Friday, November 30, 2007

designer of the day: amalialad

the lovely and insightful clothes-pin has turned me on to a new designer who has me completely excited. amalialad (dalia lama spelled backward) is designed by janis stemmermann, and her pieces are just genius. so original, great color combos and silhouettes, and the price points are high, but not impossible, like so many new lines.

pieces are still a bit tough to find online, but here are a few of my favorites:

i'm obsessed with this darling school top. love the belt, love the sassy orange color, and love the versatility - this would be amazing with jeans, a skirt or even as a shell under a suit - i'm thinking grey pinstripe would be amazing.

if you like the shape of the school top, check out the school dress. great opportunity to try out the brand without breaking the bank, and i can see this dress being endlessly versatile. it's tailored enough it would work as a tunic or as a dress, and it would be darling under a sweater jacket while it's cold this fall. best of all, i managed to track this one down on sale for $123!

this pop quiz cardigan is a bargain at $150 - i love the idea of mixing it with a bright t-shirt and jeans for a casual saturday. and the fiddler cardigan would be another great basic - pair it with a dress trouser for work, or layer it over a long tank with jeans for a great weekend look. (you can find it in a gorgeous burgundy color here.)

and i love this ruffle kimono sweater - it would be such a great "throw on over anything" option to have in your closet.

as i said, i had a little bit of a struggle tracking pieces down, but you can find several at basic boutique, anthropologie, and goldyn. but my pick is basic boutique, as using code People20 will get you 20% off merchandise on their site, including sale items! plus, the folks over there are really quite fabulous to deal with - i love it when an online shop really manages to make the shopping experience a great one, and basic boutique does it very well!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

what i'm giving today: lipstick queen's poppy purse

for the die-hard makeup diva on my holiday list, this limited edition piece from lipstick queen is a no-brainer. each hand-screened silk pouch comes packed with lipstick queen's signature shade of red, in both 'saint' (sheer) and 'sinner' (matte), so she'll be ready for any and all occasions.

and when the lipstick's gone, this gorgeous purse was designed to be the perfect size to hold credit cards, keys, and other minor necessities of life.

only 100 were made, so snap up this perfect gift at barney's while you still can!

what i want today: gold earrings by diana kane

this is another of those ongoing quests i have: the perfect gold earring. i want something tasteful enough that i can use it as an 'everyday' earring, and it has to be work-appropriate of course, but i want something more unique than your basic gold hoop or stud. it's a tricky business.

these beauties from diana kane fit the bill perfectly, i think - the size is perfect for getting just the right amount of notice, without going overboard. and i love the asymmetrical, organic circle - it gives these just the right amount of polish and style. and i love that you can order them in rose gold as well - i think they'd be stunning!

pick them up for $272 over at diana's website. sure, i was hoping to find the perfec gold earring for under $50, but honestly, was that going to happen? i think this is one of those occasions on which we have to break out the 'cost per wear' argument of which i'm so fond...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

what i want today: clutches, clutches everywhere...

we'll be talking more about holiday gifts soon, i promise. but today, i'm still obsessing about a clutch - how i've managed to get this far and not have one is seriously beyond me. and now, with the holidays upon us, i not only want a clutch, but i want a pretty, sparkly one. you know, something really useful, that i can take anywhere...i mean, nothing says versatile like sequins and metal studs.

some of the many pretties i'm coveting this week:

this super sparkly option is by seven for all mankind...i didn't even know they made bags. but i completely love the metallic leather and the chain mail look - this is definitely a piece that's going to turn heads. plus, the style would work with everything from jeans to a cocktail dress, which is a tough line to walk with a clutch.

i don't know where i've been, but i just discovered the bags over at emporio armani's online shop. really amazing prices on exotics, i have to say. i love this grey lizard version - the shape is so classic, but the skin and the studs give it a great edge. plus, it's on sale for $450, which is high, but crazy reasonable for an exotic. or, for $350, i also really like this piece in eelskin - i'm loving the delicate chain and the unique closure, which makes this one really perfect for the holidays.

when i found this weyman clutch by kale, it was love at first sight. you can pick it up in a metallic, but i sort of love this oxblood color. the patent is stunning, and perfect for the holidays. and the studs add the perfect edge to an otherwise very girly piece. best of all, it's on sale right now for $267, which is a crazy steal for a clutch you'll wear for years to come.

i absolutely adore this orange leather version that i found on etsy (also available in lavender). $140 feels like such a steal for something this gorgeous. clearly, not an evening clutch, and doesn't really fit with the theme of this post at all, but i think it's fabulous nonetheless. is so hard to be selfless this time of year...

a retraction

remember those foldable shoes from newport news? ordered them. got them. they're gross. totally cheap, and make your feet look ridiculous. do not, under any circumstances, purchase them.

guess cheap thrills aren't all they're cracked up to be :(

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

what i'm giving today: gorgeous letterpress papers from linda & harriett

i'm one of those people that's obsessed with pretty paper. i love it. i drool over letterpress, spend hours in paper source, and agonize over which card to get someone for their birthday. i spent more time picking out my wedding invitations than i did picking the dress.

and i'm not alone. so, at least one of the paper freaks on my holiday list is getting this letterpress gift set from linda and harriett. it comes with a notepad, set of 8 cards, and a completely gorgeous calendar - all letterpressed - for $50. but they're offering 25% off for daily candy readers, making it a cool $38, well within the limit for most friend gifts. to get the code, just head over to daily candy's site, and sign up for their weekly "deals" emails (which are fabulous, and totally worth signing up for anyway).

my favorite thing about this set is that you get to choose which notecards and notepad you gift. i love the orange piggies and the alligator, but the sunny bloom is a perfect choice if your friend is a little less animal-friendly.

shop fast - that discount is a daily candy deal, which means the site's sure to be mobbed!

what i want today: cheap thrills

red heels are one of those things i always want, but can never bring myself to splurge on. so when, on one one of my recent wanders through target, i came across these yummy red patent peep toes, i had to share. $25, a gorgeous shade of cherry red, and a very walk-to-work-friendly 2.5" heel. that's really about all a girl can ask, don't you think? i pranced around the store in these babies for several minutes, and they're actually surprisingly comfy.

styling options are pretty endless, i think. go classic with a black skirt and black opaque tights, or go completely crazy and pair them with something unexpected, like this darling yellow minidress (i love the styling on both models, and would happily steal the look!).

more holiday sale madness...

the lovely ladies over at the daily obsession have culled a pretty amazing list of the holiday sales, discounts, and other fabulousness currently going on. definitely worth checking out!

Monday, November 26, 2007

what i'm giving today: gifts from orange button

yep, time for those holiday guides you're seeing everywhere. rather than just narrowing down by group, we'll be doing things a bit more random-like over here. we'll be doing some of the standard guides/idea lists, but other days, we'll tell you about just one fabulous gift, or maybe a whole website with so many fabulous gifting ideas that i just had to show them all.

like today, for instance. this site is so chock full of fabulous gifts that they get their very own post. truly, i think i can find something for just about everyone on my list at orange button, and all at prices low enough that i can justify picking up a little bonus gift for myself!

if you have kids on your list, please, please, buy them this darling peanut blue bluebird. if you have two to buy for, i think agatha the elephant is the logical next choice, but there are lots of darling options to choose from (including this completely fabulous mobile, if you happen to have $180 to spend).

i'm also loving these gorgeous solid wood bangles - these are cool enough that they'll work with so many different personal styles. they're all stunning, but the koa, quilted sapele and zebrawood are my favorites. i would give one to my best friend, and one to my assistant, and i know they'd both love them.

for the perfect hostess, pick up a few of these darling coasters, and give them along with a gorgeous bottle of pink champagne. i love the ones with the drinking girls, but the "it's that kind of party. you want to be there. trust me" coasters are meant to be mailed as invitations. in the right hands, these are a party waiting to happen.

with all of the "no plastic bags, ever" hype this year, cute tote bags are a dime a dozen. but the truth is, if you find the right design, they're the perfect holiday gift for just about anyone. i mean, i own more tote bags than i could even begin to mention, but i'm always excited when i find a new one i can't live without. loads of fabulous options, but my favorites are the nest tote (great for me, your mom, or a friend with more tailored, subdued taste) and the big hen, made from vintage 1970s fabric (for that friend whose personal style is so funky and fabulous that you spend most of your time being jealous that she can pull off purple tights). of course, don't overlook the other options: i love the forest vintage and the flower branch too. they're a bargain at $25, but if you have a little extra to spend, never give an empty tote. fill it with a book or a couple of magazines the recipient will love, or just hit the drugstore and fill it with some holiday candy. you can never go wrong with chocolate!

and, if you have a paper fiend on your list, the options are endless. i'd either hand pick a stack of five or six of the fabulous greeting cards on the site, and put them together in a pretty wooden box tied with twine, or i might just pick up this beautiful silkscreened print, and put it into a fabulous frame.

Friday, November 23, 2007

fun with black friday

since i'm getting about 3,000 emails with various fabulous deals, i thought the least i could do is share. so i'll update this list as we go today, if anything really wonderful crosses my path. my favorites so far:

* 25% off sitewide with code GIVEGET (through 11/26).
* 20% off sitewide with code CARDIO, just for my darling readers. and best of all, no expiration on that one!
* the rare and coveted "free shipping with $150 purchase": automatic at checkout through 11/26
* 10% off automatically, plus another 20% off sitewide with code CYBERMONDAY (through 11/27)
* 15% off all of the fabulous jewelry on this site with code BLACKFRIDAY (today only)
* free shipping with $50 purchase with code FREEBIRD07 (through 11/26)
* 20% off sitewide and free shipping from my very favorite source for PJs. use code THANKYOU through 11/26.
* 20% sitewide with code HOLIDAY through 12/5. great chance to stock up on all of their wonderful products - i love the wool & cashmere shampoo and the crease release in particular.
that's it for now, but stay tuned - if anything else wonderful shows up, i promise to share :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

holiday sale fabulousness at

it's not often an opportunity like this presents itself, so prepare to max this benefit. is offering 25% off sitewide when you enter code GIVEGET at checkout, now through Monday, 11/26/07. that means 25% off classic pieces like paige jeans, jennifer tuton jewelry, vince cashmere, and oh so much more. i mean sure, it's the season of giving & all that...but hey, you deserve to get as good as you give!

some of the many, many things in my shopping cart this morning:

* that yummy lily mcneal sweater we talked about yesterday

* any of jennifer tuton's gorgeous jewelry, but especially this amazing turquoise pendant necklace.

* i'm obsessed with paige denim, and have been dying to pick up their fabulous hillhurst trouser jeans.

* with all of those holiday parties you're about to get invited to, i can't think of a more perfect splurge than one of milly's gorgeous cocktail dresses. i love this tank cocktail dress - the empire waist will hide any holiday indulgence, and the style is classic enough to allow you to wear it solo or change it up with accessories.

* i love this long-sleeved, tunic version of the loomstate tee from yesterday's post - the color is gorgeous, and it will make a great layering piece. plus, loomstate is just the ultimate when it comes to amazingly soft cotton.

* this foley + corinna jet setter tote has a gorgeous, classic shape, but the dark plum color keeps it interesting, and right on trend for the winter months.

of course, it's much easier to justify spending on yourself if you're also buying gifts for others....fortunately, tobi has loads of options for your nearest and dearest.

* red flower sets the bar when it comes to candles - amazing burn times, and decadent, fabulous scents. they're perfect for your mom, your big sis, or that flawless hostess you know. for holiday gifting, i love the italian blood orange, which will give a bright, festive scent to anyone's house, without being overly traditional. and, only $25 each with your discount.

* i love everything over at juice beauty, and this little "to go" kit is the perfect way to create a new addict...especially at $22.

* denise heffernan makes some really stunning earrings, and you can pick them up for a steal. i love the grey topaz cluster earringsand the gold ginko leaves, and i think they'd be incredibly versatile for all sorts of different styles.

* and i generally shy away from buying clothes as's just an all-around tricky business. but i happen to love this draped top by velvet - it's a very classic style, endlessly versatile (great layered or solo), universally flattering, and it's a great $50 gift for the fashion lover on your list.
and, of course, you always get free shipping at tobi...just one more thing i love them for.

so, remember, the magic code is GIVEGET. trust me when i tell you this is a sale worth taking full advantage of - it's your chance to stock up on loads of fabulous, full-price items that never see the discount side of life. happy wednesday!!

steal of the day: tiffini dooris on sale!

i got an email yesterday from one of my absolute favorite jewelry designers: tiffini dooris. she has loads of gorgeous new pieces for the holidays - i want at least 10 things from the site. plus.....she's offering 35% off sitewide with code LUCKYBREAKS. truly...this is an opportunity not to be missed. that means that you can score some of her amazing briolette earrings for about $50, or this fantastic multi-colored sapphire necklace for an unreal $150.

this is also a great gifting opportunity - tiffini's pieces are perfect gifts, because her designs are so classic, they're bound to be loved by dozens of women on your holiday list. my first choices would be this gorgeous citrine briolette necklace, this gorgeous black garnet and turquoise necklace, or this deco-fabulous black agate ring, which i've been coveting for at least a year now.

pick up a gift or two, and of course, a little something for yourself. after all, 'tis the season!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

start your engines....the holiday sales are upon us

i can hardly believe we're here already....and i hardly know where to begin. today, just a quick little spin around the eluxury sale. but tomorrow....hold on to your hats! and maybe start browsing around you know, just window shopping....

anyway, elux has some pretty fabulous markdowns happening - amazingly, no bags i love, but i would definitely direct your attention to the tods ballerinas, the marc jacobs pumps i've been lusting after for 3 months, those michael kors flat boots i've also been lusting after for months, and what i have to admit is a really darling sweater dress by juicy couture (love the ruffled bib front - i can completely see this with a cardigan and some colored tights).

the best news? every last thing i've named here is under $250. see? i'm not completely evil...

ooh, and while we're talking sales, the one-in-a-blue-moon shopbop sale event is upon us. i don't think i need to give you much help on maxing this one out! details are below...happy hunting!

designer of the day: ladylike handbags by erva

so, i managed to convince the hubs to take me over to check out the new barneys that opened up in san francisco recently. and it's every bit as fabulous as i expected - i can tell it's going to be trouble!

while i was there, i ran across a line of bags i'd never seen before (one of my favorite things about barneys: i always run into something new). erva is a spanish brand that's just barely beginning to show up here in the states - so far, i've only seen their bags at barneys and online at net-a-porter. but, what i've seen, i love. creative, luxe, and highly functional - and the price points are actually nowhere near as unreasonable as i was expecting.

i love this pleated clutch - it's hard to tell from this pic, but the top folds over - so the clasp on the coin purse side is actually the top of the bag when you're carrying it. the size makes it a really useful day clutch (i tried it out, and actually managed to fit all of my daily essentials inside), and the clasp would work beautifully as a handle in case of emergency (my one peeve with a clutch for day: sometimes, you just need the use of your arms).

i'm also coveting this slightly larger version, available at both barneys and NAP (it's cheaper at barneys, but there are great modeling pics at NAP), which features the same great detailing as the clutch (the pleated leather, the wooden clasp), with a great chain handle that will let you work this baby as a shoulder bag too. plus, the size is probably a little better for those of us that like to pack around more than we should.

check out the offerings from erva now (also here), so you can get in ahead of the pack (and the inevitable price increases...).

Monday, November 19, 2007

cheap thrills...

i owe the girls behind almost heeled, a fabulous new shoe blog, a great big huge shoppingsmycardio lovefest-style thank you. i've been mourning the loss of my nine west 'luv my flats' for almost a year now (the link is to a really ugly version, i's purely for illustration, as it's all that's left out there). i loved the cute little pouch they folded up into, because it meant i could pack twice as many shoes when i travel, plus they were small enough to throw into a regular purse as an emergency "my heels are literally going to kill me if i don't take them off this second" option.

i've been teetering on the brink of ordering some of those yummy sue london flats that everyone seems to have...but just wasn't ready to take the $130 plunge for shoes that i'm hearing aren't the most durable things out there.

so, huge, huge thanks to the darling writers over at almost heeled, who turned me on to these much cheaper versions over at newport news, of all places. yes, they're satin, not leather. but they're on sale for $24, plus if you use code 521 you get 20% off, and L79 gets you free shipping (we all know what a free shipping whore i am). i ordered 2 pair for about $35....which makes me deliriously happy. at that price, i won't even care when they fall apart in a month.

of course, if you're being picky about it, you can still pick up the sue london version, or this new version by coach, which i also happen to love. but seriously, tough to pass up the $24 option, don't you think?

what i want today: good thoughts for the shoppingsmycardio dog

second surgery in a month for my sweet little pup today, so send up some good thoughts for her, please!

in the meantime, she's helped me pick out today's "what i want" items...but she's a serious shopaholic, so we have a handful of goodies today. pretty fabulous dog to be enabling us all even during her time of stress, don't you think?

first up, i've been dying to talk about this lily mcneal sweater, which is just endlessly versatile. the a-line shape really gives this piece its magic. i love that you can wear it open as a cardigan, loose as a jacket, or closed as a dress (maybe throw your favorite jersey tank dress underneath, just to make sure the layers work out okay). this is destined to become a staple in my closet. true, jezebel is looking at it more as a snuggly blanket for her to sleep on...but she'll have to fight me for it.

the peacock motif on this coin purse by dutchy is just too cute (though, i admit, i've been a little obsessed with the peacock motif of late). the 4x6 size makes it perfect to throw in your bag as an extra holder for cash and those annoying one-store-only credit cards you don't want to make space for in your wallet, but it's still large enough to throw a cell phone and a lipstick into if you wanted to make a quick grocery store run (or a quick run to the pet store...). not bad for $64.

last but not least, jezebel thinks this have faith t-shirt by loomstate would help to remind us to keep our fingers crossed for her all day. and since i've been craving a loomstate t-shirt for months now, this might just be the excuse i've been looking for, especially since active endeavors has that lovely 20% discount for jezebel's admirers (use code 'cardio' at checkout).

of course, since jezebel helped, we have to talk canine couture as well. jezebel already has this cute cupcake leash, but i'm thinking she might need the toadstool version too. and i really think she should have this cute pink plaid teddy bear to hang with during her recovery. and maybe this 'sniffany and co' dog bed. no? too much? sigh...

so, to recap...send good thoughts, shop 'til you drop, and forgive me if posting's a little sparse this week :)

Friday, November 16, 2007

what i want today: "new vintage" by candela nyc

i admit, the term "new vintage" is one that makes me crack up a little bit...and i really shy away from using it. really, all it means is "we found a way to get you to pay full price for vintage-looking clothes...we are so clever!" but with such a strong 1970s and 1980s influence shining through, i can't really come up with a better description for the new pieces from up-and-comer candela nyc, so i guess "new vintage" can be a good thing after all!

candela NYC strikes me as a line that definitely has room to grow (the pieces are universally not quite tailored enough for my tastes), but i love the aesthetic, and i'm excited to see what they come up with in future seasons.

right now, i'm loving this gorgeous deco top, which would make for a fabulous holiday ensemble with jeans, slacks, or even just under a blazer. plus, i'd like to officially thank the designer for not deciding this top is a dress, just because everyone else is doing it this fall. the sequins and tunic shape are really on trend right now, it's true - but the deco design is so classic and unique. i really think this would grow up to be one of those timeless pieces in your wardrobe that's always in vogue.

also, while i have to admit that i normally have a pretty strong fear of the shorter boot (stemming probably from the sweater boots i wouldn't take off in junior high), these lovely leather boots are hitting me in all of my happy places.

the cognac color is fabulous, i love the ankle detail, and the shaft of these beauties is high enough that i wouldn't be walking around all day dreading the oh-so-unappealing look in which you cross your legs when you sit, and your pants are higher than the top of your boot (an irrationally strong peeve of mine). i think these are a safe bet for those looking for that pants-only boot option. and again, they have that fun, sort of vintage-y vibe that i think will keep them in style long past their trendier counterparts. for $300, if the leather's as soft and yummy as it looks, that's a pretty reasonable investment boot.

as i said, i think they have some growing up to do, but there are some great seeds here (for example, i'm loving the bianca tunic, but want it to be a bit less shapeless for a holiday look).

you can check out more from candela NYC at active endeavors, and i'm thrilled to let everyone know that they've been nice enough to offer shoppingsmycardio readers a 20% discount sitewide with code "cardio"!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

shoppingsmycardio addiction: bluemercury apothecary & spa

i recently got a chance to check out bluemercury, a new spa and apothecary that is growing at lightning speed, and just popped up in the san francisco area. i know, i know - another spa in san francisco? another beauty store? hear me out: the concept is pretty much sheer genius – and i’m completely smitten.

created by marla malcolm beck, the shop/apothecary section of the store consists of a large, but incredibly well-edited selection of skin, makeup and beauty products from lines like darphin, red flower, laura mercier, trish mcevoy, bumble & bumble…the list goes on and on (and on).

i have to admit that i’m a major beauty product snob at this point in my life, so it says something that i was jaw-droppingly impressed by the range of lines this relatively new shop has on offer. the reality is that a lot of these lines are really picky about what shops they’ll put their products into, so the fact that bluemercury has scored such amazing lines when it’s relatively new on the scene is incredibly impressive. i’m told that the company founder personally tests all products before letting them into the store – and that she still personally interviews every staff person. believe me, when you step into the store, it shows.

while i was visiting, i got the chance to try out their spa services with their “modern facial.” i’ve never been a person that goes for regular facials...the truth is that if i’m offered the chance to head to a spa, i’ll opt for a massage over a facial every time. but the esthetician at bluemercury literally worked magic – i walked out of the treatment room feeling more relaxed than i have after any massage, and my face was so soft that i literally couldn’t stop touching it all day. there’s no question i’ll be heading back to take advantage of her expertise (and the fabulously relaxing experience) in no time.

but my favorite thing about the experience at bluemercury was the staff. literally, from the moment i walked in the door, it was what i’ve been referring to since as the “anti-sephora” experience. everyone was incredibly friendly, but not obnoxious or forceful. i asked the store manager about eye cream recommendations, and the first thing she said was that we should talk after i had my facial, so that she could consult with the esthetician about my specific needs. and after my facial, as promised, she spent almost 20 minutes talking with me about the different ingredients in the various products, what she liked, why she liked it, what the company founder suggests, and why she suggests it, and ended up putting together a bag of samples that has me happier with my skin than i’ve ever been in my life.

honestly, i don’t think i’ll ever shop at sephora again.

most of their locations are east coast for now, though they do have a store in la and the new one in marin county. but they’re opening nearly 40 stores between now and the end of 2008. and, they have a website, so any of those products you get completely addicted to are just a click away.

to shop, peruse the spa offerings, or just check out all of the amazing products bluemercury has on offer, click on over to

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

oh happy day: henri bendel goes online!

henri bendel has to be one of my all-time favorite stores in new york. they stock consistently chic, cool gifts and wares of all sorts, plus store-designed exclusive pieces that you just can't find anywhere else.

just in time for the holidays, they've (finally) joined the 21st century, and i hardly know where to begin. sadly, the whole store isn't available online, but there's more than enough to whet your appetite and put a serious dent in your holiday shopping list. one of the best things about bendel's is that even though it's a really luxe, fabulous store, they offer gifts in all sorts of price ranges and options.

i know, it's still way too early for holiday gift guides. but a few of the many picks i have from the site so far...just to file away for next month:

these gorgeous enamel bangles remind me of a much more expensive version, but are equally fabulous and maybe even a bit more hip. they're just the thing to add color to a classic sweater-and-jean ensemble, and at under $70, they're great for gifting.

this darling little manicure set is the perfect "just in case" gift to have on hand. the brown-and-white stripe print is signature bendel, and i can't think of a single woman i know who wouldn't be thrilled to have this in her desk drawer.

and if anyone's looking for a gift for me this holiday season, you definitely couldn't go wrong with this gorgeous, limited edition cashmere tee. i love them all, but the diamond ring is a little too perfect, i think. sure, it's $300...but hey, it's christmas!

of course, as with all eccentric and fabulous shops, the real fun is in the holiday catalog, which you can check out right here. i'm fairly certain someone on my list will be getting that darling striped cookie jar on page 7, the amazing opera-length cashmere gloves on page 8, a fabulous graphic ipod cozy from page 11, and i'm seriously loving the missoni sunglasses on page 15 (though i have a feeling i couldn't bring myself to part with those).

if you find things in the catalog that you love, or if you just need a little extra help, the shop is also offering online concierge services, case you needed another excuse.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

and one more thing i want...

the lovely editors over at coutorture wrote up this waterfall cardigan by splendid this morning, and i can't get it out of my mind. it strikes me as the sort of piece you'll never end up taking off. i love the option of styling it casually, just loose over jeans, or dressing it up with a belt. the grey color is perfect this fall, of course, and at $140, the price is even right (esp. since shopping at bergdorf online means no tax unless you live in NYC, and shipping is free with code BGSHIP, if you can tack another $10 onto your order).

plus, splendid does such a fabulous job of making cotton pieces that are incredibly soft and luxe. this would definitely be a great staple to add to your mid-fall line-up.

what i want today: naughty necklaces by locher

i absolutely love the t-shirts over at locher, but the truth is i'm a little scared to actually wear them out in public. i mean, there are days i definitely want to be that girl...but, well, i guess i'm just not quite to the point that i'm willing to put all of my bitchiness right out there for the world. i like to save it for a select few.

so, i was really thrilled to see locher branch out into accessories: specifically, necklaces that have that same adorable profanity thing going, in a much more subtle way. i think we all have a friend who would seriously keel over with laughter after receiving this fabulous petite salope ("little slut") necklace (yes, in this case, that friend is me...). or, for the more timid/traditional, the 'i love you' postcard is mainstream, but still adorable.

check them all out here, and unleash your inner bitch...something tells me it'll feel fantastic!

Monday, November 12, 2007

...or maybe not....

if you saw the post this AM, well, things seem to have traveled back in time a bit. i'll re-post when the fabulous new shop gets back online!

Friday, November 09, 2007

shoppingsmycardio interview: ashley watson

if you don't know who ashley watson is, it's time you learned. she's a hip, young handbag designer who's tapped into a really unique market: sustainable leather design. now, i think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone that would call me a really environmentally-conscious person (ahem), so i have to confess that my love of ashley's designs has almost nothing to do with the eco-friendliness. but it helps - hey, if i can buy a bag i love, in a fabulous design, with beautiful craftsmanship...and i get to sport it without feeling any guilt whatsoever, well, that's just icing on my cupcake (mmm....cupcakes...erm, anyway....).

anyway, when i first spotted ashley's designs, i fell in love with them for their unique shapes, gorgeous vivid colors, and incredibly reasonable price point (most are under $300). i couldn't figure out how she was making bags with such thick, amazing leather for that price point. turns out, ashley's one smart cookie: she makes her bags from vintage leather jackets culled from thrift store dives. so that gorgeous bag you're sporting has already gone through that painful break-in process that ultimately makes leather so silky soft that you just can't stop touching it. read on to learn all about how she got started, and how she comes up with these gorgeous designs from her small workshop in vancouver.

shoppingsmycardio: Can you start by giving us a little bit of your background? How did you get started designing bags, and how did you come up with the concept of using recycled leather?

Ashley Watson: I have a interdisciplinary degree from the Nova Scotia College of Fine Arts. Interdisciplinary basically just means that I didn’t have to choose anything specifically, so throughout my degree I did pretty much everything—painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, textiles, and then in my last year, I took a couple of sewing and fashion design courses. I then came back to Vancouver and did a fashion design program. After that, I started making the bags by fluke. I was living at my parents at the time on an island, and I wanted a new bag for something I was going to the next day. I am a pretty impatient person, and when I have an idea, I can’t wait very long to try it! So I cut up one of my dad’s old jackets and made a bag, and I ended up really liking how it turned out: the worn quality of the leather and the already existing pockets. I started to get orders and it went from there. I tried using new leather, but it didn’t have the same interest for me. I then went to New York and did an internship with Libertine – they use old clothes, sew them and screen print on them – so, although totally different, it was in the same vein as what I was doing. I did a lot of shopping for them, so ended up knowing where a lot of the Salvation Army locations were in Manhattan. Right before I left New York, I sold my bags at the Young Designers Market in Soho. When I came home I just kept going with it.

SMC: I have to be honest – I’m not the most “green” girl out there. So I love that I can wear one of your bags and feel like I’m doing a good thing for the planet, without sacrificing fashion or quality (hey, anything to justify a new bag purchase!). Would you say that being environmentally conscious was the driving force behind designing your line, or did you come up with the idea to use recycled leather pieces after you started designing?

AW: I wouldn’t claim to be a raging environmentalist, but the fact that I use recycled materials has become very important to me. I definitely would say that it started as an aesthetic choice but then grew into something more. Throughout art school there seemed to be a lot of waste just from creative experiments: ceramics that didn’t fire properly would just be thrown out, horrible drawings on tons and tons of paper wasted. So I always did feel some guilt, since that was purely for my own artistic exploration. I really grew to love that my bags are starting from an existing material. The jacket definitely did fuel the handbag though – it wasn’t like I looked at a plain piece of leather and wanted to make a handbag. The environmental aspect has definitely fueled my business as well, which has been huge. I started doing it at the right time. Everybody wants to make sustainable choices these days.

SMC: Since you use such unique materials, I’m really interested to hear about your design process. I have visions of you combing through bins at Goodwill, looking for great leather jackets! How do you come up with a bag style, and how do you go about finding the leather to use for each piece? Do you use one jacket for each bag, or do you mix and match pieces?

AW: I come up with a bag style just from random things that have accumulated in my head, and then start to make a pattern…and then, usually that pattern totally doesn’t work, but something really interesting comes out of that. In terms of picking the jackets, we pick based on a lot of different things: the details (pockets, seams, vents, gathers, pleats, etc.), color, and quality. We do rummage through thrift stores which has become really important to me. Since most thrift stores are charity-based, I love that I am contributing to something by buying my materials. It is becoming more difficult though, as I need more and more leather. I am soon going to have to have buyers in others cities in Canada because we seem to be cleaning out a lot of Vancouver these days. We do use one jacket for each piece and then sometimes there are leftovers that we use for wallets, etc. I haven’t yet done any mix and matching, but for my new spring stuff, I will be using some old remnants for zippers tabs and other things. It’s hard to explain, but you will see when it is done!

SMC: Since you’re making each bag by hand, from a unique jacket, I’m guessing there is an incredible amount of work involved. Can you tell us a little about your production methods?

AW: I was doing everything myself (except I had one person working once a week) until August and then I hired 3 people because it was so insane. So now I have a cutter and a sewer which has been amazing for me. I am slowly able to start concentrating more on design which has been great. I still do a lot of the production but it is fantastic to not be doing it alone. I was really worried to have other people make my stuff, but the girls are amazing. They do such a good job and they often bring a really different perspective to the work which has been great! In terms of production methods, we have patterns for each style, then we look at the jackets and decide which style they are best suited for. We then take the jacket apart to make it as flat as possible and cut out the pattern. As we cut out the pattern we have to decide which way we want the details of the jacket to be – for example, what angle the pockets are at, all while making sure we don’t run out of leather. We then sew it. Each bag has quite an extensive consideration process, since they are all one-of-a-kind.

SMC: I can tell you’re factoring practicality into your bag designs – that’s something I love about your work. I notice in particular that many of your bags are available in different sizes, which I think is fabulous! Tell me a little bit about who you’re designing for: who is your ideal customer?

AW: I like to think that my bags are for an intelligent person that likes that things have attention to detail, and cares about what they are buying. The practicality factor is actually something that I would say that I struggle with, since I often just want to make something that is pretty! But I do try really hard to make something that I myself would like to carry, that is definitely not impractical, and fits everything you need it to fit.

SMC: There are so many bags from your collection that I just love – which is your favorite, and what do you love about it?

AW: Hmmm…my favorites, I would say are the Warbler and the Junco. They are the newest, so that is probably why! I really like the gathers and the knots on those styles. I find that, as I go, my bags keep getting more and more interesting to me – the first bags I did were pretty basic, so now I think as I evolve, the styles are getting a lot more interesting. I am also very excited about my new stuff that is coming up for spring.

SMC: What other designers do you really admire, and why?

AW: Hmm there are tons, but one that I know personally and really admire is Hajnalka Mandula. She is also based in Vancouver, and right after I finished my fashion design course, I did a short practicum with her. Her clothes are very organic and have amazing attention to detail. She often uses recycled components, like buttons, and she’s really into using organic materials as well. She was using organic materials before anybody else was. I really love her designs and her style, but she also taught me a ton in the short time I worked with her. She taught me that attention to detail is so important and that shortcuts can never be taken. She definitely taught me to have as much integrity with my own stuff as I can and she was what started my interest in using materials that have a history, which makes the design process incredibly interesting.

SMC: Do you see yourself branching out into other areas of design in the future, or are you interested in sticking to bags and accessories? Your website says that you used to design jewelry – do you still do that, or do you see yourself getting back to it at some point?

AW: Knowing that I often get bored quite easily, I probably will branch out at some point. I can see myself someday going into clothing. I would also love to design jewelry again – the only thing is that it would be really important for me to keep it sustainable and I don’t know how I would incorporate that. There are so many great designers doing sustainable jewelry these days that I do sort of feel like it’s already been done. I am always hoping that some amazing new sustainable material will come into my life some day, and then I’ll see what I can do with it. Currently I’m just trying to get a handle on what is going on right now- which is totally crazy.

SMC: What handbag are you carrying today?

AW: I am carrying one of my new ones for spring. I like to carry them around to work out any kinks about the design or practicality that might come up before I sell a style.

SMC: How would you describe your personal style?

AW: I would say that my personal style is pretty classic with the odd eclectic piece. I love clothes with details that are a bit quirky, but still really classic. To be perfectly honest though, these days my life is so busy and I spend so much time in the studio that most of the time I’m wearing work clothes! As much as I love clothes, there just really isn’t a lot of time for them these days.

i love so many of ashley's designs, and you can check out all of the styles on her website. to buy, the best selection i've found online is at fatal (plus, get 10% off your first order with code fatal10). my faves are this gorgeous navy warbler (you can also snag a gorgeous version in grape here), and this chevron stripe black thrush bag. but remember, each bag is one-of-a-kind, so you definitely want to look at each bag before you buy - placement of pockets, buttons, even the shade of leather will vary by bag. so if you're picky like me, spend time making your choice. but hands off that navy's mine!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

what i want today: to be a lipstick queen

i have to admit, i'm always pretty much in awe of women who can really and truly pull off lipstick. i know, that sounds completely lame. but i'm talking really fabulously glamorous women (the same women that pull off liquid eyeliner). the ones that put on that perfect shade of red lipstick, and are suddenly drop-dead amazing, without a drop of makeup anywhere else on their perfect faces.

sadly, i have never been one of those women - i've always been pretty much completely terrified of the super-bold lipstick, fearing i'd come out looking more like a desperate, dita-von-teese-wannabee than an actually glamorous gal. but i recently came across a new line of lipsticks that makes me think it just might be possible.

designed by poppy king, the lipstick queen line (yes, i totally admit to being sucked in by the name and the gorgeous packaging) features an impeccably small selection of shades that are so well crafted you're virtually guaranteed to find that perfect color, without spending an hour at the lipstick counter in that oh-so-fun "wax on, wax off" game we've all played a hundred times.

crafted in both semi-sheer ("saint") and super-matte ("sinner" - told you i was sucked in by the marketing) versions, lipstick queen lipsticks have that fabulous vintage chic look that's absolutely everywhere this fall. any trend that promises to make me look fabulous and super-hip, all for under $20, well, that's hard to pass up.

to buy, check the color selections out online, then head over to your friendly neighborhood barneys.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

neiman marcus private sale event: today only!

this doesn't happen all that often, so even though it's so temptation-inducing that i actually feel a little guilty sharing with you all, i just can't resist.

today only, neiman marcus has taken 30% off select pieces from the fall '07 collections. the first call sale started yesterday too, but trust me...this is much, much better.

to find the goods, click here, and stay within that link, as it's invite-only. as usual, the site workings are annoying, and you do have to fish around a little...make sure your selections say "private event" below the pic before you buy - the price will be discounted when you put the item in your basket.

the loot in my basket (that i really, really shouldn't be buying:

that loeffler randall matilde boot i've been coveting all season (and best of all, this one's a pre-order, so i might be able to pass it off as an after-christmas extravagance).

a really gorgeous m by missoni dress that will be perfect this fall - of course, i'm just ordering it to try it on......really.

any number of diane von furstenberg wrap dresses - the good styles never go on sale, so this is fantastic!
a couple of really gorgeous vince cardigans - vince uses amazing, ultra luxe cashmere, so i always love to catch their designs on sale.

and yes, even the most fabulous of fabulous: manolos at 30% off. told you it was a good day!

i'd shop quick, and buy quicker...half the things in my cart already show as unavailable on the site.

oh, and use code PRIVATE for free slow-boat shipping while you're at it. happy wednesday!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

what i want today: hope and glorie

i spotted a piece by hope and glorie in a recent in style, and just had a hunch i was going to love the rest of the designer's line. sure enough...after a bit of digging (they're still relatively new to the scene), it turns out the masterminds behind the label have accomplished the impossible: chic, well-cut, well-thought clothing that's beloved by prices that are actually reasonable.

crazy, i know.

designed by a pair of sisters, the line launched their first collection for spring '07, so you get the benefit of getting in before their pricing goes off the charts.

the blouse i first noticed is this keyhole top (above), which comes in 3 different color combos. the most versatile is probably that black-and-white version, though the white-and-purple would be a great way to add color to a casual outfit.

but then i started looking at the line a bit more, and there are actually a lot of really covetable pieces...all well under $200, which is all but unheard of when you couple that phrase with with "as seen on jessica alba." check out this darling ruffle cardigan - it'd be just the thing to add some fun to a basic black pant, or to take the severity out of a pencil skirt. the off-center placket gives it such great detail, and makes it wearable as a cardigan or just as a top. plus, that shade of blue is going to look amazing on just about everyone. love it, can't do without it, will be buying it as soon as i finish posting here.

and, last but not least, it really is time to start thinking about those holiday dresses. their
halter dress in black and gold
gives you just enough detail to keep the black from being basic, just enough skin to keep it sexy without giving away the store, but the cut is so simple and classic that you'll have this staple in your closet for years. i love the dash of spandex mixed into the silk - it'll keep you dancing the night away even after that second glass of eggnog. and, again, under $200.

keep an eye on these ladies: i have a feeling we're only going up from here! so far, couture candy seems to have the best selection of hope and glorie goods i could come up with, so it's well worth a stroll through their site to see what else strikes your fancy.