Monday, November 24, 2014

A Room-by-Room Checklist for Pre-Christmas Prep

We had an early Thanksgiving with Rob's parents last weekend, so I'm feeling ahead of schedule for the holidays so far this year. Forget "Spring Cleaning" - I want to use our free weekend after Thanksgiving to launch into a full room-by-room cleaning spree before Christmas entertaining season begins. It's usually just about this time that I come down with a cold (or, what has has actually happened, we take on an 8-year old nephew as a last minute houseguest for the week) and write off the whole plan. But, onward with optimism!

Bathroom  - As my grandmother always noted, the bathroom is the one place you really need to clean before a party. It's the only place where you guests have bright lighting and time on their own. Do a quick clean out of your medicine cabinet and shower. Need to pick up fresh hand towels or a shower curtain? How about adding some seasonal hand soap?

Kitchen - You're going to need room in your refrigerator for big platters and ham - time to toss out out old jars and adjust shelves to get ready for prime-time. Do a fast cabinet inventory: enough coffee cups for the brunch? Champagne flutes for the cocktail party? A roasting pan big enough for your ham? Avoid stress by stocking up now on essentials like extra coffee, crackers, nuts and hostess gifts that you know you're going to need.

Office - Christmas cards are probably (hopefully) ordered by now - so make sure you have the pens and stamps you'll need to get them mailed out quickly once the cards arrive. The USPS does a great job with online ordering. Start asking for updated mailing addresses from friends who have moved.

Bedroom - Check that your favorite clothes for holiday parties are clean, ironed, don't need mending and generally ready for the season. Where are your evening purses hiding? Polish jewelry and leather goods. Stock up on fresh tights.

Guest Room - How are your guest linens holding up? Do you need to add a lamp to the guest room? Clear out any clutter accumulated from the summer and freshen up your guest set-up (even if that means just checking that your air mattress doesn't have leaks). Give everything a good wash.

Dining Room - Polish and condition wood furniture. Take a look at your table linens and serving platters - so you have everything you need? How about the supply of candles and candlesticks? This is also a great time to polish silver that may have gotten tarnished over the summer so you don't have to worry about it right before your parties.

Living Room - Clean out any ashes from the fireplace, stock up on wood or duralogs. Wash or replace worn out carpets. Re-arrange furniture to be ready for your Christmas tree. Give wood furniture a good oil cleaning. Toss out old magazines and gather up coasters that have roamed. Bring out early holiday decorations to start making things festive.

Front Door - Wipe down your front door - ours gets SO dusty in just a few weeks. Brush off your welcome mat. Add a wreath. You're ready for December!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What to Wear: Peaky Blinders

I'm obsessed with the show Peaky Blinders about a crime family in 1919 Birmingham, England (two seasons currently streaming on Netflix for your binge-watching enjoyment). The women's fashion on the show is okay but the menswear is awesome. So let's make a modern women's outfit inspired by Tommy and the other members of the Peaky Blinder's gang:
Coat - A long tweed coat is the perfect topper. Additional points for walking down the middle of the street like you own it.
Shirt - A menswear-inspired striped blouse from Kenneth Cole with a high-buttoned collar.
Vest - I'm generally not a big vest person (love me some sleeves) but this theme seems to demand it. Go modern with a moto vest instead of a classic tailored version.
Skirt - A basic black wool mini skirt on sale from J. Crew.
Tights - Black opaque tights from Nordstrom.
Shoes - $100 lace up wedge booties are just barely on the right side away from being costume-y.
Watch - A black on black leather wristwatch from American Apparel.
Bottle - Maybe it's iced tea...maybe it's bathtub gin. In a brown bottle, no one can tell.
Purse - Being the lead of a crime empire, you can afford a $2,500 Burberry purse.
Optional - Pageboy cap with razor blades sewn in the brim, for fights.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Reminder: Time to Send Holiday Party Invitations

While it is impossible to believe that December is just around the corner, the time has come for holiday preparations! This is the week to take your Christmas card photo and to send holiday party invites. Here's a checklist to help:
Step 1. Pick your parties 
Casual or fancy. Cozy or crowded. It doesn't matter what your holiday party preferences are, the important thing is that you host something! Everyone loves being invited to a holiday party. Here are some ideas for last year:
Step 2. Send the party invitations
It just takes a few minutes to create a pretty digital invitation online on a site like Celebrations.com. Much more festive than a Google meeting request or plain email. There are really only two Saturday night slots for entertaining during the holidays - the 6th and the 13th - and they can book up fast. Unless you know your friends are counting on you to host a big weekend event, aim for something on an off-peak time like Sunday morning or Thursday night.

Step 3. Start planning
The relaxed days of Thanksgiving weekend are the ideal time to start pinning ideas for decorations, recipes and menus for your holiday parties. I love to help with party planning challenges, just shoot me an email!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What to Wear: Baby Birthday Party in November

The lovely Rebecca invited us to a party celebrating Emerson's first year on Saturday. For a little one's birthday, I like to be a bit dressed up for the party but still casual enough to mingle with grimy hands or sit on the floor.
For the celebration, I paired a polka-dot chambray shirt from H&M (similar to this shirt) with a simple  belted orange skirt, dark tights and patent navy oxford lace-ups. Camel coat on top, a pair of sunglasses and some vintage gold bracelets to complete the look.

Rebecca, as always, provided a great bash, including six kinds of gelato and homemade cookies for a DIY ice-cream sandwich bar.  Yum!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Definitive Guide to Dressing for Your Office Holiday Party

December will be here before you know it!  If you want to avoid a rush, it's time to start shopping now for what to wear to your office holiday party. Plus, you can make the most of sale season, including the Bloomingdale's Friend's & Family Sale (that ends Sunday) with an extra 20% off discounted prices. Whether your office party consists of cookies in the break room or a full-blown formal event, here is your guide for what to wear:

1. Casual - If your office party calls for hot cider in the break room, that doesn't mean you still shouldn't dress up a bit.  Put on a metallic pencil skirt and a cashmere sweater in cranberry with a sparkly earrings. Add blue suede Tory Burch pumps with a gold heel, a Coach bag in chestnut brown and a silk scarf from H&M.

2. Cocktail -  Bring out the sparkles, a company cocktail party calls for sequins! You can rent this gorgeous green sequined Badgley Mischka dress with a low back for $75, or buy one of these versions to keep for $35 or $70. Dial up the green with a pair of emerald-inspired Kate Spade earrings, a rented cocktail ring, crocodile and gold clutch and gold J. Crew pumps.

3. Dinner - If you're doing a sit-down dinner at a nice restaurant, opt for a pretty red dress and bold sparkly celestial drop earrings. Every woman needs a perfect red dress for her closet - so use this excuse to get a DVF on sale. Add an envelope clutch, gold bangles and dark red shoes.

4. Formal - I love a chance to dress up in a full-length gown. If your office holiday party is formal, pick a festive floor-length dress but avoid anything prom-like or too boring. Have fun with it! This rental Marchesa Notte gown is a gorgeous fluff of lace and tulle. Pair it with red drop earrings, a red clutch and red peep toe pumps.  You can also look for vintage gowns - often quite affordable.

Need specific advice preparing for your office holiday party? Email me at emilystyleblog@gmail.com for help!

Monday, November 10, 2014

What to Wear: Indian Wedding Guest

Rob and I had the honor of attending to a BIG Indian wedding on Saturday - our first! The whole event was fantastic - from the groom riding in on a white horse to the three hour-long ceremony full of tradition to the delicious food served to 400+ guests. A perfect celebration for two awesome people.

It was a daunting to decide what to wear to an indian wedding. I was worried that I would stick out like a sore thumb with my a pale, Scottish skin in a bright sari. With a little help, my outfit ended up being one of the pretties things I've ever worn and just right for the event.
How to Rent a Sari (or "Saree") 
About a month before the wedding, I checked out the offering at Borrow it Bindaas online. For $90, they delivered a rented "purple hyancith" sari by mail, complete with back-up top, bindis and jeweled hairpiece. This sari came pre-pleated and in an easy-to-wear flowy fabric - which made it way easier to tie. There are helpful tutorials online - it was a lot simpler than I first thought when looking at the yards of fabric that arrived in the mail. A few safety pins help keep the whole thing together. I wasn't expecting just how comfortable the outfit would be. I would wear a sari every day if it came into fashion!
Yes, Really Wear a Sari 
A brightly colored, bejeweled sari is the right thing to wear if you want to blend in with a crowd. Trust me, you would feel a lot stranger if wearing something plain. There were women of every race, size and age wearing saris at this event. If you can't or don't want to wear a sari - pick the brightest, sparkliest dress you can find. A friend of mine rented this head-to-toe sequin gown for the reception.

For Men
A nice suit is the thing to wear for guys. Only groomsmen and a handful of foreign guests wore traditional Indian clothing. Three piece suits with a vest were especially popular. I heard that men avoid bright colors because they're the "domain of women." Rob's dark blue tie had a splash of purple to match my sari. He looked so handsome!
Accessories
Don't stop at the sari - keep adding more jewels and makeup to the look. I wore the biggest earrings and ring I own, all my bangles and got talked into the jeweled hairpiece - and still felt outgunned. Don't forget to dial-up the hair and make-up too. I teased my hair into a low bun and went with the super long false lashes from Japan. For shoes: I wore a pair of comfortable gold sandals with an ankle strap and low heel. Gold clutch to round-out the look.
It's hard to go back to dressing in non-sequined attire now. I think the Indian wedding might have been a bad (best-ever!) influence on me.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

What to Wear: Trapeze Class

Dreaming of running away to the circus?  I tried my hand at flying trapeze for the first time earlier this week. It is super fun (and my arms are so sore now!). After just a couple hours, the instructors had us hanging from our knees, doing backflips and mid-air catches.

Here's a guide for how to dress for your trapeze classes:

Pants - A simple black pair of capri workout pants from Gap.
Tank - Something tight enough that isn't going to get in your way while you're swinging from your knees and light enough to be comfortable under a tight safety belt. This pretty blush pink Athletica tank does the trick. You can't wear long-sleeves because they get in the way of mid-air catches.
Hoodie - In between swings, you'll want a nice warm layer to stay warm outside. This Nike pink zip hoodie is easy to get on and off.
Socks - No shoes allowed. Bring a pair of slip-on Keds for the walk to the net area. You can go barefoot, but it gets cold and socks also help make climbing up the metal ladder to the jump platform a bit more comfortable for your feet. These Calvin Klein ballet liner socks are exactly right.
Headband - No jewelry allowed either. A sporty headband works as an accessory and a way to keep your hair out of the way.