11/27/13

These Clutches (Literally) Make A Statement

Welcome to What I Wore Wednesdays, a personal style feature highlighting – you guessed it – some of my favorite looks.

zarahusainiarmcandyclutch

Fashion experts say there are a few bags every woman should have in her closet: The classic handbag, the slouchy satchel, the understated evening clutch. But I’m here to rewrite the rules a bit: I won’t argue that any of the aforementioned bags aren’t essentials, but there’s one thing missing from the list — the statement bag.

The statement bag can be totally, fabulously over-the-top because, hey, it’s just a bag. If you have a knack for styling bold pieces, if you understand that balance is key when opting for an outrageous bag, I firmly believe you can make any statement bag work. You just may have to construct the rest of your outfit around it. I went with a really simple look – black blazer paired with distressed jeans (a polished/disheveled look I’ve been loving recently) to balance out the quirk of this Kate Spade pouch. In retrospect, I think a more simple shoe would have been better with this look – a black pump, perhaps – but the studded pumps have a little bit of that business in the front/party in the back thing going, which seemed to work with the juxtapostion of the ripped jeans and the blazer.

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11/22/13

Coco Meers Spills Secrets To Finding Success And Looking Great While Doing It

Welcome to BYOB: Be Your Own Boss, a feature series highlighting some of the self-starters we love.

Coco Meers Head Shot

We’ve all been there – desperately in need of a mani and unable to score an appointment at any of the go-to salons. Pretty Quick, a Chicago-based startup, aims to eliminate the frustration that comes when you just need a brow wax and don’t have the time to call every salon in the city until you can find availability.

If you haven’t tried Pretty Quick you should. It essentially puts a beauty concierge service right under your fingertips, and quite honestly I wonder how Coco Meers, founder of Pretty Quick, even came up with this genius idea.

Luckily, I got a chance to pick her brain a bit in celebration of the site’s one-year anniversary. Coco answered a few of my most burning questions about life as an entrepreneur, the challenges of starting a business,  and – of course – beauty

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11/21/13

How You Can Get Six Nail Polishes For Five Dollars

ombrenailsstatementsceneOmbré hair may have crossed over into passé territory but I’m still in awe of any woman who rocks a perfect ombré on her (finger)tips.

The ombré mani or gradient mani or monochromatic mani – whatever you want to call it – is an understated way to do the multicolored nail thing, an adult take on the “paint each nail a different color” trend sees its resurgence over and over in second-grade classrooms.

But here’s the issue I have with these manicures: I don’t always have the polish selection to pull off this look. I mean, the entire essence of this look is the fact that you’re wearing slight variations on the same color. And really, how many blue/green/purple/gray/pink polishes does one girl need?

Enter this set from LA Girl. Yes, LA Girl, the drugstore brand I probably haven’t gone near in a solid fifteen years – that is, until I spotted this ombré nail kit. I had some reservations about the quality of this set but $5 for five polishes (six if you include the top coat that comes in the set) was too good a deal to ignore. How did this cheapie set stack up? Read on for some pros and cons. Spoiler alert: I bought this set in five shades of purple, then went back and got the blue version…so clearly I didn’t hate it.

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11/19/13

Living Life/Loving Leather

zarahusainileatherjacketstatementscenePETA probably hates me because of my all-consuming leather obsession. I mean, if you look at the search history on my computer you’ll find the following: “leather jacket,” “vince leather,” “leather pants,” and “boxy black leather tee.” Notice a trend?

Every time I go shopping – which, let’s be real, is kind of often – I find myself giving every item made from leather a rubdown that would be a TSA security worker’s pat to shame. Some people love the feel of cashmere; for me, nothing beats a soft, buttery leather. And while I’ve seen some gorgeous faux leather renditions, you just can’t get the same feel from the fake stuff.

The problem with real leather, of course, is that it’s really expensive. All things leather are investment pieces – and while I believe in investing in leather, I know you have to pick and choose your splurges. With that being said, here’s a simple guide to determining whether you should go for the real deal or settle for the replica.

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11/15/13

What’s In A Trend?

celine

Fall fashion trends, summer fashion trends, winter shoe trends…every issue of any fashion magazine will throw the word “trend” around along with a color scheme or silhouette that they want their readers to think will be trendy for the season. I was a believer in these trends until I took a course on trend forecasting in Paris this past summer that frankly made me question the authority of a glossy fashion magazine. I found that there is a method to the madness and realized, much to my dismay, that popular fashion magazines are often late to the party.

First and foremost, trend spotting is different than trend forecasting. Trend spotting is what it sounds like—you observe what you see on the streets, on runway, in stores, and find commonalities that create a trend. Trend forecasting looks years into the future and looks at the trendsetters—those who seem a little off or strange at the moment—as potential sources of inspiration for upcoming seasons. Big labels, small designers, interior design companies, architecture agencies all take part in trend forecasting by constantly observing the people around them and taking part in as many cultural events as possible. WGSN, one of the world’s most reputable trend agencies, sends its trend forecasters all over the world to experience fashion weeks, music festivals, cultural fairs, all in order to understand the state of the world and how young people like ourselves are reacting to politics, pop culture, fashion, so on and so forth. These people have a keen eye for what is about to burst into the big scene and they collect their own data. This includes photos, street testimonials, and their own daily inspirations from magazines, blogs they follow, stores they love, and people they think are forward thinking. WGSN provides trend information for clients including fashion brands like Diesel and big corporations like Target because it’s not just fashion that requires understanding what the consumer wants and will react positively to.

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11/13/13

Guilt. Free. Dessert.

healthykeylimepieIt may not be summer anymore but-  in my humble opinion – key lime pie never goes out of style.

I’ve been craving a big slice of one of my favorite desserts all week – but instead of hunting it down, I decided to break out this genius recipe. I’m happy to share this one with you: it’s super simple, requires few ingredients and actually isn’t bad for you. I’d say that trifecta makes any recipe a win/win/win, wouldn’t you?

All you need is:

  • Key lime flavored Greek yogurt (Oikos makes a good one)
  • Cream cheese (I use the full-fat variety; you may be able to use a low-fat for a similar result but I never buy low-fat anything)
  • Graham crackers
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Blueberries (optional)

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11/13/13

Vote For Me!

Zara Husaini Outfit

UPDATE: I made it to the quarterfinals! Thanks to anyone who voted for me – but it isn’t over yet. Right now I am losing my matchup and could really use your votes. I mean, those Bruno Magli booties definitely deserve some love, right? Vote here. 

As you may know, RedEye does this thing called “The November of Dressing Nicely” every year. It’s a really cool concept – essentially the RedEye staff urges Chicagoans to step up their wardrobe games each November. Think about it: People often take cooler weather as an opportunity to break out the sweats, the Uggs and the fat pants (#SWIMSUITSEASONISOVER.)

RedEye’s mission is to show its readers that you can still look good without breaking the bank, even in cold weather. I happen to agree wholeheartedly with this, as evidenced by this piece I wrote for the Huffington Post.

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11/12/13

One of Chicago’s Best Dressed Spills Style Tips For Men

photo-79 There’s no shortage of info about women’s fashion out there but the truth is, the men need just as much (okay, sometimes more) sartorial guidance as we do. That’s why I enlisted the help of Mike Hudson, a seriously stylish Chicago guy who was recently chosen as one of Chicago’s best dressed people by RedEye. (I was too!) Read on for what Hudson, a 23-year-old Schaumburg resident, has to say about style in Chicago and the five items every man needs to own. Continue reading

11/6/13

Travel In Style

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Knit Wit sweater, Forever 21 tank, Rag & Bone coated jeans (similar), Jack and Janie hat, Kate Spade sunglasses, Bruno Magli booties, Alexander Wang bag (color not available.)

The holidays are approaching, which means you’ll likely be traveling a bit. A good thing, obviously, but also stressful. Summer trips are a breeze (no pun intended) because all you have to do is throw on a dress, add some flat sandals, and pack a few bathing suits, some sunscreen and a trusty pair of jean shorts (which are all small and easy to pack.)  Summer’s signature look is effortless and easy, which makes packing for a summer vacation effortless and easy as well.

Traveling during the fall/winter months present a challenge. How do you manage to look put together everyday when you only have one suitcase to stuff with boots, hats and full-length pants? And how the hell are you supposed to fit chunky sweaters into the mix?

If you’re going from a colder climate to a warmer one (and I hope you are,) there’s another layer of difficulty. I mean, think about it: You want to be warm enough when you leave your cold city but cool enough when you reach your warm destination – and in my experience airplanes are either freezing or sweltering. Nothing in between, no way to predict which end of the straw you’ll draw until you’re actually on that plane.

I’ve been thinking about this because I just made a trip from Chicago to LA. Add the fact that it was Halloweekend and factor in the wig and wedge sneakers I needed to wear for my costume – packing was a bit of a struggle. My flight was a longish one so being comfortable on flight was essential as well. Here are a few tips I have to share for this kind of travel.

Get some comfy/cute pants: Sure, sweats would feel great, but you probably won’t want to wear them during the actual vacation. By wearing sweats for your flight you’re just adding another unnecessary item to the list of things you’re bringing with you. Instead opt for some comfortable pants that can take you from flight to the first social event of your trip, no change needed. I’m loving printed silk pants right now. They’re insanely comfortable, they look great and they’re breezy enough for warmer weather. They won’t keep you super warm if you’re travelling from a cooler place….unless you layer leggings underneath. Also, this helps reduce the number of items you need to pack. Win/win. Speaking of leggings, opt for the leather variety for travel to maximize wear. They feel great on the body and can easily be dressed up for night.

Wear your bulkiest shoes: It seems intuitive, but I always see people going through security in flip flops or sneakers even though they’re likely carrying shoes that take more space in their luggage. Look, I know comfortable shoes are essentials for travel, but wearing a chunkier pair while you walk through security frees up room your suitcase for more clothes and accessories. Also, sneakers aren’t exactly the most versatile choice so if you don’t need them for you vacation, don’t pack them. Unless you plan on exercising or hiking on your trip, leave the sneaks at home. I always pack rubber flip flops because they are so compact and do double duty: I can use them as shower shoes (I am a freak about not stepping into a bathroom barefoot) or as comfortable walking shoes when I’m out in a new city. Opt for an embellished pair so you don’t look…like you’re wearing the shoes you showered in (no one has to know.) A great travel shoe? A pair of camel-colored booties. They’re comortable but still look polished, they work in cool weather or in warm weather  when worn with a dress, and go with everything. The fact that the skin-toned shade flatters legs is just a great bonus. I just got these Rag & Bones and am obsessed with them. They’re easy to walk in, so well-made, and really easy to slip on and off when going through security.

Layers are key: We’ve already discussed that airplanes almost always have temperature issues. Let’s get to really simple, obvious way to deal with this. Say it with me: “layers.” There are two extremely handy, space-efficient items I like to keep in my go-to carryon bag at all times – a plain black microfiber cami and a soft, open-faced sweater. You may even be able to nix the jacket if you invest in one these, which happen to be much easier to pack and more comfortable. I like the wear these backwards when I’m en route so they double as blankets. I just got this number from Splendid and am in love. Other layering tips – you can’t go wrong with a black or white tee under whatever you choose to wear for the flight. You can peel off other layers if you get hot during the trip, and you can pair it with any of the other pieces you’ve packed for an entirely new outfit. Wear a scarf while traveling if you wish. Wind it around your neck when you’re cold, let it drape over your front when you’re warm and always use it as it as an on-flight pillow.

When it comes to bags…: Clutches are your best bet for travel. Pack as many of them as you can. I suggest using these little bags to update your look each night as opposed to relying on statement shoes (one versatile heel is enough. Shoes take up way too much room.) If you have a large everyday bag, stash a book, magazine and snack in there and use it as your carryon and as the bag you’ll carry for day during your trip. I like to stash a toothbrush and set of contacts in there as well so that if I sleep on flight I can give my teeth a good brush and swap my glasses for contacts before deplaning. Zip locks are also great – I use them to store small accessories, toiletries and makeup.

I know a lot of people like to roll up clothes in order to free up suitcase space, but I say why not just pack smarter? Editing your selection makes it easier to keep track of everything and so much less overwhelming when you’re trying to put together each look during your vacay.

Happy travels!

 Photo by James Atkins