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Friday, September 4, 2015

Genius Undergarment: The Bra Lab

When I think of bra straps peeking out under a top, my mind instantly snaps to Carrie Bradshaw. She is the iconic character who made a display of lingerie totally acceptable and en vogue. Prior to her bold and playful fashion, straps were meant to be covered completely- if one peeked out, it could be considered a wardrobe malfunction and ruin a photo opp in a second.



I absolutely love it when a designer or stylist takes fashion and promptly turns it upside down. I recently attended an event to showcase a new take on lingerie styling that has changed the way I look at my undergarments- The Bra Lab.

I can't tell you how many times I have tried on a dress or top, only to reject it because I for the LIFE of me couldn't figure out what bra to wear with it. At age 34, going braless is not an option. Those paste on bras? Um...save them for the 21 year olds. I need something that is going to keep my figure intact while staying stylish. The ladies of The Bra Lab saw this dilemma and met the challenge head on.

The Bra Lab is the first EVER evolving bra that allows 100% customization and is actually meant to be seen and heard. This isn't any bargain basement project that was slapped together in home-ec either: the founders, sisters Jen and Gina, have roots in the fashion industry. Their grandmother was a master seamstress in Italy, and she has served as their inspiration in solving this undergarment quandary. They received a patent on their state-of-the-art design after years of exploration and experimentation within one of the most glam fashion districts on earth- L.A.

Here is how The Bra Lab Works:


  • First, you select your cup size and color preference- they run from A-DDD, so can accommodate a wide range of sizes. 
  • Next, choose the shoulder strap- styles range from vegan leather to herringbone to basic solids. The cups have multiple places to hook the shoulder straps for style and comfort.
  • Finally, the back strap, which is as functional as it is stylish. Sizes 30-38 are available in two ranges (30-34 and 34-38), which allow for fluctuation of weight and fit preference. There is also a line of non-slip silicone for a strapless option, as well as multiple loops for various shoulder strap placement.
As for comfort? I recently wore one of their newer back strap styles, the Saint-Tropez Crochet, to a red carpet event. After 6 hours of photo sessions, cocktails, dinner and dancing, I was 100% comfortable in the bra. No digging, poking, slipping or stretching- I was thrilled with both the look and feel of this chic style.

Here is a shot of the bra by itself, my getting ready selfie:


And here is a shot of the dress on the red carpet:


Here are some additional shots of the St. Tropez Crochet Noir, love it under both this drape-back and fishnet tank! (PS- the leggings are a sneak preview of my Fall Favorites; they are from the Borris Powell RTW line, available in his showroom).


Another favorite Bra Lab style is the gorgeously strappy number below- the Bondi Beach.


Honestly, this is the one undergarment I wish every woman could own. To purchase, visit The Bra Lab online or visit a boutique that carries their line (the closest to Chicago is Evanston).

I am thrilled to work with The Bra Lab, and you will see a lot of more of their style popping up in my shots! This is a collection I truly believe in- comfort and style together in perfect harmony.

Disclosure: Thank you to The Bra Lab for providing products for review purposes; all opinions are honest and my own.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Dare To Live in Full Color

Dare to live in full color.

This is the tagline of the wildly popular musical theater/comedy/art performance phenomenon known as The Blue Man Group, which over 35 million people have experienced.


I initially saw the show when it first came to Chicago- I was a teenager, too cool to participate in all the moves, so embarrassed that I might be singled out in the audience. Fast forward more than a decade later, and with two kids...I can now understand the magic of this show. I have grown up quite a bit since those times of worrying what everyone else thought of me, and feel I am finally embracing their motto- I am living in full color.


Blue Man Group encompasses everything I want to encourage in my children's lives- curiosity, communication, artistic expression, music, and just letting go to have fun! One thing I love about the show is the subtle adult humor that somehow manages to be completely appropriate for kids of all ages.

Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to see their latest show (they made a major format change in 2011) at the Briar Street Theater in Chicago, and have a Q&A with a band member and a "Blue Man" sans makeup. I learned a lot about what happens behind the scenes, what it takes to be a Blue Man, and everything that goes into this incredible production.


On the left is Gareth Hinsley, one of the 6 full time Blue Men on the crew. On the right is one of the musicians, who plays a completely unique instrument designed especially for the show. Here is what we learned:
  • Throwing and catching are two skill sets they focus on first. 
  • Catching marshmallows in your mouth is not easy, and takes time to work up to!
  • Thousands audition, but very few make it on stage. 
  • Audience participation is completely random, they don't pre-select participants to come on stage. 
  • Makeup takes about 30 minutes to apply, and is quicker to remove!
  • The musicians have to be in tune with the show and react accordingly- there is a lot of spontaneity.  

Also, in terms of education...The founders of Blue Man Group created an independent school (preK-6th grade) in New York City, appropriately named "Blue School." It is touted as a dynamically balanced education for seriously curious young people. After checking out their website, I found some seriously sweet Lesson Labs that will pique the curiosity of your kids and relate to the Blue Man Group! Check these two out:

The Science of Goo
Inventing an Instrument

Overall, I would highly recommend taking the kids for a Blue Man experience- for more information on prepping them, check out this link on the site! Also, Blue Man Group partnered with Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization. On October 4th at 4pm, the performance will be altered slightly to accommodate those with autism- bean bags, dim lights and noise-isolating headphones will be available.

Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary tickets to the Blue Man Group for review purposes. All opinions are honest and my own, as always!

Monday, August 31, 2015

ChicagonistaLIVE! Segment- Fall Color and Style

Last week, I had the opportunity to put together another ChicStyle segment for the ChicagonistaLIVE! show. I absolutely adore working with this team of incredibly talented people- both the on-camera staff and the behind the scenes crew.

If you aren't familiar with ChicagonistaLIVE!, it is the first "social talk show" of Chicago with engaging social media and Chicago-centric topics and guests. Nancy Loo, WGN News Broadcast Journalist, Beth Rosen of Boomfluent.com, and Chicagonista.com's creator MJ Tam come together to produce this informative, intelligent and (sometimes) sassy show.


Here is a recap of my segment for their Back to School Stylin' Show! The guest host was Anthony Martorina of Culinary Fight Club (cooking competition- you HAVE to attend these high energy events!), Heather Bragg- author of Learning Decoded (SO many tips on helping your child succeed in school), and Genevieve Thiers- founder of Sittercity (she revolutionized the babysitting world, and has a new service Date Night Now that makes it even easier to get out of the house!).

Here is a link to the unedited, raw footage from the show (My segment starts at 25:30).

One of my favorite summer accessories is color- and by that I mean a little bronze instead of the usual pallor my skin takes on during the cold Midwest months. When summer turns to fall, I often lose that flush and again look like a member of the Adams family for the next nine months. Luckily, I discovered a few tricks and tips on extending my sultry skin status into the fall without erring on the side of Oompa Loompa.

Sunless Tanner

I recently posted about the California Tan sunless products, and I am still crushing on them big time. The color didn't fade quickly, no streaky mess appeared, and I think it looks incredibly natural.


Here are my top tips to achieve a great sunless tan:

*Exfoliate. Get all the dead skin off before you apply product. The biggest problem areas for me are around my ankle bone, knees, elbows and tops of my feet.
*If you need to moisturize, don't use oil. Try to use a water-based moisturizer that will absorb quickly. Oil will repel the self-tanner and defeat the purpose of what you are trying to achieve.
*If you need to shave your legs, do so 8-12 hours before applying self-tanner. This will give any small nicks or cuts time to heal.
*Keep a dark washcloth handy to buff off any excess color that sticks to problem areas like knees and elbows.
*Let it go....as long as you can without showering. The color continues to develop hours after you apply; I like to apply after dinner and not shower until the next morning giving it 12 hours.
*Most sunless tanning systems contain a "color guide" that shows you where it has been applied, which washes off as the actual color develops. 

Bronzer


If sunless tanner isn't for you, a little bronzer is a quick and easy option. Here are the most affordable and highest rated ones I found when I walked around Walgreens makeup aisle, which I do on a weekly basis while my son obsesses in the toy aisle:

Maybelline Fit Me Bronzer- light, natural color that blends to your skin tone
Rimmel Natural Bronzer- waterproof, slight shimmer
Wet N Wild Color Icon Collection Bronzer- SPF 15, highly pigmented and long lasting

To apply, the easiest way is to trace a "3" on both sides of your face. Start at your forehead near your hairline and use light strokes. Continue to your cheeks, and back around to your jawline. Don't pick up additional bronzer, but use what is left on the brush to dust the areas where sun would naturally hit, like your nose. Also, blend from your jawline into your neck. The key is building sun-kissed color, not slopping on a heavy application. Apply blush after you are finished.

Speaking of color...let's move on to fall fashion!


I JUST hefted my cool weather wardrobe boxes down from their perch to peruse what I have to work with this season. I have started to gravitate towards what is easy and paired-down, but easy doesn't necessarily mean blah or sloppy in my book. Here is my trick to picking a perfect color palate that isn't boring, and not spending hours staring at your closet while doing so.

The #DipDye Method

Did you love to tie dye shirts when you were little? I was the queen of tie dye- I recall a fabulous pink graduated color jumpsuit that I favored at the age of about 8. In order to find a color palate for an outfit, think as if the garment was dip dyed. For example, I was thinking about what to wear with navy the other day. That color has always been so limiting for me- umm...white? Cream? That's it?

Now, imagine if your navy fabric was dip dyed. As in, you plunged a piece of white fabric into a vat of navy dye, then slowly lifted it out. The darkest concentration would be navy at the bottom, but what would the lighter colors look like? This is a fantastic way to add dimension to a monochrome color scheme. Same color family, different shades!

I came up with this- a powder blue flutter sleeve blouse paired with navy flat front trousers. As for shoes, I like to elongate the look and would add navy pumps (if I could find a decent pair that didn't make me look like I was 80, still on the hunt, lemme know if you find some por favor).



How about marsala, Pantone's color of the year? Or merlot, another hit? What would those look like dip dyed? I imagine a dusty rose emerging on the graduated color scale, and voila- total hit.

I am planning an entire post dedicated to my new method of clothing selection, so stay tuned!