September 28, 2009

The Generosity of Jeans

Jeans are the fashion gift that just keeps giving. They are undoubtedly the only items in my wardrobe that, with the exception of in formal or conservative corporate environs, work every time. The styles, fits and price points are endless. Decorative stitching and denim washes make jeans more versatile than the go-to black trousers. Don't get me wrong - black pants will always be a must-have staple in your wardrobe but jeans allow you to show more of your own fashion personality.

I own 35 pairs. I counted for the first time last week so that this post would be accurate. I really should say I own 35 pairs that I can wear right now. There are actually more. As excessive as that may sound, I'll justify it all by saying that no two pair looks exactly alike. There's something different that they each have to offer and that’s the beauty of jeans. Take for instance my Victoria's Secret Super Flare jeans (right) with a comfortable fit (it's
all about the stretch!) and decorative back pockets. They look great with bulky sweaters and fitted tops but I always wear them with stiletto heels. At $59.50, I can own them in both washes. The closest this curvy girl will ever get to the trendy ultra skinny jeans are the Matchstick jeans by J. Crew. The dark rinse wash make them perfect for creative casual Fridays or dinner out. Hey, I've tried them all from the pricey 7 for all Mankind and J. Brand to the GAP and $29.99 Levis. I've recently discovered the brand Not Your Daughter's Jeans at Neiman Marcus with realistic rises (no booty exposure here) and fabulous styles. But my all-time favorites for fit, function and fashionability (my new word for “great style”) are the Modern Denim Trousers from Ann Taylor. This company knows that women come in all shapes and respects that by offering a jean that not only fits perfectly but is both classic and sexy.

So you see the world of jeans is a generous one with huge selections for all tastes, sizes, occasions and pocketbooks. Hmmm...I just heard those VS Super Flares are on sale and come in a new wash! Maybe just one more pair....

Photos courtesy of GAP and Victoria's Secret.

September 21, 2009

The Customer's Always Right and Other Unfortunate Myths

We had an exceptionally bad experience at a local restaurant yesterday. I woke knowing that I would never be able to continue my day if I didn’t write about it. Let me preface this by saying I'm not a particularly patient consumer. By definition, I'm intolerant of poor customer service and especially unforgiving when spending my hard earned money results in dissatisfaction. I think this attitude keeps me keenly aware of how I treat my own customers as well as how I respond to their needs and desires. Because I've experienced my fair share of bad attitudes and reckless detachment from retail clerks and other service providers, when I receive phenomenal service I shout it from the rooftops. In my own business, I'm always in search of new ways to have the wonderful people who buy my jewelry and keep me in business during this particularly tough economic downturn wanting to sing my praises and return time and time again. I'm human. I have made mistakes. But the one thing I'm proud of is that I can admit them when made and I will make every effort to make things right immediately. Now that you know this about me, you will understand my burning need to tell this story....

My town boasts many eating options from fast food to fine dining and since I'm such a foodie, I look forward to ending a hard work week with a great meal or celebrating the culmination of a fantastic weekend with a fabulous brunch. There's a popular establishment conveniently no more than 2 blocks from my home that's known for having a creative brunch menu and after other restaurants have come and gone, it remains as popular as ever. We'd stopped going a few years back but yesterday we couldn't remember why so despite a gnawing feeling that there was an important piece of information we were missing, we took a chance and stopped in for fresh squeezed orange juice, duck pork sausage and French Toast made from rich, buttery croissants. After waiting 1 hour for our food, I checked my tolerance level, took a deep breath and inquired rather meekly to our waiter if our meal would be arriving soon, I was met with a bored sigh and an attitude that felt like it was screaming "You have no right to ask about your food! Don't you see we're busy here?!" Ahhhhhh I remember now. THAT'S why we'd stopped coming. And that's why next time we will remember to never return. We noticed other patrons experiencing the same exasperating situation yet most seemed numb to it. Have we really devolved into a society that just accepts bad service and dreadful behavior as a consequence of the times? Has requiring common courtesy become an exception rather than the rule? If we had just been told that the kitchen was swamped and even a semi-sincere apology had been offered, I would've had no burning desire to write this post. We would've happily enjoyed our beverages and chatted merrily until our meal arrived. Instead, we left feeling slightly bruised and abused. I guess as customers, we just weren't right for this restaurant. I guess it doesn't matter that I have a voice, a rather loud one at times and I intend to use it. My mother taught me that we teach people how to treat us by what we show we are willing to accept. That restaurant owner will be getting an email from me.

September 14, 2009

A Different Kind of Marketplace

I continue to be amazed by the amount of extraordinary talent in the world of handcrafted artisans. One could spend hours scouring shopping sites like Etsy and ArtFire to see that creativity abounds. There's a sense of community among the artists, a mutual respect for each individual craft as well as a healthy dose of competition just to keep everyone striving for higher quality and craftsmanship. I’m proud to be a part of this group.

I’ve previously featured some of my favorite fellow artisans from Etsy in this space but a few months ago I discovered a new marketplace for talent. I was so impressed by the caliber of the art available that I immediately wanted to join. Ahhh but it was not that easy. Unlike many online shopping venues, 1000 Markets only allows participation based on a jury system which picks a select group of artists that meet their criteria for high quality crafts. I’m so happy JulRe Designs LUXE has been selected and I continue to enjoy challenge of making sure my work continues to meet not only my high standards but those set by 1000 Markets and the various themed markets that make up this eclectic venue.

Here are just a few items from some of my favorite merchants at this incredible marketplace:


(right column, top to bottom)

Dye Diana Dye

WB Eckert Studio


(left column, top to bottom)

Safiya Beauty

Whimsy and Spice

Ceramics by Vadim

THINK HANDMADE and shop these talented artists and the hundreds of others (including yours truly) you will find on 1000 Markets this upcoming holiday season.

Photos Courtesy of 1000 Markets

September 7, 2009

When a Rose Is Not a Rose

While walking through a field of wild flowers has always been an aesthetically pleasant experience, it's never been appealing in liquid form captured in a spray bottle. I've become more of a citrus or fresh scent gal because most floral fragrances smell clawing and suffocating on me. I make an exception with roses. In fact, I've gone through many bottles of Jo Malone's Red Roses over the years. Despite the "grandmother's perfume" rap that rose-based fragrances sometimes get, this particular version is light, airy and incredibly sexy. I call it "young love in a bottle". The man in my life asks for it by name. Enough said.
But since I'm always searching for the next new scent and constantly tryin
g to find that one fragrance that can become my signature, I became intrigued by the exotic Tuberose, a night blooming flower that originated in Mexico and contrary to its name, is not in the Rose family. Perfumers often use this intense scent as a middle note in blends but when I first discovered the lusciousness in its singular complexity in Tubereuse by Annick Goutal (above left), I knew I may have found nirvana for my nose. It happened again when I was given a bottle of the exotic Velvet Tuberose by Bath and Bodyworks (above right). Deep, rich and heady, this one's slightly dangerous. Wear with caution! And since my dresser is already filled with fabulous Eau de Toilettes from Jo Malone, adding her fresh version of Tuberose to my collection was a no-brainer.

This fall, I'm going to enjoy wearing Tuberose as the perfect accessory for the season's long cardigans, leather pants and suede boots. The rose that's not a rose is still quite "scent-sational" to me.


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