Cocktail Couture

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a really cool event. Cocktail Couture is an annual design competition sponsored by the IIDA (International Interior Designers Association), where area design professionals create outfits out of materials more often seen in corporate office buildings—wood, metal, carpet—than on a runway. The resulting avant-garde ensembles were showcased on the runway at The Garden Club of Jacksonville last week and they were pretty spectacular. Products assigned to teams included items such as: carpet materials, wall coverings, furniture, upholstery, tile, wood, solid surfaces, lighting, marketing materials, and more. Teams were required to utilize at least 85% of the manufacturer’s materials in the presentation.

The April 16 event was themed “An Organic Experience,” and even the runway backdrop utilized recycled materials—those oversized white flowers you’ll see in the background? Those are made out of architectural drawings.

All of the entries from the eleventh annual event will be showcased in the May issue of Jacksonville Magazine, so if you’re local to Jax—be on the lookout. Here are some iPhone pics from the show!

Major contouring action going on….

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Yup. That’s a bird’s nest in my hair! 

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Finishing touches…

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My awesome team! We won for “best representation of evil” and the dress was made out of cubicle panels and chair samples.

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Wedding Season: What to Wear to a Spring Wedding (and how to stand out doing it)

Wedding trends may come and go, but Spring and Summer  weddings will always be popular (according to a survey conducted by TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com, June is the most popular month for weddings). If you’re like me, then the wedding invites and Facebook engagement notifications have already started piling up. There’s no doubt about it, weddings are fun—thanks in large part to the dancing, drinks and mingling—but getting dressed for a wedding? That can be tough.

Most women see weddings as a challenge: how do you dress your best without looking overdone? Even when couples announce attire suggestions in their invites, it often involves more than simply pulling out that one dress that matches the color motif… Just what exactly is “resort casual,” anyway?? And what should you wear to a wedding on the beach? Or not on the beach, for that matter?

Semi-formal
If the invitation doesn’t make any mention of the attire for the wedding, but it’s taking place during the afternoon, it’s a safe bet that the attire is “Semi-Formal,” and doesn’t require a ball gown. Take some inspiration from current trends. Many brides look towards the colors of spring and use them to create the themes of their weddings. Similarly,  you could also play on the colors of spring flowers to help you decide what to wear. Here’s a quick guide on spring flowers from M&S:

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And here’s how those gorgeous bouquets can translate into an ensemble…

Spring Semi-Formal Wedding

 

Formal Evening
If you’re heading to a black-tie affair, don’t just throw on a cocktail dress. A good rule to abide by: wear something that can compliment a tuxedo, but isn’t overly dramatic (rule number one when it comes to weddings: Don’t upstage the bride). A long evening gown with finer details usually does the trick. Pair it with simple heels, minimal jewelry and a nice throw or evening jacket (to ward off any evening chills).

 

Black Tie Wedding

Dressy Daytime
While laid-back spring weddings should be a piece of cake to dress for, dressier daytime weddings leave several people in a conundrum. Nina Callaway of the About.com network recommends looking towards the guests who attended the Royal Wedding for inspiration. In some cases, a nice hat can really take your outfit from casual to sophisticated. In other cases, hats just look out-of-place. Go for a cute dress, with dressy flats and a daytime clutch (one without any heavy beading or embroidery). Nix the heavy makeup in favor of a soft, pink lip and save the smokey eye for nighttime. And seriously, how cute is this clutch?

 

Daytime Wedding

 

Ensemble du Jour: Serfboardt

Serfboardt

I’ve professed my love for Queen Bey before and I will absolutely admit to listening to her latest album on repeat since it came out on iTunes. Beyoncé is ambitious, determined and works hard for her money. I think she’s a great performer and incredibly talented, so it’s only natural that I show some love with my “Surfboard” sweatshirt. (If you’ve listened to Drunk In Love, you should get the reference.) I definitely get a lot of interesting looks (and a few high fives) when I wear this. I wore it this weekend with a printed skirt from The Webster, Nike sneaks and a vintage Chanel bag.

Nikes and a skirt

Beyonce sweatshirt

Beyonce sweatshirt, skirt from The Webster

Sweatshirt: Beyonce // Skirt: // Sneakers: Nike // Bag: vintage Chanel // Sunnies: Prada

My Picks: Florals

Trend: Florals // I know what you’re thinking…

florals for spring

This season’s florals, though, are a little less sweet than what we’re used to seeing. Givenchy unveiled an outstanding collection of black and pink florals on birkenstocks, booties and pointy-toe heels. Those items are, of course, crazy expensive, so I’ve rounded up a couple  more moderately priced alternatives.

Flower Power
(L to R): “Floral Moon” Sweatshirt: Etsy, Denim Skirt: Current/Elliot Heels: Jeffrey Campbell // Tee: Zoe Karssen, Skirt: Slip-on Sneaks: Vans

How to wear it: A floral tee under a black blazer, a pair of floral heels… you can wear florals in almost any way, but I suggest pairing it with something a little bit tough—a floral sundress with a leather moto jacket, a floral skirt with combat boots—to add a masculine edge. The above two ensembles add a bit of sophistication and a bit of a tomboy edge.

Trend Watch: Good Sport

When it comes to trends, I believe the River City is victim to what I like to call the “trickle-down effect.” Trends originate on the catwalks, during fashion week. What comes down those runways will make its way to high-end retailers (Net-a-Porter, Neiman Marcus, Barney’s) in six months time. Six months after that, you’ll start to see the trends in mall stores—J. Crew, Bebe, even Target. So by the time you actually start seeing trends all over every girl in town, they aren’t really all that, well, “trendy” anymore. In an effort to help readers navigate the murky waters of fashion trends, I’ll be offering up a round-up of trends once a month both here and on the Jax Mag blog. This month, it’s all about athletics.

 

Good Sport
(from left) dress: T by Alexander Wang, pink sneaks: Adidas Gazelle // black & white sneakers: Nike, “Breakfast” sweatshirt: Beyoncé // varsity jacket: T by Alexander Wang, white low-tops: Superga

Trend: Sweatshirts // The athletic trend has been absolutely huge for over a year now, and it’s still going strong. Sweatshirts are chic, comfortable and can be worn in a number of ways.

How to Wear It: Trade in your button down chambray for something a little more tough—paired with a sweet skirt, the look is still feminine. And the best part? Sweatshirts are often pretty inexpensive—so you don’t have to break the bank to try this trend out. (I paired one with a leather skirt on my blog, Virginia a la Mode, recently.)

Trend: Sneakers // Again, a nod to the athletic trend. Wedge sneakers were really hot for a while and now the trend is toward classic sneaks.

How to Wear It: I personally like a minimal pair of sneakers. Black and white Nikes work well with a sundress and jean jacket, or with basic black trousers. And you can’t go wrong with Adidas Gazelles, which infuse a slight hip hop vibe into a basic jeans and tee ensemble.

Trend: Varsity and Bomber Jackets // How much sportier can you get?

How to Wear It: Like you would a blazer—over jeans or a cocktail dress.

To Crop or Not to Crop: In Defense of the Crop Top

Recently, I’ve started blogging for the newly-redesigned Jacksonville Magazine website. If you didn’t know, I’m the managing editor of the magazine, so writing is my daily grind. Having the opportunity to reach a new audience, and wax rhapsodic about my ancillary passion (fashion) is icing on the cake. Here’s a sneak peek of an upcoming post, and make sure to check the Jax Mag site for more from me and other local bloggers.

Everything in fashion is cyclical—bell bottoms came and went… then came… and went, again. Same goes for skinny jeans, which were a big part of the punk rock movement of the 80s, and an even bigger part of the flannel-wearing, local brew-swilling hipsters in recent years. Now, crop tops are back. In a big way. I know what you’re thinking—”Nope. Not me, I can’t pull off the crop top.” I’m here to tell you that you can. I did, and I lived to survive the tale.

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I paired a Forever 21 crop top with a maxi, polka dot skirt from AshleGryre (a new boutique in Atlantic Beach) to ring in the New Year.

You see, today’s crop tops aren’t quite as revealing as those from years past. Your navel, for example, doesn’t actually have to make an appearance. Instead, modern crop tops just show off a bit of the tummy above the belly button—an expanse of stomach that is far north enough from the “muffin top” region that a number of body types can pull off the look. Case in point: Kim Kardashian. She might be one of the more annoying celebrities in the world, but girl can pull off a crop top. She certainly isn’t model thin or tall (in fact, she has more curves than the average woman), but the look still works for her. The reality starlet has been wearing crop tops constantly—going so far as to chop a Dior dress into two pieces recently, just to get another chance to show her tummy.

If you’re interested in trying the trend, you’ve got a couple of options:

• Hit up the vintage store. I bought a cute two-piece pant suit for around $8 a few months ago, and I tied up the shirt to make a faux crop top—this could be done with just about any top. You could also go full Kardashian, and take scissors to something.

•Invest. Several high-end lines, like Obakki (sold locally at Emly Benham) have unveiled collections that prominently feature crop tops. These pieces might cost more than those that you can buy at the thrift store, but they’ll likely last longer and fit better.

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Gift Guide: Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day. Two words that, when put together, comprise one of the most dreaded phrases in the male psyche. There’s a lot of pressure, to be sure. Pressure to cook the right meal (or choose the right restaurant), buy the perfect gift and not wait too long to snag some chocolates and flowers. Here are my picks for the perfect Valentine’s gifts—all available locally.

V-Day Picks

1. Lele Sadoughi makes some beautiful, vintage-inspired pieces that work singularly (as a statement piece), or stacked with other jewelry. Her slider bracelets are particularly popular, and available locally at AshleGryre in Atlantic Beach. Prices range from $100-$325, depending on the size.

2. Pablo Neruda is the man (so to speak) when it comes to love poems. This book is not only beautiful, but it includes poems in both English and Spanish (Neruda’s native language). $11.95 at Anthropologie

3. You can’t go wrong with Chanel polish. The bottles are like little pieces of art, and it’s a mini-luxury that won’t break the bank. $27 at Dillard’s

4. No matter how many pounds of the stuff I’ve consumed over the years, I will never get sick of chocolate-covered popcorn from Peterbrooke. Check out our February issue for more about the history of the concoction. $8.50-$58 at all area Peterbrooke locations

5. Chocolate and bubbles go together like peanut butter and jelly. Instead of the standard bottle of bubbles, opt for Sofia Coppola’s cute, juice box-like containers of Blanc de Blanc. $14.99 at World Market

6. Roses are tired. Surprise your gal with a bouquet of fresh lavender or a heart-shaped wreath from Mos Home, Garden and Gifts in Jacksonville Beach. Prices vary

7. Delicate underpinnings are a pretty standard Valentine’s gift, but this cute little chemise from Eberjey is modern, comfortable, and not over-the-top sexy. $79 at at Penelope T Boutique in Jax Beach

8. When in doubt, go with a great card—just be sure to write something more heartfelt than “Happy Valentine’s Day” inside. The Write Touch in San Marco has a stellar selection of cheeky, romantic and downright gorgeous cards. Prices vary

9. If your Valentine is a book-worm, or just loves pretty things, they’ll surely enjoy this fabulous set of bookends from Cottage by the Sea in Jacksonville Beach. Mermaids are mysterious, romantic and make a unique gift on a day full of generic presents.  $39 at Cottage by the Sea

Lip Service

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I am a total lip product addict. Lipstick, gloss, balm… you name, I hoard it. Fresh’s Sugar Lip Treatment is one of the best products I’ve stumbled upon in recent years, and I always try and keep a tube on hand. Not only is the packaging really sweet, but the product itself is pretty amazing. It blends reparative oils and waxes with real sugar—a natural humectant—so it’s super-moisturizing. Plus, it’s formulated without parabens, sulfates, synthetic dyes… and all that other yucky stuff that so many beauty products include.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve teamed up with Bluemercury to give away one tube of the treatment (a $22.50 value) to a lucky reader and Instagram follower. From now until Valentine’s Day, upload a photo of your Valentine—it could be your husband, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your mom, your grandmom, your dog… you get the picture—along with the hashtag #MyFreshValentine. NoteYou must follow @vchamlee and @jacksonvillemag on Instagram in order to be eligible to win. We’ll select one lucky winner on February 14, just in time for you to pucker up on Valentine’s Day! And who knows? I might just throw in some extra goodies for good measure ;)

My Picks: Skin Care

I have a love-hate relationship with my skin. I had problem skin growing up and, now that I’m in my twenties, I don’t really have to worry about breakouts as much. BUT… wrinkles (thanks, sun!) and dryness are becoming more worrisome these days. After years of trial and error, I think I’ve found my skin’s happy place. It requires lots of water, very little (if any) booze, a healthy diet, and tons of moisturizer. TJ Maxx and Marshall’s have been killing it in the beauty department lately. They buy from Sephora (you’ll notice that they have a lot of “OPI for Sephora exclusives” on their shelves), so it’s no surprise that you’ll see NARS, Ole Henricksen, Bliss and even Peter Thomas Roth products. Below are a few of the items that I recently scored at TJ’s. If you can’t find them at your local store, just click the link for a different (albeit pricier) option.

1. Frederic Fekkai Shea Shampoo: When I visited West Palm Beach’s Frederic Fekkai salon, the stylist told me I needed to start investing in high-quality shampoo that would strengthen my hair. Ever since, I’ve been washing my hair (usually every other day, sometimes less) with this product. It does wonders.

2. Peter Thomas Roth Clinical Peel & Reveal: I like to exfoliate and do a mask a few times a week; this is sort of the best of both worlds. You lather your face with the product, which is full of little granules (so it exfoliates), but you let it sit for about seven minutes before washing it off. It works really well as a mild peel, and is perfect if you skin needs a little pick-me-up. Bonus: It smells like pumpkin, so it’s the perfect product for Fall and Winter.

3. Nars Lipid Support: I love a good serum, and this one is tops. Just rub it on your face after you wash at night, then put your night cream on top. It’s pretty thin on its own but, when combined with a rich moisturizer, it really gives your skin a dewey, more even look.

 

Bits & Pieces

I love social media. It’s great to have such access to news, information and contact with friends. It even helps forge friendships sometimes! If you don’t follow me on Instagram (why aren’t you, by the way? Right this way…) here’s a little bit of what I’ve been up to….

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I didn’t get a chance to take many photos of my NYE ensemble, due to the fact that I was mostly just running around like a crazy person that evening, but it was a good one. I got the skirt at AshleGryre, an amazing new boutique in Atlantic Beach, and paired it with a crop top from Forever 21 (which I bought literally three hours before the party), a vintage gold necklace, Tibi heels, a Celine bag and a vintage fur stole.

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My boyfriend was sick last week, so I made an enormous pot of Mexican chicken soup. It was very spicy—the perfect thing to counteract congestions—and is easy to dress up with tortillas, avocado and shredded cheese.

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I have professed my love for Pure Barre in the past, and I haven’t gotten over it quite yet. I recently signed up for the 20 in 30 challenge (20 classes in 30 days), so I’m excited to put the pedal to the metal in 2014. I love how they are constantly changing it up, so your body doesn’t have a chance to plateau. It’s honestly just the greatest. I think I have a little bit of a problem. (My co-workers joke that I’ve joined a cult because I’m always swooning over how much I love it and dashing out of work to make my classes.) It’s a good addiction to have, I think!

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My boyfriend’s parents bought us a Nespresso for Christmas and I’m almost as obsessed with it as I am with Pure Barre. It makes the perfect latte in literally seconds. Also, it’s the perfect excuse to drink espresso shots out of my Jeff Koons for Illy cups. These cups were an amazing find. I have been a big Koons fan for years (I got a chance to see several of his works, including The Puppy, in Spain when I studied abroad in 2008) and was fiending for these cups he designed for Illy back in 2001. So when I saw the complete set, in their original box, in an antique gallery a few years ago… I snatched ‘em up. Every cup is different and they brighten up even the coldest, dreariest mornings.