Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

All Packed And On Our Way

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Here’s my Wild Card item. It’s the Mandy top from Covered Perfectly in the olive snake print, one of their new prints for Spring. It coordinates beautifully with all of the jackets I’m bringing and looks smashing with the jeans. (If reptile print isn’t your thing, she has several other new prints available.) Don’t forget to use code UF20 for 20% off.

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Some of you were asking about the packing cubes; there are several options available and this one happens to be from ebags. I’ve included my hand for size reference. In this cube are all 5 sweaters/tops and one of the scarves, so you can see how much compression they provide to save packing space.

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And here’s how everything looks packed into the Lipault 22″ bag. I could easily have fit a few more pieces but am avoiding that temptation to keep weight down.

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And finally, here are both bags packed up and ready to go. It’s a more stable arrangement than it looks. ;-)

Next post will be from the other side of the pond. In the meantime I’ll try to post a few updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Travel In Style: My 12 Item Wardrobe

France travel wardrobe 5

I’ve been obsessively checking the extended weather forecasts for the last few days, and while I know that trying to get an accurate picture of the weather in France beyond a few days out is a fool’s errand, it does help to at least get a sense of what range of conditions we might reasonably expect. While the lightweight layers I’ve planned to bring will work for a wide range of temperatures, I’m trying balance what’s now looking to be a cool-ish, wet-ish couple of weeks with a desire to incorporate some visually lighter pieces (it IS spring, after all).

There are a few new pieces in the mix, so I made sure to do some “dress rehearsals” over the weekend to insure that the outfits I was planning would all actually work together. After a few final tweaks, I’m ready to pack. (If this wardrobe looks suspiciously similar to last year’s, that’s not a coincidence. Other than a couple of sweaters that were too warm/bulky, it worked well and I believe in not messing with success.)

France travel wardrobe shoes

I’ve lightened the exposure a bit to get details on black items. All are darker in reality than they appear here.

Of course I start with the shoes, and have ruled out sandals for this trip. I’m bringing the Aquatalia by Marvin K suede ankle boots, as a) they are waterproof and b) work with both casual and dressy outfits. The Gentle Souls wedge boots worked well on last year’s trip, so along they go. These will be my travel day and touring shoes, as they not only are comfortable and supportive, but the texture of the leather doesn’t easily show scuffs and marks. The Taos sneakers are new and, I’ll admit, included mostly to give myself some variety, and an option for warmer days. These have awesome arch support and I love the pewter metallic finish. (They’re darker and less “bling-y” than they appear in these photos.)

France travel wardrobe 1

Working up from the shoes, for bottoms I’m bringing:

For tops, I took a lesson from last year, and chose lighter weight sweaters.

Jackets:

You’re right, that’s only 11. I’m leaving myself space for one “Wild Card” that I’ll choose at the last minute depending on whim or weather. I’m definitely bringing these 2 scarves, and will choose a third depending on my Wild Card, hoping to use both to add more color.

The necklaces are both from earlier seasons. The “statement” necklace is J.Crew, lots of options here. The longer one is LAUREN Ralph Lauren, similar style here.

What I’m not counting in my 12  items are what I call “underpinnings.” Those are pieces that I’ll wear as base layers underneath other tops for either warmth or modesty. This time I’m taking long sleeve layering tees from Adea, and a couple of silk jersey tanks from Eileen Fisher. Both of these are excellent choices for travel, as they are lightweight, layer without bulk, and can be washed in the sink and hung to dry overnight.

I’ll be bringing my Sandro utility jacket as my outerwear piece. It’s roomy enough that I can layer up considerably underneath if I need for warmth. And I’m now on the fence about which bag to bring. The one I’d assumed I’d use is suddenly experiencing potential hardware malfunction, so I hope to have my cobbler look at it today and advise.

I’m using packing cubes for all of my clothing, and it’s amazing how small everything packs down with these. I’ll share a photo of my bags once packed tomorrow.

How far ahead do you plan a travel wardrobe? Do you often make changes at the last minute?

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Sunday, April 20th, 2014

Joyeuses Pâques!

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Happy Easter! And a bit of a belated Happy Passover to those who are celebrating. In our family, it’s become tradition to celebrate most holidays on whichever day the majority of family and friends are able to attend. So tonight is our big Passover Seder. As usual, I’ve made apple matzoh kugel.

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Any recipe that starts with a dozen eggs can’t be all bad. ;-) I also wanted to practice using the iPad to compose blog posts. I’m hoping to travel with just the tablet rather than my laptop.

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Yes, the oven needs cleaning. Please don’t judge me. ;-)

In the oven. It browns at 450F for 15 minutes, then is covered and baked at 350F for another 40 minutes.

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Deliciousness ensues.

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Here’s the recipe. I usually add some golden raisins too, just for interest. This will serve 8-10. I made another 1/2 as there will be 17 guests tonight. If this will be served as a side dish to meat in a Kosher home, be sure to use parve margarine rather than butter. I’ll post my final travel wardrobe tomorrow, so do check back!

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Box Top

Eileen Fisher Sweater, bootcut jeans

Are you old enough to remember collecting box tops? You saved a certain number from cereal boxes and could send them in for a prize. Or maybe your family collected Green Stamps or Blue Chip Stamps? I think we may have done all three in my family at various times.

This is a different kind of “box top” though, or rather a boxy top. Once again I find myself bending one of my own silhouette rules guidelines: avoid tops that are boxy or chunky. This Eileen Fisher sweater is both, but I really like how it looks on and how it moves, and the bootcut jeans seem to balance it out.

Eileen Fisher linen 3/4 sleeve sweater

The weave of the sweater is open enough to lighten the look a bit too.

Sweater: Eileen Fisher (on sale now and available in other colors too) // Tank: Eileen Fisher // Bracelets: Stella & Dot, no longer available, similar // Jeans: Citizens of Humanity // Shoes: Clarks

If you were trying to read this blog between Wednesday evening and yesterday morning, you may have landed on a screen telling you that you’d encountered a Fatal Error. (Hyperbole much, Software Deities?) I’d tried to do a routine application of a software update which completely crashed the blog. (Apparently I wasn’t the only one this happened to.) I couldn’t even get into my blog “dashboard” to try and restore the prior version. It’s a horrible feeling and I spent most of Wednesday evening trying not to hyperventilate! But fortunately our young tech savvy cousin was able to come to the rescue and set everything right by yesterday afternoon.

Clarks chunky heel

Lifting my pant leg so you can see the shoes.

I first saw these Clark’s open-toe shoes over at The Coveted, and they indeed are as comfortable as Jennine said they were. These are one of those rare look-higher-than-they-feel shoes. They’re a bit more covered up than a sandal, so may be more office appropriate for some of you.

Have you bent any of your own style rules lately? Were you happy with the results?

Linked up with Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, at at eat, sleep, denim.

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Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Travel In Style: Handbags

What to do on Sunday in Paris

Perhaps a picnic along Canal St. Martin? I’m indulging in a bit of weather optimism here…

Sunglasses: Barton Perreira // Scarf: Theodora and Callum // Cardigan: Eileen Fisher // Tee: J.Crew // Jeans: Eileen Fisher // Bag: Givenchy // Shoes: Born

I’ve received several questions about which handbags are best for travel, and once again I’m going to fall back on “It Depends.” It depends on your destination, activities, how much you’ll need to carry with you, and what kind of style and functionality you prefer.

My own preference is for a lightweight, dark leather “convertible” bag (both short and long straps) that can be worn cross-body or carried on my arm or in hand. A day spent sightseeing is much easier when you can keep your hands free, and it’s easier on your neck and shoulders too. Unless you need to carry a change of clothing with you, a smallish bag should be sufficient and will keep weight down. Be sure the longer strap is wide enough to wear comfortably, and not too long. When worn cross-body, your hand should be able to reach the bottom of the bag. Too short and it will look and feel awkward. Too long and it will bounce against your leg as you walk. A good cobbler can shorten the cross-body strap if needed. I also prefer bags that have multiple compartments, interior organization, and that aren’t too structured or bulky.

Why leather instead of nylon or fabric if weight is a concern? First, leather will usually (not always) be more impervious to the elements. It will be less likely to get ripped, soiled or stained than fabric. I also like to travel with just one handbag, and a leather bag is often more versatile for day-to-evening wear. For a slightly dressier “smart casual” look, remove the cross-body strap and carry in hand or in the crook of your arm. (Another reason to keep the bag relatively small.) Look for bags with minimal hardware or chains, as these can add considerable weight. While leather is my own preference, if you prefer nylon or fabric there are many good looking and functional options available. (I’ve included some below.)

With today’s smart phones, there’s little need to carry guidebooks or lots of printed materials with you while out sightseeing. If you prefer a “hard copy,” tear out or make a copy of relevant pages from guidebooks and just carry those for the day. Use your smallest, lightest wallet, and leave any cosmetics you won’t need during the day back at the hotel or apartment.

Let’s talk about security for a moment. While some situations may have more inherent danger of pick-pocketing or purse-snatching, I think with a little caution and awareness of surroundings you can minimize your risk. One of the reasons I like a cross-body bag is that it feels more secure; when I get into crowded situations I can keep it close to my body and wear right on the front of my hip, resting my hand over the zipper closure. I don’t recommend any bag for travel that can’t be closed securely either with a zipper or a flap with hardware that fastens shut.

Other security recommendations, no matter where you’re traveling:

  • Take only one or two (three at the most) credit and/or debit cards. Make a note of the account number and customer service number(s) of each and keep in the hotel safe and with someone you trust back home.
  • Only carry as much cash as you’ll need for a day. Keep the rest in the hotel safe.
  • Unless you’re traveling between destinations, keep your passport in the hotel safe. Have a photocopy of your passport to carry with you in case ID is needed.
  • Be sure that someone at home has your complete itinerary.
  • Be careful about where and when you use your smart phone, as these can also be targets for theft. And be sure to set up a passcode or pin to lock it.
  • Men: don’t keep your wallet in a back pocket or open jacket pocket.
  • Trust your instincts, and don’t feel that you have to help or even engage with strangers who approach you.

Fanny packs? I know they’re “in” again. I tend not to wear anything belted around my waist, but if  you like them and they work for you, they are another alternative. Backpacks? Same thing. With either I’d highly recommend wearing in the front in crowded situations.

Do you have a favorite style or brand of purse or bag for travel?

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