Travel Like A Boss!

Mom and I just returned from a market trip to Dallas, Texas.  Hopefully, you have already checked out my blog post on our Treska Warehouse tour.  If not, do it now so you can learn all about how a Treska necklace is made from start to finish!

Today’s post is on a different topic, however.  I want you, our precious customers and loyal readers, to know that we absolutely, positively, believe in the lines we sell at Fashion Crossroads.  How much, you ask?  So much that we wear them and use them when we travel!  You all know that we women take our very favorite things with us when we go on trips.  The ho-hums in our closets never see the inside of our suitcases and travel bags.  Oh no, only the coziest, cutest and most comfortable items get that special privilege.  For me and my mom and our trip to Dallas, those favorite things were Sympli and Vera Bradley.  Let me tell you why.

IMG_4216Sympli is the most wonderful line (not kidding) that I have ever worn.  It looks amazing because it has a fabulous fit, and it is oh so comfortable to wear.  Because you can pack it without worrying about wrinkles and because the line is so well thought out, you can literally grab two bottoms and three tops and have a whole week worth of outfits.  For example, I brought my Sympli leggings and mini skirt (I always wear these together) and my capris for my bottoms as well as a white pair of jeans.  Then I threw in my sleeveless Cascade Top (see picture above), my cold shoulder Nu Urban top, my Go To Tank Tunic and my favorite Sympli jacket.  These 7 pieces saw me through 5 days and took me from seminars, to show room floor, to dinner out on the town.

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When it came down to packing, both mom and I chose Vera Bradley travel gear even though we each have other options.  My mom took her Vera rolling carry on in black. She was able to push it through the airport with ease due to the four wheeled bottom.  I was able to lift it above my head to put it into the carry on luggage rack without breaking my back!  Yeah for me!

I took my Vera Grand Traveler soft sided bag, my Vera tote and my Vera cross body cell phone purse. You can see some of these items in the picture below.  The tote bag worked to hold my book, spare cell phone battery, headphones, files, Kind bar, and iPad while I was on the plane without being too bulky to fit under the seat in front of me.  The cell phone purse was perfect to sling across my body to keep my cell phone, driver’s license and credit cards handy and within reach while I was going through security and waiting to board the plane.  When it was time to get on the plane, I just took my cell phone purse off and put it inside the tote, and I didn’t have to get in a fight with the gate agent about having too many carry-ons.  Inside my Grand Traveler bag was the Vera hanging organizer that I could simply hang up on the back of the bathroom door and reach all my cosmetics easily without cluttering up the bathroom counter.  I also had my Vera jewelry organizer which kept my earrings and necklaces and bracelets in separate compartments (I love organization, especially when I travel). Then, while I was at market, the Vera tote worked perfectly as a brief case.  I have to say, I really do love these products.  IMG_4230

When I convince my customers to buy a product we sell based upon my recommendation, I take that very seriously.  Know that before I will tell you it is a wonderful product, I have put it though the test of my own life.  If we sell it, we believe in it!  We have just marked down a special rack of discontinued styles and colors of Sympli to 30% off.  (Mark downs in this line never happen so grab them while the gettin’ is good).  We also have several patterns of Vera Bradley that are 25% off, and we are expecting our new fall arrivals from Painted Medallions and Falling Flowers any day!

Happy travels, and don’t forget your Sympli and Vera Bradley!

Behind The Scenes: Treska

After being a women’s clothing store manager and owner for eighteen years, I was so excited to get to see the behind the scenes process of one of my favorite jewelry vendors – Treska.  On a recent buying trip to Dallas, Texas, my mom and I had the opportunity to tour Treska’s warehouse and get an up close perspective on the jewelry making process.  We also got to shop straight from the warehouse shelves – we were like two kids in a candy store!

The process Treska goes through to design their jewelry is meticulous and time consuming.  First they begin with inspiration.  I found this inspiration board outside the bathroom (probably because that is the place everyone would see it multiple times a day).  It was such a great example of how an idea blooms into something tangible.  Take a close look at the items included on the board.    IMG_4192You can see how it represents themes, colors and textures for a group of jewelry. This particular design is playing off earthy wood textures and the soft tans and pinks in sea shells.  What a beautiful combination that represents the soft pinks and neutrals so popular in fashion right now.   It also appears this group might have some feather accents as well.  Won’t it be fun to see the finished jewelry that arises from this inspiration board?

Even more fun than the board was meeting Treska’s chief designer.  She was a Bohemain mama, dressed in colorful cottons and a graphic tank and seemed right at home in a jewelry design office.  IMG_4207She took the time to show us some of the pieces they were currently working on and how every necklace begins in a box as a conglomeration of colors and textures that are then formed into a unique necklace.  IMG_4210

While we were in the design room, we also got to see a Treska employee doing appoxy on some pieces.  This process requires hand painting metal pieces with a cue tip to create a patina look.  As you can see in the picture, each one is done by hand.  IMG_4206

Once a design is finalized, two master copies are made.  One is then sent to China where Treska has their necklaces assembled.  A production sample is sent back, approved by Treska, and then that sample is used by the Chinese to make the individual necklaces which are then shipped to the United States.  It’s quite a lengthy process requiring Treska’s designers to work ahead.  While we were there, they were working on Spring 2018.

Outside the air conditioned design room, the warehouse sprawled.  There were rows and rows of shelves with boxes of beads and bobbles.  Readers,  I am telling you, there were hundreds of thousands of beads.  It was mind boggling.

As we made our way back, we came to more shelves with completed necklaces available for sale.  This is where all the fun began!  Up and down the isles we wandered, grabbing necklaces, earrings, and a few bracelets of beautiful Treska jewelry.  IMG_4194

In the end, we came home with a whole bag full of Treska priced with a special discount just for you!  It is out and on the floor, so you will want to hurry in to get the best selection! IMG_4258

Purse Fetish? Let Me Count The Ways!

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I love handbags!  If you think about it, a purse is a girl’s best friend.  What else do you have with you wherever you go that can always be counted on to have everything you need right when you need it?   A quick inventory of my purse demonstrates my point. Wallet, hand gel, brush, hair spray, makeup, Tylenol, allergy medicine, planner, tissue, sunglasses…no wonder my kids and husband are always asking me to produce what they need out of my magic bag.

I’m an organization freak, so my handbag either needs to have compartments or I use various small bags to keep everything handy.  I love it when my handbags have a key finder (long cord attached to the side of your purse that attaches to your keys), since keys are notorious for hiding so well you have to take everything out to find them.  A key finder allows you to just find the cord and then run your hand along it until, eureka, your keys are at the end.  Ingenious.

Another essential for me (and every other woman I know) is a handy cell phone pocket so you can get to your phone before it stops ringing.  Since my world is on my phone, I need to be able to find it…FAST!

Aside from those few necessities, I choose a handbag based upon what makes my heart sing.  If I am going to carry it every where I go for at least six months at a time,  I want to love looking at it.  I move in phases between carrying neutral purses that go with everything to carrying a handbag that is truly eye catching and makes a statement.  My go to statement purse is Anuschka.

My mom and I discovered this brand exactly the way every woman should discover a purse…we saw another woman carrying one, and after we had oohed and awed over it, asked her the name of the brand.  We have been selling these little beauties ever since. And when I say selling, let me just tell you that we have already sold 30 this year.  At an average price of $150 to $400 in a town of 55,000, that is no small accomplishment.  But the reason they sell so well is because they are truly the perfect combination of beauty and function.

Let me explain.  First of all, they are hand painted with beautiful designs in everything from landscapes and florals, to abstracts and nature.  After 12 to 18 months of use, a print is retired. Once this happens, it is never used again.  At this point, your handbag becomes wearable art. No one will ever be able to get your specific handbag again. Second, the leather is second to none.  It just gets softer and softer over time, making you want to hug it just to appreciate the utterly smooth lusciousness.  No kidding.  But my favorite thing about Anuschka is the attention to detail on the inside of the purse.  These handbags have the most well thought out insides of any purse line I have used or seen. The pockets are well placed and appropriately sized, making them utterly useful.  Often, Anuschka will add built in wallets and divider pockets that appeal to type A personalities like mine.  And, especially in their larger bags, they throw in little extras like coordinating make up bags and sun-glass cases.

Believe me, this is a purse to have a fetish over.  Just ask any Anuschka purse owner you know.

Becoming Her Own Person

I flung the soft white rayon blouse behind me; it’s Bohemian printed tassel floated in mid-air as it descended down into the growing pile of clothes in the middle of my twelve year old daughter’s bedroom floor.  Next came the vintage wash boyfriend jeans with their patched holes and cuffed bottom.  Grumbling to myself, I threw them with extra force, gaining some satisfaction when they crash landed into the pile, scattering it.  “Just wait until she comes home and sees this mess.” I thought to myself, smiling at the thought of her shocked face.  “She’ll treat her clothes differently after she cleans this up.” Last, I grabbed the long fringe sweater that, together with the cute shoe boots, completed the outfit.

It had all started innocently enough.  Looking for my daughter’s ballet clothing and shoes, I had opened the closet when I couldn’t find them.  As I surveyed the clothing, empty bags of chips from after school snacks, old school papers and other various bits of trash, a red hot fire began to grow in my brain.  Obviously, she had just shoved everything that was on her bedroom floor into her closet, closed the door and happily told me she had completed her weekly chore of cleaning her room.

But as I began tossing all of her stuff back onto the floor, I started to notice something.  On the bottom of the pile were all of these clothes that I hadn’t seen her wear in months. Worse yet, they were her cutest clothes, the trendy ones I had been especially fond of buying for her school wardrobe.  After all, being a boutique owner, fashion trends are my life.  I took great pleasure in seeing her dress in hip styles.  When had she stopped wearing these outfits, I thought to myself?  Lately, all I’d seen her wear was tee shirts and leggings.

I was still annoyed and perplexed when I picked her up from school later that day.  We chatted about school, as I laid in wait for a good time to mention the surprise waiting for her at home.  When the opportunity arose, I pounced.

“So, you forgot to get your ballet bag out for me.” I said, pausing to allow my daughter to think about where I might have looked for it.

Suddenly, the dawn of recognition spread across her face.  Shock and fear resonated from behind her eyes as, wide eyed, she asked, “So….did you go looking for it?”

“Yup.” I said it matter of factly, letting the “p” sound have extra emphasis and enjoying every minute.  I watched her face change as a myriad of emotions played across it then watched as she looked down and began twiddling her fingers.  “Any guesses what I found?” I added sweetly.

“All the stuff I shoved in my closet?” She answered, sheepishly.

“Yup.” I said again, again emphasizing the “p” sound.

“Sorry mom.  I didn’t want to clean my room so I just put it all in there.”

“Hmm, what do you think I did with all of that stuff?” I asked, smiling sweetly and looking over at her with my eyebrows raised.

“Threw it all away?” my daughter said, almost sounding hopeful.

“No… I put it all back on your floor where it started.  You can tackle the pile when you get home.”   We drove in silence for awhile.  She, I’m sure was thinking about the mess I had made, and I was trying to formulate my next question.  “Why, may I ask, were all of the cute clothes we bought you for school at the bottom of your closet?”

“I don’t like those anymore.”  She said, looking straight ahead.

“What do you mean you don’t like those anymore?” I responded with irritation.  “Do you know how much me and your dad spent on those clothes?  You liked them when we were shelling out all that money.”

“You liked them.” She said it quietly, still staring straight ahead.  “You talked me into them.  They just aren’t my style.”

I didn’t respond right away.  My mind went back to that day in Justice when we had done her school shopping.  Both my husband and I had just loved that cute Bohemian outfit with the boyfriend jeans.  She looked adorable, and we probably had forced it on her a bit.

“Well, what is your style then?” I asked, genuinely curious.

“I like sportsy stuff…you know Champion, Nike, and brands like that.”  She answered, looking over at me.

“Oh, okay.  Good to know.”  I said, and then changed the subject.  But as she continued talking about her day, I thought about style and how important it is as an expression of self.   My daughter was becoming her own person and trying out different styles and personas was all part of the adolescent exploration of self.  And, this was just the beginning of that process.  So she may not be like me and like dressing in the latest fashion trends, but I can take solace in the fact she will become who she was meant to be, an individual all her own.

 

Not All Cold Shoulder Tops Were Created Equal!

I have found my go-to cold shoulder top, and I’m so excited about it,  I wanted to share it with you!  Sympli has added a new top to their line called the Nu-glimpse top, and it is the perfect cold shoulder top!

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Nuglimpse Top By Sympli available in store or online 

Why so perfect, you ask?  Well, let me tell you!  As I have watched a myriad of women try on various shoulder exposing tops at the store, I have noticed that not all cold shoulder tops are created equal.  Some are too big in the shoulder, causing them to fit poorly on the arm or droop. Some make it impossible to wear a bra which means fiddling with a strapless bra or bandeaux (just kill me now).  Some show so much shoulder, women feel a bit naked and too exposed.  This is why I love this top from Sympli!  It has shoulder cut outs that are the perfect size, giving you the cold shoulder look, but in a way that any woman can wear.  I also love that this top does not show your bra, eliminating the hassle that so many cold shoulder tops pose. Best yet, it has a slight a-line cut so it doesn’t show any extra weight you may be carrying at the waist.

What is also amazing about the Nuglimpse top is that you get all of the other wonderful features of Sympli – no wrinkles, no fading and no stretching out.  This top will look this black and this great 5 years from now.  With Sympli, you just wash in cold water and hang to dry.  It dries wrinkle free, and you are off and running! The use of 12 oz weight fabric instead of 9 oz weight, means that the fabric drapes rather than clings to your body.  It really does look amazing on.  The fact that it is the number one selling line in our 5,000 square foot store is a testament to this.

There is the issue of price, however.  Sympli is not inexpensive.  This top retails for $124, but when you calculate cost per wear, it really is a great value.  If you just wore this top 1 time a week for a year, you would only be spending $2.58 per wear.  Given the fabric’s longevity, you will have this top for much longer than a year so the cost per wear goes down the longer you own the top.  Considering the fact that it is black, it will work back into your wardrobe easily.  Given that it is a mid-hip length hemline that pairs with any bottom, the styling opportunities are endless! That $124 doesn’t seem so costly now, does it?  That is the magic of cost per wear! Spending more on a really great item ends up costing you less than spending less and having to replace the item in six months because it has pilled, lost its shape or shrunk.  And as always, Fashion Crossroads offers a great layaway program too!

So, that’s my product review of Sympli’s Nuglimpse top.  It is my favorite cold shoulder top in my own wardrobe, so I am unashamedly recommending it to you!

Lace Up Detailing

One of the hottest new summer trends is the addition of lace elements on tops and dresses that add interest and detail to the neck, back and front.  My favorite part of this trend is its freshness.  While exposed shoulders have been around for a few seasons in various forms, lace embellishments are new for this season.

One of the most important benefits to this trend is that these simple lace designs draw the eye upward and keep it focused near your face.  When you have one of these tops on, no one will be looking at your legs or feet!  Additionally, the trend adds a feminine touch that is delicate and beautiful.  It is almost like adding jewelry to your top.  The lace details act in much the same way a lovely necklace adds interest and focuses the eye.

If you find the neck or back to be too plunging, you can always use fashion tape from Hollywood Fashion to secure the neckline to your skin so it will stay in place.  We carry this line of fashion emergency fixers at Fashion Crossroads.

Just remember ladies, this season is all about showing some skin.  Whether you are bearing your shoulders in a cold shoulder top, showing skin with cut outs, or drawing the eye upward with lace detailing, you are highlighting the area around your face and neck and keeping beautiful you at the forefront and center!  That, my dears, is the WHOLE point of fashion!  Happy shopping!

How Old Is Too Old To Wear A Romper?

One of the most common questions I get is the “Am I too old to wear a….?”  Let’s face it ladies, one of the most challenging things about fashion is figuring out how to stay trendy without dressing in an age inappropriate way.  Let me just say at the beginning of this blog that I flat out reject the idea that if you are wearing current trends and are past forty, you are dressing too young.  I don’t believe the problem lies in whether you wear the latest trends; I believe the issue is in how you wear them.

Let me explain.  Each trend will have an edgy side and a more conservative side.  Take the two pictures at the top of this blog as an example.  On the left is a romper that I would wear, and I am 45.  I wouldn’t wear the one on the right, however.  That choice doesn’t come from which I think is cuter because I love them both.  I would choose the one on the left because it is a toned down version of the romper trend.  It has a tank style top that is bra friendly; it has an adjustable draw string waist with a blousy top that will hide figure flaws; it is in a beefier fabric which is less flimsy; and it has slightly longer shorts because of the crochet detailing on the bottom.  My post forty legs just can’t do short shorts.  If I wanted to add another conservative element, I could put a white button up cardigan or denim jacket over my arms for coverage.

The floral romper on the right would perhaps be better suited for a woman in her twenties or even thirties.  With the chiffon fabric and shorter shorts, it will require nice legs.  The addition of the cold shoulder element further limits this romper because the more edgy trends you combine in one outfit, the younger the look becomes.  In other words, its okay to wear a romper if you are over forty.  It might not be the best idea to wear a chiffon romper with little flowers and cold shoulders that require you to wear a bandeaux as a bra.  Do you get my drift?

I use this same logic when I am considering any trend.  Is there a way I can wear the trend while still keeping the look conservative enough to be appropriate?  I can tell you that I have rarely skipped a trend altogether.  Only two “um…not only no but hell no” trends come to mind: short shorts and mini dresses.

So if you are like me and over forty but still want to dress in the latest trends, don’t despair.  You can stay fashionable and stylish well into your sixties and seventies.  The key is keeping it classy!