Have a Little Faith in Me

Hope everyone had a great holiday! Along with all of the amazing gifts I received this year, I got a lil something in my mailbox that I just had to share. My free eyelash curler refills came!

Yes, we’re talking about this again. May I remind you, these refill pads were completely free. Just fill out the form online and Japonesque sends you two free refill pads in the mail. No shipping charges! Faith in humanity just went up a couple notches.


The Boot Investment

“I like my money right where I can see it—hanging in my closet.” – Carrie Bradshaw

What kind of fashion blog would this be without a Sex and the City quote? We’ve all heard about “investment pieces” and the idea that classics are worth splurging on. My number one investment piece? Boots! This may be because I live in Chicago, where we can’t expose our skin from October to April, but leather boots are one of my most worn, most loved fashion accessories.

The key is to buy well-constructed boots made of good leather that ages well. My boots are now toddler age. I have three-year-old grey and black Fryes and four-year-old brown leather J.Crew boots. They’ve been holding up nicely until just this year, when they started looking rough. Real rough. The heels were totally worn out and the salt stains that used to wipe away easily wouldn’t go away. Since I plan to keep these kids around for many more years, I required some TLC from a man named Gus. I started taking my shoes to Gus New Quality Shoe Repair (click that link for my friend Karen’s review. She’s Yelp elite, you know) in Lincoln Park.

My beloved boots, before:

I clean and weather-proof my boots multiple times throughout the winter, but there is just no getting around the layer of salt that’s spread over the city come January. It absolutely destroys everything it touches.

I’m sorry, boots.


Discoloration removed.

New heels.

Scratches gone.

New soles.

They look practically brand new! Now if that’s not a great ROI, I don’t know what is. I did the calculations and it holds. Gus cleaned these guys up, fixed the discoloration, got the scratches out, weather-proofed them, put new heels on every pair and new soles on the brown and black ones (the grey will need them by next year, I’m sure).

I’m going back to Gus in March (that may be wishful thinking, probably April) to do a thorough cleanup on my boots again so that any trace of salt is removed and they’re ready to go come fall. In the mean time, I’ll religiously clean and water-proof spray them. By the way, saddle soap is cheap and great for cleaning and conditioning leather. You can really see a difference when you use it, plus it reminds me of my horseback riding days.

Ride on!

Let’s All Go Shopping Online!

Ooh how I love online shopping. Sometimes I add things to my cart, more with wishful thinking than real intention. The “add to cart” click is just so satisfying. I’ll go about my life and you know, sometimes the items will be removed or go out of stock. But sometimes! Sometimes, just when I wasn’t looking, the thing in my cart magically went on sale, and that thing that was expensive is now not-so expensive, and it’s definitely meant to be and that cannot be ignored and it’s MINE!

If you haven’t experienced this kind of joy, try that out. But do it at Nordstrom or something, because you won’t want to go saving items in your cart here over here:


I am so excited to announce that Camden Boutique is now online! My friend Dee, owner of Camden Boutique in downtown Elmhurst, just launched her new site. Right now, you can use code FREESHIP for complimentary shipping on your order! Someone buy these things so I can look at you:

Camden is the source of my best outfits. You’ve seen a couple things from this store in my Fashion Show at Lunch post, but that’s nothin’. I do a lot of shopping (pretend shopping counts) and Camden’s selection is perfection. Dee does a great job hand-picking all of the brands (Dolce Vita, Prairie, Gypsy 05) for unique yet very wearable pieces, resulting in a store full of cool stuff no one else has. The site looks awesome and it was definitely a labor of love for Dee and Liz and my amazing sister, Lauren, her fiance, Matt, and Dee’s brother, John, who designed and built the site!

While we’re on the subject of super-talented friends, another item you can cross off your shopping list today is my friend Rachel Bertsche’s book, MWF Seeking BFF. It comes out December 20, but you can pre-order your copy right now. Pre-sale numbers are a big deal in the publishing world. And if you do pre-order, Rachel announced on her blog that you are now her friend, so she will give you a friendship bracelet! Friendship bracelets are Style Alter-approved fashion accessories.

MWF Seeking BFF is a memoir about Rachel’s move from NYC to Chicago and her experience trying to make new friends in a new city. At this age. Which is basically the worst. Rachel went on a year of girl-dates to document how hard, scary and definitely entertaining it is to make new friends. I can’t tell you how many times I cringed while she was telling me her stories. Like the time she took improv classes to make new friends. I can’t think of anything more I’d rather not do, but the girl was committed and she has really inspired me. And if this entices you to buy her book, I’m in it! (Well, mentioned. Counts.)

Rachel is an incredibly talented writer and everybody knows it. O, The Oprah Magazine named her book one of “10 Titles to Pick Up Now.” Chicago Magazine called it a “humbling, hilarious memoir” and said you should “put MWF on your book club list now.”

And, Rachel? Your readers are clearly the best kind of readers there are:

I’m also going to be styling Rachel for her book tour stop in Chicago on Jan. 12, so look forward to more on that!

Shop at Camden. Buy the book. Have a great Friday!

Watts Up? Nothing, Just Blasting My Hair with Gemstones

For my next product in the “best in beauty” series, hair dryers were an easy choice because I have a very clear favorite: the Speed Freak 2000 Watt Ceramic and Tourmaline Dryer by Rusk. I’m not the only one—a stylist at Van Cleef Hair Studio (where Michelle Obama goes in Chicago) and I talked at length once about how much we love this dryer and I recently read it’s what Kate from The Small Things Blog uses (if you’re on Pinterest, you know her).

I’m now on my second after having my first Speed Freak for about five years (a respectable life for a dryer). It does dry my hair freakishly fast, as the name entails. With the combination of this hair dryer, the right brushes and the right technique, I no longer need to flat-iron my hair. That’s unheard of for me, so be impressed. Retail price is $135.95, but you can easily find it for less ($79 at Ulta).

When it comes to hair dryer technology, “ceramic,” “ionic” and “tourmaline” have been the stagnant buzz-words for the past few years. Ceramic materials heat fast and evenly, so this makes good sense. It’s the ionic claims that get a little questionable. If you’ve bought a dryer within the past several years, it’s likely ionic. They’re everywhere, at all price points. The gist is that when hair is wet, it has a positive charge. By blasting hair with a negative charge from an ionic dryer, hair is supposed to dry faster and sleeker.

Tourmaline is another material used in hair dryers, typically the more expensive models. This is the selling point of the famous $200 T3 Featherweight. Tourmaline is—get this—a gemstone. They crush these gemstones into a powder and incorporate them into the blow dryer. Really. There is some science behind this because tourmaline yields a charge, so in theory, this dryer will blast your hair with negative ions.

Maybe tourmaline is how Jem transformed their hair!

My Speed Freak is ceramic, ionic and contains tourmaline. All the bells, all the whistles. But I don’t really care about all that—what really makes the difference to me is the wattage. The Speed Freak has 2000 watts, one of the most powerful on the market. The T3 has 1800 watts, which is respectable, but it’s more expensive. I bought at CHI dryer with only 1300 watts once and it was so weak, I had to return it. Even though it was supposedly throwing those ions, it took forever to dry my hair and looked frizzy by the time I was done.

So in my opinion, ions and gemstones probably do help a little, but wattage is really where it’s at. I highly recommend the Rusk Speed Freak because of its power, especially if you have hard to manage hair. However, any dryer with 1800 watts or more should do the trick. Another good tip is to ask your hairstylist what he or she uses.

What I’d really love to do is test the Speed Freak vs. T3 Featherweight vs. Elchim 2001 Classic Hair Dryer (Lauren Conrad’s favorite hair dryer) so if anyone owns these dryers, let me know!

Fashion Show at Lunch

As I stated in my first post, part of my reason for starting this blog was to challenge myself to really explore all that my closet has to offer and wear my pieces in new, unexpected ways (rather than buying new things just because I’m bored with what I’ve got.)

To do this, I’m going to attempt a series where I style one piece in three different ways. This is based on the Rule of Three, which I picked up from Oprah’s stylist while producing some online fashion videos with her. The rule is simple and has stuck with me: Never buy something unless you can think of at least three different ways to wear it.

So I’m starting with a basic plaid flannel shirt I’ve had for two years made by RVCA, a Christmas gift from my sister. Here it is, three ways:

A sequin top can be a little flashy for my typical Chicago nightlife scene, which is more of the red solo cup variety than the red wine glasses kind. But sometimes, a girl’s just gotta wear sequins and this is a fun way to dress them down.

Sequin top by The Addison Story at Nordstrom, skinny jeans by Mossimo at Target, boots by Frye, bracelet by Ann Taylor, ring by Noir.

This look says: I’m so rich, I can even make plaid look sophisticated. Tuck in any shirt, add a chunky glam necklace, open up the collar and BAM. J.Crew-ed.

Necklace from Ann Taylor, ring from local jewelry shop Glam to Go, jeans by Kasil from Camden Boutique.

This is my attempt at transitioning a summer dress into fall/winter. I like the idea of layering a shirt over a dress as opposed to the same cardigan over and over. I lived in this dress this past summer. I bought it at my friend Dee’s store, Camden Boutique, in downtown Elmhurst. A large (and growing) percentage of my wardrobe is from this store because Dee has great style and picks out amazing things!

Dress by Bella Dahl from Camden Boutique. That belt is so old I can’t remember where I got it. I buy belts whenever/wherever I see them on sale. You can never have enough.

Please note the THREE kinda different poses I managed to come up with here, which did not come naturally. Thanks to Todd for taking these pictures!

Sidenote, I hope someone is really looking at his blog during their lunch break at work. Fashion show, fashion show, fashion show at lunch!