The Nines Local Gift Guide 2016

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It was the great Cher Horowitz that once said "Tis a far, far better thing doing stuff for other people". I’ve always felt this riveting sentiment to be true. Especially around the holidays, when I try to do something thoughtful for each person in my life- whether it’s bake their favorite cookies, or buy that thing they mentioned 6 months ago, but never got. The joy of giving a great gift, big or small, to someone you love is a far greater joy than receiving (unless it’s a car or $5,000 gift card to Sephora, come back to me then). As Christmas draws closer, I've started thinking about what to give this year. Yes, I will give my time to charities and other philanthropic causes, but I’m talking gifts here, people.

I began searching Amazon, department stores, Target, etc., but couldn’t seem to find anything quite special enough for the ones that are special to me. I racked my brain for the things I love, and I quickly realized something: the majority of the things that I cherish in my home (non-human/animal), come from a local business. Then it hit me- what if every dollar I spent this year on gifts, got put back into my own community? Bought a kid dance lessons, or braces? Paid the rent, or funded a vacation? Is there any greater gift than supporting your local economy (okay…again see Car/$5K Sephora gift card..I AM ONLY HUMAN)?

And here we are, with The Nines Local Gift Guide, all with “Made in Detroit” products. Throughout the week, I’ll feature something for everyone on your list: mothers, brothers, friends, even that weird guy from work you picked for Secret Santa. And best of all- your perfect present supports local business right here in Detroit. Follow along here this week for a new, thoughtful gift every day. And since I know my readers are on the "Nice List" this year (except my coworker Gabi. There’s always next year, girl), there will even be a giveaway at the end of the series! 

So, sorry in advance, Santa, but I prefer my gifts to be made right here- no trip to the North Pole necessary (also, reindeer terrify me).  

Good Jeans: Madewell

 

In a recent bender of "Laguna Beach", Season 3, I learned two things: in the early 2000's, True Religion was indeed a religion, and jeans were king. It got me thinking- I hardly ever wear jeans. And if I'm not wearing jeans, what the  $^!@ am I wearing all the time?

I am a notorious non-jeans wearer. The main reason being I hate shopping for them, and the way I look in them. I'm petite- 5 ft nothing. Every time I go to try on a pair of denim, I find myself mopping the fitting room floor with 3ft of extra fabric. Flare jeans? I look like a platypus. Capri-cut? On me- Boot Cut. It's incredibly discouraging, and a major blow to my self-confidence. 

This year, jeans reign supreme once again. Adorned with kitsch-y patches, intricate destruction, and un-finished hems, I found myself feeling left out, so I went shopping. Endless hours in fitting rooms, trying on styles that were too long, too tight and too expensive. Almost accepting my defeat, a group of girlfriends guided me to Madewell. I had always assumed Madewell was for tall, lanky girls, that like to shop at Whole Foods, listen to Vinyl and do hot yoga for fun (aka- girls way cooler than me). With nothing left to lose, I let a kind Madewell employee pick out some styles for me and corral me into a fitting room- and the rest is history. 

I tried on a few pairs of skinny jeans, and while they were undeniably good, I was looking for something different. This is the great thing about Madewell- styles that are on trend, and work on ladies 5'10 to 5'0. I walked out with three pairs that day- I even cleared out a drawer for my new collection (for comparison- I dated my Fiance for 4 years before I gave him half a drawer). 

 

The Cali-Demi Boot Cut

My favorite pair- it's been my go-to since I got them. The little "kick-hem" effect is perfect with my sneakers, even better with ankle boots that disappear under the unfinished hem. They're the ultimate cool-girl jean, with a universally flattering shape.  I love these in black, with an oversized sweater, or silk tank and leather jacket. 

BONUS: Madewell hems their jeans FOR FREE. This is usually a major expense for me, as 100% of my jeans have to be altered.

Cruiser Straight Jean

The comfiest jeans in the game. I've tried high-waisted jeans before. My Sophomore year of college, I stocked up on a bunch of cheap jeans where the waistband literally sat under my bra. Coincidentally, the extreme high-waist made me not notice that all the pizza and beer did NOT in fact disappear with my hangovers. On the Cruiser, the waist is just high enough, and the straight leg is a wonderful departure from the typical skinny-leg. Not to be confused with the Stanky-leg (still doing physical therapy as a result of that era). I love the lana wash- not too light, not too dark, just sheer denim perfection. 

 

9" High-Rise Skinny

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I figured I needed a staple-skinny jean in my arsenal. I typically stay away from skinny jeans, because they remind me of Delia's t-shirts and Etnies- circa 8th grade. However, Madewell has made skinny jeans cool again, with a leg that's not so skin tight, but skims the leg beautifully and comfortably. In another incredible feature Madewell offers, I got these monogrammed for just $10 bucks. You can get just about anything on your jeans, and while my first choice isn't appropriate for the 18-and-under audience, I decided to do a little self-promotion with mine. Other than FREE HEMMING!!, this may be my favorite feature from Madewell. It's a simple, personal touch to elevate your clothes. 

 

Although i'm on a strict wedding budget- I have my eyes on a few new styles. I can go without groceries for a month, no?

 

Cali-Demi Boot in Donovan Wash

 

 

I always thought jeans to be unnecessarily expensive, until I found the right ones. They are absolutely worth the investment, because of your cost-per-wear. I've worn each pair at least once a week since I got them, and they have yet to stretch out, fade out or give out. 

If you're like me, entering the fitting room with jeans is about as daunting as your gynecologists waiting room (Does everyone think I'm pregnant?!). But Madewell offered me a safe haven in my quest for jeans, with not just wonderful product, but exceptional customer service. Not only did they help me build on my wardrobe, but they have saved my legs from a lifetime of cold, leggings as pants, and best of all-razors. 

The Travel Series: Packing Your Carry-On

When I was younger, I used to have one of those Aladdin mini-suitcase carry ons that held one thing: beanie babies. As I got older, I started packing more practical things, like my walkman and my entire collection of burned CDs, filled with the likes of Yellowcard and Jessica Simpson (I was a complicated child). But it wasn't until I started traveling for work, that I really got the hang of what I need on a plane....other than an Xanax. 

Whether it's a quick flight or a journey to the other side of the world, your carry-on should be filled with only the necessities. Sorry beanie babies, that means you're left behind. 

THE BAG:

The aforementioned Aladdin suitcase just doesn't cut it anymore. I've learned that for me, what's best is a backpack or zippered tote, and a small purse if necessary. The key is it should zip or snap shut, so when you put it under your seat, your things don't go flying everywhere. I think this is what the kids call a "MAJOR KEY". For this trip to Ireland, I used a small backpack from Zara (currently sold out, but so many great options), as well as a zippered tote from Detroit is The New Black. It's the ideal travel bag, and only $34 bucks. 

CONTENTS: 

1) Blanket Scarf

An absolute necessity. While I'd love to invest in a good quality cashmere scarf, I know that planes can be dirty and I am prone to spilling my tomato juice and getting cookie crumbs everywhere while in-flight. I have this one from Asos, that has become a travel staple. Big, soft and cozy- and under $30. 

Blanket scarves are good for a multitude of purposes: warmth on a chilly plane, as a blanket, even rolled up as a pillow. The key to dressing for travel is to layer. I usually wear a comfortable pair of pants or jeans, t-shirt, sweater or jacket, and my scarf. A PLANE IS NOT YOUR BEDROOM. Nix the pajama pants and general sloppiness. You can be comfortable and still look put together. 

 

2) Headphones 

This is a given- however, based on my own experiences I wanted to make a note. My beloved Beats wireless were useless in-flight, as bluetooth doesn't work in airplane mode, or connect to the seat TV. Do yourself a favor and bring your regular 'ol headphones with a wire (sorry, iPhone 7).

3) Socks 

Sometimes, we wear sandals to the airport. Then, we have to go barefoot through a dirty security line. THEN we want to get on a plane and take our shoes off, and THEN you're going to get in your hotel bed with all the germs of the airport. This can all be easily avoided with a pair of socks. If you're wearing flats or sandals to the airport, pack a comfy pair of socks you can wear through security and on the plane. Your bare feet in public are like Donald Trump in a speedo- disgusting and better covered up. 

4) A Book/Magazine

I love to read, but rarely find time when I'm home. Being stuck 30,000 feet with nothing to do is an ideal time to catch up on a good book. Check out the Amazon top-sellers if you can't find one you like. If it's heavy, download it to an iPad or if you're REALLY cool- your kindle. Not me- I love the feeling of a big heavy book falling on my face when I (almost always) fall asleep reading it. But be realistic- if you're not a reader, don't take up room and weight in your bag for a book you won't read. 

5) Extra Underwear, T-shirt

When I was younger, for 5 years in a row, Northwest airlines lost my luggage on our yearly family trip. By the 4th time, I got wise. If you're going to be stuck with no clothes for a day or two, at least you'll have clean undergarments and an alternate t-shirt. If you're going somewhere tropical, pack a bathing suit-because past the age of six it's not cute to swim in your underwear in public. *NOTE: I hear this is different for Vegas. 

6) Toiletries

In the first part of this series, we went over in-flight beauty routines. On the plane, if I'm going to be using a mask that is in a bigger container, I transfer a little to a small jar. I am also sure to have face mist, face wipes, dry shampoo (or wave spray), and a rollerball perfume. If I know I'll be getting off the plane and right to seeing people, I'll bring my makeup bag as well. 

7) Wet Wipes

Call me a germaphobe, but I always wipe down the armrests, tray table and seat-belt before take-off. You can buy mini-packs of wet wipes just about anywhere (I get mine at Target) for cheap. Maybe I'm crazy, but you don't know who was sitting there before you, or before that, or before that, and now we're into a guy that sat there 3 months ago and clipped his toenails all the way to Tokyo. 

8) Medications

If you take any kind of medications daily (birth control, antibiotic, etc.), put them in your carry-on. If your luggage gets lost, you'll be stuck, especially if you aren't near a pharmacy. I wonder how many babies are born from lost luggage (should this have been a private question?)?

9) Gum/Mints

If you're like me, you can fall asleep anywhere- especially planes- and church, but that's a different issue. When you wake up without access to brush your teeth, do your neighbor a favor and pop a mint. Does this need any further explanation? If so, you might need a different blog...

10) Water Bottle

You can either bring an empty plastic one through security, or a reusable option. I love BKR bottles, because they're lightweight, and made of glass, keeping water colder and fresher. It's so important to hydrate in-flight, and you can't keep pressing your call button for a refill- well, you can, but don't be that person. 

11) Wallet

This should go without saying, but it's how you pack your wallet that matters. When traveling, chances are you don't need your Nordstrom card, library card, Kroger rewards card and a store-gift card with $2.04 on it that you're not sure how to spend. Bring only the necessities: license, credit card, debit card and insurance cards. 

The key to your carry-on is to simplify and keep it light. Many times I've been running through the airport, weighed down by my 500-page book, or freezing on the plane, casually cuddling up to the person next to me. I grew up Catholic, and I'm pretty sure that's not what the Bible meant by "Love Thy Neighbor".  Then again- I only went to catechism for the snacks.

 

 

The Travel Series: Beauty Bag

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Ahhh, the sweet satisfaction of vacation. You requested the days-off at work, packed your bags, and are off to your destination...only to get there and realize you packed 6 dresses, no pants and some weird t-shirt you promised "you would wear sometime!!!". Sound familiar? The number one question I am asked is how to pack for a trip (second to my knowledge of obscure Celine Dion facts). I figured as I get ready for my own trip to Ireland, what better time to create a travel guide? 

In this travel series, I'll be going through three different categories of packing: your carry-on, beauty bag and suitcase. Packing is a lot of work, but trust me, it's much better to do the labor BEFORE your trip, so you don't get there and realize you have no pajamas and you have to sleep in a hotel towel. That's a one way ticket to Chafe City. 

Let's start with the basics, what beauty you need to spend less time getting ready, and more time relaxing. Because you didn't take your vacation days to spend it contouring your every crevice. 

IN-FLIGHT:

Yes, in-flight beauty is where it's at. Long gone are the days of watching some cancelled sitcom on your seat TV and waiting for the peanuts to pass by again. When you're on a plane, your skin gets severely dehydrated, leaving it in bad shape for the rest of your vacation. Your 2x4 seat is now your own personal spa....the kid kicking your seat is as good as a masseuse, right? 

1) Sephora Sleep Mask Pods

These were MADE for travel. Small enough to fit in your carry-on, and invisible on your face, these will hydrate, even, and brighten for the duration of your flight. My favorites are Lotus and Pearl. 

2) Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask

Apply a thin layer (will appear a little white, like lotion) all over, and blend into skin when done, like moisturizer. You'll depart the plane looking like first class, even when you spent 3 hours squished in a corner, debating buying that Tupac-faced bird feeder from SkyMall. 

3) Dr. Jart Water Replenishment Sheet Mask

THE MOST HYDRATING! It's basically like drinking a gallon of water, but for your face. However, it's also the most frightening. Might put you on the terror watch list, but at least your skin would look fresh on the posters. 

 

Alright, you've made it to your destination. Before you stuff your face with chicken tenders (the official food of vacations everywhere) and put your 100 pairs of underwear in the hotel drawer (we'll address this later in the series), let's freshen up. 

*TIP: When trying out a new product, always test it out before your trip. Re: Alex's rash-gate 2011 when I tried Proactiv for the first time while in Italy. Remember when Hermoinie did a Stinging Jinx on Harry in Deathly Hallows pt. 2? That was me. 

REFRESH:

Face mists are key. You can take them on the plane, as long as they're TSA approved- they're perfect for the post-flight bathroom/taxi/rental car refresh. THE WORLD IS YOUR SPA! 

1) Tony Moly Pocket Bunny Moist Mist

My personal favorite, it's ultra-hydrating and refreshing. It also smells like fruit loops. Tou-CAN you say add to cart?! Please keep reading. 

2) Glossier Soothing Face Mist

If you love the smell of Rose, this is the one for you. It's not TSA friendly, but worth digging around in your suitcase for. This stuff really makes you feel like you've got your life together. Only people who have their life together use face mist, right ("Things I Tell Myself to Sleep at Night, a Memoir")?

 

CLEANSE: 

Even though you were straight-up dedicated to that in-flight beauty routine, it's still good to cleanse your skin from the recycled air. 

1) Ole Henriksen Cleansing Cloths-Brightening

That one-glass-of-Merlot-glow in a wipe. Okay, maybe it's just the wine that makes me think I'm glowing? Well, these noticeably brighten your complexion in one swipe. I hardly EVER go without makeup, and one use of these and I was out in public as bare as a baby's bottom. Okay, enough bad innuendos. These are the bomb. 

2) Ole Henriksen Cleansing Cloths- Grease Relief

Traveling can make you stressed out, sweaty and gross (I really hope I'm not just revealing myself here). These are perfect for removing any oils and grease, leaving you with a matte, even complexion. Extra points because they come in a smaller, travel version! 

*STORAGE: I pack all these in Glossier pink pouches, as well as a hanging cosmetics bag from Target. An absolute necessity for hotel-bathroom organization. To protect against leaks, I unscrew the lid off the product, put a small layer of saran wrap over the opening and put the cap/lid back on. Only YOU can prevent beauty wastage. 

MAKEUP: 

You've unpacked, you're ready to take the town, or see your grandparents- vacation comes in many forms. When I'm away, I like to keep my beauty routine as quick and simple as possible. Here's the products that get it done:

1) Glossier Priming Moisturizer

I've talked about it once and I'll talk about it 1000 MORE TIMES UNTIL EVERYONE HAS IT. You deserve the perfect moisturizer, and this is it. Holy grail because it looks just as good alone and as a base for makeup. Essential to my makeup routine. 

 

2) Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue

Fool proof- which is great for a fool like me. Makes skin so lush and so even- no kabukikiki/tapered unicorn hair brushes needed. Apply with fingers for the easiest, most naturally beautiful coverage you've ever had. 

3) Boy Brow

The appreciation for this never product never ends. Changing brows one quick-stroke at a time- no matter if you're Lily Collins brow-blessed or Gwen Stefani in the "No Doubt" days. 

4) Haloscope in Topaz

Swipe this on cheekbones for that coveted sun-kissed glow that usually takes 3 highlighters and a vat of bronzer. Also doubles as a subtle, yet beautiful eyeshadow. 

5) Generation G in Jam

Dual purpose, ideal for travel: great flushed color for lips, dab a little on apples of cheeks for a gorgeous, natural blush.

*HI! I've still got your back-here's that 20% off your Glossier order.  

6) Covergirl Perfect Blend Eye Pencil in Black and Last Blast Volume Mascara

I've been using these since high school for good reason. The eyeliner is creamier than any expensive brand I've used, glides on eyelids like a dream. The mascara is a drug-store staple. No clumps, no lumps, just natural looking lashes. YOU ARE A VACATION GODDESS! Easy and natural is the name of your makeup game. 

This whole routine takes under 15 minutes- less time on beauty, more time on margaritas- or hiking/being active. To each their own. 

HAIRCARE:

Hair routines can be tricky when you travel. Bad hotel hairdryers, humidity, weather changes- it's the perfect storm of a bad hair day. Fool-proof your routine by keeping it simple. 

1) OUAI Hair Oil

Another beauty brand that lives up to the hype- OUAI has created the perfect products for easy, beautiful hair. I rub 1-2 pumps of the oil in my hands and distribute throughout damp hair. Let air dry for the perfectly un-done, Olsen sisters hair (circa 2004, post-"Full House" but pre- "New York Minute"). 

2) OUAI Wave Spray

This is my holy grail of hair products. I used to blow-dry my hair every day. Since finding the wave spray, I'm at peak laziness and have gotten down to about once a week. I spray on wet to damp hair, scruch, and air dry. Again- perfect Olsen beach waves (this time, circa 2002- prime of the "So Little Time" era). BONUS: comes in a TSA-approved travel size!

 

 

Now that your skin is in tip-top shape, you can enjoy your vacation looking and feeling your best. In the next part of the series, we'll dissect the ideal carry-on. Sneak Peek: blanket scarves and hoarding those shortbread cookies from Delta. Who said traveling can't be fun?

 

Not Your Grandma's Dress (but maybe her blanket).

I am always buying things to "run around in". Seriously- I probably justify a good 90% of purchases because "I'll look cute while running errands!". However, I usually end up in my yoga tights and "Karl is my Father" sweatshirt (that one always brings in smart remarks from old folks). However, with this dress from Zara, I'm sticking to my word. 

When I first saw this crochet mini, my initial thought was that it's the perfect mix between a mexican blanket and something my Grandma used to have at the foot of her bed. In other words, ALL THE MAKINGS FOR MY DREAM DRESS! Not to mention, it finally incorporates a little color into my wardrobe. I was one black and white sweater away from professional Miming. 

The lightweight comfort of this dress is selling point enough, but when your roommate stops to tell you her grandma has a similar quilt..to the front of my closet you go, blanket-like beauty.

Paired with sneakers and an old Chanel-my dad gave it to my mom in the eighties, and knowing him, it's most likely not real, but still fun!-, this combo is perfect for running around (for real this time), and not having to make a lame excuse when a friend texts for impromptu drinks mid errands (I'm on a detox girl!!!!). 

If you happen to run into me about town (you can find me every Sunday at the butcher choosing the perfect chicken breast- "NO LARRY- THE FAR LEFT ONE. OTHER LEFT.") and I'm still in my yoga pants, with no signs of actually working out, take me outside. Really- I need help loading my car. 

 

 

 

 

Pants-A-Make-Her-Dance

In 2006, I frequently posted statuses of " You Must Not Know 'Bout Me", as I was obsessed with Beyonce's "Irreplaceable". I was 15- what didn't "you" know 'bout me? That my mom was home making me pizza rolls, or that I had 4 more freeway-hours to log for my permit? 

It was also around this time that gauchos were a thing, and I had always assumed I was too short for the flowy silhouette. Now in 2016, we brought back a version of the gaucho, and called it a culotte. Older and wiser, I disregarded my previous rule and snagged a pair at Club Monaco (similar here, and a ton on sale!), and I am forever changed. 

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But Alex!! I'm short!! JOIN THE CLUB, SISTERS! Culottes are universally flattering, because the wide silhouette tends to slim and streamline the leg. Culotte hems can fall anywhere from the knee to mid-ankle. 

Forewarning: alterations may be necessary based on your height. Clothes are not meant to fit everyone perfectly: 

a good seamstress is the pinnacle of your wardrobe.

This Club Monaco pair was fine, but my other pairs I've had to shorten an inch or two- sometimes you gotta work for it. 

Don't worry about culottes being too "trendy", they're more of a staple to a chic wardrobe than a trend. Cardinal rule on trends: once something becomes one, it's usually already on the way out. Just always buy what you like and know you'll wear for years to come. 

Welcome your new party pants with open arms and hangers, pair them with just about anything (use the same rules as blue jeans or black pants), and get ready for Culotte-s of fun (I'm sorry. I knew I couldn't get through this post without a pant pun)!!! 

 

March (Metallic) Madness

There are countless articles in countless magazines telling you what staples you MUST HAVE to form your closet. While I can get down with the black slacks and a tailored jacket, that does not a wardrobe make. Sometimes you need to spice it up a bit, and for that, you need a new staple: say hello to metallic skirts. 

Thanks to Gucci, metallic skirts are becoming just as much a staple as a good white button-down, or in non-fashion terms, what cocktail sausages are to a good party. STAPLE. 

Metallic skirts are basically the Bernie Sanders of the closet. Loud, sensible, and always a smart choice. (Am I still talking about skirts here? #Berndownforwhat). 

Skirt: Vintage Christian Dior from The Peacock Room. Sweater: Uniqlo. Shoes: Asos

Your new skirt is just as handy as a pair of blue jeans. Pair it with an oversized sweater, a basic tee, sneakers, heels, even a crop top or bandeau in the summer. I've found midi-length and pleated work best with metallics. If you go mini and solid, you run the risk of looking like a girl who's lost at the festival just looking for a bathroom and a vodka redbull. 

A few no-fail options below: 

 

Topshop Metallic Pleated Skirt, $130 (Nordstrom)

 

Pleated Midi Skirt, $69.90 (Zara)


Asos Pleated Midi Skirt with Metallic Foil, $60 (Asos)

 

If you haven't already, you're going to be seeing metallic skirts everywhere, and trust me, you want in on this trend. GRANTED, I also said the same thing about those one-size stretchy sweaters in middle school, but I promise I've learned from that, and am much more credible now. 

 

Photos by Lauren Montgomery at the Belle Isle Conservatory.

A Little Shoulder, A Long Way

 

When I first became infatuated with fashion, it was all about fun. I would mix my oversized Tweety Bird tee, ruffle socks and jellies and would not even think twice that my outfit wasn't on POINT and that I wasn't flexing on my fellow first-graders. 

But as you get older, you are just beginning to scratch the surface of becoming who you want to be, and you can get very easily influenced by friends, trends and in my case, whatever they were wearing on The O.C. (Marissa Cooper is still my style icon). 

I've gone through so many style lives, and still do from day-to-day. However, the biggest lesson I've learned over the years is that sexy does not mean one thing. It does not always mean short skirts (re: college pics), low cut tops (re:re: college pics) and un-walkable heels. It can be covered up, it can be baggy, and it can even be a little silly. 

Enter: This Shirt

I love the silliness of the culotte, but the undeniable sexiness of an exposed shoulder. The perfect union of covered/uncovered. 

We shot these in Florida on vacation-AKA a trip made so I could wear this shirt sooner.

 

 

In college, I presumed that the more skin I showed, the sexier I was. But I never actually felt sexy, and I really still don't a good 99% of the time. But trust me when I say a little shoulder goes a long way. I remember wearing mentioned Tweety Bird shirt in first grade, and being told on by a male classmate because my shoulder was showing. Well, eat your heart out, John*

 

*Name has been kept exactly the same. Not afraid to call him out 19 years later.

 

 

In the Jungle

 

The top item I have been in search of for the past few years is a faux- fur leopard coat. I grew obsessed when my grandma out-chic'ed me in one in 2009 (never forget). I searched high and low, but couldn't find one that didn't look like I sewed together a bunch of stuffed animals from a bowling alley arcade. 

This past October, I stumbled upon the perfect match in TopShop in Las Vegas. Fueled by one-too-many bloody marys, I didn't hesitate to make it mine, and it has been a staple in my wardrobe ever since. 

The absolute best thing about faux fur coats is that they instantly take any outfit to the next level. I've worn mine over cropped black pants and a white blouse, and hours later over a sports-tee and destroyed denim (that pairing seemed to really resonate with a man in a Gucci bucket hat at a basketball game). 

I know Spring is on the horizon, but right now may be the most opportune time to buy. Most stores have their coats on sale, and if you've been keeping track of the F/W '16 shows in New York, you'll see that next season will have no shortage of leopard love. 

 

Via Spiga Faux Leopard Fur Topper- Was $270, now $179.90 (Nordstrom

 

Faux Fur Coat in Leopard- was $137, now $83 (Asos)

 

The Kooples Leopard Print Faux Fur Jacket- was $575, now $287 (Stylebop)

 

The biggest apprehension I hear about Faux Fur is that it's "too much" for every-day wear. I say -GOOD. Be too damn much. Be larger than life every chance you get. Wear this coat to the theatre, then to the grocery store. Wear it over a cocktail dress, then joggers and a white-tee. Never be afraid to be too much. It is far, far better than being too little (I'm 5ft tall- trust me on that one). 

 

Shot by Lauren Montgomery at the Belle Isle Conservatory in Detroit. 

Photo editing by Leah Cranston. 

A Tale of Two Eyebrows: My Journey to Brow Peace.

We all go through stages in life. Puberty, first relationships, bad haircuts-the stuff they warn us about. However, in my 24 years of life, no one ever warned me about the emotional turmoil that comes with having eyebrows. 

I had good eyebrows. They were thick and untamed and unruly, and in sixth grade, that was unacceptable. So I let my friends pluck them all off at a sleepover into thin, perfect lines. I felt chic! I felt cool! WHAT A FOOL I WAS. My girlfriends told me they would grow back anyway. Then probably something about an Abercrombie sale ($5 off jeans!? MOM!!!) Spoiler alert: they did not grow back. Not even close.  

When big, dark brows came back into style, I became obsessed. I wanted those thick, gorgeous, Audrey Hepburn, Lily Collins brows so badly. This is now what I refer to as "Dark Times". 

It started out innocently enough, a little pencil on my sixth-grade mistakes here and there. But it wasn't enough. I started filling them in darker and darker. And you wanna know what? I.Loved.It. I felt sexy, fashionable, and on-trend with my new Groucho Marx brows. I filled them in with pride and basked in their perfect shape. This was my time, baby. 

"What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas" does NOT apply to eyebrows. They should really put that on their signage.

 

However, it all soon started to crumble. It began with a friend of mine, breaking the truth to me. That my brows were just too dark and too big and they were too much for my face. I was 100% in denial. I cried my eyes out. I could not accept what my girlfriend had said, and I could feel that naive, 12-year-old girl that was dying to fit in, oozing out of me. 

I still continued filling in my brows, a little less, but I made up for it in shape. BOOYY DID I MAKE UP FOR IT. My lines were so sharp they could kill a man. I was FLEEK AF. In my state of brow-bliss, I went to to see my enabler (my eyebrow girl), who had originally tinted my brows and who I can probably credit with the beginning of this madness. 

When I went to make an appointment, I was informed that my then brow-guru had left the state (probably to enter the witness brow-tection program. Puns make it hurt less). I felt lost and alone. Who would define and defend my eyebrows now?

Enter Sonya- Father, Son and Holy Spirit of eyebrows. On our very first appointment, she let me down easy like a good therapist. My perfectly drawn, carefully crafted eyebrows were stealing the spotlight from every other feature I have. We never tinted them again, used brow wax matching my natural shade, and only filled in the scarce spots. I felt more natural, but more fashionable than ever. 

Moments after my brow-rescue with Sonya. Next LinkedIn photo for SURE.  

I'm not mad at myself. Not even embarrassed. We all go through beauty blunders- all that matters is if it makes you happy at the time. No one can tell you how you should look. I needed to go through my brow-tastrophe. Not even my closest friend could tell me what's up (BROWS, GET IT?!), I needed to figure it out for myself. 

In my next post, I'll let you guys in on what I think- no, know, is the holy grail of brow product. Even for girls that "don't need brow product" (we can't be friends). For now, learn from my story, tell it to your children. Preferably before they go to sleepovers. 

 

Xx 

Inside the Box

Quick confession: I am a bag lady. I walk into work every day with at LEAST 3 bags on my arm. Each morning I tip to one side, succumbing to the weight on my right arm, forcing me into an unintentional pimp walk.

Although the overall tone in my upper arms has vastly improved, I'm exhausted of divvying up my life into tote bags, cross-bodies, and whatever else I can fit my life into. Enter the Box Bag. 

Vogue made it official in the August 2015 issue, and I've finally committed to my new, smaller yet more efficient partner. And yes, I know that's what she said. You can go back to 2008 now. 

I found my new go-to at The Peacock Room in Detroit. Vintage from the 1950s, I fell in love with its upholstered style in a fall/winter palette. The ease of carrying this shape and size had me throwing my carry-on sized tote in storage faster than Galliano was dismissed from Dior. 

In an attempt to simplify my life, I've simplified my bag down to the necessities : wallet, chapstick, mirror, and a KIND bar (I am never not down for a snack). I of course still take a tote as well to my job for my papers, agenda, lunch, etc. Girl's gotta work! 

The argument for the box bag is simple: most of us don't need all the junk that's in our bags. Find your must-haves for on-the-go, and throw them inside the box. You and I both know we don't need those 2-day-old water bottles and ten shades of Nars Velvet Lip Pencils. 

Take a peek at a few gorgeous options below, and feel the weight lift from your shoulders- literally. Have you ever lifted a woman's purse? We could put CrossFit out of business with our bags (Did I just create my Shark Tank idea?).

Marc Jacobs Leopard Box Crossbody- Nordstrom

Asos Structured Box Shoulder Bag- Asos

Vintage (like mine!) Black Velvet Box Bag- Etsy

Xx

 

Photography by Lauren Montgomery

Indian Summer...But Probably Global Warming

As I write this, I'm under exactly 4 layers of clothing, not including the blanket that has me wrapped up like some cozy chipotle. However, I can't complain, because up until this late- December week, the weather has been OUTSTANDING. 

Call it an Indian Summer, call it global warming, but I call it glorious- I KNOW IT'S SELFISH. Our planet is probably falling apart but I couldn't help but enjoy the unusually warm temperatures for December in Michigan.

And in Michigan, when the sun shows up past Nov. 1, the only logical thing to do was to throw on a tulle-ballerina skirt, my favorite flannel and head outside to enjoy it while it lasts. 

Tulle skirts can become too costume-y if not paired carefully. Try to offset the prettiness with some rough touches, like a leather jacket, moto booties or a cool t-shirt

Skirt: Abercrombie & Fitch (I know, right?). Similar here and here.

Shirt: Vintage from my Aunt's closet (what is family for?). Similar here and here.

Mock neck Bodysuit: Asos. IF YOU DO NOT OWN A BODYSUIT YOU ARE NOT LIVING THE LIFE YOU DESERVE. 

Boots: Old Sam Edelman. Similar here and here

Sunglasses: Elizabeth & James. Similar here.

 

This was my first time taking "real photos" since my Senior pictures, which was my worst nightmare. It's just not natural to lay on the floor with your name in blocks behind you.

I was beyond nervous and I have to give all props to my amazing photographer, Lauren Montgomery. She somehow made me feel comfortable, even as she was telling me to "walk with purpose" towards her. STILL DON'T KNOW HOW. But I'm very excited to learn with her!

Xx