When in Rome

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The white lace dress I wore to my bridal shower is probably my current favorite. This is one that would work anywhere, I believe…

Have you ever been to a new city and felt like your clothing, while on-trend and perfectly suitable at home, made you stick out? I often find that no matter how extensive my research, I am in this predicament when I go somewhere new. Within the US, it always surprises me. I mean, we’re all reading the same magazines, right? But there are these fantastic cultural shifts from one city to the next, and from the city to the burbs, and so on, that fascinate me endlessly.

When we moved to Dallas, for example, I couldn’t believe how dressed everyone was. I was coming from Brooklyn where I donned lacy dresses sans bra, beat-up Ferragamo skimmers, and a distressed Commes de Garcon crossbody every time we hit the town in summer. We touched down in Dallas and went straight from the airport to a dinner at Del Frisco’s. In my black lace Betsey minidress and flat shoes, I felt dowdy as I looked out at a sea of bodycon mini’s and patent platforms.

I soon learned to marry my personal style to the locals, without losing my sense of self. I’m sure my sartorial choices still stick out a bit, but I’m fine with that. I do enjoy the occasional night on the town, though, in a short, tight dress that would be totally out of place on the pier in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge.

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This look from the ground up: Cole Haan beige suede Oxfords, Wolford cotton velvet tights, Catherine Malandrino pleated skirt, Marc Jacobs cotton blouse, Uniqlo black wool cardigan.
This look allover: American tourist!

The same thing happens when we travel. Josh and I headed off to Paris for a weekend this spring, and I was prepared for the ultimate in chic. What I was not prepared for, though, was the walking. Everywhere, walking. It was kind of chilly and I had no coat, so I purchased a white leather bomber on our first morning there. And my Cole Haan oxfords were my day wear, slightly loud for Paris, but cute nonetheless. At night, though?

For our big dinner out on the town, I wore a rainbow-hued, tie-dyed mini dress with sheer tiers of fabric cascading down each side. After much deliberation, I selected my peep-toe cork-bottomed platforms and we hit the avenue. Okay, here is the thing. It was Saturday night. In Paris, France. Picturing Carrie in all those couture ballgown-style skirts and Manolos from the final two episodes of Sex, I figured my colorful cocktail dress and heels were a great choice.

942460_728912960465_717800063_nNo.

Everywhere we went, incredibly chic women were buttoned up in black, black, black. Sweaters, leather jackets, long-sleeved tees. Black leggings or mini skirts to match. And flats. Mine were a lonely pair of heels in a sea of fabulous flats. And as my poor feet burned with each long step we took (did I mention Paris is a walking city??), I cursed myself for trying to be chic and ending up looking like exactly what I was — an American in Paris who was trying to look chic.

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My mom bought me this Free People slip dress to wear in Italy and I can’t wait! $88, freepeople.com

So, as we click about the internet lining up the spots we’ll visit on our incredible, two-week Italian honeymoon, I am torn. One part of me wants to hit the fashion blogs and the street style photos and curate the pieces of my own wardrobe into a suitcase packed with items that will have me looking like everyone else. And the rest of me says that’s crazy and I should bring the items that I love, that Josh loves, and that will make me feel like what I will truly be — an American in love on her honeymoon in Italy.

What could be better than that?

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Pack Naturally

deltamagazine_packed_suitcaseHave you ever found yourself unpacking a suitcase when you arrive on vacation and wondering, What was I thinking?. I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately (the fun is coming to an end! After this weekend, I’m grounded till September) and in so doing, I’ve found myself making some packing mistakes I’d like to share.

Similarly to how I sometimes shop (for the imaginary person I want to be and the circumstances of that imaginary person’s life!) my packing habits leave much to be desired. I am known for coming up with an idea about how the weather will be on the trip (ie. I’m going to California! Sunshine, here I come!) and not actually checking. (Ie: Northern California in early September is actually freezing, and this hoodie is in every single photo I have from the trip).

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always pack a clutch, no matter where you’re going! this way, you can save your shoulders from your heavy purse when you go out at night or hang by the pool.

Another issue is how things are going to actually look. I might have a dress hanging in my closet with the tags on, because it’s still a hair too small. But if I’m headed to Miami, the dress is too. Then I arrive and hope for the best–only to find myself forced to wear some other stupid dress I packed because news flash, this one is still too small.

A few things to keep in mind: always check the weather. If you are going somewhere notoriously hot like the Caribbean, you might need to be prepared for rain. Pack a “just in case” cardigan that goes with everything, so you can throw it on in a gust of wind or even pack it into your purse should the AC be cranked too high at dinner.

Also, try everything on according to itinerary. If you have, say, one formal dinner and two days of casual sightseeing planned, pack a fancy cocktail dress and some shoes that will work in your destination city. Pack two outfits that you always feel good in and can walk around in, and then, if you tend toward the whimsical, throw in one extra dress or two fun separates that you can sub in should you feel especially inspired.

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a guazy, floral sundress like this one is a great choice for most trips. it packs up small, pairs expertly with black tights and a cardigan for cooler climates, and works in warm places for dinner with heels or museum-hopping in a pair of brogues.

Finally, remember your feet! My feet swelled up so badly after my trip to Miami, I sent my physical therapist into a tailspin and have been mandated to wear those old lady compression socks on all future flights. Make sure when packing that you toss in one pair of shoes that is very comfortable and not the least bit hideous. Black or nude Ferragamo Vara flats always serve this purpose for me. Then, when your tired feet have had enough, they can find their way back to Comfyville and not ruin your outfit.

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hands-down best travel shoe. all colors, $425, nordstrom.com

Miami: My Naked Truth

white-ocean-miami-beach-fashion-shoot-10I expected Miami to be hot, loud and a place where my comfort level was not only ignored but obliterated. However, with a particularly lovely group of girls in tow and an especially wonderful bride-to-be at the helm, the trip was set up to be epic in the very best way. As I wrote this post in my Notes on the iPhone, I sat on a plane (aisle seat, thank god) with feet swelled up like loaves of bread and eyes that refused to open all the way. But the memories are worth it. And as I “detoxed” Sunday night on a diet coke and Evian with a side of fashion magazines, the morning’s bloody Mary’s a distant and delightful memory, I peacefully relived all my favorite moments from the weekend. Most importantly, the clothes. Or lack thereof.

The fashion in Miami was seriously fun to observe. I don’t always think that a sartorial scene needs to be chic in order to be fashionable. Women are more free in this beach city and what you throw on in the morning makes sense by the pool, in the street, and for many, at work. Sheer tops are the norm, butts are hanging out of cutoff shorts on line for the ATM at Walgreens. You get the idea. Everything in Miami, even the hair, just oozes sex appeal. For our big night out on Saturday, we had blowouts.  We each asked for something different and all ended up with the same look. Luxe, bouncy beach waves plucked fresh from the pages of Cosmo. No argument here, even though I’d specifically requested a bone-straight look. Those Miami beach waves were a better choice. Who am I to argue with a woman in a skin-tight turquoise maxi dress and winged black eyeliner?
nic-del-marAdmittedly, I awoke our first morning there to discover a drafted but unsent text to my fiancé stating, “Hunzy,  I want boobs.” However, I honestly believe that whatever your bod looks like in Miami, you totally fit in. Nudity was major on the beach and in the streets. From the super-skinny chick with butt implants we spotted in a white thong bikini (I’ve never seen butt implants in person! Crazy!) to the saggier, or curvier, or more natural, or less natural, everyone let it hang out from the brunch table to the dance floor.
Hey, that’s cool. I rocked a one-piece (albeit it a skimpy one), and at night, a flowing chiffon dress with my Frye platforms. Do I own sluttier outfits? Certamente! But they have no place on a trip where my fiancé is not present, so I was content to be the demure girl with the bouncy waves in a dress that forgave my expanding waist line after a dinner of fish, beef and coconut sticky rice with myriad wine and cocktails. (Hey, Fitness Pal. Happy Monday… I’ve missed you, too).
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If I’d been in town longer, I would have loved to shop a bit, take a ride on a boat, and explore. But for a 40-hour trip, we packed in a lot. Including, might I add, an hour of (girls-only!) skinny dipping that had us momentarily in really deep sh*t with hotel security. Luckily, I talked us out of that one while strategically hiding my naked bod in the shadowy water. Hey, you can take the girl to Miami, but you can’t break her modesty in the space of a weekend.

What a Difference a City Makes

I was in New York for family reasons over the weekend. While in town, I did have the distinct pleasure of meeting my dear friend’s two-week-old son on the Upper West Side. I also enjoyed the exquisite Japanese tasting menu at a hot new restaurant in Williamsburg and made it to one of my bridesmaid’s bridal showers in the West Village. I found an hour to visit my doctor in Midtown East; also very necessary. It was quite a hectic, yet important, trip.

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My return home was delayed due to a security scare and subsequent evacuation at La Guardia airport this morning. The good news: no one was hurt, and I managed to find a cab in the scramble and get the hell out. The other good news: I have one extra night on my little brother’s couch in Williamsburg, and had one extra afternoon to wander the streets of Brooklyn soaking it all in.

Last night, we saw a friend whose first words to me were, “Where’s your big hair?” Since stepping off the plane Saturday morning, I’ve been wearing it bone-straight like I always did here. I whipped out my cell and showed her some shots of the voluminous, curly style I’ve been sporting in Dallas. She approved, natch.

-1Dallas is an incredibly chic city. So is New York. But the differences, large and minute, are everywhere. Things are more pared-down here, more subtle. But then a black trench that you think is just a black trench is actually a vintage Burberry find worth upwards of $3,000. I’ve been living in Texas for about seven months now, and my eyes are newly opened each day to the over-the-top beauty of the Southern girl’s guide to style.

A woman in the Uptown Dallas highrise where we live stepped off the elevator the other afternoon wearing the pale pink studded Valentino stilettos I’ve been eying for months. Being the loud-mouthed Lawn Gisland Jew that I am, I couldn’t help but gush. “OMG, I love your shoes.” Maybe a New York girl wouldn’t have been so inclined to gush back at me, “Get them! I could run a mile in these,” and then turn to Josh and confirm, “Really. I could.” OK, girl. Let me just dig around in my purse for the 800 bills. He’ll totally approve, now that he knows you could run in them. It was really quite sweet.

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these are SO dallas, and i love them SO much.

But then you’ll find yourself in Manhattan on a Monday afternoon and a woman in a black leather bomber jacket and the brightest of poppy-hued lipstick is hailing a cab. You won’t tell her how chic she looks because, even though she wants you to notice, she doesn’t want you to tell her. But you’ll smile at her and she’ll smile back in an unspoken exchange of, “Work it, girl.”

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polished NYC street style at its best.

Just over the Brooklyn Bridge you’ll find a punkier, messier, just as sexy appeal. Street style runs the gamut from H&M to Alexander Wang, from Max Mara Weekend to J. Crew, Helmut Lang and more. There’s a glorious high-low mix that I appreciate and adore in Brooklyn, and now that I’ve submerged myself for a few days, I’ll be sure to bring it back to Dallas with me when I return. You can only be from one place, but you can sprinkle the style that you soak in everywhere you go to help create your own unique look. And no matter where you are making a glam new life for yourself, it’s always important to remember — there’s no place like home.

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LOVE it.

Dots of the Season

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Everyone loves a good polka dot, right? It’s just one of those timeless things that continues to work as we shift from season to season, year to year. On headbands and shorts, mini-dresses and jeans, high heels and bikinis… and beyond. Whether you go for a classic black-and-white or a more unexpected play of colors, a dot makes you feel so good.

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this 1920’s cocktail dress is fabulously dotted

As a child I started out the spring season with a good dress from each of my grandmothers. My Nana (Dad’s mom) usually designed and sewed these dresses herself or purchased them at Lord & Taylor. My Gaga (Mom’s mom) was no seamstress, but she did have a Saks problem, from which I benefitted quite a bit. These days, I’ve started that tradition with a few special little girls in our lives, one of whom is Josh’s cousin’s daughter, 1 1/2-year-old Harper.

This year, Harper’s spring dress was a divine dotted number from Jason Wu for the Neiman Marcus/Target collaboration. A rich, taupe silken fabric with cheerful white polka dots and a big bow at the back, I was in love with this dress instantly and decided that Harper needed it. I’ve been informed that little Harper already loves dots, and likes to point out each one when she is wearing them: “dot. dot. dot…” My point (at which I am taking entirely too long to arrive) is that dots work on every woman and girl, of every age, for any reason at all.

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is this not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?

If you want to freshen things up for spring, consider a polka dot. I have some extremely cute black-and-white polka dot shorts I got last summer on clearance at Target. And on the other hand, my very first pair of important shoes (that thankfully still fit even though I got them fourteen years ago in my freshman year of high school!) are pale pink Moschino pumps with tiny, navy polka dots all over. Go high-low here, girls. When it’s a dot, it will (almost) always work.

nina ricci side ruched cocktail dress, $3,290, neiman marcus.

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blue and white polka dotted sundress, on sale for $29, urban outfitters

Relentless Summer

It was “cold” and drizzly this weekend. We laughed out loud as we saw the locals huddled at the tables outside Starbucks, shivering in their fleeces and warming up with a hot coffee or tea. Josh was in shorts and drinking an iced beverage. I was secretly shivering in agreement with the locals.

Three days in the 60s and 70s and I was over it, but now the heat is back and I am whining to a different tune. I love summer, but when you’re stuck indoors working and the sun is shining outside your window, it gets a little old, no? Nothing motivates a girl like a good cloudy day where she can hunker down and focus. Or at least, that’s my view.

In terms of fashion, it’s still too warm to rock a lot of my fall finds, but I am finding small ways to work them in. Hey, if you can’t take the heat, reinvent the outfit.

Things I love:

A three-quarter sleeve mini dress with heels is wearable in warmer weather but with the polish of a fall ensemble. In a few weeks, you can add tights and a blazer.
Catherine Malandrino dress, $395, saks.com

A breathable blouse with white pants is perfect for in-between days. You aren’t getting too dark and fall-ish, but you’re covered if the temperature drops.
Tory Burch silk blouse, $325, toryburch.com

Sparkly peeptoes work with summery minis, white or blue jeans, and into the fall transition of black cigarette leg pants or a wool midi-skirt.
I adore these Giuseppe Zanotti’s, $1,495, bloomingdales.com

I bought these lightweight Gap cords over the weekend. Josh loves the fit, and I love the color! They work now with flats or brogues and a T; they’ll be even better in two months with ankle boots and a wool sweater.
1969 Legging cords, $59, gap.com

A lovely thing happened on the way to the beach…

Crystal Pier, San Diego, California… where this little princess became someone’s fiance.

Devoted readers, friends, family… everyone in Sparkle Land who has been wondering where the Hell I’ve gone… please FORGIVE me. In addition to a glorious full-time job that pushes a tad (or more than a tad) past the normal hourly range of “full-time,” and a blossoming freelance writing roster that keeps me busy, Joshy and I disappeared over the week of July 4th for a little R&R… and a BIG life change.

That’s right. After three and a half years of love, laughter, and even some major tears, the man I picked up in a bar in March of 2009 gave me the surprise of a lifetime of July 5, 2012. I thought it was an evening stroll pre-dinner, until he knelt down and shared some very special (private) words, and asked me to marry him. I’ve never known such joy!

Back to Brooklyn, back to reality. I’ve never known such chaos! Between the job and the after-hours job, the wedding planning, and another big announcement that’s in the works (NO, I’m not pregnant!), we’ve been running around like crazy people. We even ran ourselves right into Sinus Infection Land this week, and it’s been Hell climbing out.

This was taken on our vacation, but pretty much sums up what we look like around here most days. Working from home, wedding planning, and other exciting things lead to lazy haircare routines and sweatshirt re-runs.

In any case, I just wanted to remind you that I am still here, and Sparklier than ever! I have a new bridal blog, Born to be a Bride, which I hope you will check out. And I have new, happier outlook. I will not stop blogging about all things sparkly from summer dresses and lipglosses to the fall collections, as they roll out. But there are some big changes coming for this little bride-to-be, and I can’t wait to take you all along for the ride. Let’s go!

xxx, Jensy

One thing this super-blogger and bride is always armed with: a Venti. Keeps me sane, productive, and creative.

Amelia Island

This is only my second time in Florida (insane, I know). And once again, Joshy and I are here for a wedding. The bride is a beautiful and dear friend of mine, and I know the weekend will be incredible.

Thus far, we can tell you this. Amelia Island is a delicious place off the coast of Jacksonville. My bratty boyfriend insisted that we stay at the Ritz, and as always, he was right. The view from our lovely room is breathtaking. The service is beyond, the frozen cocktails divine. More from Amelia Island to come! Happy weekend, loves.

Snake? Charmer!

I must admit to a harrowing fear of slithery creatures. My one concession is these Coach shoes from a few seasons back that I do admit to loving.

My beloved Coach sandals

But this fall, it seems python is everywhere, so it might just be time to suck it up. Admittedly, the pattern is beautiful and flatters most skintones. Furthermore, snakeskin prints work in a variety of mediums from skirts and dresses to shoes, bags, and more. But what about the whole cruelty factor? (And the general sense of ick that goes with actually wearing a snake).

I’m really digging the latest from All Saints, where the python aesthetic comes not from actual skins, but careful bespoke embellishment from dyes, sequins and expertly done beading. Amazing, no? The collection features beautiful skirts, dresses, tops, and accessories to fit and flatter every girl. Here are some highlights from the Fall Winter 2011-2012 lookbook. Hisssss.

 
For the girl who wants to flaunt her gams:

Embellished python skirt, allsaints.com, $270
If you’re ready to take a walk on the wild side, but want to keep the fit loose and funky: 

Embellished python tee, allsaints.com, $395

If you’re only willing to work it with a pop of snakeskin:

Python curse scarf, allsaints.com, Only available on the UK site

Simply sizzling

Pair your pretty face with a simple dress for weekend fun

Josh and I are headed out of town with a couple we love, and I am so excited! A weekend in Connecticut, with Blackberry (and Droid!) tucked away, and a glass of chilled wine in hand is going to be quite welcome. This particular couple is very lowkey, and we all know I’m a bit high-maintenance in the upkeep department. How to fit in on a comfy-casual weekend but make sure no photo opp is unwelcome? You have to take care of your face!

You shouldn’t wear too much makeup on a weekend by the lake. That said, summer skin woes like acne bumps, oil shine, and sunburn can make for a less-than-camera-ready appearance. The best way to be ready for your close-up is to care for your skin morning and night. Wash with a gently exfoliating cleanser like Yes to Carrots!, soap.com, $9.99. An oil-free moisturizer will do wonders, too. Make sure to reach for one with SPF like Clean & Clear morning glow with SPF 15, soap.com, $5.49. Bonus: these drugstore brands blend in with everyday cosmetics and don’t make you look like a total diva next to your weekend bunkmates.

This stuff is amazing!

Make sure to pack a great all-purpose concealer like Stila cover-up stick, (beauty.com, $20), to nix undereye circles and blemishes. Add a quick brush-over with a pink-toned bronzer like Tarte’s matte waterproof bronzer in Park Avenue Princess (sephora.com, $29) and voila! Ready to glow.