Leopard Love – My Hunt for the Perfect Leopard Print Flats

Leopard Love...my hunt for the perfect pair of leopard print flats

Tory Burch Reva Flats

My worn out Tory Burch Reva Flats

These are the ones. The ones that started it all–my love for leopard print. They are sad and worn out now but when I found them at a Tory Burch outlet about 5 years ago, they called to me. The price was great, they fit perfectly, and looked good with so many things in my closet because they add a stylish punch without being too wild.

As you can see, they are well worn–a shadow of their former stylish selves. These babies have gone to dinners, school festivals, vacations, baby showers, luncheons, outside to get the mail (got to look good going to the mailbox, right?) and caught in countless rainstorms. But, alas, with all of that wearing, they are scuffed and tired. They look so bad, I finally had a friend kindly tell me that it was time to replace them. That was about two years ago and I have been on the hunt ever since.

My first thought was that I would just buy the same pair again but when I started looking for them, I found that Tory Burch stopped making this exact style.

Here are a few nice options I’ve found along with some ideas from Pinterest about how and what to wear with leopard print shoes. And for even more Leopard Love, check out my Pinterest page. Meanwhile, I am still on the hunt. So far, nothing matches the fit and comfort of those first Tory Burch Reva flats. Tory–please! Bring them back!

 

Tory Burch Leopard Print Reva Flats

Tory Burch now makes these leopard print Reva flats. They are very cute and I liked them a lot. Unfortunately,  I have terrible feet and when I tried them on they were just not a good fit for me.

 

J. Crew Nora Leopard Print Flats

My next try was the Nora leopard print flats from J.Crew. J.Crew has an assortment of great leopard print shoes-from heels to loafers. I ordered these on the web site and ended up sending them back a couple times for the right size, but once I got the right fit, they were perfect. They are very sweet, comfortable and look great. These are the closest replacements I’ve found to my original pair.

 

Chloe Scalloped Leopard-Print Calf Hair Ballerina Flat

My latest find are these Chloe flats. I have been wearing them non-stop. I love this scalloped design and have bought them in other colors because they are like wearing slippers. They look great but are definitely an investment price-wise. You don’t want to get caught in a rain storm in these babies!

 

Steve Madden Elusionl

These Steve Madden flats are a perfect example of great style for less money. I found these online and have not tried them on but the price is great ($79.00) and I love the cut out D’Orsay style design. Very cute option!

 

Pinterest Outfit Inspiration

Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamt of incorporating leopard into my wardrobe. Now, I almost consider it a neutral.  All it takes is a little inspiration and where better to find that than Pinterest? Happy hunting!

Leopard Outfit Inspiration

Image via Polyvore.com

Image via WhippedStyle

Image via WhippedStyle

How to Build a Bar (when you really don’t have space to build a bar)

Building a Bar (when you really don't have spar to build a bar)

Building a Bar (when you really don’t have space to build a bar)

As you’ve probably guessed from the short time I’ve been writing this blog, I’m a girl who likes to have a glass of wine now and again. I’m not much of a cocktail drinker (although I love the way they look–so crisp, so refreshing!), but I do love to entertain. And of course, one of the key elements of any cocktail party, no matter the size or occasion, is a well stocked bar. Unfortunately, not every home has the space or budget to build a custom made bar like you see in magazines.  How do you build a bar in a room where you really don’t have space to build a bar? What, you say, is the answer to this earth shattering question? The bar table, of course!

In our home, the main living area is next to the kitchen. It is tight space with a seating area, coffee table and the all important (but well hidden) toy basket. It flows right into the dining room so there is a dining table nestled in there as well. Needless to say, I don’t have much room. What I do have is a small (46 inches to be exact) open wall in between a window and a sliding glass door. So, off I went to hunt for the perfect bar table and art work that could fill up the wall space above it. I found these beauties:

Building A Bar

The spoils of my search  – bar table and wall art

I love this table because it is so simple. It is compact, has two good sized drawers, and the top is a tray that comes off. The best thing about the table is this map hidden under the glass on the tray top.

ACK MAP

The best part of my bar table – the ACK map hidden underneath!

The sea fan art is from artist Karen Robertson. I have looked at and loved her sea fans forever so I waited and waited for one of Horchow.com’s great sales and got this at a great price. I just love it.

Then it was time to build the bar. My first stop was to Target where I found a great rattan tray (World Market now has this one, similar). Especially when you are working with many items in a small space–in this case, bottles, glasses, and various other bar accoutrement–organizing it into defined areas helps so it doesn’t look jumbled and messy.  I grouped all of the liquor bottles in the rattan tray and added essentials like an ice bucket and a cocktail shaker in smaller, compact sizes to save space.

Grouping bottles together on a rattan tray helps keep the small space looking organized and neat

Grouping bottles together on a rattan tray helps keep the small space looking organized and neat

Since I’m not a hard alcohol drinker, I rely on my husband to fill in here. He knows his stuff and mixes a mean cocktail. He’s one of those guys who orders an after dinner drink you have never heard of but it could burn your nose hairs off when it comes. His bottle selection for our bar table is:

  • Mount Gay gin (great for summer gin & tonics)
  • Bombay Sapphire gin
  • Pimm’s (to make a Pimm’s No 1 – a delicious lemonade cocktail famously served at Wimbleton. Click here for the history and recipes)
  • Belvedere Vodka (for the Belvedere martini)
  • Laphroaig Whiskey
  • Oban Whiskey
  • Armanac
  • Calvados (this is one of those nose burners)
  • Gentleman’s Jack
  • Gosling’s Diet Ginger Beer (to make Dark & Stormy’s)

When hosting a smaller group of people, I love to add a few fun extras like this Fever Tree tonic. They are just a bit more special and decorative than the grocery store variety and I’ve been told they taste great too.

After the liquor, its time to add glasses, and plenty of them, not only because you end up using them but because they look pretty and decorative when you are not using them. I like to include a variety of types and sizes, from wine glasses to my new favorite roadie cups.

Nantucket Roadie Cups from RoadieCup.com

Nantucket Roadie Cups from RoadieCup.com

Don’t forget these beautiful copper mugs for Dark & Stormy’s.  I added some cute party straws for a pretty little color punch.

Copper mugs

Copper mugs are a nice touch for a Dark & Stormy

I was under the impression that one size tumbler glass would suffice but I was emphatically told by my husband that certain drinks require very specific glassware. I never mind a good shopping quest so for the past few years, I have been on a mission to find the perfect Highball and Old Fashioned glasses. When I finally found the perfect ones from Juliska, I knew I had to have them monogrammed:

Monogrammed glasses

Monogrammed High Ball & Old Fashioned glasses from Juliska

And finally, the last little details–cute cocktail napkins, an opener, cocktail picks and a wine bottle coaster.

Little Details

Little Details – Ikat napkins, cocktail picks…

And with that, one of life’s burning questions solved – who would have thought a 42″ x 24″ table could do so much?

Bar Table

Bar Table

A peek inside

A peek inside

The Perfect Summer Dress

Every summer, I search for the perfect summer dress. I’m not a huge fan of shorts, and pants and jeans are usually out of the question on hot days so I love sundresses and find them to be the most versatile summer outfit option. I am constantly on the go–most often with the kids–so I need a dress that can be sporty enough to wear to the pool but can double as a shift for cocktails at home or a casual dinner out. And of course, it has to be comfortable, cute, flattering and stylish, but not too short–I am inevitabley picking up a Matchbox car or magic marker from under a restaurant table or the bottom of the stroller. Not too much to ask of a dress, right?

Well, its official – I have found the perfect summer dress. The Sailor Sailor Skipper Dress by Just Madras fits all of the criteria I mentioned above but is also made of a wonderful, soft, stretchy cotton and is soooo comfortable. I’m talking pajamas comfortable. I love it so much I bought it in multiple colors and I’ve been wearing them non-stop so I have found some fun ways to accessorize them for every outing and occasion!

Out & About: Skipper Dress in Navy Stripe with red cardigan sweater - here for similar; Mar Y Sol tote; Jack Rogers sandals; red bracelet - click here for similar

Out & About: Skipper Dress in Navy Stripe with red cardigan sweater – here for similar; Mar Y Sol tote; Jack Rogers sandals; red bracelet – here for similar

 

Cocktails & Dinner: Skipper Dress in Pink Stripe with Eliza Gray Clutch and Jack Rogers sandals

Cocktails & Dinner: Skipper Dress in Pink Stripe with Eliza Gray Clutch – here for similar; and Jack Rogers sandals

 

A Day at the Beach: Skipper Dress with Crushable Hat by Be You Fashion from Kayce Hughes; Eliza B flip flops; beach bag - here for similar; and Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses

A Day at the Beach: Skipper Dress in Royal Stripe with Crushable Hat by Be You Fashion from Kayce Hughes – here for similar; Eliza B flip flops; beach bag – here for similar; and Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses

I’ve had only one criticism of this dress. My mom said she wished it came in a version with sleeves. But guess what??  When I went to the Just Madras web site to do a little looking around for this blog post, it comes in a very cute 3/4 length sleeve version! And to solidify its standing as the perfect summer dress I also found it comes in solid colors AND in adorable little girls sizes!

All images via Just Madras. Left to Right: Skipper dress in 3/4 length sleeves; Skipper Dress is Navy Blue; Girls Sailor Dress in Small Red Stripe

All images via Just Madras. Left to Right: Skipper dress in 3/4 length sleeves; Skipper Dress is Navy Blue; Girls Sailor Dress in Small Red Stripe

I think an impromptu summer cocktail party is in order to celebrate. Which one should I wear?!? Cheers to the perfect summer dress!

Creative Q & A with Inga Walker from The Classic Clutch

Being part of, or even watching, any creative process can be inspiring, energizing and fulfilling. I think everyone has ideas and dreams that they want to fulfill someday if only they have the time, money or talent… But when someone actually takes an idea and makes it a reality, it is an amazing thing to witness.  In both my personal and professional life, I have had the good fortune to meet and work with many creative people–artists, photographers, museum curators, graphic designers, interior designers, florists, event planners, store owners, moms who love to craft–and I always wonder, how do you they do it?  Often the answers are simple and sometimes they are more complex, but they are always inspiring. With Creative Q &A, I hope to create an ongoing  series to ask these questions of some of the amazing creative people I know. I think their stories will be as inspiring and exciting to you as they are to me.

Inga Walker - Owner & Designer of The Classic Clutch

Inga Walker – Owner & Designer of The Classic Clutch

For this first Creative Q & A, I am excited to feature Inga Walker, owner and designer of The Classic Clutch.  Inga and I met about 5 years ago when our children became classmates. Quite frankly, Inga is one of the most creative people I have ever known. She has a wonderful eye and a great sense of design of all types, from events and fashion to home decor and gardening. Whether she is working on a fundraiser for the kids school or helping a friend pull together some pillows and window treatments for their home, she has a real knack for making things look beautiful. So when Inga pulled me aside last spring and told me she had an idea for the perfect purse, I was not surprised. Within months, she had a prototype for The Classic Clutch–a preppy, all-American styled purse that is the perfect accent piece for any outfit with an array of colors to choose from, all with contrasting piping/lining. Over the last year, Inga has grown the line to include 18 styles, including a co-branded Classic Clutch in the iconic Nantucket Red with  Murray’s Toggery Shop on Nantucket. Talk about taking an idea and going full steam ahead! I interviewed Inga this week during our kids swim practice (busy moms gotta get things done whenever and however we can!) and I’m sure you will find Inga’s Creative Q & A as honest, insightful and inspiring as I did.

Q: What inspired you to create The Classic Clutch?

A: I was searching for this type of purse design and style for myself. I wanted a simple design with classic lines in fun prints but I was never able to find it. I wanted a design that could be repeated in multiple patterns and fabrics so that the same style clutch could be paired with different outfits. The design would be so simple and classic that I would want to wear it with everything. The Classic Clutch logo

Q: How did you come up with the design?

A: The design came to me in one of those moments in the middle of the night. I couldn’t sleep and I had this idea pop into my head about creating the perfect purse. I knew I didn’t want to call it the perfect purse so I came up with The Classic Clutch. The design was in my mind from day one. I wanted it to be large enough to hold keys and a phone but not too small like a typical clutch. I wanted this to be more functional. I was also really inspired by the Bermuda Bag from the 80s that has fun fabrics and contrasting piping. A Bermuda Bag has interchangeable covers and The Classic Clutch is kind of a play on that—its a clutch that people can buy in multiples to pair with different outfits.

The Classic Clutch Cotton Canvas Collection

The Classic Clutch Cotton Canvas Collection

Q: Your purse fabrics are all so cute – how do you select the fabrics that you feature?

A: I purchase my fabrics in New York and I’m really interested in doing mostly cotton canvas although the winter styles are more silks and wools. When I look at hundreds of different fabrics, I pull what I like and what I would wear. I want these fabrics to be preppy and fun. I want to appeal to a wide range of people too and some people want a more simple style and solid color so I like to have a few solid colors as well as prints. Right now I have about 18 different colors and patterns and I think the range has appealed to a large range of styles.

 

Q: What has been the most rewarding part of starting this business?

A: The opportunity to have my own design come to life and to have that design manufactured and then sold in a variety of different stores and areas of the country and to be able to interact with some amazing people–consumers and retailers. It has been really exciting for me to have it come to life. This year has been busy for me but I hope to take it to the next step in year two.

 

Q: What has been the most challenging part?

A: I am an artist and a creative person and I love that part of it so the business side has been the most challenging—creating a business and understanding business basics. I’ve had to learn a lot by taking classes and seeking out other people for help.

 

Q: As a full time mom with two school aged children, how do you balance the business and family?

A: That has been really challenging. It is a balancing act. I try to get a lot done when they are at school and at night but that is always something that I am trying to perfect and I haven’t really perfected it yet!

 

Q: What are the next steps for you and the business? How do you hope to see the business move forward in the next year?

A: I’m really thrilled about the co-branding with Murray’s and I’d like to do some more co-branding with other clothing retailers that I have my eye on to partner with next year. I’m also starting a sorority line with two or three sororities that I will be launching this fall on Etsy.

The Classic Clutch in Nantucket Red

The Classic Clutch in Nantucket Red

Q: What advice do you have for someone starting a creative business like yours?

A: If you have an idea, just go for it. I think that many times people don’t have confidence in themselves. Try it out and see if it is going to work. If you don’t, you will never know and then have regrets. That is what I did and I know that there are going to be ups and downs. Set your sights high and take it one step at a time and then you will build that confidence to see if your idea is a worthwhile one.

The Classic Clutch in Sand Cotton Canvas with Navy Monogram

The Classic Clutch in Sand Cotton Canvas with Navy Monogram

The Classic Clutch is available at The Grey Colt, Knuth’s, Murray’s Toggery Shop, Abigail’s and on Etsy. For more information, visit theclassicclutch.com