Tuesday, December 30, 2014

...you want an alternative to conventional deodorant.

Yes, I know.  Very strange post title.  Not our normal wheelhouse of topics.  Put your seatbelt on.

Have you ever had one of those days where a certain piece of information is presented to you over and over, so much so that you feel like you are being tapped on the shoulder to check something out?  Well, that's what happened to me, starting two weeks ago.  

It started simply.  A friend emailed me about a new pop-up store in Wellesley center - Follain.  
Image from shop.follain.com.
Follain has stores on Nantucket and in Boston, and are trying out a space in Wellesley. She told me about their natural products, from deodorant to make-up.  I have to admit, I deleted the email.  But something about that email stuck in my head...

...BECAUSE, the next day, this post from Erin Gates and her Elements of Style blog showed up in my inbox.  An entire post about 'What's in Your Products?'.  Read it.  She discusses what elements in beauty products people should avoid if possible. I read it, and the information lodges in my brain next to the Follain tidbit.

AND THEN, I ran into that friend who emailed me about Follain and she circles back with me about it, telling me how she's swapped out her deodorant for some more natural product from Follain.

Something about these 3 interactions triangulates in my brain, and the next time I found myself in Wellesley center, I wandered into Follain.  Lovely shop.  Clean, pretty, smells great.  I am greeted by the saleswoman, and tell her about my interest in experimenting with some more 'natural' deodorant.  She gives me a brief 'tour' of the shop, and points me in the direction of their 2 choices for deodorant.  One is this cute little jar and the brand is Meow Meow Tweet. 
Image from meowmeowtweet.myshopify.com.
She tells me it's the more gentle of the two products (the other was more 'gritty') and I say, what the heck.  And according to the Follain website - "The cream does not use the unsafe ingredient aluminum zirconium, so it is not an anti-perspirant, but it does effectively absorb moisture". Let's try it.  She warns me as I'm checking out that some people notice some perspiring when they start to use it; all of the 'build up' from using conventional deodorant.  Ick.  Great.

(Full disclosure - I also purchased a tinted lip conditioner by Ilia, which is ah-maz-ing.)

It was with great trepidation that I put away my usual deodorant and start using this.  First, there's no roll-on here. The jar says "Gently rub a pea-sized amount into each armpit with your fingertips".  Ok, a little ick.  After a few days, I get used to it.  I learn that you just wipe your fingers with a towel or tissue after applying; washing my hands was a sticky mistake.  Second, I warn a couple of my girlfriends and ask them to please tell me if I smell.  I find myself sneaking pit-sniffs after working out and when I'm changing clothes.  So far so good.

After a couple of weeks, I think I really like this stuff.  I'm not a sweaty mess, I'm not smelly, and if it's supposed to be a better product for me, why not?  And a benefit that I didn't realize?  No accidental white marks on your clothing!  Seriously.  That alone makes my day.  

I have to say, I'm impressed with both products I purchased.  Consumer satisfied!  Give it a try if you are looking for an alternative.  Just a little research for your day!  Enjoy! ~ JH

Friday, December 19, 2014

What we are giving this holiday season.

I vowed I would keep the aimless wandering in stores for holiday gifts to a minimum this year.  Armed with my color-coded spreadsheet, I’ve hit the pavement and keyboard hard (click, click, Brown Santa!) and am almost done.  For those of you still in search of, here are some of my favorite gifties for Holiday 2014:

Lizzie James Bracelet - Absolutely awesome jewelry that can be worn as a bracelet or necklace.  Handmade in the US out of leather and silver or stainless steel, there are a multitude of colors and designs to choose from.  I spied the disk bracelet below at The Candy Bar in Wellesley.  Alas, it was too big but Lizzie makes three different sizes and three days later, I had a custom size in gunmetal gray leather and ready to pick up.  

Images from lizzyjamesdesigns.com.
Red Nail Polish - Red at the holidays is expected. What isn’t is red for Spring 2015.  The color is “red” hot and you’ll be seeing it a lot more in nails, lipstick and apparel come 2015.  I’ll be sporting Come to Bed Red from Butter London and Dragon by Chanel , which offer 2 looks to suit my mood.
Image from butterlondon.com.
Image from chanel.com.
Hat with Pompom - I am OBSESSED with the fur topped hat this season.  My favorite is this Bogner Knit Hat Drew ($199).  Gorsuch has a virtual buffet of pompom hats this season too, starting at $98.
Image from alpine-sports-santafe.com.

Images from gorsuch.com.
Mercury Glass Votive Holders - A perfect hostess gift and reasonably priced at $24 for a set of 4!  If you’re at downtown Wellesley, stop by Florijn for a similar gift boxed set of 12 for just $19.
Image from etsy.com.
For the chocolate loverBurdick’s has to be my very favorite chocolate maker.  Each one is like a little bit of heaven.  The wooden box is wrapped in a bow and sealed, making it an easy to gift.
Image from burdickchocolate.com.
More for the chocolate lover - Hot fudge sundaes (+ coffee ice cream, pecans, whipped cream) are my weakness so when I tasted Fudge Everything’s sauces I was wowed.  Made in Cape Ann right up the coast of Massachusetts, the sauces boast premium, quality ingredients including imported dutch-process cocoa powder and fine grain sea salt from Atlantic Saltworks in Gloucester.  No corn syrup, of course.  Get the twin pack and go crazy with a spoon!
Image from fudgeeverything.com.
Happy and merry all around! ~ LB

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

On the hunt for Mansur Gavriel...

I was fortunate to spend the Thanksgiving holiday in Jamaica with my husband's family this fall.  The day after Thanksgiving proved to be a rainy one, so my sister-in-law and I sat on a covered porch, overlooking the Caribbean sea, and surfing the 'net on our iPads as it was Black Friday.
Our view - Image from Jennifer Houston.
She was looking for a tote: something to carry to work, not too big, no big logos, and able to hold an iPad.  I immediately thought of the impossible-to-get Mansur Gavriel tote bags.  

Better known for their bucket bags, Mansur Gavriel is a "New York City based design lavel founded by Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel in April of 2012".  They make totes and bags with exceptional leather and very clean lines.  A friend of mine had been on email notifications for a while this fall as she wanted to score a bucket bag; eventually, she did. 

So off to the Mansur Gavriel website we went, and fawned over the bags shown online.  Not a one in stock.  We signed up for email notifications and thought we'd have to wait a while to get one.

No sooner than we were back, did the email arrive - online store to be restocked on December 9th!  I made a note on my calendar and waited until today.

So early this morning, the texting started (I'm conversing in blue):
Images from Jennifer Houston.
Additionally, Instagram was blowing up at @mansurgavriel.  Some of the comments were hysterical and worked me into even more of a frenzy over these bags:
Images are screen shots from Instagram.
Around 2:10pm EST, while my sister-in-law was on a plane, I hit refresh for the hundredth time and there they were!  All the bags, all in stock.  I quickly put 2 totes in my shopping cart and checked out.  Are you curious as to what caused complete a disruption in my day?  This.  Plain and simple.  The last one is the one I purchased for myself.  Great shape, beautiful leather (Lisa and I saw and held one of their bucket bags in Steven Alan in Boston, and my friend's bucket bag is gorgeous), and a price around $400 - not breaking the bank.  
Images from mansurgavriel.com.
And within 30 minutes, they were sold out.  Seriously.  What a marketing plan! Merry and happy, to me, from me. ~ JH

Monday, December 8, 2014

Tips to Winterize your Wardrobe

I thought I knew every trick in the book for getting salt stains off my boots and removing pills from sweaters, but that was until I read New York Magazine.  Vodka deodorizes stinky sweater pits?!  Really?  Oh, and I happen to have a bottle on ice that can be (sparingly) decanted into a spray bottle.  
Image from food-hacks.wonderhowto.com.
And while the vodka is out of the freezer, in will go my mohair sweaters for a little R&R.  Yes, something about the extreme cold stops them from shedding.  Who knew?!  
Image from redbookmag.com.
Read on ladies for more fun tips...

"1. Waterproof and Condition Your Leather Shoes. Much like your bags, leather shoes can benefit from a rubdown of conditioner like the ones recommended for luxury purses. As suggested in the purse-care threadCadillac Boot & Shoe Care Conditioner followed up with Collonil Waterstop will keep your favorite boots looking like new, even after you trudge through slush puddles.

2. Remove Those Salt Stains. If you're like me, you've forgotten about those tell-tale white stains on your winter boots until now. To quickly remove them, the general advice is to mix one cup of water with one tablespoon of white vinegar. The acid in the vinegar will dissolve the salt without damaging the shoe. Dip a cloth into the mixture and wipe. Repeat as necessary. 

3. Deodorize Your Sweaters. Dry cleaning is expensive and a giant pain in the ass. How many times do you let it pile up and wind up with a $100 bill? If you don't need to remove any stains and just need a quick refresh, try using cheap vodka instead of Febreze. A $10 handle of the stuff poured into a spray bottle works just as well. Spray liberally on areas that are likely to smell (like the armpits) and let dry. You won't smell like a frat party, promise.

4. Remove the Pills From Sweaters. As fun as it may be to pluck those little balls of fuzz off your sweater, it's not particularly efficient or effective. You could invest in a fabric shaver, which looks exactly like what you use to shave your legs but is meant for your knits. Lay the fabric flat and apply gentle pressure. You don't want to accidentally shave a hole in an expensive cashmere sweater. If you're too paranoid, the one-two combination of a sweater stone and sweater comb is also effective. Both are meant to be rubbed over fabric — the stone handles chunkier, heavier fabrics while the comb is meant for delicate ones. And for the low-tech version, you can trim pills with a pair of cuticle scissors.

5. Freeze Your Angora. Love the look of a fuzzy mohair sweater but not so into the shedding? Instead of forgoing pairing the knit with anything black, grab a big freezer bag and neatly fold your sweater inside. Then toss it into the freezer for at least three hours before wearing and you'll shed no more. 

6. Use Hair Spray to Prevent Holes in Your Tights. Nothing is more frustrating than ruining a pair of tights, especially when you're down to your last clean pair. As a quick fix to lengthen a pair's lifespan, try cheap hair spray. Just as it stiffens your hair, it will stiffen the fibers in your tights so they'll last longer.

7. De-Lint a Wool Coat With a Coat Brush. If you happen to have a furry friend, chances are they've shed all over your coat. Using a lint roller is pretty much an exercise in futility, so try investing in a brush especially made for the task. A few strokes and the bristles will capture lint, hairs, and dust off your classic wool topper.

8. Wash Your Gloves, Scarves, and Hats. Name the last time you washed any of your winter accessories. Considering that you wrap a scarf around your face and that your head sweats in a hat, chances are they're kind of gross. While faux-fur accessories (and real ones) require professional dry cleaning, you can get away with hand-washing the rest. Martha Stewart has a handy guide to hand-washing sweaters, but you can apply the same technique to knitted hats, gloves, and scarves as well. 

9. Wash and Dry Your Down Puffer. Your giant sleeping-bag coat might be warm and cozy but is probably yet another item in your closet that you forget to wash. Thankfully, you only need to do this twice a year at most. Use cold water and a mild detergent. When you toss it in the dryer, use low heat and add in a few (clean) tennis balls to help break up clumps of down.

10. Patch Your Sweaters. Granted this is more of an expert-level DIY, but for those who really want to try to repair their favorite sweater, a kit exists to fill in the holes. Made by Woolfiller, it comes with bundles of wool, a foam block, and needles. Place a piece of fuzzy wool over the hole and then use the needle to darn the hole (basically, you stab the fluff until it merges seamlessly with your sweater). More info is available in the company's video, if you want a visual."

(All text in italics is taken from New York Magazine.) ~ LB 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Putting "Sexy" Back into Winter Boots

I'm scrambling to get the fam outfitted in winter gear before things get all Buffalo, NY on us here.  Everyone needs new boots, coats, snowpants and gloves. I love to shop but buying winter gear is kind of like spending money on a new water heater:  necessary, but there's nothing sexy about it.  Especially because I have to replace a beloved pair of boots that are most fabulous AND waterproof.  Witness the ULU boot.  Bedecked in rabbit fur, these beauties have kept my feet warm, fashionable and dry for the last 10 years.
Image from sierratradingpost.com.
And alas, the ULU brand is no more.  Boo!

So the hunt has begun in earnest.  The staging area is stacked high with incoming/outgoing boxes from Zappos and Nordstrom and North Face.  Auditions for replacements are in full swing.  

Sorel and L.L.Bean have the traditional rubber duck boot style that is all the rage.  They look pretty cool, but I found them to be clunky, heavy, and frankly, the laces a pain to deal with.  I want to pull on and go.  Rubber conducts cold, so I'm fearful my feet will be unhappy come January.  Back to Zappos for you!  

North Face has a kind of cute waterproof boot detailed with faux fur (the faux looks really faux) and shiny quilted detail adds some sass.  They are comfortable and lightweight.  A contender.  Don't pack it up yet.

Next up is the Kamik Luxembourg boot.  Okay, now you've got my attention.  
Image from zappos.com.
Kind of good looking, right?  They are light as a feather with a thick grooved sole that will provide traction and warmth in slippery conditions.  The upper is quilted and waterproof.  The come in black, gray, white and burgundy.   I think we have a winner!  I am however, open to any and all suggestions until the first snowfall.  If you have a favorite pair to share, give us a shout out! ~ LB

W2WW Waterproof Boots

Thursday, November 20, 2014

An Experiment with Stitch Fix - Part 2

You might recall that back in September, I had my first experience with Stitch Fix, the online styling company. I only kept one item from my first 'Fix' and hoped that the second one would yield better results.  When I 'checked out' from my first 'Fix', I left lots of notes and comments for the next stylist hoping to guide them better to things I would love.

And this week, my second 'Fix' arrived. (When I originally signed up, I asked for automatic shipments, every other month.)  I came home to this on my doorstep, a bigger box than last time.
What was inside?  Another cute note from my stylist.

While they really 'got' my style much more in this shipment, it wasn't a home run.  Here's what they sent:
The Asymmetrical Knit Cardigan was okay, but it was huge on me and I have at least one cardigan like this already.  Back it goes.
The Roan Knit Jacket was ok.  It was way more cropped in real life and I'm not a cropped top kind of girl.  Back it goes.
The grey t-shirt fit well, but really?  That's the thing that was great in my box?  Back it goes.  There was a pair of DL 1961 skinny jeans what were ok but fit oddly in the 'rise' area.  And I have about 10 pairs of skinny jeans already.  Back it goes.  And finally, a scarf. Which while fun in concept, was actually huge around my neck.  Back it goes.
So, out of the 5 items, I decided to send all of them back.  It was a little disappointing; I was hoping to keep at least one item.  So much for my $20 styling fee.  Boo.  

I think the most disappointing part of my order was when I ran to the post office (in the very short 3-business-day-return-time-frame) to pop my 'prepaid' envelope with all the items into the mail.  Here's their shipping policy from Stitchfix.com for reference:

How does shipping work?

Stitch Fix clients enjoy free shipping both ways as a benefit of using our service! We use both FedEx and USPS to ship packages to you but don’t worry — you won’t need to sign for your package either way. When you are done trying things on, just pop the items you don’t want into your prepaid envelope and drop it off at any USPS pickup location.
The 'prepaid' envelope was only 'prepaid' for 3 pounds of goods.  My shipment weighed 5 pounds.  I had to pay an additional $5 to send this 'Fix' back!   Honestly, I was kind of outraged.  Not quite 'free' shipping and returns unless you buy something out of the box.

I'm not sure if I'm going to do another 'Fix'.  I did cancel my 'automatic fix' and simply scheduled one for February with more notes, hoping they would be able to do transitional spring clothing then.  But, that's a long time away and I have plenty of time to cancel.  I hope you found my little Stitch Fix journey helpful.  If you have any Stitch Fix journeys to share, please do so in the comments section.  ~ JH  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

W2WW News Flash - Worth Sample Sale Monday and Tuesday, 11/17 and 11/18!

Who loves a sample sale?!  We do!  And there's a good one on Monday and Tuesday, November 17th and 18th, right here in Wellesley.  Head to 45 Falmouth Road (home of Jennifer Sleeper) for the Worth New York and W by Worth Fall and Holiday sample sale. All items are 50% off - cash and carry!  
Image from Heather Steele.
And while you are there, there will be some holiday vendors as well like Stella and Dot, Little Graces, and Pam's Pashminas.  Nothing like one-stop-shopping.  See you there at 11am on Monday?! ~ JH

Friday, November 14, 2014

W2WW Friday Funny

My husband sent this link to me the other day, and I was both amused and fascinated at the same time.  Put together by Gilt, it shows the average heel height in the US by state.  Interesting that Arkansas is one of the 4 states/territories with the highest heels.  You go girls!  Where does your state rank?!
Image from tech.gilt.com.
Happy Friday!  ~ JH

Monday, November 10, 2014

Let us tell you a story about a boot...

...a boot that was SO special that 2 friends went to the ends of the Earth to find that boot.  But what is this mystical boot?!  

Once upon a time, 3 friends went to a Saks fashion show. At that show, they saw lots of exceptional outfits, gorgeous clutches, and tall-as-the-sky booties.  But what intrigued them most of all were the boots worn by the general manager of Saks Boston.  Tall, knee-high, graphite grey boots with a stacked heel.  She wore them effortlessly, so they must be comfortable.  What were they?  Were they available?
Image from pinterest.com.
Jen and Lisa approached the manager after the show.  They complimented her on the show and the store, and then quickly asked about her boots.  She gestured casually - "They were Stuart Weitzman from the prior year.  Maybe they had a pair or 2 floating around.  Maybe not."  Claudine, our fearless personal shopper at Saks, searched the system.  Nothing was found.

Both Jen and Lisa sadly drove home.  They wanted that perfect, wear-every-day boot.  Lisa turned to the internet for research.  She discovered that the boots were called the 'Molten' boot.  Her intense search turned up only one pair of size 11 on 6pm.com.  Jen too went on an intense search and came up empty.

A few days later, Jen found herself in a waiting room.  Rather than flip through some magazine, she pulled up her Gilt app on her mobile phone.  And what to her wondering eyes did appear?!  A Stuart Weitzman sale!  What would she find there?  She scrolled through and found what she was looking for.  A Molten boot, in black, and another boot that looked suspiciously similar.  Furious texting to Lisa ensued:
Images from Jennifer Houston.
The Toujours boot was a VERY similar boot to the Molten.  So similar that both Lisa and Jen quickly whisked them into their shopping carts and checked out.  But what would happen when these boots arrived?
Image from Jennifer Houston.
They were perfect.  And 2 pairs of Stuart Weitzmen Toujours boots (at 50% off retail price!) came to live happily ever after with Jen and Lisa.
Image from Jennifer Houston.
The end. ~ JH

Thursday, November 6, 2014

My November Obsession - High-Waisted Jeans

The annual search for the perfect pair of jeans may have just ended at 7:34pm on Wednesday night.  J.Crew Personal Shopper extraordinaire, Sylvia Gesell, invited me in for a test drive of some of its brand new styles and washes. She had a selection of jeans laid out before me in an assortment of fits and finishes. I immediately bee-lined to the high-waisted jeans. 
Images from jcrew.com.
High-waisted jeans have been on my radar this season so I was curious about their magical slimming powers.   Very 1980s or cool?   You be the judge:

Behold Lookout Stretch Jean in Darci Wash and a more faded wash.  I love love how the Darci fit.  Tencel fiber added to the cotton makes them super comfy, like leggings.  High-waist = no muffin top and a kind of corset-like fit that holds it all together.  No need to suck it in!
Images from Lisa Bida.
Next up, Point Sur High Tower Denim. Ok, they jeans were spectacular!   These brand new beauties are made in LA out of "soft ringspun cotton and all the details are entirely done by hand."  Super flattering, right?
Image from Lisa Bida.
If you're in the market for new jeans, go straight to a high-waisted style.   Stop in on Sylvia at J.Crew in Natick and she'll hunt down a pair that's right for you!   Bien sur! ~ LB