look better than what I already have in my closet, and how many times will I wear it?  Very early in my career, I was a true shopaholic.  Since I went out every weekend, I shopped for a new outfit every weekend.  Over the years, I have come to appreciate the benefits of building a timeless wardrobe that is adaptable to the many social and professional demands of my life.
  2. Spread the love.  Since NYC is cold a fair amount of time, I often try to support those unable to dress adequately for the weather.  Thus, I have a rule.  If I buy a coat, I must give a coat.  This helps me to avoid wasteful buying while also ensuring that I am thinking about others.
Vintage shopping in Brooklyn at Harold and Maude Vintage (592 Lafayette Ave, Bed Stuy),
  1. Shop other peoples’ closets.  If you love designer looks, take the time to find a great vintage store that is known for its high-end scores.  Just like when you buy a car, the value of the item depreciates the moment it leaves the store.  I also make sure that my girls, who are also fashionistas, think of me when they purge their closet. 
  2. Buy trans-seasonal pieces.  I found this ingenious tip in a Harper’s Bazaar article.  Look for materials and styles that can be worn across seasons.  This will increase the number of wears, and you will also be improving the versatility of what’s in your closet.  Some trans-seasonal pieces are lightweight dresses that can be worn alone in the warmer months and paired with a sweater or jacket when it is chilly.  Blazers that can double for an overcoat in the spring are great for a jacket that can be worn with a coat in the winter.  This trick also works well if your travel schedule takes you to locations with varying temperatures. 
  3. Repair before you replace.  My sisters call me cheap, but I like to think of myself as thrifty.  My two favorite peeps are my tailor and my shoe guy.  Since I shop a ton of vintage, my tailor does an amazing job of getting me to have a custom look from thrift finds.  The photo at the beginning of the article is a $10 dress that I found in a thrift store ben.  For a mere $40 dollars, I had the dress re-cut, hemmed, and cleaned.  I got so many compliments on the outfit that I was truly amazed.  I do a similar strategy with shoes.  At the start of each season, I re-heel my heels, and I reinforce the soles of my boots.  For less than $20 a pair, I am able to get another season out of my precious shoes and boots. 

Do yourself and the environment a favor, be a conscious fashion consumer. 

My $10 vintage find from the Foyer Vintage located at 80 Bond St. (Downtown Brooklyn)

Fashion Inspiration – The Curated NYC

When a dress just makes you pause. Christian Siriano tulle gown.

While it is probably one of the busiest, crowded, and most expensive ($$$$) places in the world, I truly am grateful to live in NYC – the home of my fashion inspiration.  As I was preparing for an upcoming gala, I visited The Curated NYC this weekend.  The flagship boutique of the body affirming designer, Christian Siriano, who has rightfully earned recognition for his commitment to dressing the diverse sizes of the modern woman.  Yesssss!!!!  A point of trivia, this 1920s property was once the office of Cary Grant – totally explains the cinematic vibe of the space. The moment you enter, you are immediately transformed into a world of glamour by the visual stimulation of ornate floral arrangements and walls discretely covered in precious hues of pink, purple, and ivory.  FABULOUS.  Each room is a showcase of red-carpet beads, baubles, and jewels displayed alongside Siriano’s latest collection of body-universal styles.  Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the uber insightful Siriano team members who wait on your every request – at your ready are a library of look books from all of Siriano’s collections – while gently reminding you that each item can be customized to your size and style direction.  Imagine that; you get to do a remake of a Siriano look.  Love it!!!

The second floor is the gown and red carpet jewelry show area .

Siriano personally selects the featured designers while also meticulously creating the perfect presentation by filling each room with plush carpets and cozy seating arrangements.  I felt like I was in my dressing room at home – then I was reminded that my whole apartment was the size of the fitting room (such an NYC reality).  Tastefully, throughout this multi-brand boutique, you can find luxury womenswear, ready-to-wear, accessories, fragrances, vintage home décor, and gifts.  When the weather is cooperating, you can even sip on a spiced latte at the quaint outdoor café. 

While I was an economics major in college, I always wondered what would have happened had I studied interior design.  I have a real passion for details like original crown molding, winding staircases, polished doorknobs and hardware, and jaw-dropping chandeliers.  Well, Curated NYC has that and more.  It is a visual wonderland of all things grand with a twist of fashion whimsy. 

Portrait of Laverne Cox that hangs in the gown section.

Oh, I can’t forget the original artwork.  As one of the Siriano fashion ambassadors so politely reminded me, the portraits of Lady Gaga and Laverne Cox were the same images shown on the runway during a Siriano Fashion Week show.  Who knew?  I’m still trying to get an invite to a Siriano show.  Oh well, there is always next season. 

If you are looking for fashion inspiration, spend an afternoon in the Siriano paradise.  You will not be disappointed. 

The Curated, Christian Siriano’s flagship boutique located at 5 W 54th St., New York, NY 10019.

My Top Six Martha’s Vineyard Things To Do

Beach life…

As a true east coast girl, born in Boston and raised in Philly, Martha’s Vineyard was my Jersey shore as a kid.  Each summer my parents packed my two sisters and me up and ferried us away to the magical Martha’s Vineyard, a Massachusetts island kind of south of Cape Cod.  These trips continued in my 20s and 30s when I rented or forced myself upon my friends to stay in shore houses on the Vineyard.  After about a break from the Vineyard for a decade, I went back this past week.  Absolutely amazing.  While many of the restaurants on Circuit Ave. (the main strip in Oak Bluffs) have changed, the island still is the charming, friendly sanctuary looking to welcome its summer visitors. 

During the summer months, especially August, the Vineyard is quite the buzz.  It is the vacation destination for the Obamas, the host venue for the MV African-American Film Festival, and the choice gathering spot for many girlfriend trips, Greek organizations, and those just looking to have fun. 

The thing that I love about the island is that you can do as much or as little as you like during your stay.  This year’s trip was all about relaxation and connecting with friends.  From house hopping to long walks on the beach, I enjoyed my stay and came up with this list of top six Vineyard favorites.

The Martha’s Vineyard Airport works just fine. Treat yourself; fly to the Vineyard.

6.  Unless you just feel compelled to have your car on the island (Note:  all the shared ride services are available and biking on the island is quite en vogue), do yourself a favor – FLY.  While there is a quaint charm of being on the ferry line, that lasts 5 minutes, fly.  Martha’s Vineyard airport is convenient and quick.  If you book early, you can get a reasonable rate.  Delta and Jet Blue are the main carriers.  Trust me; it is worth it.  No ferry lines for me.   

Black Dog shop in Edgartown, MA

5.  Visit the local towns of Tisbury, Edgartown, and Oak Bluffs.  As a fashionista, the towns are great to see the craftwork of local artists and grab some of the tourist gear like the island uniform (just joking) Black Dog sweatshirt. 

The only thing missing is my Smartfood white cheddar popcorn.

4.  Drink some Prosecco on the beach.  Not much more I can say about this, but many hours were spent pondering life sipping, chatting, and listening to the waves.  Thanks, Cathy and Sharon for indulging me. 

These smiles say it all. House hopping on the Vineyard.

3. House hop.  One of the things I love about the Vineyard, unlike NYC living, it is a house friendly place.  Most people expect that there will be visitors, so it’s a great time to connect with friends and family without having to wait for Thanksgiving.  The Vineyard, especially Oak Bluffs, is also a great sitting on the porch and people watching place.  Shout out to Rhonda on Narragansett for hipping me to this Vineyard pastime.

46 Narragansett House. Best MV BNB.

2.  Stay at an amazing b&b.  This is me with Kahina Van Dyke, the fabulous owner of the Narragansett House.  A real island treasure with quaint rooms, lovely morning pastries, and the most precious staff.  Not to mention, the wonderful programming that Kahina has arranged to ensure that the inn is always filled with authors, artists, and fun guests.  Must do!

Pure joy. I’m a polar bear.

1.  Be a polar bear.  Yes, I did it.  Each morning at 7:30 AM, myself and about 115 other guests, took a plunge into the Ink Well waters to partake in a precious ceremony of water aerobics.  A genuinely freeing and communal experience.  As I am not a swimmer, I was pleased that I tried but thrilled that I felt the love and support of the community.  Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

See you on the Vineyard next year!

I Totally Understand Why the Wades Love Miami – My Weekend Trip

There’s nothing like a day on Nikki Beach.

On a somewhat last-minute whim, I pulled together an extended weekend stay in the magical city of Miami, FL.  My initial plans were the Dominical Republic (DR) but changed my mind due to the rise of DR travel issues.  Well, I was glad that we picked Miami.  Arriving on a late Thursday afternoon, our first stop was to grab a bite and check out some of the local sites.  As fashionistas tend to do, we ended up at an outdoor mall, Bayside, that featured several Miami boutiques mixed in with a few larger chain stores like a Zara.  However, the outside location created a street fair vibe that made the shopping experience more like strolling through a corridor of community shops versus your standard strip mall.  They also had some yummy treats like Dylan’s Candy.

No one does nightlife like Miami. Rooftop fun!!!

Since when in Miami, you must do what the Miamians do, we checked out the nightlife by hitting the 1 Hotel South Beach, Watr at the 1 Rooftop.  The property is an upscale chain with a modern twist.  They also have one in DUMBO, Brooklyn that features that same ambiance of a scented lobby, the curated seating areas, sculptures featuring local artists, and of course, the lively rooftop lounge. 

I love a good beach day.

I must say, much, if not most of my Miami time, was spent beach or poolside.  We stayed at the InterContinental in downtown Miami.  You should note that Miami is essentially a series of islands connected by bridges.  My recommendation would be to decide what you want to do in Miami and pick your hotel in that central area.  Although Miami is somewhat small, so the typical Uber ride was quite reasonable.  Mind you; I’m from NYC, so everything outside of New York feels cheap to me.

When I travel, I enjoy taking in the art scene.  Because it was such beautiful weather, I couldn’t bring myself to be in a closed-in museum.  Although I will say, I understand that Miami is the home to some fabulous museums like the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) and ICA located in the incredible Design District.  Note, ICA is a free museum.  Love it! 

The Miami street art scene is unbelievable.

To get my fill of Miami art, I took it to the streets and went to the Wynwood Walls.  As a proud Miami resident explained Wynwood to me, it was an idea to bring back what once was a blighted Miami neighborhood.  Through the expressive style of murals and street art, Wynwood is a public art space that is filled with pop culture, political, and worldly images.  It is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in Miami.  Best of all, the Wynwood Walls are a free tourist attraction that only seeks donations.  There is even a few cafes in the area, so you can grab a refreshing beverage while you enjoy Miami’s art scene.

The Design District is a unique blend of art, fashion, and architecture.

As one that loves fashion, the Design District blew me away.  This area located about 2.5 miles from Downtown Miami is a convergence of top designers, unique architecture, and amazing public spaces organized with a Miami flavor – tons of color and energy.  Coming from a city where zoning code limits signage and façade changes, it was refreshing to see how each retailer was encouraged to show off their brand’s style by creating a storefront that reflected their brand.  Very neat!  I also appreciated that the tallest building was three floors.  This made the area feel more like a local neighborhood versus a commercial shopping district.  Fun, fun, fun.  If you are a lover of fashion, architecture, and art, you must visit the Design District. 

To help you plan your trip to Miami, these are my Miami dos and don’ts.

Dos

-If you are staying in the Downtown area, take the Metromover, the Miami version of mass transit (so funny compared to NYC) to the airport.  The tram is free, but you pay a mere $2.50 to ride a few stops to the airport. You avoid traffic, and it is also a wonderful way to see another side of Miami.

-While South Beach is great, visit some of the other fabulous beach concepts like the celebrity and destination hangout spot, Nikki Beach.  Or, do a day pass and hit one of the private, hotel beaches.  This is a link to find passes.

https://daycationapp.com/

While we were there, we did the St. Regis.  Absolutely, amazing.  For about $100, we got a beachside setup of a lounge chair, umbrella, and charming servers always willing to keep the strawberry daiquiris flowing.  The best part is that with the day pass, you also gain access to the St. Regis spa.  This means you are able to use the steam, sauna, and relaxation rooms- St. Regis style. FABULOUS What a wonderful time!!!!

Don’ts

-Because it is so hot, it can rain and clear up within minutes.  With this in mind, I would say don’t get caught up in the weather forecast.  Channel sunny days while in Miami.

-While I am such the worst offender of this, don’t overpack.  With the exception of the nightlife scene, this can be kind of FANCY, Miami is a resort-like atmosphere.  The vibe is one of mellow and casual, so I say bring a few cover-ups (wore my cover-ups 90 percent of the time), a cute hat, some shades, and a few swimsuits.  You will be all set. 

My parting thoughts on Miami are that I had a blast.  I can’t wait until the next trip back to this oasis of fun under the sun.  Fashionistas, I hope to see you in Miami. 

Kentucky Derby Weekend

Kentucky Derby style with friends.

A couple of weeks ago, I checked off one of my fashion, bucket list experiences.  Yep, I was smelling roses, sipping mint juleps, and of course, showing off my style at the 145th Kentucky Derby.  At the invite of my fashionista cousin, Sonya Jenkins, Publisher and Editor at Sonya’s Spotlight Web Magazine, I had a behind the scenes access to all the Derby had to offer.  As a newbie, this is what I found out.  Essentially, the day of the Derby there is 12 races with a big race that occurs around 6 PM.  While the track has tons of action, the infield, stands, and private suites are where you can see all the fashions. 

All styles are a go at the Kentucky Derby. I saw divas in elegant gowns with cowboy boots underneath, and handsome dudes sporting floral three-piece suits and cigars.  Of course, the show stopper of the day were the HATS.  A guide for picking a hit – the bigger, the better.  The Kentucky Derby is not a time to be shy. 

A tip that I got was just as there is Rent the Runway for evening wear; there is a Rent the Races (https://rent-the-races.myshopify.com) for rim hats and fascinators. I also was impressed by the number of individuals that got creative with fake flowers, feathers, and boas.  Tip:  the Dollar General is a great spot to grab these items.  While you are there, pick up a glue gun to give your design a professional look.  However, my Derby veterans all knew about Dee’s Hats (5045 Shelbyville Rd., Louisville, KY) for the most elaborate, head-turning hats.  Just in case you were wondering, Dee does a massive sale the day after the Kentucky Derby.  

Coming up roses at the Derby…

These are my tips on how to max your style on Derby Day.

  1.  Since the majority of the day is spent outside, I recommend that you wear an outfit that is comfortable like a flowy sundress or even a jumpsuit.  There were quite a few fashionistas with jumpsuits in vibrant colors like fuchsia.  While I am a red fan, Pink was the dominant color of the day.   
  2. Accessories are welcomed.  To add pop to your look, try a long string of pearls or go fancy with a pair of dress gloves.  Remember, you want people to stop and say WOW.
  3. Footwear is key.  Whether you are in the stands, strolling the perimeter or enjoying the Turf Club, wear shoes that will allow you to be comfortable and stylish.  It also doesn’t hurt to keep a pair of flip flops in your bag.
  4. Security will not allow you to bring in umbrellas, so PONCHOS are a must.  In talking with my Louisville peeps, rain tends to fall during the Derby.  Be prepared.
  5. Lastly, have fun with your look.  Everyone at the Derby is very complimentary, so make the most of it.  Go big or go home

Fashionistas, see you at the Kentucky Derby next year.   

My Weekend Getaway to the Borough of Brooklyn…


Recently, I did a stay vacation in Brooklyn, NY. One of the reasons why I love Brooklyn is because each neighborhood has its own feel. However, there is one common theme that runs throughout Brooklyn –COOL. Yep, Brooklyn is the new home of NYC cool. The first stop on my Brooklyn tour was the neighborhood tucked away in the area affectionately known as Dumbo, “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.” This cobblestoned street community is reminiscent of its early days as a major seaport that has been transformed by local boutiques, amazing restaurants by the water, and absolutely stunning views of Manhattan. Take a look (that’s me acting like a tourist, under the Manhattan Bridge).

20170901_193621

What’s My Fashion Look?
Oversized trench with flared sleeves (Banana Republic) serves as a great way to jazz up basically a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. To add a little more pizazz because I was in the home of Cool, I wore colored jeans vs. standard blue. Fashion Tip: Whenever I don’t have a necklace to pull my look together, and it is a casual outfit, I hang my shades around my neck.

With an eye to sustainability, much of Dumbo is repurposed space such as this bridge underpass that serves as a food/concert space.

My next stop was Bedford-Stuyvesant, known by New Yorkers as Bed Stuy. Of course, no staycation would be complete without a little shopping. To my delight, I found Peace & Riot (401 – 403 Tompkins), a boutique designed with the twist of a curated department store featuring locally sourced home goods, vintage clothing, and hand-made jewelry. What a delight.

Be sure to stop by Khalilah Beavers of Bed-Stuy’s Shirley + Alice vintage boutique. A great selection of vintage accessories to pair with modern pieces to create new looks with items in your wardrobe. Stay tuned for upcoming feature posts on – Shopping Your Closet.