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Thursday, June 26, 2014

keaton row

There's a new love in my life.

I've mentioned the styling services at ShoeDazzle and JustFab before. (If you're just tuning in: you sign up, complete a brief style questionnaire, and they put a multitude of shoe and accessory options in your style-book based on your style. Of course, 99% of the options are likely not to match your style at all ... like the 6" hot pink hooker heels in mine ...)

And I've found one for clothes. 

Keaton Row's sign-up process also involves a brief questionnaire, but one with more in-depth and open-ended questions. It's not a logarithm (algorithm? I understand neither math nor tech) that determines what to suggest. It's a person.

Yes, a real, live person. Who emails you after you submit your answers. Who asks about your interests, shopping habits, and wardrobe concerns. Who only chooses items that fall within the budget you set.

The stylist chosen for me is Victoria.

Whose style is "feminine and ladylike, with a bit of quirky." Which, I think is pretty spot-on to how I would describe my style.

Victoria emailed me the day I signed up to learn more about me, which told me she was eager to get started. We discussed my favorite things to wear, my struggles (ahem, large rears don't belong in tight pencil skirts) and my ideal style.

Five days later, my four looks were ready, which told me she earnestly took the time to find pieces she truly believed I would appreciate. I probably wouldn't wear every item she chose for me, but I give her choices a 95-97% approval rating. First time around, I'd say that's pretty good.

And, yes, I've already ordered from one of my personally-crafted "looks."

And I can't wait for it to come in! (Similar options here, here, here and here.)

The service is completely free. You only pay for the items you choose to buy, when you buy them, and the stylists receive commission. No monthly fees. No surprises.

Keaton Row also offers free shipping. I don't want to speak for every order, because the selected items come from different stores with different policies, but my skirt from Nordstrom also had no tax.

After you receive your look-book, leave feedback so that your stylist knows what you liked and didn't like about her choices. Next time around, the looks will be that much closer to your ideal closet.

What do you think of Keaton Row's service? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

american market

Originally posted April 2013

Saying I got a meal complete with a drink and a side for only $6 makes me sound like a Wendy's commercial. (Before you start thinking I endorse them, let's spare a second to reflect on how weird their square patties are . . . )

But, knowing that meal wasn't fast food . . . knowing it was both healthy and hearty . . . knowing it was made fresh right before my eyes . . .

Well . . . you get the idea.

Well, that's a horse of a different color!

And, no, it's not Subway. (For the record, I don't consider them healthy.)
My friends, I introduce you to the lovely American Market at the corner of Nicholson and Lee.

It may look a little sketchy, a little rough around the edges . . . but aren't those always the best?

For $5.99 you get a 14" fresh cut deli sandwich, a bag of Zapp's and a 20 oz fountain drink. And, if you're not on your lunch break like I always am when I go in, go ahead and get a beer. Or some hard alcohol. Or a few toiletry essentials. Whatever will make your night go easier, because, dear friends, American Market doubles as a convenience store! Yay convenience!

 So, on your next lunch break, or if you need something quick for dinner, pop in the store for five minutes and have a truly sensational deli meal (my favorite is the Cajun Turkey fully dressed with VooDoo Zapp's).

Am Market Menu

Sunday, June 22, 2014

waxing the nether

The Garden District is easily my favorite part of Baton Rouge.

Grand live oaks line the streets, their over-sized branches providing sweet, shady relief to an otherwise miserably hot and humid town. As though they're insufficient on their own, their beauty is only increased by the fragrant Spanish Moss and colorful Mardi Gras beads that inevitably hang from nearly every branch year-round.

The Garden District is filled to the brim with quaint, quirky and kind locally-owned businesses, my most recent favorite being Zanella's.

I know, I know. It's a wax bar. How can I have any positive associations with the place I get a monthly Brazilian?

Erica Zanella-Ourso (the cutie below) founded Zanella's after moving to Baton Rouge, from Portland, Oregon, with her husband. The wax bar's (obvious) namesake is probably the most brilliant aesthetician I've met. (Yes, I'm sucking up a little, hoping the next wax will be painless.)

After previous waxing incidents elsewhere in the Red Stick with my underarms, my lip, my eyebrows ... Erica is now the only person I'll trust with my nether.

It took me 25 years and a lot of razor burn to warm up to the idea of a Brazilian. But, with a beach vacation looming this summer, I figured it was high time to start.

The first one was painful. Really painful. Like, lots-of-unladylike-obscenities-flying painful. But, when I went back this month for maintenance, it was so much better.

Granted, there were still two pretty painful pulls (you can guess where), but it was easy enough to warrant routine monthly maintenance. (Especially because I don't want to experience a "first" wax again.)

Erica, obviously, knows it's a painful experience and has some serious skill in keeping you relaxed so it's not as painful. She'll talk to you about House of Cards, listen to your life story, and laugh at your jokes.

One of the most nerve-racking bits for me was the anticipated embarrassment of being exposed like that. She's such a professional, though, it's better than the gyno. 

Bonus: the interior is super cute and inviting!

Bottom line, if you've always been too scared or nervous for a Brazilian, or are looking for a new aesthetician, head to Zanella's. Erica and her colleagues are brilliant professionals who never let you feel uncomfortable, and offer a wide range of services for women and men

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

work to weekend wear: h&m

Though I haven't made my way to the Crescent City for a shopping trip in a while, I am beyond excited that H&M finally opened a store in New Orleans.

H&M offers cute, trendy and classic pieces at an absolute steal. What's better: they have a good stock of work-appropriate attire.

This week's selection focuses on a beautiful pleated skirt I've been eye-ing for a while. (And, yes, all of the pieces are totally affordable at less than $50 each.)

Seriously. I love this skirt ($40). It's feminine without being frilly and professional without being rigid. How can it get any better?

I'd play up the femininity with an airy mint blouse ($30), but pair it with a crisp white tuxedo jacket ($50) to bring the outfit structure. Keep the look simple with gold chain earrings ($8) with a twist (geddit?) and sweet, comfy muted beige flats ($13).

To bring this look over to the weekend, keep the flats, earrings and, obvi, skirt.

Swap out the mint blouse for this loose-fitting, comfortable sleeveless button-up ($15). (Personal note: I'd tuck in the front, and probably leave the back out.) I like the pairing of this cuff ($6) because it's sweet and simple, but plays on the masculinity of the button-up and keeps the outfit from being too predictable.

I'm so weird about hats. I love them. I look good in them. But I can never bring myself to buy one. This adorable weekender only costs $13, so I can't justify not buying it.

I chose this sweet shoulder bag ($18) because I didn't want to overwhelm the look. (And you know I love a good shoulder bag on the weekend.) But, if you'd like a pop of color I'd go with this ray of sunshine ($18). Or this funzie ($8). I mean, heck. it is the weekend, after all!

Monday, June 16, 2014

t-shirt and jeans need not apply

One of our good friends is moving to Seattle, so Hannah threw him a going away party Friday. There was laughter, board games, pizza, cookie cake, great friends and, of course, (Mama, Daddy, look away) tequila shooters.

That was actually my first time to salt, lick, shoot and suck. I may or may not have made a very high-pitched squeal after the lime that frightened the dogs.

Beforehand, I texted Hannah:
"Is this a t-shirt and jeans kind of shin-dig?"

"You can wear a t-shirt and jeans if you want."

"I don't do t-shirt and jeans. I'm just trying to gauge how out of place I'll look."

When we got there, the first words she said were, "You really don't do t-shirts and jeans, do you?

Damn straight.

Pockets. The way to get a young woman to buy any dress.

I love this dress from The Limited. I ordered it online in a pinch for a Rehearsal Dinner, not realizing the bodice didn't have boning. FYI - Girls with larger chests need, nay deserve, boning.

Between that and the fact that it's a size too small (I told you, I was in a pinch), I have to pull it up a lot to make sure I'm appropriate.

If I could just stand like this all the time, everything would be fine.

This OPI polish is my absolute favorite shade. It's perfectly pink, red and orange, and classy but fun. What's better: it's called Cajun Shrimp. And it goes with everything.

The shoes are from ShoeDazzle, where I have a VIP membership.

How ShoeDazzle works: sign up, take a style quiz, have professional stylists choose shoes based on your preferences to create a personal boutique each month.

ShoeDazzle has three membership levels: Regular, VIP and Elite. Regular members are only charged the price of the shoes they buy, plus shipping.

VIP are charged $10 monthly, but that $10 goes toward any pair of shoes, purse, jewelry, etc. you decided to buy. Or, you can utilize it like I do: completely forget that you're being charged. In five months, remember and realize you have $50 to spend on shoes. VIP level members also get a small discount off of the regular price and free shipping.

Elite membership most closely resembles ShoeDazzle's original business model and JustFab's (a similar shoe/accessory site) current. You're charged $40/month, but get a much larger discount on products and, like VIP, receive free shipping and can choose when to spend that $40.

The site was founded by Kim Kardashian. But, if the thought of giving her money makes you ill, ASOS has a similar pair.

This is my absolute favorite necklace. 20% because I think it's beautiful, 80% for the sentimental value.

The BF bought me the sapphire for one of our anniversaries (options 1, 2 and 3).

The other two charms are from my travels last summer. The olive wreath from Greece (similar one on Etsy), the pearl from Disney World's Epcot (similar here and here).

I told the boy I wanted to take one of those fun, laughing photos. Result:

Actual laughter realizing how stupid my fake laughter probably looked:

My mother would kill me to see that a decade of ballet didn't help this posture.

Saturday was basically an all-day festival for our friend beginning with brunch, then laser-tag, bowling, sushi and board games (this group really likes board games).

What did you do over the weekend?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

carolina moon

Originally posted May 2013

NOLA girl (and LSU alumna) Camille Harrington Quintana recently established Carolina Moon, a trendy, posh boutique which currently exists completely online. I got to meet Camille this past weekend at her house in the Crescent City.

Between the furniture, racks of clothes and a friendly giant (Lucy the dog), there's not much room for anything else in her living room, but southern hospitality runs through her veins. She instantly makes you feel at ease and at home. It might be her greatest natural talent . . . apart from choosing beautiful clothes, of course.

I've already worn the three blouses I bought Saturday, and have enjoyed the multiple showers of compliments thoroughly. What makes Carolina Moon unique, though, isn't the adorable clothing options. Without a physical storefront, Camille welcomes shoppers into her home and offers a personal, in-your-home styling service where she helps you reinvent your wardrobe with pieces you already have.

Sadly, this offer isn't in Baton Rouge yet. le sigh. But, a girl can dream, right?

(Read LSU's story on the e-boutique here.)

Monday, June 9, 2014

designer monokini showdown

I have to say, when I saw this swimsuit on Shoshanna (on Girls), I was far less than impressed. But, seeing it on Sofia Vergara's Modern Family character is a whole different story.

The monokini instantly became a "Who Wore it Better" showdown on People Stylewatch. Personally, I think it's much more complementary to Sofia's skin tone and shape. But, none of that matters. Because this isn't a gossip blog.

It's a lifestyle blog.

So, how does a $450 Agent Provocateur swimsuit apply to your life?

 Umm, how about because I know where you can get a veeeerrrrry similar version for $44?

You're welcome.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

work to weekend wear: modcloth

One thing I can't quite grasp about the professional world is the idea of a "work wardrobe." Why do I need to have a separate wardrobe for work? Why can't all of my pieces play nicely together?

I've put together a couple of outfits using some of the same pieces for both work and weekend wear. When you can mix and match several pieces from your closet to serve both purposes, there's no need to spend gobs of money on clothes you wouldn't be caught dead in after 5.

 All of these pieces are from Modcloth (hence the title) and very affordable. (I think I kept each piece under or very close to $50.)

First, we'll keep it simple with the wear to work option. 

Ever notice in the work outfits sections of magazines they include pieces you could never to wear to work? Like shorts? I think most offices would allow these choices.

This tank top ($25) is wonderful. It's punchy but subtle, and provides visual interest that isn't distracting. Plus, it has an amazing graphic. (I'm probably just saying that because I have a slight obsession with London.)

Tone it down by tucking it into a simple black pencil skirt ($25), and top it off with a lightweight blazer ($35). The blazer provides structure without being stuffy. Keep the look streamlined with simple jewelry in the form of a trendy but unobtrusive midi ring ($8) and art deco earrings ($9). (With these earrings, I would wear my hair down, tucked behind one ear to just give a peak.)

Obviously, with a pencil skirt, you need a heel. While black pumps are a great, versatile staple, they're also predictable. Try these red heels, instead. Yes, red heels can easily become trampy. But, the faux-leather, grosgrain knot and "wooden" stacked heel make this look polished. (A good conscience will tell you to stay away from a faux wooden heel, but, they're not even $35. So tell your conscience to zip it.) Unfortunately, these heels are almost sold out, so try this cute kitten.

Bonus: Take off the blazer, swap the kittens for stilettos, and your ensemble immediately goes from work appropriate to working-it appropriate.

To transition this look to the weekend, keep the tank, midi ring and blazer (if it's chilly ... which it probably isn't right now), but swap out the other pieces for a more casual look.

High-waisted shorts are a beautiful thing. Even if you're not completely comfortable with the attention they draw to your midsection, these shorts ($40) have a great structure and would flatter you whether or not the tank was tucked in.

A pair of subtle glitter flats/oxfords ($31 - on sale!) and the bow earrings ($10) both sweeten up the look by providing a bit of girlish charm, which has no better place than the weekend. (I mean, the weekend is where flower crowns live, no?)

I don't think this tank really needs a necklace, but, if you're going to wear one, wear this map ($20). It's fun, a bit quirky, and ties in quite nicely to the subtle international theme.

Which brings me to the pièce de résistance: the I'm Having a Good Hare Day crossbody ($45). This bag is positively yelling at me. Any crossbody basically screams weekend, with their casual, comfy-chic style. And there's something about bunnies and blue that cry out "We're so English!" amiright? No? Is this just me?

Whatever. Even if the clothes don't talk to you, both of these outfits are perfect for their respective venues.

How would you style this tank?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

enjoying the brec outdoors

In college, I was determined to find a job in Colorado. I didn't care where. I didn't care what I'd be doing.

I just knew Colorado would be the best place for me because of its outdoor recreational activities. Yeah. I wanted to move to a foreign state for canoeing and rock-climbing (which I had never done before).

My dreams were quickly deflated when one of the university career counselors told me I was, basically, dumb.

The moral of this riveting story is that I love outdoor activities.

So, a few weekends ago, the boyfriend was studying for something important and I was supposed to be working. But, it was a beautiful day.

So I called up Hannah to go kayaking.

First, I tried to rent a canoe from the university rec center, but they're unavailable on weekends (absolutely silly). Next best thing, which turned out to be the absolute most amazing thing, was BREC.

BREC has an amazing park system. The Greenwood Community Park rents out canoes and kayaks for $5/hour to paddle their 18-acre lake.


Of course, you don't actually get to canoe/kayak the entire lake because most of it's blocked off by barricades or these boogers.

While it was a stunning day, and a beautifully peaceful run (despite our random outbursts of "Just Around the River Bend"), the lake had a lot of litter.

I just don't understand litterbugs.

But, like I said, it was still beautiful!!!

I mean, look at that.

I'm not so great at taking the panoramic shots.

I am, however, a master of selfies.

We decided our arms needed even more of a workout, so we hopped on over to the Perkins Road Park to climb the rock wall.

Flattering, right?

The rock wall is also $5/hour ... if you can make it that long. We each climbed twice before our upper bodies begged us very nicely to go home.

Overall, it was an absolutely amazing Saturday spent enjoying BREC's parks.

What's your favorite park activity?