Wednesday, February 27, 2008

And where do the politicians' husbands shop?

I love the South and its occasional *charming backwardness.

I probably won't have time to check it out while I'm working in Greenville, but tell me if the ad copy for Maiale boutique in the Upstate South Carolina Travelhost doesn't make you chuckle a little:

" won't find the designers she carries in most stores at the mall. Ask Anne to help you put an outfit together; her fashion sense is impeccable. That's why most of the wives of local politicians shop here!"

*Sometimes it's charming. Latent sexism? Can be charming. Seeing a Klan rally on the Raleigh capitol? Notsomuch.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Might do, might do

I need to go to the eye doctor, the dentist, the lady-doctor, the dermotologist and my car needs to go into the shop - all soon.

I think I will shop online instead.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Vagabondia - Knoxville, Tennessee, or my "Knoxville moment"

27 Market Square
Knoxville, Tennessee 37902 865.525.4842

The ad for Vagabondia would normally have dissuaded me from stopping by as it advertised “clothing in sizes for real women.” In the fashion world, that generally means size 12 and up. And seeing as how earlier that morning I had to ghetto-rig my size extra-small wrap-dress to fit tightly enough around my waist, I knew Vagabondia probably wouldn’t have anything for me. (I’m not bragging, it’s just a good intro.) (Ok, I’m sort of bragging.) But? I was wrong about that.

I wanted to explore Knoxville’s downtown Market Square, which is reminiscent in look and spirit of SoCo or North Guadalupe in Austin. There was even a cafĂ© that had a sign for – no kidding – Blue Bell ice cream! I had a few hours of down-time, and to be honest, I just really liked the name, so I went in anyway.

The store itself is pleasantly cluttered with artistically displayed clothes and accessories. I was especially drawn to the handbags hung on the wall and busied myself with looking at them until I noticed the beautiful art that was everywhere. I don’t pretend to know anything about art, but these paintings were just compelling. There were impressionist-looking (?) scenes of glamorous, flapper-ish women in pretty gold and black hues. Anchored by a huge mirror in the middle of the store, these paintings were perfectly dispersed among the racks of clothes and gave the store a comfortable, shabby-glam feel. Collette, a sweet tabby cat lounging in a basket of scarves, definitely did her part to add to the cozy atmosphere.

(See Cynthia Markert’s paintings at

The adorable owner Andie Ray immediately began chatting me up in that charming manner that Southern women have and other women just… don’t. We talked about her store, I told her what I was doing in town, and as I commented on the paintings she said if I liked them I was welcome to meet the artist who just happened to be sitting on this little sofa in the back near the dressing rooms!

The three of us exchanged cards and chatted for awhile longer when Andie’s eyes lit up. She grabbed her phone and called her friend - a local radio producer – and handed it to me. I did what any smart PR girl worth her salt would do: I immediately pitched my client.

I thanked Andie for the introduction, took a few complimentary postcard prints from Cynthia and was preparing to leave as a man and his wife entered the store – and I noticed his fleece had the logo of the local NBC affiliate. “You’re having what I call a ‘Knoxville moment!’” Andie said as I introduced myself to yet another producer. I had already booked my client on the network, but as luck would have it, this gentleman was the producer of… a style program. Tee hee! Needless to say, I told him about IHE and my head is full of ideas.

I cannot express how welcoming and gracious Ray’s little store is. It is filled with beautiful, affordable items (well, truth be told I only turned over the price tags on the handbags) and I imagine that more than one “Knoxville moment” has been had inside. If you’re ever in town you must pay her and little Collette a visit - “real women,” extra-smalls and all.

I Heart Rating: Five Hearts

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lola B - Knoxville, Tennessee

Lola B
Bearden Station
6614 Kingston Pike Knoxville, TN 37919 865.909.9059

“tory burch robert rod adam plus eve beautiful dresses norma kamali for everlast??? generra jersey love”

That is the text message I sent myself from the Lola B boutique today after work. I didn’t trust myself to remember all my observations but I didn’t want to like, take a notebook into the shop with me or anything because, DORK, right? To the normal person, the above message is probably pretty cryptic, but to me it makes perfect sense, and that’s all that matters. Me.

If I had to guess, Lola B is the only boutique of its ilk in Knoxville. It carries generous selections of a number of hard-to-find lines, even for Chicago, where of-the-moment designers get one rack at Nordy’s or *The Store before making into the mainstream. I was excited to see multiple pieces from one my favorite new designers, Robert Rodriguez, as well as some really interesting dresses by Everlast (yes, the boxing apparel-maker Everlast!) from guest designer Norma Kamali. I have been enamored with Robert Rodriguez since I discovered the line last year – lots of structured dresses and tops in basic, flattering black or white – with a few injections of color (think “Sprite” green and yellow) in the Spring line.

True to its ad in the Jan/Feb 08 issue of the Knoxville TravelHost, Lola B carries a huge selection of Tory Burch - more than I’ve seen carried anywhere except the namesake boutique on Walton St. in Chicago. I was heartened to see that my beloved Lucky Charms Reva ballet flats are still in style, although I still can’t get on board with the pumps. To each their own.

While I didn’t have enough money time to fully investigate the scattered jewelry and accessory cases, what I did catch a glimpse of suggested my usual modus operandi for shopping stores like Lola B: if you’re going to spend, stick to buying one or two designer pieces and try to replicate the jewelry and accessories someplace like Forever 21 or Target.

Throw in some absolutely gorgeous floral dresses by Adam + Eve on the sale rack and a lone black Generra jersey dress suspiciously similar to the one pictured below in “Blue Boots Redux,” and Lola B seems to answer what I imagine is a fairly pressing need for higher-end sportswear in a town ripe with college co-eds and a growing base of yuppies.

I left empty-handed. Even the sale rack was a bit too pricey for me, but I could definitely imagine myself shopping at Lola B in five years when my salary (and my taste – I’d say the targeted shopper is age 30 here) is a bit more mature.

I Heart Rating: 3 Hearts

*Fashion lesson – “the store” is the phrase most Texas women use to refer to Neiman Marcus, likely growing out of Vogue editor Edna Woolman Chase’s review of the department store in 1957.

“I dreamed all my life of the perfect store for women. Then I saw Neiman-Marcus, and my dream came true.”

Monday, February 18, 2008

Blue boots redux

Nat -

I'll probably wear them with a black jersey-knit dress similar to this one...

...perhaps with some black tights. Now what I will wear with these shoes... another story. But they were just too funky and cheap ($14.99) to resist!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Style report - Knoxville, Tennessee

I'm in Knoxville this week for work and so far I've been pleasantly surprised with the environs. The town is cute, with pretty old buildings, lots of green wooded areas, and the big Tennessee River right outside my hotel room window. I'm going to order a glass of Pinot Noir from room service and watch the twinkling lights across the river before I go to bed.

The drive from Nashville was longer than I wanted it to be, but there was definetely something refreshing about driving in the open country after being cooped up in the city for so long.

I'm still trying to adjust to the whole business travel thing. It's pretty lonely - especially four nights at a time - but whenever I can, I'm going to check out the local style scene in the places I visit. So tonight I'm occupying myself with studying the local lifestyle publications to narrow down some boutiques to visit during the week, and will dutifully report back to you, dear readers (reader?) about what I find.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The only thing we're missing is Tiffany's Treats

Finally we get a *nice day in Chicago, and I'm celebrating it by... staying indoors, living a true day in the life of a city girl: housekeeping service, grocery delivery, laundry pick-up, a pedicure, and I might even order in sushi tonight.

You can't get that in El Paso!

*above freezing

Thursday, February 14, 2008

O, then I see Nyquil hath been with you

Everyone is so very kind to suggest Nyquil, except that it gives me scary hallucinations.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sick Haiku

Lying on the floor
Sinus pressure wins again
A good diet, though

Winter of my Discontent, Part Two

So I’m sick. It started on Friday night with a headache, continued on Saturday with general icky-ness, and then hit me full-force on Sunday and has continued on its ferocious and unabiding course since then. At first I thought I’d get well on my own (denial; classic), then I thought I had a cold (acceptance; mature), then I thought I had the flu (exaggeration; expected), and now I’ve decided that it must have something to do with my sinuses as there is liquid nastiness seeping out of my left nostril and left eye (gross; shut up).

So the only thing left to do is talk about shoes. And recently? I made a very wise and responsible choice concerning shoes, one that would make both Suze Orman and my mother proud.

A few months ago I fell in love with a pair of shoes online. At $129, they were a little out of my price range, had several negative reviews on, and they didn’t have my size, but I ordered them anyway because I am estupid.

Adorable, right? Yes, adorable. Also… unwearable. Even if they had been the proper size, I don’t think I would have been able to walk on their 4½ inch heels. I stumbled around exactly one Junior League meeting in them before admitting defeat. Luckily, Zappos has an amazing 365-day, no-questions-asked return policy. So, back they go, and back goes the $129 on my credit card.

As a consolation, I’m trading them in for these boots, which are totally reasonable at $44.

What do you think? Did I do the right thing?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Winter of my Discontent

It seems ironic that I should begin my very first blog entry on my brand-new blog with talking about the searing hate hate hate that I have for this godforsaken winter season when I’m supposed to be blogging about stuff I like.

But with the –20 degree wind-chill and the virtually impassable river of ice that is the city street in front of my house, winter is kind of top-of-mind right now, so whatevs. I’m going to write about it anyway.

Chicago cannot catch a break. First, the snow falls in drifts. Then the temperature eases up and the snow melts to messy slush (arguably the least tolerable situation of all). Then the temperature falls again and the nasty slush freezes into sheets of ice, upon which the next snow falls soon thereafter. And that? Is a recipe for unpleasantness.

I think fondly back to the time when the worst winter of my life consisted of the one day it was too chilly to sunbathe at the pool at Scottish Rite Dormitory after class on the first day back of Winter effing semester. Me-of-old, I laugh at your naivetĂ©. Actually... I cry, but I’m just trying to keep up appearances here. And speaking of appearances, me-of-old, enjoy that effortless bikini body while you still can.

Gawd, life’s a tragedy.