Tag Archives: 312 Beauty

Best of Beauty 2016

best beauty 2016

I am all about the reflective year in review. I do it through a beauty lens here and from a personal POV in my journal. I used to find this time of year rather sad because it was saying goodbye to a year but now I see it as hopeful. And, let’s be honest, is anyone else really sad to see 2016 go? Peace out, you were ruthless.

And about that beauty lens. This year was awesome from that view. The 90s came back with a vengeance, YouTubers put 100 coats of makeup on for fun and rainbow highlighter was a sensation. Not all my jam but trends that made this year what it was in beauty. We’re also living the rise of skincare as makeup and individualism, ala Glossier – an ascension I am 100% on board with moving into 2017.

beauty favorites 2016

I’ll get to it. My top 10 favorite beauty launches of 2016.

Honestly, Glossier everything. But especially the Stretch Concealer and Super Pure serum. I use two shades of the concealer (Light and Medium) and often use that combo in place of any other face makeup. They are so creamy and dewy.

Lancome had maybe the best idea for a liquid eyeliner: make the handle bend so application is easier. It works. And, to boot, the eyeliner formula itself is extra inky and concentrated so there’s never any tugging or skipping.

Technically, this is not a 2016 launch but I didn’t discover it until this summer. Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara is the best drugstore mascara, ever. It lengthens and curls lashes, holds them in place all day and is 100% budgeproof – even the non-waterproof version.kiehl's midnight recovery cleansing oil

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Cleansing Oil squeezed in just under the wire – but I’ve been using it for a month now and it’s love. This definitely has a place in every top of the year list. It breaks down makeup beautifully but its power is in bringing you the zen. I swear using this at night this helps separate me from the stress of the day.

As I said in my original review, it’s really rare that I want to use a multiuse product as intended. Inevitably, they are always best on the cheek. Not so with the Bite Beauty Multistick at all. Somehow every color works as an eyeshadow, wears comfortably as a lipstick and looks good on cheeks. Cashew is my favorite shade.

diptyque eau des sens

I love having a Diptyque boutique in Chicago. I remember trying their spring fragrance, Eau des Sens, on a freezing cold spring day. It gave me hope of warmer days to come. The best way to describe it is like an orange tree. But not just the sweet blossom but also the greenery and tree itself. In-freaking-credible.

elizabeth arden prevage spf

As you can see in my photos, I am about to squeeze the last drops of my Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart SPF. This isn’t merely a really fancy sunscreen (but forgive me, I’m known for that at times…) but the most essential step in my daytime skincare routine. This formula is the color of pantyhose and the consistency of a thin lotion. It is loaded with Elizabeth Arden’s Prevage and helps protect against all of the damage you encounter outdoors – sun and pollutants. It truly is for city girls.

Like Glossier, Ouai had a sensational year. This line cropped up what felt like out of nowhere and for months it was all I heard about. As soon as I tried the line (review here) I understood the hype. The Hair Oil is a standout for me. It helps my hair dry shiny and bouncy and smells like an exotic vacation.
Mac Liptensity Driftwood

I try and love a lot of lip color. But most of all I love MAC Liptensity Lipstick in Driftwood. It’s a pinkish mauve that runs cool. I’m always attracted to these colors but find they can go awry. Not Driftwood – I give off healthy vibes with this one. I love that it is unlike anything I have in my collection.

So there you have it: my year in beauty. What rocked your world in 2016? Beauty or otherwise.

I Tried Dermaplaning and Now I’m Hooked

Derma-what? That’s usually the first question.

“It’s really effective facial exfoliation,” I explain.

“Oh, cool. Like microdermabrasion,” people equate.

“Nope, more like a shave, but with a scalpel,” I assert.

“Whaaaaattttt,” everyone, eyes bugging.

Elevare MD Chicago Southport

I had done ample research on dermaplaning before I ventured into Elevare MD on Southport on a September Saturday afternoon.  It’s not a new practice by any means but has risen in popularity in recent years. The Real Housewives effect? It’s basically scraping off the top layer of dead skin cells and the tiny baby hairs we all have on our face as well. With a scalpel, naturally. The aftermath is an almost immediate luminous glow and a hard-to-resist urge to touch your now smooth as a baby’s tush (truly) face. Your skincare will work that much harder because it will penetrate more deeply into the layers of your skin. Results last about 4-6 weeks, in line with the average turnover of skin cells and hair growth.

Are you still thinking about that scalpel? Don’t. Men get hot shaves all of the time and that razor is way scarier. Sweeney Todd, much?  Dermaplaning is 100% painless and 100% satisfying – yes, I peeked at the gook my aesthetician was shaving off of my face and you would, too.

Are you also thinking about the hair regrowth? That you’re going to end up with a beard? I feel you. That was my first question before that blade touched my face. Yes, it will grow back. No, it won’t come back darker or thicker. Phew. They’re not targeting the hair follicle, just surface.

elevare md dermaplaning

Any new treatment on your face is slightly scary even if the internet assures you otherwise.  I visited the new Elevare MD in the Southport corridor (they also have an existing LaGrange location as well) and was instantly at ease in the space. It’s an oasis – each room even comes with a steam shower you can book for 30 minutes on the front or back end of your appointment. Elevare is a med-spa, so in addition to facials and cosmetic treatments they are equipped to do plastic and reconstructive surgery. The owners are a highly respected duo in that space and at the forefront of the latest technology. I had lots of questions about microneedling, lasers and other non-invasive treatments. There’s so much to know but above all is that technology is making it all so much easier and less intimidating. As I approach my mid-30s, my skin remains my top beauty investment.


I’ve had many facials and this was the most customized to my skin. It began with a cleanse, manual exfoliation, mask, extractions, massage — everything you’d come to expect but no products were pushed and the experience felt truly geared to my needs. I was a candidate for dermaplaning but if you have acne or breakouts, it wouldn’t be recommended. Along the way, my aesthetician was able to explain why I was breaking out on my forehead: dehydration, likely due to working in an office. Solution: mist throughout the day! Dermaplaning was offered as part of a facial, which begins at $130 for 60 minutes. Very reasonable given the level of care and skin benefit. Facials almost always give me sticker shock; this did not. There are other places that will give you dermaplaning in a “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” manner but that in and out fast likely means you’re not getting a comprehensive treatment.

Recovery is essentially non-existent; I was slightly red but that dissipated in just a few hours. The onus is on you afterward to SPF as your skin will naturally be more sun-sensitive.

If you are in Chicago and at all curious about Elevare, give them a call and talk with Danielle! She’s a rock star aesthetician that I trust with a scalpel on my face!

This service was provided to me complimentary. I loved it so much that I wanted to share my thoughts and I’ve already got my next appointment on the calendar (which I will be paying for!)

Salon Sweet

Living Proof Salon

If I take all of the haircuts I’ve had in my 33 years, they can be divided into two distinct camps. Salons, mostly, save for a chunk of my teenage years in a chair in my cousin’s basement. Both had their perks but I’m sure you can guess where I got a longer shampoo head massage. There’s a new trend popping up in Chicago that’s a modern blend of that basement chair and traditional salon.  It’s called the Salon Suite and you are the star client every time.

Adam Lumination Chicago

I visited Lumination, led by industry vet Adam Bogucki, with all of the perks and amenities of a salon just in a more intimate setting. (Note, not actually a basement, either.) When you walk into his suite in Lakeview, Adam’s face is the only one you’ll see. It’s cool, he’s really welcoming and serves wine. Lumination’s bright space is flanked with a wall of Living Proof products – Adam’s an educator for the brand – and there’s a statement chandelier hanging above the chair. The experience is customized to you on every level, including the music playing. Adam had this awesome late 90s thing going when I walked in but he offered to switch to whatever I wanted. Nelly was just what I needed that day, though.

Lumination Living Proof

Adam Bogucki, Lumination

Adam gave me a stellar haircut, listened to me talk about Whole 30 (see, I spared you!) and even did this razor texturizing mid-strand that no one has ever done on me before. It’s a Living Proof technique, he tells me. Helps maintain the light texture as it grows out. I haven’t touched up my color since December but a cut with just enough off to be noticeable managed to give my color some fresh life. The one-on-one experience made coming and going so seamless. All Adam really wants to do is send you out of his chair feeling fabulous. The odds are in your favor that will happen.

Apparently, the Salon Suite trend is really big in LA. Makes sense. Celebrities and stuff. Anyone else have a one-on-one experience in their town? Basements included.

Express Yourself

CoverGirl Plumpify Mascara

I’ve been reading Women in Clothes this past month. Bits here and there. It’s not a book you need to read consecutively, rather best to soak up the collection of interviews, essays, conversations, surveys, photography, conversations and closet peeks over time. Hundreds of women share their POV on style and clothing and it is all so relatable and affirming. About halfway through the book is this list by Canadian artist Margaux Williamson on contemporary dressing.  She references that our faces communicate almost everything we thought we were hiding or enhancing through our clothes. “…communication happens with twitches of our muscles, with the way we move our eyes and lean our heads in. We have learned that people see who they are before they even look down.”

That feels true. We dress and rely on personal style to define ourselves, but our eyes and facial expressions tell the world who we are in that visceral sense.  They form opinions on who we might be and how we act by what our faces reveal, even before glancing down. I find myself constantly looking at peoples’ faces for cues. To see how they smile, what their eyes take in and the way they touch their hair and faces with their own hands. I’m aware of how my limbs travel upwards when I’m talking with someone. Are they studying me, too? Chances are, yes.

CoverGirl Plumpify

I asked my boyfriend the first thing he noticed about me when we met blindly for drinks. He said, “your eyes.”

CoverGirl Mascara

I wonder if he notices today the ways I try and accentuate them. Does he appreciate my CoverGirl Plumpify Mascara? Because I certainly do. I try every new CoverGirl mascara that comes out because they’re always the best at the drugstore. COVERGIRL Plumpify Mascara has this double twisted wand and one of those rounded spiky tips to help you get lashes that are hard to get normally. If you start at the base of your lashes and roll the wand up, your lashes separate and immediately stand out. I do a few coats and once they dry give them a curl. If I use my lash curler, they get really long and I’m obsessed. I didn’t do it in these pictures, but you can see the extra oomph without. It’s an effort that warrants a second look from him, I say.

Women In Clothes

Pantene Airspray

I wonder if people notice how I always grab my hair with my hands when I’m talking to them. I’ll flip my part, sweep it behind my ear or even grab at the ends and cover up my lips. I think it depends on my comfort level. And, if I’m feeling “cute.”  As a rule, I don’t wear much hairspray because I fiddle with my hair all day. I do use Pantene Airspray, though. Pantene’s alcohol-free formula means my hair moves naturally (or with my forceful hands) and doesn’t get stiff or sticky. You just spray it and it sort of dries without adding any weight. It’s perfect, actually. If I’m curling my hair, I spray it once my curls are cooled to set them.

Clairol CC Conditioner Clairol Nice n Easy CC Conditioner

Speaking of hair, another non-clothing observation I find to be true is how we observe a change in hair. Color, style, cut, accessory, etc. I always notice when someone I see regularly does something different. I find myself in conversations a lot around my own “balayage.”  “Did you just get it done?” The color is constantly evolving as it grows or fades, so people continue to ask. Because I’m straddling the “bronde” color spectrum, I don’t want to deepen or brighten it up too much in a traditional lane BUT I am REALLY excited that you can get the conditioner that comes in a box of hair dye without the actual box of hair dye. Clairol Nice ‘n Easy CC Plus ColorSeal Conditioner is a real live thing! The brand must have been paying attention – for years, people have been stocking up on dyes only for the conditioner. It has a little more power than your average conditioner, helps keep color safe from stripping minerals in water and up the shine factor. Why hasn’t this been a thing before exactly?

I’m curious, what do you notice first about people? And, let me know any and all questions you might have on any of these products mentioned. I did some deep testing of the Plumpify mascara – waterproof version, included. I can tell you that it is indeed very (very!) waterproof.

This was sponsored by P&G Beauty. All opinions are based on my experiences and insights. Thanks for your continued support!

The Dark Side of Beauty

Activated Charcoal Beauty

I just have one question: do you want to join me in and brush your teeth with charcoal? Let’s do it! Grill all up in our grills. Except not really. Don’t eat actual coal, guys. Activated charcoal on the other hand is A-OK. Chances are you are using something with this sooty substance in it in your beauty routine right now. The activated part means that is has been plussed up with oxygen and when you use it in skincare it acts like a magnet for toxins. As for brushing your teeth with it, that’s more of a whitening treatment than it is everyday toothpaste. This formula gets rave reviews on Amazon and I’m taking the plunge! Along with this charcoal-infused toothbrush because why not double-down? If you’re not quite ready for the charcoal swish, there’s some other beautiful ways to get messy.

The face wash by Shamanuti is one of the best things I’ve ever smelled. My face feels moisturized and clean when I use. It was a Birchbox discovery and I like to refill the mini bottle I sampled when I travel. Want ever more of that charcoal clean feeling? Try the One Love Organics konjac sponge to exfoliate.  Like a love note, from OLO, written in charcoal.

This brand new Coconut Charcoal Face Mask by Chicago-based Cocovit has activated coconut charcoal (how do you like that?!), bentonite clay, turmeric, neem powder and Indian ginseng. It’s a serious skincare powerhouse.

Toronto is filled with amazing juiceries, but I seriously miss Owen & Alchemy. If you are in Chicago, please go enjoy a bottle of the Activated Charcoal Lemonade for me. And while you’re at it, grab a #58, too.

Boscia was an early adopter of the charcoal and as such, I’m itching to try their new cleansing cloths. They’re billed as a pore treatment since there’s glycolic acid mixed in with charcoal and black tea.

I also sort of want to wash my hair with the Sort of Coal shampoo. It’s actually made with white charcoal – though still black in color – and it’s supposedly amazing for oily scalps. I don’t totally fall into that camp but like a clarifying cleanse occasionally.

Eagerly awaiting my Magic Mud delivery!

Shu Art of Hair and Mixology

Shu Art of Hair MixologyI love a good mixology theme, obvs. And when it’s in the context of hair care, it really is happy hour. Bonus: no hangover! Not that there’s anything wrong with sweating whiskey out of your pores during a workout the next morning. Builds character.

Shu Uemura flies way under the radar but is top notch. I find that there is this underground community of Shu devotees and they usually have incredibly shiny hair. Let’s see; there’s the Cleansing Oil shampoo that defies all shampoo-ing norms. Before you gasp at the price (it’s OK…I did, too), let me tell you the oversized bottle lasts at least twice as long as anything and it’s so moisturizing you can basically ditch conditioner entirely.  And, let’s not forget about this nifty clicker that is part dry shampoo/part texturizer. I’ve got heart for the Shu.

They’ve upped their offerings at Shu Art of Hair Salons this month with a new bar mixing up “shots” of hair “cocktails” based on your individual hair needs. Naturally, I headed to Dennis Bartolomei salon in River North for a drank. Every cocktail has the same base treatment and stylists whisk in a special moisture or protein treatment depending on your hair needs.

Dennis Bartolomei Chicago Salon

After a near sleep-inducing massage with the gardenia-rich Cleansing Oil Shampoo, I sat for about 15 minutes with a modified shot of ‘Divine Drench.’  Moisture is what gives your hair shine and bounce—and I guess that I always assumed moisture was a heavy weight on my fine hair. Turns out, no. As someone who cuts their hair minimally, I was leaning in to the tip from my stylist Jordan about doing this in-between trims. I’ve been known to stretch it out a good six months back when I was rocking longer hair. Of course hair gets super dull in that amount of time! It’s also a great way to nurse hair to health when you’re doing color. And, when you add in the pre-shampoo and post-rinse, it’s basically like 25 minutes of head therapy and massage. Feels incredible. Anytime you’re massaging your scalp (or someone else’s – because who rubs their own that way, ever?!) you’re getting blood flow going which helps stimulate the hair follicles which is good for growth and overall health.

What I know for certain is that I walked out of Dennis Bartolomei with an extra bounce in my step, and hair. There are quite a few Shu Art of Hair salons in Chicago and around the USofA – peep this for a locator. And, all are rolling out the bar! Services range from $28-40.

312 To Do: Bloomingdale’s The Makeup Date

Bloomingdales The Makeup Date Chicago

You know what time it is? Hmm, well. Time for sneezing, planning summer vacays, drinking outside and stepping up that bronzer game. All of which I’m currently doing. And, importantly, it’s almost time for The Makeup Date at Bloomingdale’s North Michigan Ave. Yassss, honey! I’m back at it next Saturday, May 16, to host the semi-annual beauty runway show. You may remember it as that early morning beauty immersion – which it still is at 8:30 a.m. – but there’s a new show time added at 10:30 a.m. More beauty, brands and giveaways are always a plus. I had a blast doing this last November and know that this will be double the fun. The show flow is balanced with peeks at new products coming to counters for summer and also tried and true tips from the brands Also, giveaways. There’s about a dozen or so per show and they are so good that I get genuinely emotional when I pick a name out of that bucket. For a tiny moment, I feel like Santa. Basically, the energy is incredibly positive and you should be there, assuming you are a Chicago dweller. If you are able to attend (hope so!), reserve a ticket today by emailing Mi Lee at Mi.X.Lee@bloomingdales.com There is a $25 reservation fee and it is 100% redeemable towards a beauty purchase following the show.

I’ve been scouting the best of summer beauty at Bloomies and there are a few products that I’m especially jazzing over.

There’s this glowy face blush meets illuminating powder from the bronzer gods at Guerlain, the Chanel ‘it’ nail color of the season, MAC neutrals, NARS purples, Armani, YSL lip tint in oil form, the new Lancome mascara that gets EVERY lash, Bobbi’s take on summer skin and the Clarins Total Eye Concentrate that is like an instant eye lift (as in visibly does some magic). Oh – and I’ll save bronzer for another date because I want longer form. I could really go on….

For those in Chicago, let me know your May 16 plans. And if they involve Makeup Date-ing. I’m trying to think of a few songs to suggest to the DJ for the show. Let me know your ideas there, too!

P.S. I shared my POV to Chicago Mag on everything you need to know about summer beauty trends (two words: muted brights!) Check it!

DreamDry Hair-apy

DreamDry Lincoln Park

Hairapy. It’s a real thing. I thought I was clever coming up with that term but turns out there is a whole culture around this word. The experience that sparked its usage for me was a visit to DreamDry. I don’t consider DreamDry to be a blowout bar, though that’s precisely what the Rachel Zoe-fronted salon is. It’s more of a hairapy destination. You walk in feeling meh and walk out all BAM. I got my hair DID. Dramatic sashay down the Lincoln Park storefront stoop optional, though mighty tempting. A good hair day does wonders for your state of mind; let’s not gloss over that important detail.

Blow dry-only bars are aplenty now in Chicago but there’s something special about DreamDry that I really appreciate. The atmosphere can best be described as relaxed elegance and the stylists are majorly skilled in freshness. The breezy Oribe-scented air is intoxicating and from the moment you plop down into that cushy black leather seat, you are in a dreamy state of mind.

DreamDry Chicago

DreamDry Style Menu

They use the right amount of product – always customizing it to your liking – and tools to achieve the desired look. There’s no hair brushes stuck in your hair or weird tricks with the dryer. It’s just classic styling and a menu that flexes for all lengths of hair and types of styles. Up, braided, sleek, wavy and even  BYO-picture if you have something in mind. The most popular style at the Lincoln Park location is the ‘Stevie Undone.’ I spend most days trying to recreate that look but always like it better when someone else does it for me. As I was saying, hairapy.

DreamDry Stevie Undone

My Stevie, Undone

To make the most out of your DreamDry (or other blowout) experience, I suggest going in the afternoon on a Friday or Saturday. That way you can enjoy it for most of the day and it relaxes some before you go out for the evening.  Before bed, to preserve the integrity, tie your hair up in a loose scrunchie (yes, a scrunchie…) or fan it out across your pillow. For good measure, dust some dry shampoo into your roots before bed as well but don’t blend it in all the way. The powder will eventually soak into your roots and give you a little lift by morning. Oh, and check the forecast. Nothing cramps a good hairapy session like rain.

A Window into My Beauty World

Total Beauty - 312 Beauty

Makeup bag peeping is practically a national pastime. Apparently there’s a very internet name for all of this…hashtag and all: #beautyshelfie. Of course, right? According to my pals at Total Beauty, this glimpse into our worlds is where a beauty lover is her truest (errr…curated) self. I’m game. Shall we?

I’ve been a creature of habit lately, relying on mostly the same few products every day. Most impressive is this MAKE Face Gloss. It’s just .SO.COOL. Not a highlighter, in fact, completely clear, but somehow gives a luminosity to skin that rivals the pile of illuminators I have sitting in a bin. The gloss factor lasts for hours! To really have some fun, dab some on your eyelids and get all editorial with yourself.

Oh, and there’s also this prime-perfect pink-hued SPF from Radical Skin Care that I slather on dutifully every day. And, this new mascara from Benefit that does something known as “hook and roll” to give you insanely long and separated lashes.

For more from me and to peek onto the shelves of beauty babes, hop on over to Total Beauty!

The Best Pedicure in Chicago


Ya read that correctly. THE BEST PEDI IN ALL OF 312-LAND. I don’t go around making these claims often but when the shoe fits… or, in this case, if the shoe looks better, it’s because you got your feet drilled at Cowshed Spa. Yes, drilled. More on that below…

My theory on feet is that men are blessed with lily pads and women suffer with callused soles and jagged edges. I certainly do. It’s my cross to bear. It requires intense commitment to the foot file for me to maintain a smooth sole. Pedis are a nice treat but the softness is always fleeting. Every time, without fail.  Smooth soles are like unicorns. That is, until I experienced the Cowshed Pedicure. An hour of pampering that left my feet smooth long after I left that Soho House basement.

So what makes the Cowshed pedi so special?

The dim lights, barn aesthetic and rustic buckets set an unpretentious vibe. In fact, when I was in there, the founder of Soho House and Cowshed Spa Nick Jones was a few seats down totally getting his relaxation on in one of those cozy chairs. According to the spa director Christina Russilo, he lives by an “eat, drink, nap” mantra. I support that fully.

The secret to this truly being the BEST is 100% the aforementioned drill. I promise, it’s not scary. It does tickle a bit, though. And, OK, it’s semi-terrifying when you see the tech reach for a surgical mask and rev up the engine. My eyes bugged and I was all WHAT ARE YOU ABOUT TO DO TO ME? Truth: it looks like an electric toothbrush and isn’t as threatening as the word drill implies.

For the next 7-15 minutes (I was somewhere around 12), I enjoyed the oddest sensation of this drill gently polishing off every bit of dead skin clinging to my feet. We’re talking inside the grooves of your toes, alongside the perimeter of your foot and especially around your battered soles. I’m certain I’ve never smiled so blissfully during a pedicure. THIS is what we need. THIS is why we pay someone to touch our feet. It’s a manual labor I dread with all my might.

The unpretentious vibe extends to the actual price point of the spa services. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that 60 minutes—12 of which were spent sawing off calluses—runs a cool $45. It’s in that reasonable treat yoself realm. Plus, once you’re done, you can chill in The Allis and gaze up at the chandeliers and/or peoples of the Soho House.

Effortless in Spirit and Style

Laurie Leopold - 312 Beauty

Phone tucked in my purse. Boots strapped on and ready to walk. Eyes wide open. Effortless in spirit and style. This is how I take in the city. This is how I clear my head. And, my gosh, do I freaking love the invigoration I feel as my eyes gaze up and across the skyline. Every one of us has a daily grind. I feel the stress of mine melt away when I’m going from A to B. Taking a moment to observe the details in everything — the faces of others around you, the curves of skyscrapers, the stop and go of traffic—I can’t help but feel a sense of togetherness and pride. We all share a skyline. We all make this city great in our own way.

Chicago is filled with doers and makers.

Chicago Skyline

Michelle Starbuck Jewelry

Consider the doers. Like this group of teachers — Peggy, Amy and Jill — that have the patience and will to, well, teach in Chicago Public Schools. I admire their dedication, resilience and what they do for the little peoples. That can’t be an easy job, right? Collectively, we strapped on our boots (mostly…Jill  be doing her fabulous thing in red pumps), took in the skyline and let the stress unwind with some good old fashioned silliness and girl time.

Michelle Starbuck Designs

Effortless Style Chicago

Consider the makers. We are all wearing one of Chicago’s most talented jewelry designers – Michelle Starbuck Designs. Michelle is no stranger on my blog – I make my adoration of her known on the regular. Her ability to turn a vintage tile and a brass chain into something spectacular is incredible. Michelle’s creations lend themselves to any wardrobe but especially to my effortless ways. I’m wearing the Parrallelogram Studs and Hexagon Chain to complement this look. You could say this is my uniform. I have this tee – aptly named the ‘Effortless Tee’ in three colors and wear these Madewell boyfriend jeans constantly. I love the cuffed look with boots in the winter months. And, I’ve been toting along the Lo & Sons The Pearl Crossbody Bag since Christmas. It has so many zippered compartments – pure organizational bliss!

Remember when I wrote a manifesto? A cheeky one, for sure, but one of my favorite lines is about loving your city. So put your phones down, go for a walk, take in the details and let it love you back.

I saved the BEST for last. Michelle Starbuck is offering you something special starting today through the entire month of February: 20% off with code MSD20. Just enter it at checkout on her website.

I can’t possibly pick a favorite piece, but I wear the Super Chunky Chain 2.0 Bracelet almost every day and love her geometric stud earrings.


Photos by Erin M. Bassett

Don’t Call it a Resolution. Classpass is a Fitness Solution.

Classpass Chicago

Cue the obligatory New Year’s fitness post. Sort of.  On the one hand, yes, sign me up for a reset. I admit, I hit the cookies and alcohol hard over the holidays. On the other hand, I don’t do resolutions. I’m more about solutions. And, I’m way overdue in talking about the best darn solution to fitness, ever: Classpass.  It’s like a gym membership but you have access to all of the fitness centers in the Classpass network instead of just one place.  In Chicago, this is pretty much every workout imaginable. Flywheel, Core Power, CrossTown Fitness , all sorts of yoga, pilates, barre, dance, etc. You name it, you can probably Classpass it. In the initial month I joined, I challenged my body in new ways. I did handstands in yoga, survived my first Shred 415 class (oh mama, that’s legit), trapezed in ribbons during the adventure that is aerial yoga, did chin-ups (with a smile) and lost inches off my frame. This spurred a flurry of #fitbitchclub pics on Instagram and I think it’s high time to get that going on. Will you join me?  I mean, to quote one B. Spears: I’m stronger than yesterday, now it’s nothing but my way. Bay-bay.

AIR Yoga

Channeling the ballerina. It looked more graceful in my head. 

Here’s my real deal bottom line. I love being fit (who doesn’t) but have serious workout ADD. My gym memberships always go unused and I tire of the same workouts. Classpass is impossibly fun and you can take as many classes as you want. The only limit is you can’t go to more than three of the same studios each month — which is not an impediment at all. It’s a serious value considering how high an individual class at most studios can run. Since they launched in Chicago, they’ve since expanded to a total of 20 cities and I have a feeling that is just the start. I’m also majorly admiring the business prowess of the bold women that founded Classpass. Smart solutions for women, by women. But guys…you can get in on it, too.

Remember….#fitbitchclub. Let’s do this thang!

The Chop is In For 2015

Civello Salon Haircut

Every year has a hair do. I think 2015 is going to be all about the chop.  The meaning of ‘chop’ will be subjective, of course, but, mark my words: you will have less hair next year than you do in 2014. I started my own chop this summer. Slowly but surely, I’ve been trimming. My threshold for it not being too short was still being able to throw it up in a bun. All that changed after what is arguably the best haircut I ever had at the hands (and shears) of Ray Civello. I’m full-on chopped and loving it.

Ray is the founder of Civello Salon, born in Toronto and now in Chicago with River North, Lincoln Park and Lakeview locations. Civello chose Chicago as its entry into the U.S. We’re so fresh, guys.

My experience was thoroughly enjoyable. I mean, it’s not every day a PRESIDENT cuts your hair. Though, his approach and technique is passed down to his stylists. Each appointment begins with a consultation and analysis so the stylist can really assess your face and specific style. Ray noticed my lob was a little longer in the back and, he said, for my face shape it should be the opposite. The experience was personal and pampering. Tea, essential oil scalp massage and even a treatment with Aveda Hand Relief while my hair was getting washed. I’ll totally be back. If only I could book Ray on the regular!

Comfort Me Boutique

I also left the salon armed with one of the best styling tips for short hair. To give some piecey texture, Ray sprayed hairspray into his hands, rubbed them together a bit and then massaged it into my ends. It was a light bulb in the head moment and I’ve been working that one on the daily.

Happy New Year (and new hair) to you all!