Ensemble du Jour: School Daze

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Tube tops aren’t my favorite thing to wear, but I’ve had this one from VPL for about three years now. So the fact that I’ve yet to wear it is pretty awful. Rather than subject the world to my pasty white skin, I decided to wear it this past weekend on top of an old, inside-out t-shirt. Layered looks are usually easy enough for day, but sophisticated enough for a glass of rosé al fresco. Plus, they’re super-comfortable, which is totally my jam lately.

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Jeans: old Current Elliott // Tee: inside-out Vampire Weekend shirt // Tube top: VPL // Heels: Tibi // Bag: Chanel // Lips: Nars Heat Wave // Sunnies: Prada

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.

 

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(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.

Ensemble du Jour: River-Watching

Ralph Lauren jeans, Nike sneaks

After a weekend spent in DC, where it was snowing at temperatures hovered around 25, I am feeling very grateful for the Florida sunshine. Though there’s still a little nip in the air, the weather has been in the 70s and 80s lately, so dresses, sandals and shorts are perfectly acceptable. This past weekend, we spent some time in Downtown Jacksonville, taking a long walk near the River, visiting the farmer’s market, and grabbing some tacos. I wore sneakers, jeans and a sweatshirt, which turned out to be a little too hot, but supremely comfortable.

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Prada sunglasses

River watching

Jeans: Ralph Lauren // Top: T by Alexander Wang // Sneakers: Nike // Sweatshirt: Beyonce // Bag: Celine // Sunglasses: Prada (a gift from my bestie!)

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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Ensemble du Jour: Be Mine

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I am currently braving the cold in our nation’s capital, enjoying lots of good food, good shopping and time with my sweet Valentine. I packed accordingly, but unfortunately I don’t think this Florida girl has a good winter wardrobe. My idea of dressing for winter entails a fur throw, a lightweight coat and jeans. Case in point, this little ensemble I wore on an atypically cool day in sunny Florida. Not exactly bundling up, but a fun look nonetheless.

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…And when I top the jacket with a fur—voilà! 90′s hip-hop artist. #bigpimpin

Dress (worn as top): Equipment // Jeans: Rag & Bone // Heels: Tibi // Coat: The Row // Bag: Balenciaga // Necklace: vintage // Sunnies: Toms // Fur: Vintage

Psst… today’s the last day to enter the #MyFreshValentine giveaway. Upload a photo of your Valentine on Facebook, along with the hashtag #MyFreshValentine, and you could win a tube of Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment! *Note: Must be following @jacksonvillemag and @vchamlee to be eligible to win.

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

Ensemble du Jour: Fab Find

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I love a good jacket. If you live in Northeast Florida, you become accustomed to weather that rarely goes below 50, even in winter. If it does dip into the thirties or forties, it only does so for a day or two. So investing in several heavy coats is pretty unnecessary. Investing in a few lightweight jackets, however, is a must. Jackets can change up an entire look—taking you from unkempt to put-together in no time. I scored this gorgeous linen-and-leather jacket from Marshall’s last week. It’s by Vince, one of my favorite brands for basics, and it was on clearance for $69 (originally $700). A good buy, yes but even better, it’s something I can wear for years and in a number of ways. And speaking of Marshall’s, can I just say that I find it hilarious when people laugh at the notion of sharing finds on social media? I got a lot of this after I was chosen as a #maxxinista—people tweeting that they didn’t “get” the whole #maxxinista thing, and laughed at those who posted their finds on social media. If you don’t “get” that you can literally buy a $700 jacket or $1200 pants for pennies on the dollar, that’s fine. Keep on “not getting” it… just means more for me and my fellow #maxxinistas. ;)

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Jacket: Vince via Marshall’s (here’s the same jacket in charcoal)// Top: Vince via Marshall’s // Jeans: Vince (not purchased at Marshall’s, actually) // Booties: Margiela (similar) // Bracelet: Eddie Borgo // Bag: oooolllddd Balenciaga (I’m talking at least nine years old—it might count as vintage at this point)

PS. If you haven’t entered my #MyFreshValentine contest yet, do so before Friday! I’m giving away a tube of Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment, thanks to Bluemercury. Just upload a photo of your valentine, along with the hashtag #MyFreshValentine. Easy as pie!

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 ;)

Ensemble du Jour: Primary Colors

Equipment top, Celine bag

The weather is finally starting to warm up in Florida, but I haven’t quite traded in my jeans for shorts just yet. My boyfriend and I will be heading to DC next weekend, where I’m guessing I’ll have plenty of opportunities to don long sleeves and pants, but even in Florida I’m still in the mood to wear comfortable basics—case in point: my favorite Rag & Bone jeans and a silk Equipment button-up. With some fun booties and gold jewelry, it’s the easiest ensemble to transition from work to dinner.

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Margiela heels, Equipment top

Jeans: Rag & Bone // Top: Equipment (similar) // Booties: Margiela (similar) // Necklace: Vintage // Bracelet: Eddie Borgo // Bag: Celine

Dinner: Honey-Jalapeño Wings

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I don’t eat meat too often, but Super Bowl Sunday pretty much requires copious amounts of nachos and chicken wings—so I made just that. The nachos were made with spicy seitan, and probably more healthy than what you get at a sports bar (I like to put raw spinach on my nachos, much to my boyfriend’s dismay). The wings, however, were proper, good-old-fashioned (non-vegetarian) chicken wings. I tried a different method for cooking them (typically, I broil the chicken wings in the oven and baste them with sauce while they cook). With this recipe, I cooked them under the broiler, transferred them to the grill to get some good color, and then added the sauce. This ensured that they were perfectly cooked, crispy, and full of flavor. And, of course, messy—as all chicken wings should be.

Honey-Jalapeño Wings

4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup jalapeño or pepper jelly
2 Tbs. honey or light agave syrup
2 jalapeño chilies, seeded and finely chopped, or 1 can fire-roasted jalapeño chilies, drained and finely diced
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
Pinch of coarse salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
3 lb. chicken wings (about 30), cut at the joints and wing tips discarded

1. Preheat a broiler on high. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the jalapeño jelly, honey, chilies, granulated garlic, paprika, chili powder, cayenne, salt and black pepper. Keep warm on the stovetop.
3. Rinse the chicken wings under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Working in batches, arrange the wings in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Broil, turning once, until lightly browned and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes total.
4. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill. Brush and oil the grill grate.
5. Grill the wings directly over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until charred with grill marks on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes.
6. In a large bowl, combine the chicken wings and the jalapeño mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately—with plenty of napkins.