Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tips on Traveling Style

This bag was actually a pain to travel with. Go for a more malleable bag with a shoulder strap for comfort and ease.
[Tara Subkoff for Bebe blouse, Louis Vuitton handbag, American Apparel tights, Aldo wedge heels]

I've read a bunch of articles on traveling in style and I'm sure you all have too, so I'll keep this one an easy read.  Traveling in style requires walking a fine line between comfortable and fashionable.  Here are some tips to ensure your easygoing, head-turning traveling experience.

-Always wear makeup, even if you have an early flight.  Just because you might not run into anyone you know on your traveling excursion doesn't mean that is reason enough to slack off on your appearance.  You never know who you are going to run into or meet randomly, and you want to put your best face forward when you are going to be exposed to hundreds of travelers.

-Never wear sunglasses going through security or customs. It makes you an instant red-flag, and you will get searched every time.

-Wear shoes that are either a.) easy to slip off or b.) cover your feet and require you to wear socks.  You should choose which one is more important to you: going through the security checkpoint with ease (slipping your shoes off easily and quickly - i.e. flip flops) or protecting your feet from the dirty and disgusting carpeting that thousands of other people walk on every month - i.e. boots.  I personally am not completely grossed out by taking my shoes off and walking for a couple of feet, so I tend to go for the easy-off wedge heel for speed (glamorous me still prefers a comfortable 4-inch wedge, lol).  However, there is something to be said for wearing shoes that cover your entire foot on the plane, because I tend to get very cold on board.  I waver between the two depending on my mood.  Men- covered shoe with socks only please.  And I'd say no Uggs.  Save those for running errands on a rainy day.

-Again with my favorite: bring and wear a scarf!!  A scarf will be very helpful because you can take it on or off depending on which of many microclimates you have encountered (and you will), and you can also use it as a blanket on board so you don't have to use that nasty old felt thing provided by the airline.

-Don't forget to spritz on your perfume/cologne...it will provide a nice little fresh microhaven amongst the heards of smelly people you will encounter, and a pleasant surprise for your seat-mate on board.  It's the little things.

-Wear comfortable bottoms.  You are going to be cramped into that little seat for who knows how long; you want to be wearing pants, jeans or leggings that are going to give you adequate coverage from the seats of a million butts, but something that's not going to cut into you uncomfortably the entire flight either. My favorite are my lululemon wunder under leggings.  They are stretchy, warm and make my butt look fab.  However, the main goal is to keep your legs and butt covered up and not exposed to random disgusting public surfaces.

-Always bring a jacket.  You can always take it off if you're hot, but it's better to be prepared.

-Be generous with drinking a ton of water.  It combats the dry, pasty complexion you get as a result of persisting in that dry, recycled air.  I get goosebumps just imagining it. (shudder)   Also, be generous with the facial lotion that night after the flight, and a nice steam doesn't hurt either to set things straight.

-Consider not checking any bags, and if you absolutely must only check one piece of luggage.  Checking a bag forces you to a.) get to the airport at least an hour and a half before your flight b.) stand in line at the counter to give your bag over to them and c.) retrieve your bag from baggage claim after the flight.  This process adds about an additional 2 hours to your traveling agenda.  Only check if you really need to, and other than your main piece of luggage, keep it limited to one on-board personal item (including shopping bags of knick knacks, magazines, candy ect that you purchase at the airport - it should all fit your two bags...believe me it will make your life easier).  Also, keep in mind that each bag costs about $25 nowadays, unless you're flying Southwest.

- Check in at home.  This way, you can arrive at the airport an hour before your flight and whisk right through security on your own, without ever having to deal with that s l o w airline counter (seeing that you're referring to the previous post above).  Also, I always store the flight conformation number as an event in my smartphone's calendar so that I have easy access to all my reservation information, both going and returning, preventing me from searching my archived messages for the original flight conformation email.

-Last but not least: traveling in your pajamas with a pillow in-tow is the number one traveling crime that a woman can commit.  Never ever, ladies...no matter your age.  Terrible on multiple levels.

Happy travels!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Online Shopping Bible


Ladies and gentlemen! Don't fear the world of online shopping.  It can be used as a powerful tool in your attempts to achieve the most rockin' wardrobe.  I feel like a lot of people avoid online shopping thinking that they won't ever be able to find anything that fits them, but if you follow my advice below, I guarantee you it will improve your online shopping experience and end in success.  I get a large percentage of my pieces online, as I browse online at various things I'd like to purchase (or dream about purchasing) daily. Sadly, it's become a part of my everyday routine (lol).  Wake up, shower, dress, coffee, check email and Facebook, online shop/browse.

I have some useful tips for those who view online shopping as daunting, because you are missing out on what these websites have to offer especially if you live in San Francisco because unfortunately, we all know that SF's in-person shopping selection is not what we'd describe as a fashion-savvy person's dream.  Online shopping is an SF girl's (or guy's) way of getting what is only available in Europe, New York, Vegas or L.A.

Be familiar with your measurements. Every brand runs their sizing differently.  A size 2 in some brands is equivalent to a medium-large in others, and an xs can be considered equivalent to a size 6 as well.  So, being familiar with your sizing really helps, as most online shopping websites have information on whether that particular brand runs small, large or true to size.  Also, many sites offer "customer reviews", and I find these to be very helpful in determining the fit and quality of the product in real-life.  I usually read a bunch, and then take what is repeatedly being said in numerous reviews as accurate.  It also helps to be familiar with a particular brand themselves.  For example, if you happen run across a brand you know you like in person, try a few of their items on just for sizing (even if you aren't interested in buying them).  That way, you'll be familiar with how their clothes, shoes ect. fit you when you are deciding whether to pull the trigger on a piece you've found online.

Be selective about who you order from.  There are so many options when it comes to online shopping nowadays that there is no reason to settle for a website that charges a ton of money for shipping, seems a bit shady or has a bad return policy.  If you find a piece that you like on a particular website, google search the exact item name of that product.  That way, you can find out if it is being sold on any other websites for cheaper or with a better return policy.  This has happened to me a few times, and I've actually saved money doing this as well.  Another good reason to shop around between websites is that you get a chance to view the item photographed in a variety of different settings/lightings.  This is helpful because often an item ends up being a different color than what was portrayed in the picture, and you can view it on different models as well which will give you a better idea of the true fit.  A great website for this specific purpose is shopstyle.com - they will actually find all the different websites a product is offered on and will list the item pictures with prices as well (in a well-layed out, comprehensive arrangement).  They are also helpful because they will provide a variety of products if you only have an idea of what you're looking for, for example "purple miniskirt" - and will scour the internet's most popular sites for a list of items that match that description.  Lastly, it is often convenient to order things from websites that have stores in your area, that way you can return it in person without having to deal with shipping.

Here is a list of a few of my favorite go-to shopping websites.

Zappos.com - Amazing customer service which includes free shipping both ways and a very flexible return policy, and a large selection of items as well.

Forever 21.com - I can return anything that doesn't work out to their store and receive store credit, as I know I will be purchasing from them again, so for me it is basically the same as cash.  Also, there are items on the website that are not available in-store.

Shopbop.com - They have an amazing (probably the largest I've seen) selection of fine couture as well as young independent designers, and their shipping policy has improved as of late and is now free within the United States.  Also, they do not charge tax.

Revolveclothing.com & Tobi.com - Two more similar-to-shopbop-type websites with large selections of items that you can't find in person. (Mens clothing as well)

Drugstore.com - Lots of hard to find cosmetics (such as my worth-its-weight-in-gold Stila Hair Refresher), and they offer free shipping as well.

Overstock.com - I highly recommended searching for ANY home product you are looking for before going to Bed Bath and Beyond or any other home store, as they have a great selection of reduced priced items, and their shipping is fast and only costs $2.95.

Net-a-porter.com - Phenomenal selection of clothing, bags and accessories.

Asos.com - Great selection of reasonably priced well-designed clothing and accessories that you won't find in the US. They are based out of the UK, so their packages can take a bit longer to get to you, but that is made up for in their stellar stock and selection. (Mens clothing as well)

All the big store name websites - Nordstrom, Neimans, Saks, Barneys

Happy hunting!  And also, one last tip for those who online shop frequently: you might want to think about getting a mailbox at a ups store type of place.  Packages often come when I'm not home, or can be left at my doorstep even if I haven't signed for them, so this can be very useful if you are an avid online shopper.  Mailboxes usually cost about $200 a year.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ask Viva

Lately I've been asked a few questions by some of my readers (so flattered and surprised anyone actually cares to ask lol!).  I thought I'd shed some light on these little tidbits.

What do you consider to be a substantial fashion don't?

I guess I'd have to say that what I consider to be the biggest fashion don't in my book would be dressing in a way that doesn't reflect your personal style and personality.  Usually, with that will bring a whole slew of fashion don'ts along with it.  I remember I just had to have this one gorgeous deep purple Jill Stuart handbag that I fell in love with on Shopbop.com a couple years back.  It looked so gorgeous in the photo, and that thing cost a fortune.  And its lovely, however...it sadly sits in my closet, unused season after season.  It just does not fit my personal style, and buying it was a mistake.  Hopefully I'll put it to use later in life...but it definitely fits into this category.

You can be rocking the most fashion-forward, luxury couture pieces, but if they do not fit you well, it is going to come through in your look and will appear awkward.  It's the whole becoming enchanted with certain pieces in the store thing that I mentioned in one of my blogs before.  You can drop a load of cash on an amazing piece, but when you bring it home and it doesn't compliment anything else in your wardrobe, I'm sorry to say that it's just not for you.  I know you don't want to, but if you can't envision at least 5 different outfits you'd pair it with, you should take it back.  So, to summarize...just be true to yourself.  

How would you describe your personal style?

I have a wide variety of looks I like to achieve on different occasions.  I should actually probably scale it down more, to be honest...and stick to one arena of style.  There are days that I like to go for the rustic city chic look, with leathers, feathers and scarves...but I am also a big glamour girl as well.  I usually am wearing a lot of eye makeup that gives a dramatic effect with whatever I wear, however...so I guess my personal style would best be described as glamorous. Any look I put together is going to have at least one element of intensity or surprise in there. For example, I like to spice up an otherwise toned-down look with big glamorous sunnies or my foxtail that I connect to my purse.  It brings an edge.

What are your favorite trends for this season?

I'm digging the lace trend.  I was just gifted some amazing Nicholas Kirkwood black leather and lace booties that I adore.  I like how when worn right, lace adds just the right amount of luxury to an outfit, but can be dressed up glamorously or dressed down for daytime too.  If you're going to wear it in the daytime, make sure your lace is limited to only accentuating parts of your look and not having it be the centerpiece.  Also, as with every winter, I am loving jewel tones again.  Especially when paired with velvet and satin.  I just wore a lovely amethyst colored satin dress to one of my best friend's weddings, and the deep purple color and shiny satin finish came out beautifully in the pictures. Perfect for the holidays.  I'm envisioning a deep sea blue satin dress with black lace boudoir accents for this winter...a great combination of some of the ongoing trends.   I will find one!

What do you consider to be splurge worthy?  Not worth a splurge?

Anything you would consider a staple for you is spurge worthy.  A staple piece is one that you will use/wear regularly.  Something that will inspire you to design outfits around. 

Also, an amazing dress is splurgeworthy, but only every once and a while.  The thing about dresses is, you're only going to wear the dress 3, maybe 5 times - top.  Most of them only once or twice.  So, it's hard to spend upwards of $300 on a one-time deal.  I think its ok for a special occasion every once and a while, however.

I think a good rule of thumb for splurgeworthy items is: if it's made impeccably, and you feel that it fits and represents what you want your style to be, then go for it.

What I personally don't think is splurgeworthy is ANOTHER  lbd or pair of black heels.  BO-ring.  Yea, we all need them...but these are items that can be achieved for much less than a ton of cash.  Some (probably most) people would feel the exact opposite, but I feel like a girl should spurge on unique, remarkable items that are going to stand out, not what we've been told by our mothers and grandmothers to covet.  I'm not really even a fan of the lbd.  It has to be pretty phenomenal to make a lasting impression, and most of them aren't.  For me, at least.

Oh and lastly, another spurgeworthy item: a trip.  If you are presented with the opportunity to take a spontaneous trip somewhere, usually I say go for it.  My life has been dramatically changed (in a good way) by a few spur of the moment trips that I spontaneously decided to take, and they both propelled my life in great directions.  It's most likely not going to be something that you will regret, so go ahead and spurge on that luxurious hotel room and spa treatment.  The memories will be there to covet.

Who decides when a fashion risk 'works' and when it doesn't? Also, can you define a "fashion risk?"

Well, I guess my first instinctual answer to this would be: the top and most respected designers should be deciding when a fashion risk works. BUT, I have seen on many an occasion high end couture pieces designed by these same top designers being a disaster when actually worn off the runway and in a real-life setting.  I'd say its on a case by case basis.  Additionally, if 2 out of 3 of your most fashion-savvy friends say DON'T, then I'm gonna shake my finger disapprovingly of it most of the time, because they know you best.  

For defining "fashion risk", I'd say that it's an act one takes in fashion that most will say no to when only presented with the idea.  Most will still disagree with it even after they see it.  It's usually the "fashion risks" that appall me at first, and they then have this sneaky tendency to begin to grow on me, and before you know it, its a have-to-have look.  I think we should all be a bit more open minded when it comes to fashion, and take into consideration the context and personality behind he/she who is wearing the fashion risk and the nature of the event (time, place, ect) that they wore it to. Often times, those "fashion police" articles in the back pages of the tabloid magazines peg celebrities in these seemingly horrific outfits that were worn, however I've come to find that often, they are completely appropriate for the occasion or event the person was attending.  For example, one time I remember they showed a celebrity wearing a "ridiculous" french maid outfit, only to find out that it was a french-themed event and was actually very stylish for that specific party.  So, I'd say that timing, placing and appropriateness decides when fashion risks work, and not just people themselves.  It's a collaborative effort.

Feel free to send me any questions you'd like to ask Viva. 


This was a fashion risk...I think it worked. :-)
[Rare Opulence ballgown skirt, BCBG clutch, Free People bandeau]

Monday, October 11, 2010

Our Secret Weapon

One of our best weapons to our avail is our scent.  And men, I'm talking to you too.

It can be easy to get into the habit of not putting perfume on regularly, because hey, it's not like we need it and you forget the effects it has after you put it on when you get used to the scent and stop smelling it, so it doesn't seem that out of place to just not put it on in the first place.  BUT, I'd like you to stop and think about when someone else smells good.  It's always such a pleasurable experience, right?  I love it when a woman or man walks by and smells great...it's so refreshing and lets be honest: a turn on.  It draws you to them.

This, my dears, is why I suggest you put on cologne or perfume every single day.  Unless you're allergic...it's always better to have some on than not.

Traditionally, women were pretty faithful to one particular scent.  However nowadays, more women are buying numerous scents and wearing them to suit their every and any mood.  I personally have a collection of about 6 different scents, and I enjoy choosing from a variety to compliment my outfit, location or emotion.  However, if you find a perfume that does really well for you, its A-ok to stick to just that one.  Also, I always carry my perfume on me, so I can apply it numerous times throughout the day (if your purse is small get an atomizer).  Applying it once in the morning doesn't cut it. Keep in mind though, your perfume should never upstage you.

For the ladies: I really like to display my fragrances somewhere in my house in a location where they can be grouped together and where they look beautiful.  It will really inspire you to put them on and feel wonderfully feminine.  It's nice to get a mirrored tray that you can place them on as well...I have mine on my bathroom windowsill and on my vanity grouped together.

Men's cologne is a little bit tougher.  I feel that the majority of mens' cologne all smells the sameish. Pretty musky, masculine and typically Axe-like "mens cologne" type smell.  I prefer more off-beat scents on a man.  Alfred Dunhill Desire is a good example of a cologne for men that smells very different from what you would expect.  Also, the Tom Ford line is great for both women and men.  I am increasingly beginning to enjoy darker and more unisex scents on women, and sweeter, more spicy scents that may be a bit more feminine on men.  I like that it's unexpected.  However, you do not want to overdo it by going too far in either direction...not too cologne-y for women and not too sweet for men.

Some of my favorite scents include Lolita Lempicka (which I wore a lot in high school), Kai, Angel, YSL Paris, Miss Dior Cherie, a few of the Bonds, Marc Jacobs (gardenia), Jean Paul Gaultier (spice) and Calvin Klein's new scent Beauty.  I tend to gravitate towards more feminine/floral scents.  I am keeping the scents I currently wear under wraps, however. (Hee hee hee). For men, I really love Marc Jacobs, various Le Labo scents, various Tom Ford scents, Curve and John Varvatos as well.  There are SO many though...you can find a bunch that smell wonderful.

One last thing...I think it's safe to say that any of the body sprays from Victoria's Secret or Bath and Body works are a no.  Hey I liked them too growing up, but it's time to leave them in our days of underaged drinking and afterschool activities.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Forget the Shades of Grey

There's a saying out there that I can't agree with more: It's either black or white - I don't do shades of grey.  If you're going to dance around a line, be a man and cross it already.  It's one of my biggest pet peeves in people- dealing with flakey people "pussyfooting around" as my dad would say.

Dishonesty will not pay off in the long run.  Be true to yourself and stand behind the decisions you make - and don't hide when life blows up in your face after a bad decision, that's how we live and learn.  

Being a honest person does not mean you will have a boring life, in fact it becomes much more interesting that way.  If you're bold and brave enough to stand behind your riskiest or most controversial decisions or opinions, it will be worth the criticism you may receive as a result.  In addition, this will put you on the fast track to learning from life's lessons.  You are kidding yourself by dancing in the grey zones, and lying and hiding will only stunt your success.  Being real has the best rewards.

xo, Viva

(Getting ready to fend off the flak with my brass knuckles,  ;-) jk)
Alexander McQueen brass knuckles

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Living Well

 (Working on getting my second pair of workout shoes)
 Nike shoes, Longchamp tote, Forever 21 tank

What we eat influences our lives more than one might suspect.  We are currently in a food crisis in this country, with the lack of authentically healthy, cheap food readily available to the public and generally how misinformed American citizens are on what is considered healthy.  Anyone who hasn't already seen the movie Food Inc. should definitely watch it.  It will provide you with a better understanding of what you should and shouldn't be eating and how to accomplish that.  If you're living in the Midwest, let me tell you from experience, you definitely have your work cut out for you in terms of finding healthy, organic food.  But, it is extremely valuable and I urge you to make it a priority in your life. 

It's not such a crazy thought: if you eat crappy your whole life, you will look and feel crappy.  If you eat and treat yourself well, that will show in your mood, your appearance, your weight and your overall being.  It really is true, we are what we eat.  If our bodies aren't getting enough nutrition, it's only a matter of time before your body will deteriorate.  Not cute.

Make sure you are eating plenty of vegetables, fruit, raw food, healthy fats and proteins and take a food-based multivitamin.  It's mind blowing how many people regard this as "hodgepodge".  It's your one and only body and you get one chance - and when it fails on you, you will regret all those years you neglected it.  Give yourself the nutrition and respect you deserve.  Exercise regularly and don't ignore what your body is telling you.  Drink at least 70oz of water a day to ensure that your body is getting the right nutrients delivered to all your many parts. As a general rule, everything in moderation and balance is key.  You can still eat the bad things, just a minimal amount. (I'm a total sugar junkie)  Eat a variety of foods, and participate in a variety of different activities to keep your body moving.  My body has been giving out on me recently in a few different ways, and the steps I've made towards taking better care of it have really shown and been effective. I read some amazing advice the other day from my holistic chiropractor: "More water, less sugar. The end." 

Even if you can't accomplish everything that goes into a healthy lifestyle, try your best to do as much as possible.  I've still got a long way to go before I've got the perfect diet and exercise routine, but every little thing helps and will encourage you to do more. There is no secret to looking and feeling good.  Eat healthy, work out. The end.

xo, Viva