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What to wear with a duster cardigan

We have now come to that time of year I like to call "elastic waistband time." I got a head start with my vacation a few weeks ago (a week of sitting around on the beach, drinking mai-tais, and eating everything within reach), then stepped up the gluttony last week with a work Thanksgiving celebration, a work off-site, and a dear friend's birthday dinner. This week, I have a road trip to L.A., two Thanskgivings, and part 2 of my boyfriend's birthday celebration. The struggle is real. Now, I'm all for body positivity and acceptance and all of that. You should love yourself, just as you are. But sometimes it's hard to feel good when you feel like a beached whale.  So this week's post is dedicated to an outfit that discretely camouflages holiday weight gain—think of it as FaceTune for your body.

First, you need a full-length duster cardigan. Not only is it a great layering piece for cooler weather, but it's basically like wearing a bathrobe. Most importantly, the length creates a longer line for your body—an optical illusion of sorts. It also skims the hips, bum, and thighs, which is a plus if your poundage tends to gather there. You'll want to look for a lighter-weight knit—a chunky one will just exacerbate the problem.

Next, you'll need a top with a strong vertical line. I think button-down shirts are always a good choice—they're classic and adjustable, and pretty much flattering any way you wear them. This is the shirt I bought on my last Madewell shopping trip (see, I promised I'd feature it in an outfit post!), and a lighter color is key here, because it helps draw the eye up (i.e. look at my face, not at my gut).

Also from Madewell: these high-rise skinny jeans, which sound like something you don't want to wear when you're carrying a little extra poundage, but trust me, these jeans are amazing. The higher rise helps hold you in, and they have magic pockets with extra hidden stretchiness. I know a bunch of women with totally different body types and they look amazing on all of them.

When it comes to shoes, now is not the time to go crazy. Pairing black ankle boots with black ankle-length jeans keeps the elongating effect going. I've had these Acne Pistol boots for ages—and it shows, I know—but they are pretty much perfect in every way. The toe is not too round, the heel is not too high, and you can wear them with so much. They are well worth the investment (I've had these resoled twice), and you can expect to see them a lot more around here.

Have you ever noticed when the stars of your favorite TV shows are pregnant, they tend to hide behind big handbags? Same thing here...except I'm just pregnant with a food baby. And thus this tote (last seen here) is practical on many levels.

Of course, the most important accessory during elastic waistband time is a glass of good wine. I know, that seems contradictory, but a glass of red wine has antioxidants, calms the nerves, and is a mere 80 calories. You've earned it, so enjoy it. And if I may make a recommendation, I suggest ordering the merlot, zinfandel, or sauvignon blanc from Frog's Leap in Napa—it's where these photos were taken, and it's one of my absolute favorite places, especially for Sunday Wine Church. Amen.

OUTFIT DETAILS: Zara duster cardigan (similar here or here) || Madewell chambray Ex-Boyfriend shirt || Madewell high-rise skinny jeans || Acne Pistol boots || Vanessa Bruno tote || Stella & Dot leopard scarf (similar here) || YHF Los Angeles Cashton sunglasses

Holiday 2017 gift guide: gifts for guys

Because Black Friday is coming (!!!), here's a special Monday installment of my holiday 2017 gift guide. Next up, gifts for the men in our lives: brothers, fathers, boyfriends, sons, friends, cousins...some gadgets, some knickknacks, and some clothes and accessories. So let's cross some more people off your list.

1. This cooler is half the price of those big, brightly colored plastic ones, and while it might not keep things as cold, it does hold 36 cans of beer, comes with a rust-proof bottle opener, and is much lighter—and thus perfect for camping.
Barebones living explorer cooler $100

2. This book won the Pulitzer, a National Book Award, and countless others, and was endorsed by Oprah, and even though it takes place during the civil war, its themes are just as topical now.
The Underground Railroad $16.39

3. Have you traveled with a man recently? Have you also been amazed by the number of cords he carries with him? This handy contraption will keep his various USBs, chargers, and connectors organized.
Travel cord roll $20

4. This doormat just makes me laugh. It's the perfect combination of adulting and adolescent, and great for the guy who's not quite grown up.
Reed Wilson SUP doormat $50 (back in stock 12/1)

5. A better way to share YouTube videos and the like, this handy device turns his phone into a projector, so you don't have to hover over his shoulder to see the latest sleeping otters clip. 

6. There are so many streetwear labels, I can't keep up with them, but Barneys has an exclusive collaboration with Stone Island, and their stuff looks pretty cool to me—this digital-print sweatshirt could work for guys with lots of different styles. 
Stone Island digital camouflage sweatshirt $260

7. Similar to the doormat above, this dinosaur succulent planter made me laugh. You could give it to a preteen or a grandpa (or any age in between), and they'd all get a kick of it.
T-Rex planter $34

8. Everlane is kind of like this generation's Gap—it has well-made, well-priced basics that everyone loves, and thus it's a great go-to for gifts. Their cashmere is really good quality for the price, and the range of colors means you should be able to find just the right one.
Everlane cashmere scarf $88

9. Pretty much every man who works in tech in San Francisco (and especially Silicon Valley) has these shoes. They are reportedly breathable, quite comfortable, and surprisingly cool-looking, especially for an industry that tends to downplay style. This time, the popular vote wins.
Allbirds wool runners $95

Coming later this week, gifts for the ladies in your life—stay tuned!

Holiday 2017 gift guide: gifts for kids

Seriously, how is it almost Thanksgiving? And because I don't want to be the only blogger out there who's not doing a gift guide (kidding—I actually love doing these!), here's the first installment in this year's holiday 2017 gift guide. I always start with kids, because they're the most fun to shop for (and the most fun to watch open presents). Here are my picks for kids of all ages.

1. This elephant flaps its ears and plays music, which will probably make parents want to kill themselves, but should delight babies.
Baby Gund Flappy the Elephant $40

2. Kids of all ages are obsessed—obsessed—with Minions, which makes this pretty much the coolest suitcase in existence (even for grown-up kids like, ahem, me).
Away Minions carry-on $225

3. With LED lights, this garbage truck takes something kids are already obsessed with and steps it up to a future-Burning-Man-participant level.
Laser pegs garbage truck $45

4. The only thing that may be cooler than Minions is unicorns, and with customizable options, this one is likely to make you seem like the superhero.
Magical superhero unicorn cape $29.99

5. I love reading Amazon reviews, and the ones for this product do not disappoint—people are legit amazed by how much fun kids have with this set. It's never to early to put them to work, I say.
Melissa & Doug Let's Play House set $23.24

6. Think of this as the junior version of the pink pussy hat. And, note, it's not just for girls.
Oeuf feminist crown $48

7. My friend's daughter has a personalized book like this and she pretty much thinks it's the best thing since…well…Minions.
Goodnight Little Me personalized book $34.95

8. This present is so cool, I kind of want one for myself—again, another gift for kids of all ages.
Design-your-own street art headphones $30

9. I can envision everything from grade-school goofiness to teen angst expressed on one of these light-up signs. Plus, it's just so Instagrammable!
My cinema lightbox $30

Stay tuned for my next rounds of gift guides, coming next week—just in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday!

What to wear with a little white dress

Proving that I've never been one to follow trends, here I am posting about what I wore on vacation while everyone else is bundling up in sweaters, boots, and coats. But hopefully some of you have a winter getaway coming up, and thus this post will come in handy! I just spent a week in Hawaii—four days in Maui, four in Kauai—and it was pure bliss. I'd never been there before and was blown away by how exotic and magical it was—especially Kauai, which felt like a cross between Jurassic Park and South Pacific (both of which were filmed there). For one, there are the sunsets.

Gathering to watch the sunset was a nightly occurrence at our hotel, and a fun one at that, especially with a mai tai or glass of wine from the bar. Another vacation ritual I enjoy is wearing a dress every night to dinner—after being in a bikini and flip-flops all day, it just feels nice to get dressed up and go out.

A little white dress is the little black dress's warm-weather cousin, and this off-the-shoulder style is pretty much universally flattering. I love the straight shape of this one too—it camouflages the four pounds I gained on vacation (yes, those mai tais add up)—AND it has pockets!

As you may have noticed, my hair is curly in these photos. That is indeed its natural state; when I'm somewhere tropical and humid, fighting the curl is a losing battle. Thankfully the beachy waves work with my vacation vibe. 

I also love to wear gold jewelry on vacation, especially once I have a good tan going. I like to keep it delicate, though—when I'm in warm weather, I don't want to overwhelm myself with big, clunky jewelry. I also tend to get really lazy and not take off my necklaces while I'm at the beach (hey, that makes it even easier to get dressed for dinner!).

Not counting my flip-flops, I brought five pairs of shoes on this trip and ended up wearing two of them—one being these slip-ons that I featured in this post. Of course, sometimes I barely even wore them, like when my photographer had me frolic on the beach for these shots (it was worth it, of course—the lighting was way better). I mean...

OUTFIT DETAILS: Banana Republic dress (similar here on sale) || Quay Australia Odin sunglasses || Stella & Dot abundance necklace and engravable disc necklace || Catbird ring, X ring, tiny CZ ring || Chan Luu beaded bracelet, Stella & Dot open cuff and rectangle cuff || Stella & Dot hammered wire hoops || Sam & Libby slides (similar here on sale)

How to shop my looks

Hello, readers! I'm on vacation in Hawaii (!!!) this week, so unfortunately, there's no fresh outfit post. But, I just wanted to draw you attention to a special feature of my website that you may not have noticed (especially those who subscribe via email). Along the top nav, there's a link called SHOP. It looks like this:

And when you're there, you can shop all of my outfits directly! The landing page looks like this:

To shop a look, click on the image. Then it looks like this:

I note when I'm linking to the exact items I'm wearing—these are labeled with "exact item"—and everything else is a close approximation (usually because what I'm wearing is no longer available online). All you have to do is click on the item you want, and you'll go directly to it. As with most of my posts, this page contains affiliate links, meaning I may receive payment if you click through and/or make a purchase—this allows me to continue bringing you inspiring, helpful content, so thank you for your support!

I'll be back next week with brand-new posts, but in the meantime, please follow my adventures on Instagram if you don't already!

The mask that saved my hair

Have you ever noticed how children have the most perfect blonde hair, with shiny, natural highlights placed just so? I used to have that hair…and then I went through adolescence. It got darker and darker and darker until I started highlighting it in my late teens. And that's where my troubles began.

See, I'm a natural blonde! And I'd already started stealing my mom's jewelry...

My hair is very fine, and I don't have a lot of it, and when you lighten hair of any kind, it weakens it. Add blow-drying and the occasional curling iron to the mix, and you start to get frizz, breakage, and even thinning. In the name of restoring its health, my old colorist in New York convinced me to go back to my "natural" color, and the entire year I spent as brunette, I thought I was depressed because I was turning 30, but as soon as I went back to blonde, the cloud lifted. I'd rather have damaged hair than depression, but I'd also prefer not to be bald. My current stylist in San Francisco has come up with a method that's as gentle as possible, but I decided I needed to do my part, so I've tried every type of color-treated mask, conditioner, and deep treatment out there. And lo and behold, the last time I got my hair colored, my stylist said, "Your hair feels amazing!"

I bought the Christophe Robin Regenerating Mask with Rare Prickly Pear Seed Oil on a whim at Space NK (okay, actually I'd had a glass of champagne at their anniversary party and lost all self-control) after a ringing endorsement from a salesperson with incredibly healthy-looking baylage-d hair. What really sold me on this mask is that you only need to leave it on for 3 minutes, because I don't know about you, but I don't have time to hang out in my shower for 30 minutes with a mask on my wet head. Even better, it manages to moisturize my fine hair without weighing it down, and appears to be repairing it over time. My hair is frizzing less, breaking rarely, and in less need of frequent trims, so maybe I can finally—finally—grow it out. One thing: it's $71, which is a little nuts, however after using the mask twice a week for three months, I've barely used a quarter of the jar. A little goes a long way, and to me, it's worth every cent! 

What to wear with a drapey tunic

The wildfires are finally out in Napa and Sonoma, and so we decided to make a long-overdue trip up north for Sunday Wine Church, which is basically what I call going to wine country on a Sunday. There were a few blips—we were both hung over, we got a bit of a late start, and I had originally intended to wear a skirt, but all of a sudden it's fall in the Bay Area (and I am not complaining about that!), and so a last-minute improvisation was made.

Whenever I wear this top, I get a gazillion compliments. It's really soft and cozy, and it's pretty much the perfect thing to wear with skinny jeans or leggings. It's long enough to provide appropriate bum coverage, but the asymmetrical cut keeps things interesting. You can also wear it off the shoulder, or  higher up with a little bra-strap peekage. Layering it can be a little challenging—I want to try it next with a maxi-length cardigan—but overall, it's a great (and reasonable) three-season top.

Yes, I am wearing white jeans after Labor Day! And yes, that is an antiquated rule that you should ignore! (It's also something the department stores made up a long time ago to get people shopping in the fall, before the weather was really cool enough.) These are pretty stretchy, so they're ideal for wearing under a billowy top like this.

I love this jacket—I saw a girl wearing it on Polk Street in SF and chased her down to find out where she got it—but in retrospect, it's maybe a little too much for this outfit. See, even fashion bloggers make faux pas. Either way, it's one of my favorites, so expect to see it a bit more here.

I've had these boots forever, and thankfully Rag & Bone is still making them. They are really comfy, and the front has a little notch, which makes them more elongating for your legs, especially if you wear them with tights. I also find the shaft height easier to wear with pants—you don't get the ankle bunchiness that sometimes happens with higher boots.

This crossbody converts to a clutch, and I got it in my Zoe Report Box of Style (here's my post about why it's the only box subscription you need). Strangely, it's one of the few crossbody bags I own that doesn't hurt my back; a few weeks ago I took it to a wedding, so it's super versatile too. Speaking of the RZ Box, the sunglasses I'm wearing in all these photos are from last summer's box, and they're still one of my favorite pairs to this day.

When I go wine tasting, I always like to start the day with bubbles, and most of these photos were taken at Korbel Cellars, which is one of the oldest wineries in Sonoma. They do tours and tastings, but they also have a little café where you can order (very reasonable) wine by the glass and sit outside on the patio. We ended the day with friends at Hamel Family Wines, also in Sonoma, which is a newer—and totally gorgeous—spot. After the events of the last month, Sonoma definitely needs as much tourism love as it can get, so please visit as soon as you can!

OUTFIT DETAILS: Free People Grapevine Tunic (also in blush) || Free People military jacket || Rag & Bone frayed white jeans || Gigi New York python bag || Rag & Bone Harrow boots || Ombré scarf from street vendor in Italy (similar here) || YHF Los Angeles Cashton sunglasses 

Why you should be shopping at COS

COS is hands-down one of my favorite places to shop and I've featured their items in my last two outfit posts (the T-shirt dress and yellow top), so I thought now might be a good time to talk about why their clothes are so great for fortysomething women. But first, another look at my favorite T-shirt dress...

Once upon a time, COS only had stores in Europe. A mere months after I left NYC, they opened their first US store in Soho; they've since added stores in Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Washington, D.C., and a bunch of other cities, so if anyone from COS is reading this, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE open a store in San Francisco too! Fun fact: COS is owned by H&M, and it's where Rebekka Bay—who went on to work for Gap, Everlane, and now Uniqlo—made her name. Like H&M, COS's clothes and accessories are really reasonable; they are, however, pricier than H&M, but also use nicer fabrics and have more complicated details. Most importantly, they're geared toward a slightly older customer, so the cuts are a bit more generous, the fabrics thicker, and the finishes higher in quality. In other words, H&M is cheap and trendy; COS targets a more high-fashion customer, albeit one who is still on a budget.

My favorite thing at COS are the dresses, and I thought this draped jersey dress was incredibly flattering—and would be on a lot of different bodies—especially with its adjustable drawstring thing inside. It's also $99, which seems like a good deal to me. The color was a bit too orange on me, but if they make it in another color, I'm on it.

When I tried this dress on last month in L.A., I realized I tried the same one on in Dublin back in April; I think it's sold out on the website now, but this one is very similar. COS is great at making straight-cut shapes, which, as a short-waisted person, I appreciate. This one had a lot of volume in the back, which is an interesting design technique COS often uses.

In spite of the confused look on my face, I actually loved this ribbed sweater (the description says cable knit, but that's not quite accurate). The cut was really slim and sleek in spite of the thickness of the knit; I didn't buy it, but should have, and probably will next time. Also, another good point about COS is that I'm rarely between sizes—I'm wearing a small in the above photo and it fit perfectly.

This is an A-line wrap skirt that did not look quite A-line on me (it seemed more straight) but was still flattering nonetheless, and I thought the midi-maxi length was great too. Thankfully, I took this picture before I ate brunch.

This top is silk jersey—silk!—with a woven back, and it's still only $79! As I mentioned in Tuesday's post, I wouldn't normally wear this color (and COS definitely uses a lot of potentially polarizing ones), but I'm glad I took a chance, because it ended up being pretty flattering. I almost got this one but then...

I tried on this shirt-hem top and at $49, how could I say no? The upper part is knit and the lower part is woven, which gives it an interesting shape, and I truly have nothing like this in my closet. I've worn it a few times already and got a bunch of compliments, which I always love. And in case you missed it, here's how I styled it last weekend...

Look for more COS pieces in upcoming posts, and if you end up buying anything there, let me know in the comments below!

What to wear with bright yellow

I am a firm believer in trying new things. It doesn't have to be crazy—I will probably never jump out of a plane, for example—but how are you going to discover places, experiences, or items you unexpectedly love if you don't try?  Case in point: I was shopping at COS a few weeks ago and kept coming back to this bright yellow top. As a fair-skinned blonde, it's not a color that conventional wisdom would say looks good on me, but something just attracted me to it. The salesgirl, a random other woman in the fitting room, and my boyfriend all convinced me to buy it, so I did, and I've already received so many compliments on it. What can I say? Flattery will get you everywhere.

A blazer and jeans go together like a burger and cheese—it's a classic, crowd-pleasing combination that's nearly impossible to get wrong. The special sauce, however, is what you wear with them, and tops are probably the place where I get the most experimental. This top is much looser and flowy than what I'd usually wear under a blazer, but I like how the blazer makes it appear more streamlined. By the way, if you haven't already invested in a classic black boyfriend blazer, you should. It's worth every cent.

With this pair of jeans, Frame has slowly won me over as my denim brand of choice. They have a slightly higher rise than what I'm used to, and they're super stretchy yet substantial, so I feel very held in but comfy. The hem is longer in back, too, which creates a flattering line and lets you show off your shoes.

Speaking of shoes, these shoes are kind of crazy, I know. Sometimes they're just too much look. I think they work best with jeans, but sometimes I wear them with an LBD. They are, believe it or not, actually pretty comfortable, which is good, because they're quite an investment.

If my top is the special sauce in my hamburger outfit (I know, I'm dragging out this metaphor, but bear with me), my accessories are the fun toppings, like sautéed mushrooms or avocado. Sometimes they're too much and you have to take them out, but other times they kind of blow your mind. You wouldn't think cheetah and bright yellow would go together...and yet they do. By the way, this bag is real haircalf and is only $45. Yes, you need it. It's the avocado in your outfit.

OUTFIT DETAILS: Theyskens' Theory blazer (similar here) || COS top || Frame Le High Straight jeans || Valentino Rockstud pumps || BP leopard pouch || Karen Walker sunglasses || Stella & Dot Marcell necklace || Catbird mignon ring, X ring, signet ring || Hermès Clic H bracelet, Rachel Zoe tassel bracelet (similar here)

How to make a barrel-aged Negroni

My love of wine is well documented, but I also love cocktails, and in my opinion, the best cocktail on the planet is the Negroni. I love Negronis so much that when I was in Florence, Italy a few years ago, I insisted on making a pilgrimage to their birthplace, Caffè Giacosa. Here is a picture of me literally in heaven.

A Negroni is equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, and like many spirit-heavy cocktails, it tastes even better if it's been aged in an oak barrel. Basically, this allows the ingredients to mellow out and absorb a bit of smokiness from the wood, resulting in an incredibly smooth, delicious cocktail—and since you'll decant it from the barrel, you'll have a carafe of pre-mixed Negronis ready to drink at any time! Here's how to do it. 

Step 1: prep your barrel
I have a two-liter barrel from Tuthilltown Spirits (it was one of my favorite Christmas presents ever, after the Barbie townhouse). Yours will likely come with some sort of preparation instructions—I had to fill mine with hot water and let it sit for a day or two to cure the wood so it's airtight. You don't want to lose any of that precious Negroni to leakage! This may make a bit of a mess (mine leaked at first while it was curing), but the good news is you only have to do it once.

Step 2: funnel your ingredients
You want a 1:1:1 ratio of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, so figure out how much that is, then pour everything into your barrel through a funnel (again, you don't want to lose any precious ingredients). One thing to note: alcohol naturally evaporates about 2% during this barrel-aging process. It's called the angel's share, and it's the small price you pay for the tastiness that's about to come.

Step 3: wait...and taste
Depending on the size of your barrel, you'll want to age your Negroni for at least 4 weeks (which is what I do). My instructions recommend giving the barrel a quarter turn once a week, which is also a good time to check in on your progress with a little taste test. You'll notice week over week that the color gets lighter—from a deep red to more of a rusty orange—and the flavor gets smoother and richer. Then, when you can't wait any longer...

Step 4: decant your barrel
I've noticed several bars pouring Negronis straight from the barrel, which may work if you're going through them at high volume, but I advise decanting yours into a glass pitcher, so that your Negroni doesn't become too smooth and smoky. Also, that way you can start aging your next batch! I advise pouring through a fine mesh sieve or a coffee filter to trap any wood particles that may have loosened. No one wants a Negroni garnished with a splinter.

Step 5: enjoy! 
The best part is that I can walk in the door from work and have a delicious cocktail in my hand in under 30 seconds, because some days you need that. It's also great for nights when you just want one drink but don't want to open an entire bottle of wine. And, did I mention how delicious they are? Cheers to that!