Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Product Review: eShakti Dress

I had come across eShakti in the past, and thought they had an awesome concept: You can buy their clothes in standard sizes (0-26) or you can opt to customize! Want a longer hem? Shorter hem? Different straps on your dress? Different sleeves on that blouse? A higher neckline? You name it and they can do it. I was really excited when they offered to let me try and review one of their dresses.

I decided on this design, although when I picked it out they had turquoise as a color option. I'm a bit picky about the dresses I like, and wanted a dress that had thicker straps, a good amount of structure with a defined waist, and not too high of an empire waist (a trend that's been going strong over the past few years--this look does not work for me!). I usually fit standard sizes fairly well, but wanted to try their custom option by requesting a little more room in the bust area and to be sure it fell right about my knees considering my height.

I obviously had to winterize it a bit, since it's made of 100% cotton and its still quite chilly in Chicago in February! (See exhibit A, below)

It's windy...
Dress: c/o eShakti
Scarf: Anthropologie
Earrings: Stella & Dot
Sweater: Adrienne Vittadini via TJ Maxx
Jacket: J. Crew
Leggings: Target
Boots: Born via Zappos
Bag: Furla

It should be just perfect on its own in the spring and summer. Here's a look at the dress without all the layers:

I was pleased with how this dress turned out. The color is gorgeous, and I very much like how it fits. My only complaint on fit is that the bust area threatens to gap a little bit, but I often have that issue with clothes no matter where I buy them. A little hook and eye or invisible snap sewn inside and in between the buttons should do just the trick.

This particular dress is made of a poplin material with no stretch, which was clearly labeled on the website: Therefore it wrinkles a little bit after a day or wear, but that's nothing a little ironing or steaming can't fix in about 3 minutes. I was pretty happy with the quality of the dress, especially considering the fact that I was able to customize it to my own preferences! I think this is a genius option since not every woman fits the standard sizes found on the rack, and you cannot beat the price for wanting a piece tailored to your own size. To opt for custom sizing is only an additional $7.50. Just have a friend help you take your measurements!

This dress is courtesy of eShakti.com, but the reviews and opinions in this post are entirely my own.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

5 Things I Learned This Week: The long haul

I really like doing this weekly post. It's more for myself than anything fashion related, but it's been really helping me reflect on what I've learned (obviously) and reminds me that you never stop changing. This segment is here for the long haul. So without further ado...

1. Life is full of change: embrace it, even if it's scary. You cannot stay stagnant forever.

2. It never fails, no matter how much I try to ignore it: this time of year in Chicago (cold, grey, dreary February/March) just sucks. Do the best you can, don't beat yourself up for eating three cupcakes, and try not to despair...spring is so close!

3. If you have the ability and desire to do something nice for someone just because you can, do it. I enjoy facilitating Random Acts of Kindness almost as much as being on the receiving end of them. It's very rewarding.

4. Those deep, engaging "life talks" with close friends can be really cathartic. Don't skimp on the tears.

5. Don't ask your newly-engaged friends if they intend to make you their maid of honor, then start weeping uncontrollably when they politely respond "no." For the record, I haven't done this: One of my good friends had this happen to her a few days ago. Just wait to be asked to join the bridal party, ok? And if not, just be happy for the bride and groom. It's supposed to be their day, right?

This is me, bungee jumping in New Zealand a few years ago. DON'T THINK JUST DO IT

Sunday, February 19, 2012

5 Things I Learned This Week: Changes

1. Your dreams can absolutely reflect what's going on in your life. Especially the really weird ones...

2. Only you can make the right decisions for yourself. You friends, your parents, your superiors and those who are "older and wiser" can offer advice, but only you can really know whether you're making the right choices for your own peace of mind. And sometimes that means doing to opposite of what friends, parents, and/or superiors think suggest.

3.  You never know what great opportunities are going to come your way: Keep your eyes open!

4. Try not to succumb to your fears or anxiety: Sometimes you have to put them on the back burner and just dive in!

 5. I can wear red lipstick during the day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bloggers Do It Better: Red Red Red!

A quick, mini-post today! I only got around to checking out Kristina's most recent Bloggers Do It Better assignment last night, and saw that the theme was red (how fitting for Valentine's Day!).

I didn't really have time for a full-on photo shoot/outfit post (it was 9pm...), but I thought it was perfect timing to post anyway because I just started reading "The Perfect Red" by Amy Butler Greenfield. It's a nonfiction pseudo-history of the color red, its significance in culture and society, and how the dyeing trade in Europe was revolutionized by the discovery of cochineal, an insect found in Latin America that produced a startlingly brilliant crimson dye previously unheard of in the Western world. The wealthy elite craved this bright hue (unattainable with European dyes), and while I'm only 50 pages in, its interesting to see the lengths people would go to for this color. It says right on the cover: "Empire! Espionage! and the Quest for the Color of Desire."

Ok, that was your history/science lesson for the day. And since I wore my only red sweater just yesterday, today I went for a fun crimson lip and matching scarf for Bloggers Do It Better. Just the thing to brighten up a grey winter day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

5 Things I learned This Week

1. Invented/made up recipes can turn out fabulously delicious. I needed to clean out my fridge of some odds and ends and came up with this gem:

          a. Shred one poached chicken breast with two forks
          b. Mix with the following: some finely chopped dates, a spoonful of mustard 
                (the good kind), some garlic, add a handful of quinoa (or breadcrumbs), salt,
                pepper, and a handful of shredded parmesan.
          c. Spoon this mixture into a half of a red bell pepper, cut lengthwise and with
                the ribs and seeds removed.
          d. Sprinkle with a little more parmesan, and stick in a 350 degree oven for 
                15-20 min. 
          e. Enjoy. The sweetness of the dates plays off the tangy mustard. Yum. Plus, 
                you'll have the other half of the pepper for lunch tomorrow.

2. Having your work week filled with productive projects and not having any spare time to twiddle your thumbs at your desk makes for a very satisfying feeling inside (finally!).

3. I won't mind staying at the office for 2 extra hours on Friday if no. 2 on this list happens as well. Re: satisfying feeling. :)

4. It really is worth it to not sleep in on the weekend. Once in a while or if you're truly really exhausted is fine, but you have so many more hours in your day if you don't wake up at 2pm.

5. You can find inspiration everywhere: It can strike when you least expect it, so keep a moleskin in your purse.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chicago Blogger Network Event: Lara Miller (and Big Hair)

I waited to do this post because I wanted to see how Bret's photos turned out and post some of them here! Also, work got in the way...

Two Mondays ago I had the immense pleasure of attending CBN's Lara Miller event and it was so much fun! Lara is a local, Chicago designer who opened her doors and her collection to the members of the Chicago Blogger Network: We were encouraged to bring our own clothes and accessories to mix with pieces from Lara's Fall 2012 clothing collection, and we were turned loose.

On-site hair and makeup was made available to the bloggers thanks to Anthony Balthazar and Laura Pederson, and I have to say that was such a treat! I was buzzed on the excitement of event (or maybe I was caught in a cloud of hairspray) so when I sat down to have my hair done I threw caution to the wind: I gave full rein of my hair to David Garcia from Mario Tricoci:

"So, what do you want to do with your hair today?"

"Whatever you want. I'm leaving it up to you. Whatever you feel like, I'm not picky. Have fun."

David pinning up my hair.
Aside from prom I've never had my hair done up in a professionally styled 'do before, so I thought "why not?" There were no mirrors around me, so I had no idea what it would look like until it was finished when I could get up and find a mirror.

What a crazy, fabulous look! My roommate called it a modern Victorian pompadour. It was wild and crazy, and I never would have done it on my own, so I'm really glad I had someone so talented to create it for me. Thanks David!

Next I had Melanie do my makeup, and we agreed on a dramatic cat eye and brows, but not much else since the hair was so amazing.

Photo courtesy of Piper Alexander

I picked this super snuggly, voluminous cardigan with slouchy sleeves. Like all her pieces, it was made and sourced locally, out of a soft bamboo knit. I paired it with a long black T, basic black leggings, boots and belted it. A few of my favorite layered necklaces completed the look. Then it was time for some fun photos!
Photo courtesy of Piper Alexander

Having fun with Haley! She's so nice. Photo courtesy of Piper Alexander

(This isn't David, but one of the other wonderful hair stylists there) Teasing up a few more pieces before photos. Picture courtesy of Piper Alexander

This is me trying to look "tough." I think I'll stick to my day job, but I had so much fun doing these photos! It's fun to feel glamourous every once in a while. :) Photos courtesy of Bret

Changing up the accessories. This necklaces were also knit, and part of Lara's new collection! Photo courtesy of Bret.

Having fun posing with Haley! She also had some awesome big hair! Photos courtesy of Bret.

I tried on this sweater at the last minute. The color is positively luscious! Photo courtesy of Bret.

Hair: David Garcia of Mario Tricoci
Makeup: Melanie, of M for Makeup
Metal necklaces: my own
Knit necklaces (both green and purple & red): Lara Miller
Sweaters (both): Lara Miller
Black shirt: Gap
Leggings: Target
Boots: Sudini

It was a fabulous eco-bamboo-knit-bonanza! Thanks so much to everyone who made this event so much fun!

Lara Miller * Chicago Blogger Network * Bret Graphton * Anthony Balthazar * Laura Pederson * Homage Street Food * Molly's Cupcakes * Kinds Bars * Pop Chips * Smart Water * Finch Beer