Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Shape of Spring

Spring is peeking out from all corners of the Northwest. Daffodils are in full bloom in mid-February and I can actually see the days grow longer because there isn't a cloud in the sky. These hopeful beacons translate immediately to how I dress. See ya later Smart Wool socks (a begrudging good-bye to the striped pair), I'm shopping for a replacement for my Chloe wedge sandal. 

Fashion's transitional seasons are my favorite. Come spring and fall, I'll devour the latest magazines and dogear pages that capture my both fancy and my reality. Spring is the time to bring in some fresh basics and play with proportion and layers. 

Here are my hankerings (click the links to go directly to my coveted items):
1) A stack of crisp white T-shirts. My favorites come from The Gap, aptly named "Favorite T."
The short-sleeved style comes in scoop, crew, and V-neck.

2) Slouchy pants. I love these with a flat T-strap sandal or sneakers, top with a slinky T-shirt and tidy leather jacket ... tomboy chic! 
Find these, and many more, at Shopbop.

3) All-round fabulous sneakers. I'll wear these with shorts, skirts, dresses ... maybe even a bathing suit. 
I'm a traditionalist and lean toward the tried and true brands. These Vans are from Piperlime, which has a vast selection of this style in many silhouettes and price-points.

4) A glorious handbag in dove gray or cream. This beauty from Rag&Bone is spot on.
It's almost too pretty.

5) Easy, lightweight button-front and pop-over shirts to pair with shorts and skinny pants. 
Love the dreamy fabric and piping of this JCrew tunic.
I adore gingham! This Nili Lotan shirt will look outstanding with a pop of color - find it online or in store at Parallel.
Lean on this shirt forevermore. A classic denim silhouette (check that stitching!) from Levi's.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Thoughts on the Gym Rush

Gym memberships soar in January and my gym is no exception. There are many new faces, classes are fuller, and there's a longer wait for machines.

Some complain about this rush of new members, I say kudos to anyone who is trying to better their mind and body through exercise! There is no better way to enjoy your clothes - and your life - than moving and caring for your body.

Welcome new exercisers! Welcome to those who have taken it up after a hiatus! Welcome, welcome everyone!

Welcome, now get the heck out. Seriously. This is not the place for you.

I am terrified by the poor form and risky technique that I see from my fellow classmates and weight-lifters. Large classes don't allow for the instructor to give individualized help, and new members are surely frustrated by the aches and pains that arise from bad form. This is the kind of stuff that will discourage return visits and derail all good intentions for a healthy lifestyle.

I strongly advise starting your new regime with a small exercise studio. While the price may be daunting when compared to a big-box gym, the experience will be well worth your investment. Not only do you get personal attention, but you're more likely to stick to the program because you're accountable to your team of trainers. Showing up is half the battle!

I love a small studio, but when I need to save a little money I'll reactivate my mega-gym membership and hunker down for a few months, locked and loaded with good form and habits from my time at the boutique gym.

Here are some of my favorite studios in Portland (I'd love to hear about yours):

Pil-oga-robic - Outstanding staff and beautiful space, I can't say enough about this place. The instructors are FUN and super-informed. Personal attention abounds and there's always a variety of classes to choose from.

Studio Blue - Dan and his team bust out some killer Pilates workouts. The studio offers both mat and Reformer classes, and there are plenty of Bosu and yoga classes to try too. You'll be sore in all the right places.

Fulcrum Fitness - Fulcrum is bootcamp heaven. Light resistance, interval training, and serious motivation from instructors and fellow exercisers.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Put Together Gift Picks, Fresh from Portland

'Til the season to shop. For some this is joyful, for others it's exactly the opposite. We can agree on one thing, however, shopping local is a good thing.

We live in a city rich with gift-giving options. There is no need to tap the retail giants for one single holiday purchase this year! I even send my out-of-town family to Portland shops when they ask what to get my kiddos. Powell's gift cards, gift certificates to local theater, and a Portland Art Museum membership are preferred to an Amazon purchase, no?

Here are my favorite gifts and gift purveyors in our fine city. Happy shopping (even if you hate it)!

1) Alma Chocolates

Innovative, beautiful, and delicious, Alma's creations are decadent works of art. I'm especially fond of the caramel sauces for hostess gifts.

2) Grayling Jewelry

Katy Kippen makes the most lovely, wearable things. From simple, everyday-wearable, to major attention-grabbing baubles, Grayling's line of outfit-making jewelry is outstanding.

3) Eliot's Adult Nut Butters

Local peanut butter with a decidedly grown-up spin. Delicious!

4) Betsy & Iya

Betsy & Iya is know for their signature line of jewelry, but it's their brick and mortar presence that excites me. Scads of outstanding gifts and inspired, fashionable goods beautifully curated and showcased in their NW Portland shop.

There is no better gift than fun socks, in my book. I'm especially smitten with the Bad Ass and Lightening Bolt socks. 

This outstanding Portland company makes fabulous, durable bags out of recycled materials from Cambodia. The process is innovative and the bags are really cool. Both my mom and mother-in-law have been happy recipients of Torrain totes! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

In Praise of Consignment Shopping

Fall is my favorite time of year to shop. It's also the most expensive. Boots, coats, well-crafted knits, and all of those layers, layers, layers can really add up.

I strongly believe that one should spend as much as one's budget allows this season - fall/winter clothing is a worthy investment. A good, well-made coat will last for years and will be worn over and over again. Same goes with boots, cashmere, and quality denim. One of my cashmere sweaters is almost 15 years old and is still a fashionable favorite.

Here's why I love consignment.
  • No matter your budget, consignment shopping is, hands down, the most ecological way to shop for high fashion. Period.
  • The hunt is FUN - face it, most of us have plenty of clothes in our closets (and we're not wearing half of it).
  • The obvious reason: paying a fraction of the retail price.
  • Selling clothes via consignment is a great way to cull the herd ... and make room for current styles.
I've had some serious shopping success at consignment stores. Witness:

Rozae Nichols blouse and Theory trousers. (Consigning Women and Here We Go Again.)
Seven jeans, Vince silk T, and Dolce & Gabbana blazer. (Consigning Women.)
Vince blouse, fabulous skirt by unknown designer, and Isola gold heels. (Consigning Women and Consign Design in Sun Valley, Idaho.)
That's right, it's sequined!
TSE sweater, Cabi skirt. (Consigning Women.)
Cashmere, yum.

Consignment shopping tips:
  • Know what you have in your closet and shop with a plan. Budgets are blown by buying things that need other things to make them wearable! 
  • Allow for an alterations budget to make your consignment purchase just perfect.
  • Build a wardrobe that will support the odd "must have" purchase: great fitting black pants, dark wash jeans, cardigans and jackets will leverage interesting finds.
  • Be patient and try to look at everything. Don't shop with time constraints.
  • When you find something great, ask what else that consignor has on the racks ... you likely share an aesthetic! 
Portland boasts a bevy of consignment shops, I like to haunt them all. Some of my favorites: Consigning Women, Modo, Consign Couture, Seams to Fit, and Here We Go Again

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Long-Awaited Skin Update

Long ago and far away - springtime - I started a new skin regime. Starting any kind of a regime is serious business for me. If I'm buying in with time and effort, I want results. (This is the only reason I continue to exercise.)

My friend Debbie Pierce is a Rodan & Fields representative and set me up with the line's Reverse regimen. (I blogged about this back in May.)

So here's the down and dirty, in bullet points, with my Rodan & Fields experience:
  • This is more time than I've ever spent on my face, and it feels good
  • I am a bad client because I only use the regime once a day (it's recommended twice a day after the initial ramp-up)
  • The look, feel and smell of this product is outstanding
  • The sunscreen is the best, hands-down, that I've ever used (and this fair-skinned lass has used the gamut)
  • My dark sun spots have faded, despite being in the sun all summer
  • I thought I wouldn't be able to keep up with this commitment, turns out I can!
  • The product is great under make-up 

Because the product is so lovely, I am not loathe to the regime aspect. Also - and this is big - I'm getting compliments on my skin! People notice! Is it the product or the fact that I'm taking better care of my skin than ever before? Likely both, but who cares, I like a compliment.

I've recently started my second box of the regime (the first set lasted just over 4 months). My bet is that I'll see even more significant results this time 'round. Particularly since I won't be tussling with the sun in our deep, dark NW winter.

I have attempted many "after" pictures to go with my before shots, but alas, the lighting is off somehow and I can't get a parallel image. Just know that I'm super-pleased with the results and enjoy this picture of my skin ... and a portion of my Halloween costume. Head to Debbie's site for before and after pictures that are worth a darn.

My headgear for an epic 80's aerobics instructor costume.

I'm a fan and Debbie gained a client. I'm going in for one more Reverse regime then move on to Refine. Who knows, I might even follow the instructions this time. More pictures to come after the New Year!