Casual Matters

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When it comes to your capsule wardrobe, what are some essentials that are in heavy rotation? A dark pair of skinnies that you resort to, instantaneously making you look 5 pounds lighter? Or a nifty puffer jacket with down-filled inserts that warmly grace you through winter? As for moi, I have a predilection for pieces that are not only perpetually stylish but also appease the “time is of the essence” concern. Especially days when the ticking hand is not on good terms with me.

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Say it’s casual Friday morning and you woke up to your alarm clock setting off, only to realize that you slept through the other two (and they say 3rd time’s the charm…how amusing). With no time to berate yourself for indulging in happy hours (plural) the night before, you’re now battling with the dilemma of “how to prep yourself in 10 minutes”. So what items do you take refuge in? An item that I always seek solace in is a textured shawl.

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And here’s why – not only will it compliment a few of your favorite outfits and stretch your budget further for your Christmas shopping needs, the wearing options are also endless. Say you can 1.) Perch atop your shoulder, 2.) Wind it around your neck to create a natural drape, or 3.) Tie the ends together to create a baggy cardigan. And when you have 2 minutes and counting to pick an add-on that would keep you shiver-free during your commute (option 2) and ward off the chills at the office (option 1), the shawl is a stylish option for all your fashion-conscious folks!

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In my outfit today I brought out a new find, a tri-colored shawl with seamlessly executed textural spots scattered across the board. To stay in tandem with the colors, I wore a pink button-down shirt and black skinnies. A stylish way to add some color to the ensemble? A tribal gold-toned necklace placed under the collar, one whose color scheme is not askew from the main outfit, and a hands-free tote like this Marc Jacobs one. Also my pony hair boots gave all the ease of edge and flair as the buckles and folded texture at the ankle makes it truly a unique pair.

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So tell me, have you jumped on the shawl bandwagon yet, and if so, how do you wear yours? 🙂

XO~ Lena

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Top: Banana Republic // Shawl: H&M// Pants: Paige// Shoes: Via Spiga// Bag: Marc by Marc Jacobs

Photos: Jason J Photography

Faux Fur Feeling

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With the cold weather back in full swing, it’s easy to resort to wardrobe essentials that deliver the effect (shivers no more) but not quite the aesthetics. Sure the collegiate dress code filled with mascot-infused sweatshirts and shearling-lined UGG boots ward off the winter chills, but quite frankly it’s lacking the “zing” in trending. So rather than spawning a closet full of workhorse items that have tenets of minimalistic dressing but void in making a fashion statement, it’s notable to invest in one or two investment pieces that take canny heed in style and function. A camel duster coat like this wool belted one is a solid contender, and so is a faux fur jacket – a quintessentially classic piece with an upper echelon flair.

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Whether you want to get your cold weather style wrapped up with vintage-inspired faux fur boleros or shearling-trimmed cover-ups, there are many styles that give you the eclectic flair without compromising duty. To stage that on-trend look, here’s my top 3 styles:

1.) LEOPARD PRINT – technically a neutral when it comes to wardrobe styling, a leopard print coat can be worn with an all-black ensemble to keep the look clean and streamlined (New York style mavens rejoice!) Just make sure there’s a sliver of skin that peeps through; you know what they say, a small flash of flesh is hotter than an eyeful. So think black sweater + ankle length leather pants + slip-ons, or a vintage-inspired LBD with sheer tights and knee high boots. With holiday shopping in full swing, now you can shop NORDSTROM for NYE Dresses starting at $65.

how to wear white in the winter. I wouldn't do real fur, but a nice white/cream coat over black dress and black boots with black gloves-perfect. faux fur leopard coat
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2.) LONG – the maxi style amongst faux fur coats, this look is for you if you’re an avid follower of the Olsen twins (or you just like your legs covered up during below freezing weather). Team it with knee high boots and a lengthy embroidered dress for a Sunday brunch, and add on some bedazzling jewels when you’re glamorously ready for a night out in town.

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3.) CROPPED – ideal teamed with high-waisted pants and skirts for that slick and polished look, a close fitting cropped jacket can be paired with just about anything – silk button downs with maroon skinnies , tartan under chambray shirts like this Rag and Bone one, and even your oversized shirt dress with stockings! Here I wore my purple cropped faux fur coat with straight-leg ankle pants (sold on the side embellishments) and strappy heels to bring forth a classic, clean silhouette.

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From floor-length styling for extra warmth and appeal, to the “rawr” factor behind leopard prints, what’s your go-to faux fur coat for Winter? 🙂

Xo~ Lena

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Coat: H&M // Tank: Banana Republic// Pants: H&M// Shoes: Aldo// Bag: Phillip Lim// Necklace: K. Amato

Photos: Jason J Photography

Sleeveless in Chicago

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Truth be told, it’s easy to ride on the back of a fleeting moment when it comes to fashion. Seasonal trends arrive as swiftly as they go, from the eponymous Burberry poncho on Instagram’s wanderlust-inducing snaps to the duster coat that style mavens with bicoastal sensibilities layer up during the wintry days. Yet the truth of the matter is, there aren’t many styles that’ll shake up my wardrobe with endless pairing options and fluidly transition into the next season. Trendy as some styles may be, I find myself gravitating towards more perpetually versatile items that look good, get the job done right, and friendly from AM to PM across four seasons (okay maybe two).

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Then I met the sleeveless coat and it was love at first sight when I saw a Valentino one online at Neiman Marcus’ 50% off sale! A trend so bold and eye-catching, it exudes a tactically sensible look partial to ladies with a classy taste. And that’s when I imagine my à la mode wardrobe palette gaining a refreshed and livened bolt of energy! With a slight menswear-inspired silhouette, the sleeveless coat can add an extra zest to any ensemble.

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During the week pair it with a crisp button-down shirt and slacks to keep the chills at bay, and throw it on top of a cocktail dress for your evening soirée. Needless to say the choice of whipping up a new look with this coat is boundless! Here I channeled the Parisian sleek and streamlined look by pairing my new Zara find with a classic striped shirt, lace up heels and a small satchel. And of course, my classic cat-eye and red lips. Presto we’re ready to roll.

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What’s your take on this fashionable find, and have you tried this look before? 🙂

Xo~ Lena

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–> P.S. Want to win a $350 gift basket with goodies from Marc Jacobs to Kate Spade? Don’t forget to enter the giveaway I’m hosting with other Chicago bloggers! Info HERE!

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Coat: Zara // Sweater: Loft// Pants: Paige// Shoes: Prabal Gurung for Target// Bag: Marc Jacobs

Photos: Jason J Photography

Kobi コビ A Bundle Of Joy

“To witness miracles unfold in your experience, count your blessings and be thankful. Perceived small blessings accumulate to be the most powerful.” – T.F. Hodge

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I’m sure you’ve heard this before, that life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. Like a favorable gush of wind that sweeps you off your feet, what brings you the utmost delight? Could it be a noteworthy career? Someone to call your one true love? Or the mere pursuit of happiness that reigns supreme in your life?

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As for yours truly, I find enrapturing the little things that make me cherish the passing moments. Quiet time at the coffee shop, snuggled up with a matcha green tea latte in a comfy corner. Striking conversations with total strangers on topics trivial and benign. Though not entirely riding on the back of a fleeting moment, I find it important to live in the now and be content dwelling in the present. To linger in them. To lavish in their glory.

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Thus was my absolute delight this weekend to take a breather from my busy schedule and spend some quality time with Kobi, my Australian Shepherd who coincidently turned 6 months old on Black Friday! As you can imagine, my shopping spree consisted nothing short of rawhide bones and plush toys for this little nugget 🙂

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To stay in tandem with my gleeful state of mind, I kept the colors light-hearted with my favorite camel pea coat from the LookBook Store which for a limited time Lookbook Store Women Clothing Is Up to 80% Off! Given the 3/4th length sleeves, this jacket is ideal worn over a long-sleeved shirt in a varied selection – rich hue, striped patterns, or even baroque prints! Swoon-worthy peek-a-boo effect? Yes you can get that look down pat! For a casual vibeI I resorted to this new fuzzy burgundy sweater and finished the look with dark denims and platform lace-up boots similar to this pair by Opening Ceremony (did I mention frenzied friday entailed shopping for humans too?)

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Stuffed to the rim with delicious Thai food and wind-battered from Black Friday shopping as I may be, this Thanksgiving I am grateful for the precious moments with loved ones that I know will be cherished forever.

What are you thankful for this year? 🙂

Xo~ Lena

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**P.s. As for the LookBook Giveaway, I want to thank each and every one of you for your participation as your likes, comments and follows are gratefully accounted for and appreciated! This opportunity has allowed me to learn about your unique sense of writing, style and personality. I enjoy reading each and every one of your blogs and once again thank you for being a part of my blogging journey! Congratulations to Lucy Mitchell you are the winner 🙂

Jacket: LookBook Store// Sweater: H&M// Pants: Paige// Shoes: Zara// Bag: Louis Vuitton// Scarf: Zara

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For The Love Of Roscoe

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Renaissance villa houses circa 1850s. Vast array of multi-cultural cuisines. Family-friendly parks and recreational areas. That was my impression of this exuberant Chicago neighborhood when I first set foot upon the four corners of Damen and Roscoe.

Come walk down memory lane with me as I reminisce on one of my favorite outings this summer in the Windy City – right in the heart of Roscoe Village!  

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Located 5 miles north of the Loop and occupied by a population of 7000, this swanky yet demure neighborhood has overseen urban development since the mid-19th century and is amassed with yuppie restaurants, art deco shops, wine tasting rooms, and antique consignment stores.

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After the Fire of 1871 devastated Chicago and wiped out residential homes and commercial buildings within a 3 mile radius, there was an increase in demand for brick structures, which soon the Chicago River’s North Branch (encompassing Roscoe Village and neighborhoods within its vicinity) began filling up with brickyards and clay pits. One of my favorite architectural designs is the Edwardian houses built in the early 1900s.  Similar to the Mission neighborhood in San Francisco, the industrial craft is marked by masculinity-infused frameworks modeled after Italian facades and rooflines. In the residential area off the main street, Queen Anne homes align the sidewalks basking in the glory of intricate details filled with opulent turrets, bay windows, and embellished post frames.

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Though these well-crafted buildings were a sight for my sore eyes, I was even more amused by the multitude of ethnic cuisines offered within that 6-block radius. From Turkish lamb begendi at Turquoise Cafe to the decadent Ropa Vieja (tender shredded beef cooked in salsa criolla) at 90 Miles Cuban Cafe, the sky is the limit when it comes to filling up the growling tummy. Not to mention the pink, yellow, and blue chairs outside Costello’s (namely known for the iconic “Spicy Roscoe” — who wouldn’t want pepper crusted turkey with capicola and pepper jack cheese on an Italian sub coined after the very street it sits on?) Or how about some kung-pao chicken tacos at Si Fu, where you will be greeted with not just “Xie Xie” or “Gracias”, but also a slew of Confucious men with v-line goatees? If you ever do tumble upon there, make sure you specify which hot sauce you want, especially when tabasco sauce is not within your dietary radar 🙂 

A jovial expedition filled with sight-seeing and feasting for this happy camper calls for a colorful outfit right? Which is why I doled out my colorful sheath with quivering wavelength designs and styled it with a wide brimmed straw hat. Turquoise and yellow, the two main vibrant colors on my dress (and  a tad bit on my bandeau), matched the exuberance and joy I felt when I walked down streets filled with exquisite flower shops, alfresco dining spots, and most importantly, gleeful companies. Happy eyes, happy tummy, happy heart. Now ain’t that a win-win situation 🙂

Xoxo~ Lena

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Credits: Jason J Photography http://www.jason-j-photography.com/

 

Sip, Shop, Stroll at Bloomingdale’s

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From haute couture to haute hors d’oeuvres, the lineup of holiday soirées started on a fashionable note for me this year! No there weren’t models in party-themed fashion shoots carrying piles of glossily wrapped presents (as if Christmas came early), but there was a pop up fashion show at Bloomingdale’s on Tuesday. Nothing short of glamorous was the swoon-worthy array of prêt-à-porter and bespoke clothing showcased at the event!

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The fashion show + designer meet and greet was hosted by Mandarin Quarterly, a Chicago-based print and digital media company specializing in branding and outreach endeavors for clients towards the dynamic Chinese market. The attendees were an eclectic mix, ranging from Chinese students in Chicago to young professionals working the 9-5’s to the artsy, creative crowd in the Windy City.

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Now onto the fashion show. As models swanned their way stylishly through the crowd, an eclectic mix of chic, polished and avant-garde pieces were presented in plain sight. A flurry of marabou feathers in platinum foiled jacquard from Kate Spade? Remarkable. Dapper tailored suits from J. Toor? Stunning. Black velvet top with pearl embellishment from Azeeza? Plenty of holiday cheer!

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In my outfit I calibrated with fun and jovial vibe by wearing a heart embroidered dress from Stella McCartney from ShopBop (where new markdowns on designer items are 30-70% off at shopbop.com), a polished purple coat from Milly, and these zipped ankle boots from Zara.

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The appetizers were just as delightful as what pleased the eye, replete with crowd-favorites like garlic and parmesan stuffed mushrooms, lightly seasoned steak wraps, and grilled bread with prosciutto. Paired with the savory white wine and yours truly was a happy camper!

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Fashion. Food. Fun. It sure was a pleasant start to a holly, jolly good time this holiday season! For what it’s worth I’ll toast to that. 🙂

Xo~ Lena

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Jacket: Milly// Top: Stella McCartney// Tights: Hue// Clutch: F21// Shoes: Zara

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Image 4 of LEATHER ANKLE BOOT WITH ZIP from Zara

 

Dust It Off

h-6There’s something about a longline camel coat that’s perennially stylish, lending a well-polished flair to coveted snaps on Instagram from street style mavens to runway muses. And no matter what styles you favor – the glossy Wall street look with crisp collars and nifty pant suits, or the androgynous vibe that blurs gender divides with distressed denims and oversized jumpers, there’s a look for everyone.h-2V-21And when it comes to the oversized drapey version (a.k.a The Duster Coat) gracing major headlines from Refinery29 to WhoWhatWear (this one is a major steal!), I knew right off the bat that it’s a fashionable force to be reckoned with. And can you blame the legion of devoted followers from Karlie Kloss to Chiara Ferragni? The perks are endless – perch atop the shoulder for that cool, nonchalant look, or seamlessly execute a work-appropriate ensemble by wearing it over a jersey panelled dress with ruched asymmetrical panels like this Derek Lam number.

Choose longer styles with sneakers if you are tall, or aim for knee length with high-heeled ankle boots if you are petite. Wardrobe staple to augment seasonal pieces? Definitely so. Evolved for the sole purpose of polish and practice? You bet!V-1V-40V-47In my outfit today I channeled the downtown cool girl look by donning this L.A.M.B duster coat with a speck of feline fun (anything gave that away?) Paying homage to Kate Moss, Queen of the minimalistic trend, I turned retro on its ear by choosing an outfit replete with collared shirt, Rag and Bone denims with leather patching (now on sale for 40% off), cat-eyes and red lips. Lastly to add some jazz to this streamlined and clean ensemble I took out these sequined slip-ons for a wanderlust-inducing spin!

V-22V-26It’s no secret that the camel duster coat has taken the fashion world by storm. What’s your favorite way of wearing this highly coveted, loose-fitting number?

Xo~ Lena

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Photos: Jason J Photography

Jacket: L.A.M.B// Top: Banana Republic// Sweater: H&M// Pants: Rag & Bone// Shoes: Sperry// Bag: Steve Madden

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A Footstep Begins the Journey of a Thousand Miles

As part of my 2012 New Year Resolution, I’ve finally created my own beauty blog! I’ve set up this forum to mainly talk about my beauty finds and upkeeps, primarily on topics like skin care, body and hair. I believe true beauty shines from within and our external appearance is a manifestation of our inner self. Therefore we need to resonate with our inner well-being by maintaining a strong and healthy body from head to toe. Like the decor of my blog, we need the black and white essentials of a healthy diet and active lifestyle to vamp up a vibrant, multi-colored exterior. So come join me as I take on this journey of self-empowerment through bits and pieces of beauty advice that will bring out the true goddess in you!

I’d like to begin my first post with a Brightening Facial routine that would help many of you break out of the winter rut. I know we’ve been experiencing a snow storm in Seattle and many of you have been confined to the four corners of your house. All that indoor heat can leave skin dull and lackluster. This routine would help bring back the suppleness and dewy feel of your skin, making it baby soft to the touch!

Ingredients:

 

  • 2 tablespoons of honey 
  • 1 egg white 
  • 3 tablespoons of flour

Steps:

  • Mix the ingredients together into a paste.
  • Apply evenly to the face with your fingers.
  • Let it sit for 15-20 minutes.
  • Wash off with lukewarm water.
  • Apply moisturizer right after.

Now wasn’t that easy?

I’ll be chalking out a Moisturizing Mask so stayed tuned for the next post!