Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Perfect Hostess/Friend/You Gift

This year, gift the gift of style for the table. Lorcom Lane linens are the perfect way to do it. I just realized the order deadline for Christmas is Dec. 5, so if you're interested get ordering! The stylish linen line is handmade by two best friends who used to live together and loved throwing parties. They craved some trendy, unique linens to freshen up their parties, so they began designing their own. The line includes napkins, aprons, table runners and more made with fashionable fabrics the designers have hand-picked. My favorite part of the line is handmade napkin rings made from colorful fabric that loops around a napkin and closes with a chunky button. They look just as good with a contrasting Lorcom Lane napkin as they do dressing up a plain white table. The fall/winter collection includes browns, oranges and blues. For Christmas, the blue would make a perfect icy table addition (and a refreshing departure from boring red and green).

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Give a Handmade Holiday Gift

Why give gift cards or other generic gifts when you can pick something one-of-a-kind and handmade for all your favorite people? Check several names off your list in one place on Dec. 7 at Richmond Craft Mafia's Handmade Holiday Sale at 4025 Yoga (4025 MacArthur Ave.) from 6:30-9 p.m.

In case you're not familiar with the group, Richmond Craft Mafia is a group of local independent crafters that have banded together to promote buying homemade goodies in Richmond. This event will feature fourteen businesses with jewelry, purses, children's clothes, paintings, pottery, home decor and more.

Christmas at Lane Sanson

Christmas has arrived at Carytown home store Lane Sanson, and you can tell by the rooms filled to the brims with gifts, accessories, decor and more. Owner Valerie Sanson and her employees have been working late into the night, or "elfing" as they call, it for the past month or so hanging ornaments, constructing trees, screwing in shelves and seeking out ways to squeeze all the inventory they can into every nook and cranny. Some of the highlights include modern white dessert plates, serving trays and chargers with metallic silver contemporary designs including crowns, chandeliers and clever rock-inspired sayings like "Rock Pour Life." The selection of Michael Aram is brimming with pomegranate Christmas ornaments, candle holders resembling tree legs and stainless steel bowls standing upon sculptural lacquered enamel coral.

Christmas trees literally dripping with ornaments are sprinkled throughout the store and upstairs the selection of classy-yet-festive garlands, signs, statues, etc., is awe-striking. Must-views are loopy white Christmas trees made from pipe cleaners that come in sizes perfect for decorating a mantle, glitter signs that stand on tables with festive sayings, and glittery, swirly garlands that can be hung from the ceiling or placed on trees.

My personal favorite part of the Lane Sanson inventory, which isn't related to Christmas except that it would make a great gift, is Hotcakes Jewelry. This resin jewelry is hand-cast and inspired by bakelite jewelry. The necklaces, bracelets, pins and earrings are made with chunky resin beads alongside pictures of birds, bugs, flowers and other items that have been set in resin and placed where stones would normally be. The designs are just so unique and funky.

Saks Thanksgiving Sale

So most Black Friday/Thanksgiving weekend sales usually take place in stores, but there are also some great deals to be had online. I think you've still got through Monday to take advantage of Saks Fifth Avenue's Holiday Sale and free shipping. The sale started on Thanksgiving and offers discounts of up to 50 percent on purses, clothes, shoes, menswear and more. My mom bought me a new Juicy Couture purse for an early Christmas present. The adorable red leather bag was less than $200 on the Saks sale and I've since seen it on two major retailers' web sites for $350! Yay bargains.

Black Friday

I had to work on black Friday. While I know many people don't even consider hitting the stores on this oh-so-crazy shopping day, I usually head out for at least a little bargain shopping. This year, I had to be at work between 8 and 8:30. But with all the early openings, I decided to hit a spot or two before work.

I set my alarm for 5 a.m. and the potential thrill of a good bargain made my hop out of bed without even one tap of the snooze button. By 5:45 I was out near Short Pump Town Center. Passing by the globs of cars outside WalMart, Target and Circuit City (I don't have any kids and would buy designer shoes over a TV any day, so no interest there), I headed for the mall where Macy's was set to open at 6 a.m. Yeah, I skipped the way early openings of Kohl's and JC Penney, but I didn't want to totally fall asleep at my desk later.

In Macy's, I first perused the kitchen appliances since I had a feeling this was where the best deals would be and where the crowds would head. There were some good deals on cappuccino makers and Henckel knives, but nothing I felt like spending funds on. I headed upstairs and saw that an INC coat I'd been coveting was 40 percent off! It was the perfect twist on the trench with gold sequins down the front in lieu of a belt.

As the clock neared 7 a.m. I headed down to Nordstrom. I didn't know what sales would be in store, but wanted to check them out. I walk through the upstairs revealed no exciting clothing sales. Downstairs, though, a table of newly-marked-down designer purses called to me. I found an adorable Marc By Marc Jacobs bag for $300. When I checked out, the sales associate informed me it had just been marked down that morning. Plus, anyone who opened a Norstrom card that morning and charged at least $100 received an automatic $20 reward coupon in the mail. Heck yeah!

My final stop was Express. I had planned to take a walk through and probably not buy anything when I saw it was open, figuring that mall boutiques like Express generally don't have good Black Friday sales. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in and got a list of special discounts and was told that everything in the store was 20 percent off until 11 a.m. I hastily picked up some gifts for my boyfriend and then headed off to work!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Moroccan Spice in Richmond

I returned to the Shops at 5807 and couldn't help but purchase this bag. Designed by Lolla The Beldi Collection it's made with limited-edition fabrics and chunky wood beads. It was handmade in Marrakech, assuring it's one-of-a-kind and it was the only one in the Lucky Lillibet boutique. A unique designer bag for only $85. I considered it a steal. I think owner Leigh Dobbins may have some other Moroccan bags, but if you want one you'd better hurry in!

How Not to Have Melting Eyeshadow

Okay, so I just discovered the best eyeshadow base ever. I've tried primers in the past, but nothing has impressed me. It's usually just a white layer that goes under the shadow and then melts right along with it. Then, I discovered Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. This stuff is amazing! I used it a few days ago, then spent eight hours in Byrd Park and then spent two hours walking through Carytown. At the end of the day my eyeshadow was still intact! On a normal day by the time the clock hits 2 p.m. my eyes are devoid of shadow except for a little tiny smear in the crease. Now, I look like I'm Miss Super-Put-Together who touches up her makeup every hour on the hour. Now if only they'd make something to keep my nose from getting shiny...

Monday, October 1, 2007

Fall at 5807

I stopped in the Shops at 5807 last week and this collection of boutiques was stocked with home decor, gifts and apparel for fall. Co-owner Leigh Dobbins' boutique, Lucky Lillibet was filled with a well-edited selection of fall clothes, shoes and boots. Standouts included a silky kimono top, a navy purse with gold embellishments from Bali and some adorable fall-appropriate cocktail dresses.

Frillseekers offered a host of accessories including a to-die-for huge black patent leather bag that would make the perfect overnight bag or carry-on for a longer trip. There were also some adorable brightly patterned garment bags.

For the first time, I noticed that Occasionally now has a purse-filled spot in the shops and Ciao had a great selection, also with adorable dresses. The spot is definitely worth a drop in for gifts or yourself if you're in the area.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Many of the chain stores around town are making their first round of markdowns on fall fashions. I checked out a few. Here are the most noteworthy.

Yesterday evening I headed to Banana Republic. Since I was in love with their fall line and their sale started Thursday, I wanted to get a jump on the discounts before my size was sold out. Little did I know, the inventory was already depleted. This town seriously needs another Banana because this one sells out of everything way too quickly. If you check out the Banana web site, there are tons of fabulous dresses and separates on sale, but there are few to be found at Stony Point. Since I struck out on clothes, I headed to the shoe section where boots and flats were 30 percent off. I picked up a great pair of black platform boots ($138.60) with slouched suede uppers that will be a perfect fall staple. They also had an array of cute flats, but none were spectacular enough to pick up for $70ish dollars.

Earlier in the week, I headed to Chesterfield Towne Center and picked up two great sweater dresses from Old Navy. Neither was on sale, but both were a chunky knit that hides figure flaws. Plus, the cuts were swingier than the sweater dresses of past seasons which ensured a flattering fit. I can't wait to pair the dress with black tights and my new boots when temperatures cool down! I also grabbed a velveteen double-breasted swing coat on sale for about $30.

Later today I'm hoping to drop in at Express for their "wear-it-like-you-paid-full-price" sale. New York and Co. also recently slashed prices.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Last night I headed to Austin's Salon and Day Spa and I ended up with a complete makeover. I transitioned my hair from blonde to chocolate brown, and I got a new makeup look.

The salon, which used to use Aveda makeup products, recently launched their own makeup line, "face it." Co-owners Beth Astin and Ken Langston partnered with a company that produces makeup in New York to choose their own colors, packaging and products and face it was born. Langston says they decided to design their own line so they could have colorful, saturated hues that would allow them to create more dramatic looks. He wasn't kidding.

The collection includes a great range of sparkly and non-sparkly colorful eyeshadows. A glitter fiend, I saw a range of grey, deep purple, bright blue and green sparkly shadows I'd love to have in my personal collection. Since I'd just gone brown, I got a new look to set off my hair and blue eyes. Rather than using brown shadows as makeup artists usually tell me to do, Langston used some orangy-bronze tones. He said that since orange and blue are opposite one another on the color wheel, orange highlights blue eyes, adding that when artists usually use brown it's becuase of the orange undertones. I'm a makeup/makeover addict, and no one had ever shown me colors like these before. The lighter tones, which he finished off with a sparkly brown chocolate shadow as a liner, made my eyes pop without looking super smoky.

He also used a colorful cream blush and noted that cream shadows, blushes, etc., are an up-and-coming trend. And he finished the look off with bright red lips. He also used an "illuminator" which was similar to a concealer but lighter instead of darker. He put it on the inner corners of my under eye (saying he put it there because that's usually a dark area) and on my lids as a base. I liked the final look of this product, plus it came in a fun little tube with a brush on one end and a button on the other that you click to get the product out just like a pen. I the look sounds like a lot, but the final effect was dramatic and colorful without overpowering my natural features. I ended up buying the shadows, plus some Profound Beauty shampoo.

Langston said that clients are welcome to book appointments with him for special occasion makeup. Since he and some of the other Austin's stylists often head to New York to work on fashion shows, they're always up on the newest, hottest colors. So, if you want to look beautiful and current, he's your go-to guy.

I also questioned my awesome hairstylist, Ashleigh Cole, about blow-outs. Do you ever read those New York fashion mags that make it sound like everyone in the Big Apple is getting fancy blow-outs all the time? I asked if anyone in Richmond does it. She said she has a few ladies that do, but that she wishes more would. She added that getting a blow out only costs about $25 but that you get styling from a pro and a free makeup touch-up. "It's a great way to feel extra special for an occasion like your birthday or a party," she said. I never really thought about it, but think I might schedule that plus a makeup session for my next event!

Shoes of the Season

I know you'll think I'm nuts, by my metallic silver Steven by Steve Madden shoes are my favorite purchase of the season thus far. They have a super high heel yet they are fairly comfortable. They have the very fall appropriate mary jane styling, yet the silver gives them an edge so they aren't too cutesy. I've worn them with cocktail dresses and today I'm pairing them with a black cotton tube dress and a somewhat preppy grey-and-black cashmere wrap sweater for work. They are the perfect finish to a dressy outfit or the perfect piece to take a conservative combination from mundane to magnificent. When I bought them for $99.95 at Nordstrom, I was concerned I was overpaying because I wouldn't wear them much, which has proved to be completely untrue. I determine how good a value something is by both the price and how much use I get out of something. Judging by those standards, these shoes were a great deal! They also come in red patent leather, and with the patent trend this fall these would be a great option too.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Vera Wang Addendum

Okay, so even though I bought plenty of Vera Wang merchandise for Kohl's and wrote all about it, my mom actually bought me the Simply Vera Satin Chemise and mailed it to me. I just received it and tried it on. It is absolutely adorable. The fit is great, the silk fabric is nice and soft and the ruffles and netting along the neckline and hem give it a totally "I'm-not-a-nightie" look. In fact, I'm considering buying a second one so I have one to wear as a nightgown and one to wear as a dress. On top of all that, you can put it in the washer and dryer. Can you beat that? Bonus: there is also a cute little matching robe that goes with it for those days when you need to dash outside in the morning and don't feel like getting dressed.

My mom is also considering purchasing a second pair of the super-comfy flats she bought because she loves them so much.

And, if you're interested in checking the line out, it all went to 30 percent off today. I guess my lukewarm Simply Vera rating may be moving toward toasty.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Vera Wang at Kohl's

Saturday morning I got a call from my mom telling me about these adorable nightgowns that looked like cocktail dresses at Kohl's. And she said they were designed by Vera Wang. A light bulb went off. I'd seen some pieces from the high-end designer's line for Kohl's in various fashion mags and had marked my mental calendar to head there on Friday, but somehow I'd completely forgotten. So, Saturday afternoon I rushed out to Short Pump to check out the selection.

After massive trying on and scrutinizing, I'm giving the line mixed-but-positive reviews. There were plenty of cute pieces. I took home a black pencil skirt with a pleated satin hem and adorable seeming up the back ($64); an A-line hip-length white blouse with a bow that cinched it at the empire waist ($54); a black, sleeveless jersey shirt with black satin pleating on the front ($44); and a white bubble top with a ruffled neckline that featured rhinestones at the center ($54). So, there definitely were some pieces I liked and they were reasonably priced (plus, I opened a Kohl's card and scored an extra 30 percent off!). But, the sizing was a little off. I wore a size smaller than normal in the tops and debated on whether to buy the skirt in my size or one up.

Also, some of the styles were well designed, but the fabric was heavy or cheap. A purple wrap top with a ruffled collar and sleeves has a gorgeous cut, but the polyester fabric felt like a fast-food restaurant uniform. A long satin coat had a cute, relaxed cut but the fabric looked like discount store, NOT designer. No thanks. Some of the pieces lacked the appropriate detailing. A men's-styled cardigan had the potential to be way cute, but rather than using fancy buttons on the whole thing, Vera used one faceted silver button at the top, and boring nondescript ones the rest of the way down.

Vera also had lingerie; scarves, hats and gloves; nightgowns; shoes; home decor and purses. As my mom reported, the nightgowns were spectacular. They did look like little silk cocktail dresses and matching robes were available with most styles. My mom picked up a pair of the Vera flat shoes with rhinestone embellishments and has called for several days since telling me how comfortable they are. She's a flat-shoe addict, so if she calls a pair comfortable, they're probably like walking on air.

Finally, there was also a great selection of faux leather purses. I didn't find any worth buying because all the styles were pretty basic, but I was tempted by the Small Date Hobo ($49) that looked like a teeny tiny version of the average large-sized hobo with a gold chain shoulder strap. Soo cute.

Hits and misses aside, I'll definitely be heading back to see the next collection when it debuts.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Trish McEvoy Flawless Concealer Pen

So, a few weeks ago my Trish McEvoy makeup person called and invited me in to Saks for a free mini facial. A free mini facial! What's this? I wondered. So, of course I signed up for a time. One evening at 6 p.m., I headed to the Trish counter only to be whisked into a secret Saks back room that was set up like a facial room at a spa. It was clean, white, mod, and to be honest, nicer than some of the spa facial rooms I've been in.

The Trish consultant washed my face with Trish's Even Skin Glycolic Wash and proceeded to treat my face with the rest of her products. While this might not seem too impressive to some, I found it much more refreshing and helpful than your typical makeup counter where they put some lotion on your hand and expect you to leap with joy and purchase $500 worth of products. The Glycolic Wash was nice: it seemed to exfoliate without feeling too rough.

After the mini facial part came the fun makeover. I got my face done all in Trish's new fall "Simply Chic" collection. The product that most impressed me was the Flawless Concealer Pen ($32). It's a not-too-thick not-too-thin concealer that's perfect for the under-eye area with a brush right on the end. You twist the bottom to get the liquid out. It's way cool because you can use the brush and apply it right too your face, or if you want, you can blot it on the back of your hand and apply it with your favorite concealer brush. The Trish makeup artist also put it along the sides of my nose for contrast. I'd never have tried that before, but I did think it made my skin look extra flawless.

I also purchased the "Simply Chic" makeup page. For the low price of $48 it comes with 4 eye shadows one of which doubles as a plum, sparkly liner; two blush shades; and two cheek/lip shades. So far, my favorite parts are the breezy pink and peachy blushes. They look great when blushed on the apples of my cheeks for a wintery wind-swept look. In general the palette works great for day or evening.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Apricot Whip Moisturizer

Okay, so I admit it, when it comes to skincare, I'm all about packaging and scents. Yes, I want it to make my skin look good, but if it doesn't smell nice or it's in an unattractive bottle, I'll most likely buy the next new bells-and-whistles pretty product I see.

During a recent facial at Metamorphosis, my esthetician put Eminence Apricot Whip Moisturizer on my face. I was immediately captivated by the delicious peachy, aprictoy scent. My face smelled so good I wanted to lick it. Plus, how cute is the name? Simple, but with a delicious ring.
I have combination skin, so I need something that will moisturize my super-dry forehead while not over-oiling my T-zone. She said this would do the trick. According to the web site, the moisturizer incorporates apricot juice to revitalize and hydrate; carrot with vitamin A and carotene oils; corn germ oil to enrich and protect; and a Biocomplex antioxidant booster. It's also organic, which according to the folks and Metamorphosis, is better for your skin. So far it feels nice on my face, not too heavy, and I haven't broken out.

Although the package isn't super sleek and modern, I like the clean, simple container that shows the cream's pretty peach color. And, above all, it smells undeniably yummy!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Shopping at Short Pump

My friend Emily was in town over the weekend. In girl land, two friends who haven't seen each other for months getting together means shopping time! Every time Emily comes down to visit we head out in search of fun party clothes and new looks. We usually skip the boutiques and hit up fast fashion stores for frugal, fun pieces to update our wardrobes.

On Saturday morning, we headed to Short Pump Town Center. After some yummy salads at Baker's Crust, we headed to Ann Taylor Loft. In search of more fantastic suits I tried on a few, but nothing was super flattering. There was an adorable khaki skirt and jacket (And for me to find anything khaki adorable it must be pretty great. I usually consider khaki to be something that should only be worn by sad waiters. When I went through the waitressing thing in high school, I only applied to establishments where the servers wore black.) but it was only available in like a size 2 and 14. Emily did pick up an slimming sheer sapphire blue button-down top. I made her try it on even though it was a size smaller than her norm. Cute top plus a smaller size...double bonus!

We stopped into H&M and tried on tons and tons of clothes but neither of us came out with much. I absolutely loved a black trapeze dress with chunky black rhinestones along the collar, but I tried on three different sizes and none fit right. I felt like goldie locks goes shopping. Nothing was just right. If you are an H&M fan, however, click the "try it on" icon on their web site. It allows you to make your own model that looks like you and is your size. You can then click outfits to try them on online. Very fun.

I did pick up a beautiful patterned top from Urban Outfitters ($42). I left behind a way cute purple T-shirt dress. It fit but it was so thin I'd have to wear another dress underneath. No thanks. We also stopped in Delia's where I tried on a pair of jeans a size bigger than my norm. They barely made it up to my thighs. The sales girl tried to convince me to try on more pairs. I told her no thanks (thinking in my head that apparently I wear Delia's denim size 20). Emily picked up a sale smoked eyelet dress before we headed for the door.

Emily and I both struck gold at Express where they were having a super-fun sale. $20 off any purchase of $75 or more, no matter what you bought. I scooped up a pink-and-zebra long-sleeve tee ($24.50, it will be sooo cute with a mini denim skirt and flats); a gorgeous dark green silk top with leopard and metallic gold thread ($49.50); a way fun T-shirt dress with rhinestone embellishments that's great alone now and that will be even cuter with skinny black pants or opaque tights this fall ($49.50); and a fun tank with rock-star-esque square studs ($29.99 on sale!). On the way out the door, I had to return to the register for one last impulse buy: an adorable necklace with a strawberry-shaped charm ($19.50). It will be perfect with cocktail dresses and to dress up basic tops. Emily got a super-cute cropped dress with a mod, geometric pattern. Very outside her normal realm of jeans and cotton tops, but super flattering.

All in all, it was a successful shopping day.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Banana Republic's Adorable Autumn Collection

I was on the quest for a new suit. I hadn't stopped into Banana Republic much over the summer since the brief walk-throughs and emails I've been receiving haven't overly impressed me. Despite my skepticism, I decided to head to Stony Point. Over the years, through chubby times and skinny times, Banana Republic basics have always worked. Plus I had a 15 percent off coupon.

This time when I walked into the store, I was pleasantly surprised. The fall line is absolutely gorgeous. Think retro-inspired upscale pieces that mix Jackie O elegance with more tailored, mod styling. I found my suit in the form of a lightweight wool pencil skirt with a matching cropped box-cut jacket with three quarter length sleeves. At $168 for the jacket and $88 for the skirt, it was a little above my usual price range, but I figured the timeless-yet-chic style was worth the splurge. I finished the look off with a beige-and-black short-sleeved shirred top ($68). It added a hint of a pattern without showing up the styling of the suit.

Originally, I planned to seek out some beige pumps to elongate my legs and coordinate with the under top,but a walk through Dillard's revealed no likely options. Instead I wore my Linea Paolo patent leather peep-toe sling backs. At $99.95 from Nordstrom they are one of my best purchases this season. They look great with everything from jeans to cocktail dresses and they're much more comfy than your typical evening shoe.

When I wore my new outfit into work I got plenty of oohs and ahhs. Now I just have to hold out for more coupons before I buy more of Banana's fabulous fall collection.