12 Days of Christmas Gifts, Days 8-12

Well, perhaps it was a bit too ambitious of me to attempt posting more in three weeks than I had in the last few months combined. So, consider this a dump of the last five days of Christmas posts. I have at 7 a.m. flight tomorrow morning--and if you still have shopping to do, you probably don't have time to listen to me wax rhapsodic about certain gifts anyway--so I'm going to keep this fairly brief. And focused on me.

Day 8: HD Buttercup is the ABC Home of San Francisco, and on one Saturday afternoon when I spent several hours in the store, I vowed to find somewhere to put this fuzzy stool (the store has one with a white base that would look even better in my apartment). I know just the place; it would make a loving nook for my iPhone, which currently sleeps, sadly, on the floor next to my bed.

Day 9: One of my favorite coworkers is totally a shopping enabler, hence why she's one of my favorites. She almost talked me into this Rebecca Taylor bouclé moto jacket, impractical for its color yet totally SF-friendly in its weight. I talked myself out of it...for now.

Day 10: I've been wanting to try Rodin Olio Lusso for ages; it has a huge cult following, and I'm forever in search of something that will give me that I'm-so-rich-I-slept-for-14-hours glowy skin. Not sure if it's the answer, but this lovely little gift set will at least let me do a test run (minus the 14 hours of sleep).

Day 11: I am pretty much obsessed with knuckle rings--I think my goal is to eventually have them on every finger (or at least three per hand). Williamsburg's own Catbird makes the best; here in SF, they sell them at Azalea on Hayes Street, but you can always go straight to the source.

Day 12: To me, there's no greater luxury than having one's hair blown out. If I may confess, the fact that there's a Drybar 4 blocks from my apartment may have had some bearing on the fact that I took it. I have yet to become a regular there, but now that I've received at least one gift certificate, I think this will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

12 Days of Christmas Gifts, Day Seven: Pamela Barsky Pouches

Sometimes you need to buy gifts in bulk or for a workplace grab bag or for someone who unexpectedly buys you a gift, so you need one for them at the ready. For all of those potentially awkward situations, I suggest Pamela Barsky's witty zippered pouches. They're on Etsy, they're under $20, and they're easy and fun. They're also quite practical--you can use them for makeup, pens, receipts, or whatever. For the glamourpuss, there's the mascara pouch; for the worrier, there's the important things bag; for the locavore, there's a not-made-in-China pouch; there's even a dude pouch for, well, dudes. Good news for New Yorkers who still have shopping to do: You can purchase these (and many other) designs at the Artists & Fleas pop-up shop at Chelsea Market now through the end of the year. And while you're at it, last-minute shoppers, here's a pouch for you.

12 Days of Christmas Gifts, Day 6: B&O Play BeoPlay H6 Headphones

Back in May, I went to a press event for the debut of Bang & Olufsen's new BeoPlay headphones from its lower-priced B&O Play line. I have no idea how I got invited to this event--everyone else there was a tech reporter and, like, serious--but I fell in love with the headphones and have been looking for an occasion to write about them ever since. And since Christmas is the season of giving (and receiving) things you'd never actually buy for yourself, enter the BeoPlay H6 headphones. I'm going to get this right out of the way: These headphones cost $400. They are not for people like me who have to dig their earbuds out of the bottom of their purse while holding on to the bus pole for dear life, eventually finding them coated with mystery fuzz and Altoids dust. But the H6 are incredibly luxurious, made of an ultra-lightweight aluminum frame coated with sheep leather. The ear pads feature memory foam inside, so they cradle your ears perfectly, lest any sound escape. I can attest that while wearing them, you can't hear people shouting two feet away from you, making them ideal for people who travel frequently, or at least ride the bus through the Tenderloin every morning like, um, I do. There are even more practical features: You can switch the cord to either side, so if you're a lefty, no awkward wrong-hand remote controlling required; if your friend also has a pair of H6s (ha!), you can plug them together and listen to the same iPod at the same time. Now, that's love.

12 Days of Christmas Gifts, Day Five: Corkcicle

Three months in San Francisco and I've become a total wine snob. Words like "varietal" and "estate" have crept into my vocabulary, and I'm actually considering investing in a wine fridge to keep my babies, er, my collection temperature controlled. Speaking of temperature, I've come to realize what an important role this plays in wine drinking; I've learned that lighter reds (like pinot noirs) are supposed to be served a tiny bit chilled (i.e. straight from the cellar) and that many wines, white or red, can go bad if they overheat. Lest you commit a faux pas while drinking with fellow connoisseurs, there's the Corkcicle. Keep this genius BPA-free device in your freezer, then pop it into the next bottle of wine you open--it lowers reds to the perfect drinking temperature and keeps whites chilled even in summer or at the longest dinner party ever (or during San Franciscans' favorite activity, picnicking). It's reusable, easily transportable, and a mere $25. Friends of mine who drink wine (which, um, is like all of you), you can pretty much expect to receive one of these from me this year. In vino veritas! 

12 Days of Christmas Gifts, Day Four: Shinola Runwell Watch

A dear friend of mine lives just a few blocks away, which makes it easy to meet up for lunch or a drink; as a bonus, this friend loves to shop, has impeccable taste, and might actually dress better than I do. Through this friend, I learned about Shinola, a re-christened company that makes bicycles, leather goods, and watches in Detroit. (Yes, Detroit.) The watches are classic and sporty in that all-American way, with thick, contrast-stitched leather straps and slightly oversized stainless steel cases, each bearing a unique serial number. In other words, ain't no Timex. Good design and noble-minded employment efforts aside, Shinola is dedicated to reviving American luxury manufacturing, a pursuit I fully support. Watches like the Runwell are meant to last a lifetime; at the risk of sounding like Don Draper, this is what American-made products, as few and far between as they are nowadays, should be. A Shinola watch would obviously be an incredibly generous Christmas gift, but in the interest of buying quality over quantity, it would also be an everlasting one. And isn't that what one wants out of a gift anyway?

12 Days of Christmas Gifts, Day Three: Tegu Blocks

Honduras is a place that's close to my heart--it's where my best friend and her husband live, and I've had three magical visits there. Honduras is also one of the most dangerous countries in the world, with an incredibly high crime rate, political unrest, and and all manner of resulting socioeconomic issues. It's the last place one would expect to find gorgeously simple, sustainable wooden building blocks that kids go nuts for, but it just goes to show that there's always a ray of hope. These Tegu Tints blocks are pretty amazing--they have imbedded magnets, which make them easy for young kids to play with. They're non-toxic (coated with water-based lacquer) and contain no lead or plastic; the wood is sustainably sourced and, even more importantly, the company provides much-needed jobs and child education (as well as tree planting) to Hondurans. On an more immediate level, the blocks are brightly colored, easy for kids to grip, and packable in a cute little felt pouch that's included. (They also come in more ambitious 22-piece, 26-piece40-piece, or 52-piece sets.) And on an even more personal note, the co-founder of the company is married to a woman I went to grade school with (not the aforementioned best friend), proving that no matter how big the world is, it's a lot smaller than you think. And I love that.

12 Days of Christmas Gifts, Day Two: J.Crew Pajamas

Of the many things I hate about winter, perhaps the worst is forced-steam heat, otherwise known as radiator heat, which most buildings in New York City have the misfortune of using. Not only is it loud and clanging, but it manages to turn your apartment into a sweatbox, drying out your hair and skin and making it next to impossible to sleep. Here in San Francisco, however, I am in full control of my heat--it's a strip along my bedroom wall that I can turn on and off as I wish--and because I'm enjoying the eternal Good Sleeping Weather here, I have yet to actually use it. (I might the next few nights, however, as it's supposed to dip into the 30s, which is causing everyone here to FREAK OUT, as they tend to do when the weather is anything but 65 degrees and partly sunny.) I sleep on top of a featherbed, underneath a down comforter, and I'm as happy as a clam...except I'm maybe a little bit cold. I think what will rectify this situation is a pair of old-school pajamas--a button-down top and a drawstring bottom. I've been scoping them out, and so far my favorites are at J.Crew: the vintage pajama set for her or the slim cotton poplin pajama set for him. Both are clean and simple with contrast piping and supersoft fabric; most importantly, if you order by 12/13, you can get them monogrammed for just $10 (and you all know how I feel about slapping one's initials on stuff). But the best thing about old-school pajamas is that they can work for so many people--I can picture these on everyone from my dad to my best friend. And maybe on myself--one for you, one for me, right?

12 Days of Christmas Gifts, Day One: Barneys Holiday 2013 Beauty Box

I'm shaking things up a bit this year with my gift guide. Having left New York three months ago, I haven't been attending press previews and market appointments and thus am not totally spilling forth with gift ideas for everyone on your list. Instead, this year I'm going to pick twelve great gifts and expound upon what makes them so wonderful. They might not come every day, but I promise I'll be done by Christmas (which, side note, is just three weeks away). Let's start shopping!

Today is Cyber Monday, which, if you have an email address, you are likely aware; I think I had 152 messages in my "shopping" filter by the time I got to work at 9 a.m. Cyber Monday got its yucky name from the common wisdom that people start their holiday shopping online once they're back at work the Monday after Thanksgiving (this term was apparently coined in the dark days when people didn't have computers at home and used words like "cyber"). It has evolved into a barrage of one screaming deal after another, and if you're a bargain hunter, it's certainly a good time to shop. For the record, I only bought one thing today, mostly because I was overwhelmed and turned off; I felt like the drunk girl in the bar at 1:45 a.m.

So as an anthesis to all that, today's gift is something that was not discounted and likely will never be: Meet the Barneys New York 2013 Holiday Beauty Box. Filled with a generous sampling of some of the best names from Barneys' beauty department, the box features mainstays like Creme de Mer and Kiehl's avocado eye cream, cult favorites like Koh Gen Doh cleansing water and Lipstick Queen lipstick, limited-edition products from Bobbi Brown and Jay-Z, plus particularly intriguing fragrance sample sets from Le Labo and Eccentric Molecule. If this was the only gift I got for Christmas, I'd probably be ok with that; considering it's $850, I think it literally would be, if everyone with whom I exchange gifts pooled their money and maybe robbed a bank too. The irony is that the beauty box technically is a bargain--according to the description, it's an $1800 value. But, like beauty (oh, see what I did just there?), maybe bargains are in the eye of the beholder.

Shop it: Gilt City San Francisco Warehouse Sale

When people ask me what I miss about New York, I say my friends, followed by restaurants that deliver. (Ok, you can order a pizza or Chinese food here, but that's about it.) But a flurry of recent emails hitting my inbox reminded me of a third thing I miss: sample sales. Will I ever again experience the thrill of finding a runway sample that fits me perfectly for 80% off? Maybe...Gilt City's Warehouse Sale is coming to San Francisco this weekend and promises Helmut Lang, Paul Smith, and other top designers for women, men, kids, and the home, with prices at up to 90% off retail. The one (tiny) drawback is that tickets are $10--Friday night and Saturday morning are sold out, but Saturday afternoon is still available--but, let's be honest, I'd gladly pay that much for the opportunity to claw my way through the racks and dig my way through the bins, all in search of some buried treasure. Plus there will be refreshments, snacks, and mini spa treatments from Exhale (oh, Exhale, I miss you too!). I've got my ticket; now if only we can convince Thakoon, Rag & Bone, and Alexander Wang to come out West...

Fall Shopping Guide: Fancy Sweatpants

Confession: A few years ago, I saw a photo of some French woman wearing a black boyfriend blazer with gray sweatpants and pointy-toe lace-up boots on a street-fashion blog, and she looked so cool, I had to replicate the outfit. At least, I tried. The end result was that I looked like I had a one-night stand and borrowed a blazer and a pair of sweatpants for the walk home. Sweatpants were back on the runway for fall, and unlike my earlier American Apparel foray, these styles were much more elevated and luxurious looking. Fancy pants, if you will. (SG, that one's for you.) Maybe now that I'm a Californian, my style is literally going soft, but I'm willing to give luxe sweatpants a try.

What immediately makes sweatpants seem more luxe than actual sweatpants? Leather! In theory, leather sweatpants seem like a hard sell--in pant form, leather is, more often than not, tight. But in practice, these Alice + Olivia sweatpants are perfectly logical. Think about it: Those snug leather pants you usually buy tend to stretch out after a couple wearings, so why not try an already relaxed style? (These are nearly sold out, but here's a similar style by Elizabeth and James, on sale too.)

Fancy in a more girly way, these 3.1 Phillip Lim crystal-encrusted sweatpants are for women who live in neighborhoods with "Upper" or "Heights" in the name. They are lovely, but I would worry about spilling on them, and those crystals are certainly not machine washable.

Rick Owens has been making luxe sweatpants for years, so one can assume he knows what he's doing when it comes to this slouchy merino wool pair. The shape is certainly a man repeller, but it's not like you were planning on picking anyone up in sweatpants anyway, were you?

These Haute Hippie embellished sweatpants have an intricate beaded and chain design, which reminds me of those little belts you wear when you take a belly-dancing class. (Um, ok, am I the only one who's ever taken a belly-dancing class?) Of all the styles featured here, I think these would look not totally out of place in, say, a bar.

BCBG's Neta Sweatpants are so intricately designed, they almost don't qualify as sweatpants, but lo and behold, there's an elastic waistband and banded ankle cuffs. Still, their look is so haute, you can probably get away with wearing them to work--even if your office is like a fashion show.

I don't know why these Rag & Bone sweatpants are $350, other than the fact that they're made by Rag & Bone, which makes me immediately want them anyway. I'm going to assume that, like everything else R&B makes, the fit is immaculate, and that's reason enough for me.

What's even better than Current/Elliott's leopard-print skinny jeans? Current/Elliott's leopard-print sweatpants! Think about it: Same supercool print, but in a much more forgiving silhouette. I am going to buy a pair, put them on Saturday morning, and not take them off all weekend.

I tend to be a bit wary of faux leather because, like all synthetic fabrics, it makes me sweat like a mother effer. So I would approach these BlankNYC faux leather sweatpants with caution, however I really like the just-slouchy-enough silhouette and nicely tapered leg. BYO baby powder.

These Zara velour sweatpants are a tenth of the price of the Rag & Bone style above and look a lot like them, so do you even need to think twice? (I don't; I already ordered a pair.)

Fall Shopping Guide: Boxy Coats

For the first time ever, I don't think I'll be buying a new winter coat this year. In a way, I'm very excited about this--I've always hated winter, particularly those long, long months in the first of the year. But it's also a little bittersweet, because I love coats. I feel like your coat really sets the tone for the season, and you almost have to love it, because you wear the hell out of it for four or five months. I also love seeing coats on the runway, and for fall, it was all about a menswear-inspired look with a double-breasted, somewhat boxy silhouette. I may not actually be investing in one of these beauties, but please buy one and allow me to live vicariously through you.

I feel like I'm constantly featuring Stella McCartney here, and for good reason--she's one of those designers who manages to be directional and yet totally wearable. I'm a sucker for camel coats, and her boxy peacoat is a great-looking update. I love the super-wide lapel, which counters the shape with a nice softness.

Vionnet's boxy tweed coat is a bit more fashiony, with interesting-looking stripes in a quietly glamorous metallic thread. Bonus: It will be easy to find in a coat room at a party. 

Thakoon is one of my favorite designers (I confess, I will truly miss his twice-yearly sample sale), and while this plaid coat from his Addition line isn't for everyone, I completely adore it. It has an almost grandpa-esque vibe, but his clothes are always cut so well, the end result will be nothing but feminine. 

I am a flag-waving Steven Alan fan, yes, but I particularly loved his fall/winter show, which was all about slightly boxy, totally borrowed-from-the-boyx looks. And since I was shopping the show while I was there, it's a quite convenient that one can now purchase from it, especially this double-breasted felt coat, which might be lightweight enough to actually wear here. 

Speaking of the runway, I also remember this wool check coat from Trina Turk. While her presentation had a '70s vibe, this style is almost a little '80s with its oversized silhouette. It also looks incredibly warm and sumptuous, which is an important quality in a coat.

Of course, if it's menswear you want, a safe bet is AllSaints, which is a British company and thus totally boss at tailoring. Their Berta coat features a custom-made glen plaid fabric from Mallalieus of Delph, which sounds like a Game of Thrones character so, hey, sold!

This military-inspired double-breasted coat, at $78, might just be the most expensive thing for sale at Forever 21. That said, it seems like a pretty good bargain, and I like the slightly unconventional olive color. 

Speaking of unconventional color, I can speak from experience when I say nothing fights seasonal affect disorder like a bright red coat. I had a Marc Jacobs one for years that, to this day, makes me smile when I think of it. This ASOS double-breasted coat has a rich burgundy shade that's deep enough to cover up winter grime too. 

Of course, if you've made it this far and price is an issue, I have a few simple words of advice for you: Just go to Zara. Seriously. There are so many great coats there, you'll probably end up buying more than one, and considering this lovely double-breasted wool coat is $60, you can almost afford to get one in each of its four colors (although I'm partial to the green), which is one for every month of winter misery. Sounds like a silver lining to me!

Fall Shopping Guide: Slip Dresses

When Hedi Slimane took over at Yves Saint Laurent, he ruffled a few feathers and continued to do so back in February when he showed a very grungy fall collection. Perhaps it was not the most original choice (nor the truest to the house's legacy), but as we all know, fashion moves in 20-year cycles, thus making the time ripe for a full-on grunge revival--and making Saint Laurent right on top of the trend. Now, the rule with cyclical trends is that if you wore it the first time around, you shouldn't wear it the second. Back in 1993, I layered my slip dresses over baby tees (remember those?!) and paired them with Doc Martens; wearing that look now might as well be a Halloween costume called Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis. The good news is that Grunge Part Deux is much more refined and luxe; the styles here are more suited to stilettos than combat boots. Grown-up grunge? It's like having your cake and eating it too.

When it comes to reviewing Saint Laurent collections, critics tend to play a game of snarkier-than-thou, but fashion politics (and maybe some questionable styling) aside, there are some very directional yet wearable pieces. Amusingly enough, this spaghetti-strap dress was one of the few items in the grunge collection that, critics noted, did give a nod to YSL. I think the flouncy shape (and ruffle) are very youthful and flirty, yet sophisticated in that singularly French way. Maybe Slimane knows what he's doing after all...

One of the tricky things about wearing a slip dress is that the wrong cut can end up looking like a sack, thus eliminating any straight-from-the-lingerie-drawer sexiness. I like this Rochas dress for its strategically placed seamed panels, slim (but not formfitting) shape, and warm but not-too-sexy color.  

Adam Lippes recently liberated his company from its former corporate parent, and as often tends to happen in similar situations (see Narciso Rodriguez), his work is better than ever. With its sheer neckline inset and body-skimming fit, this satin slip dress is the stuff fashion dreams are made of.

Haute Hippie is one of my go-to labels for going-out dresses; their lace-trim slip dress is the most overtly lingerie-inspired style here, but that actually lends itself to more adventurous styling--I'd wear it with a chunky sweater, opaque tights, and ankle boots. 

This James Perse plaid bias slip dress is the style most like what I wore as a teenager; in fact, I had a very similar olive green style. I included it here because it's more casual than most of the others, but it's also pretty classic and could read anything from preppy to punky depending on how you wear it. 

Of course, grunge doesn't have to be so literal. Leave it to Tracy Reese for a feminine interpretation of the trend; this beaded cowl slip has a fussier shape and intricate embellishment yet still captures that darkly glamorous effect. 

Remember that scene in Madonna: Truth or Dare where she goes to the movie premiere with Warren Beatty in a black slip dress and Fleuvogs with daisies in her hair? That outfit made a lasting impression on my then-teenage mind, because to this day, I would totally wear it. There is something so eternally cool--and chic--about a simple black slip dress, especially one with an open back, like Nasty Gal's Soft Cover embroidered slip dress.

Similar styling but a simpler back and a wider variety of colors mark Topshop's strap-back slip dress; I'm partial to the holiday-friendly red version shown here. The little inverted pleat and layered hem add a little shape, making this a more flattering option too.

As you might expect, Zara has all manner of slip dresses, some of which are pushing the $200 mark, but I like this very '90s printed style. It straddles the line between frumpy and sexy, which, if you ask me, is the true essence of grunge.

TheFind Guest Post: Shoe Spotlight: Anthropologie Lydia Cutout Loafers


There was a period of time when I would feel a little bit guilty settling for flats over heels while getting dressed for work in the morning. Sure, the outfit I had on would look a lot better with that new pair of peep-toe pumps I've only worn once – not to mention provide my legs with a much-needed slimming illusion – but I also knew that I'd regret my decision after a mere 2 blocks out the door. On a daily basis, I'm likely to choose comfort and function over fashion (within reason, of course), and that's why updated takes on the loafer trend are always on my style radar – especially pairs with a little somethin' extra that help elevate my look without literally elevating my height. And Anthropologie's Lydia Cutout Loafers totally fit the bill. This innovative new silhouette comes in 7 different shades and prints, from classic taupe to bright blue leopard (plus some additional shimmery laser-cut alternatives), and puts a sexy spin on the classic loafer shape. After all, toe cleavage is the new cleavage cleavage, right? The best part? They're less than $100 a pair... so go ahead and stock up for the season ahead! - Alexandra Gambardella

Content provided by TheFind in partnership with Cheryl Shops. 

Fall Shopping Guide: Pointy-Toe Wedge Boots

From what I hear, it's fall in most parts of the country; here in San Francisco, it was in the mid-seventies today, glorious and sunny. Everyone keeps telling me it's Indian summer, that sooner or later it's going to be foggy and cold, but for now, I love the weather just the way it is. That said, it's still San Francisco and thus unpredictable; we had a slight cold spell last week in which I had to break out my trench coat for the first time, and which also served as a reminder to me that I had to start working on the Fall Shopping Guide! So here we are.

One of the many fashion quirks of this city is that, perhaps because the weather is more or less constantly on the cool side, people wear boots year round. Like, I got here Labor Day Weekend (which was uncharacteristically hot) and women were wearing knee-high boots. As longtime Cheryl Shops readers know, I love me some boots (especially black ones) so this was welcome news to me, and perhaps an excuse to buy more! Something I've found my closet to be lacking is wedges; they're kind of perfect for SF in that they're more stable than stilettos but they still give you some height. Maybe they're not so practical for navigating the hills, but thankfully it's pretty flat where I live, so yay Lower Pac Heights!

Like many fashion-industry folk, I worship at the altar of Isabel Marant, and if someone handed me $1500, I would gladly buy her Scarlet wedge boots. A more sophisticated evolution of her ripped-off-by-everyone wedge sneakers, the Scarlet combines leather, suede and haircalf in a sleek shape; they're still edgy but look a lot more expensive. (And they are.)

Slightly more palatable in price yet punkier in style are these Tabitha Simmons Harley boots, And while in the past I'd hesitate to wear wedge boots with skirts--they tend to have the unfortunate effect of making your legs look like Gumby's--these are unexpectedly streamlined and sculpted to flatter.

If you're more of an uptown girl (or, in my case, an Upper Pac Heights girl), Derek Lam's Marta boots may be the answer: The leather is more polished, the hardware is gold, and the double buckles are a bit more understated.

These Josie Buckle Boots seem a bit more casual and edgy, with a hidden wedge that hearkens back to Marant's sneakers. (See how it all comes full circle?) Strategically placed buckles help shape the boot and avoid the dreaded blocky effect.

Along similar lines, these Jeffrey Campbell Willis Boots look like biker boots but have a hidden wedge for a stealth leg-lengthening effect. So these are perfect for vain people like me who refuse to wear flats ever. The toe is rounder and the buckles more basic than the rest of the styles here, but now that I'm a Californian, I feel like I need to represent the casual girls out there.

Back to chic, Alice & Olivia's Owen Wedge Boots take an even simpler approach to the buckled effect; I like the combination of skinny and thicker straps as well as the super-pointy toe. I saw these at Alice & Olivia's presentation last February, and believe me, they made quite the lasting impression.

For the super minimalist, Steve Madden's Jossie boots have no buckles whatsoever, but the pointy toe and streamlined wedge shape remain. And considering the challenge of finding actual leather boots for under $150, I think these are a pretty solid find (with a very comfortable 2-3/4" heel).

For those totally on a budget, there are these Riawna boots from ShoeDazzle, currently available for the introductory price of $24.98 ($49.98 regularly). Yes, they are synthetic, and the hardware is a bit on the flashy side, but the shape is right and they do somehow still have a Marant-esque vibe.

But for the closest Marant experience--without the Marant sticker shock--I recommend Aldo's Jacelyn wedge boots, a point-for-point homage from the mix of materials to the adjustable buckles. Actually leather and a mere $140, they are the most obvious thing since beautiful, sunny weather in the mid-70s. The weather might not last that much longer, but I have a feeling I'll be wearing these boots for months, if not years, to come.