March 4, 2015

{WANDERLUST} Heaven is a Hammock in Palm Springs

Dress (also available in black!), Sandals, Sunglasses, Handbag (currently 40% off)

With everything going on in my life right now, finding a moment for relaxation or escapism has become something of an ambition, though there have been a couple minutes in my day where I start fantasizing about going back to Palm Springs (April is looking good). Palm Springs is easily one of my favorite places in the country - alongside my hometowns of LA and New York, and my southern belle, Savannah. It's hard to believe that this little time-capsule town was only a couple of hours away from me for 17-years of my life, and I've only just been taking advantage of the close proximity. Recently a lot of people have been asking about things to do in Palm Springs, so I thought I'd recap some of my favorites, (I also have some more suggestions here and here).

The Parker | By far my favorite destination in Palm Springs, The Parker, part of the Starwood group, is not just a great hotel but an incredible property - with gorgeous, lush grounds and flawless mid-century modern and Hollywood Regency decor by Jonathan Adler throughout. It has the unique ability to hold onto an old-Hollywood vibe and personality while still being incredibly modern. I want to live there - but since I can't, it's definitely inspiring the style of my new house in LA.

The Viceroy | While I haven't stayed at The Viceroy, it's another boutique hotel with a Hollywood Regency vibe designed by Kelly Wearstler with a super refined black-white-yellow color palette. It's high up on my list of places to stay!

The Saguaro | There's almost no way you haven't scrolled by a picture of The Saguaro Palm Springs (there's one in Scottsdale, AZ, too) on Instagram. The hotel is fun and cheerful, and more Sgt. Pepper's-era-1960's than hollywood regency, (a nice contrast to The Parker and The Viceroy). The rooms are... eh, nothing to write home about; the linens are rough and the beds aren't very comfortable, but they serve the purpose and the poolside is fantastic - with a great bar adjacent and a beautiful setting - with views of the mountains peaking over the hotel.

The Ace | Everyone knows the Ace for their brand of hipster-approved cool, but the most remarkable thing (at least in my opinion), is that the people at the Ace managed to convert a former Howard Johnson's motel into a major destination for the Coachella-set. Street cred aside, while the rooms at The Ace are pretty minimal (and a little bit unimpressive), what the Ace does have is a really awesome pool scene with a rotation of DJ's who bring a serious party.

Norma's | At the Parker Hotel, Norma's is by far my favorite place to grab a bite (or indulge in a leisurely 3-hour lunch) in Palm Springs. I may or may not have even joked to Ali that we head down to Palm Springs this weekend just to have brunch at Norma's... I quickly realized that was both crazy and excessive, but if time and money were no object, I'd do it. I dream about their fish tacos and fresh donuts (they're not gluten free, but to me they're totally worth the latent pain), and their smoothies (changed daily) are a perfect refreshment to the dry desert heat. Okay, maybe going for brunch isn't so crazy, after all...

Cheeky's | Located in the heart of Palm Springs' downtown area (and walking distance to lots of chic houseware stores and boutiques), Cheeky's is a bright and cheerful brunch destination (true to form, it closes daily at 2 PM). I can tell you what to order because the menu changes weekly, but the bacon flight and seriously legit Spicy Blood Mary's are mainstays that are worth the indulgence. Get there early and expect a wait - but it'll probably be worth it!

Citron | Located at The Viceroy, Citron is a nice finer-dining spot that still allows you to keep your attire desert casual. We went just before Valentine's Day and I admittedly felt a bit overdressed - but thought the sophisticated menu and price point warranted an upgraded look. We shared a few dishes and all were delicious, and the outdoor seating area with tiki-torched lighting overlooking the pool made for a fantastic romantic night out.

Kings Highway  | Located at The Ace Hotel, the space used to be a Denny's (appropriate, since The Ace was a HoJo's), but has since been upgraded with gorgeous stained glass windows and fiberglass Eames chairs. I've only been for brunch, but let me tell you: this makes for some really good hungover people watching. Also, the food is good, with some mainstays from the other Ace locations - like moroccan eggs, avocado toast, and the five leaves burger, and locally inspired additions like date shakes.

Hadley's | So you can get one version of a date shake at Kings Highway, but what you should really do is go to Hadley's in Cabazon, just north of Palm Springs, for the original date shake. There's a reason why it has Anthony Bourdain's stamp of approval, and part of it is that while the date shake is often imitated (and I've tried, too), nothing comes close to Hadley's. On top of the date shakes, Hadley's sells an enormous assortment of dried fruit, nuts, and have a diner counter with grease-spoon favorites (though, actually, I've never tried any of those because daaaate shaaaakes....)

Though I love to spend most of my time in Palm Springs lounging pool side, there are plenty of things to do in the valley aside from catching-up on vitamin-D and imbibing. 

Palm Springs Sky Tram | One of the most incredible experiences in Palm Springs is to take a ride on the Palm Springs Sky Tram all the way up to the top of the San Jacinto mountains. My favorite thing about it is that in a short tram ride, you experience so many different geological zones - from dry and arid desert to lush forests with evergreen trees. It's stunning, and the air is so fresh and clean!

Palm Springs Art Museum | It's not the MoMA or LACMA, but for a relatively small town, the Palm Springs Art Museum has an impressive collection of contemporary arts across mediums - from sculpture to painting and photography. Currently on exhibition is a series of photos by Jennifer Karady, with environmental portraits of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The permanent collection also features Native American and Mesoamerican works. 

Mid-Century House Tours | There are loads of guided house tours of Palm Springs (and I very much intend to go on one), but one of my favorite things is to drive through the valleys many residential neighborhoods (Indian Canyon, Palm Canyon, Twin Palms). I can't get enough of the colorful doorways and cactus-filled landscapes! One of my secret longterm goals is to actually have a little bungalow in the desert.... Someday! A girl can dream.

Shopping | I confess that, shopaholic that I am, I haven't fully explored the surplus of vintage and thrift opportunities in Palm Springs. Locals and visitors alike swear by Route 66 West (for an overflowing supply of costume jewelry), Secret Service (for a more curated take on vintage), and 20 First for mid-century modern home decor and furniture. There are also great new boutiques like Wil Stiles, and desert outlets from renowned designers like Trina Turk and Jonathan Adler (who are perfectly at home in the valley). If time permits (and trust me... you think you can get in-and-out of there in an hour, but you won't), the Desert Hills Premium Outlets in Cabazon are uh-may-zing; it has everything from Saint Laurent and Prada to Kate Spade and Calypso St. Barth, (check out the full store listing). 

March 3, 2015

{STYLE} Spring Renewal

Over the past couple of weeks, I decided I need to take a little hiatus from my blog; between NYFW, a cross country move, some medical potential-unknowns (that have all since been cleared - and we're good!), and a mountain of non-blog related work, it was important for me to shift my focus for a moment so I could come back to my blog with a refreshed perspective. I made it to California and in my new home with my beau and our pup (and our cat on the way), and a clearer mind of all the things I want to accomplish personally and professionally for the long and short term. I feel like my batteries have been reset and I have this enormous supply of new energy to create, write, and share.

And what better time to renew and refresh than on the heels of spring? In Persian culture (where I inherited half my DNA and all of my traditions), spring marks the new year - called now'ruz - and is celebrated on the spring equinox. The symbolism and rituals associated with now'ruz are all derived from nature - the sky, the earth, fire, animals, fertility, water, plants; it's a "new year" that has always made a lot more sense to me than the calendar year we celebrate on January 1st - and I love that the mark of the new year is mimicked by real change in the world around us. I'm sure that being a spring baby, with my birthday trailing just a few weeks behind the spring equinox, also has a little bit to do with my personal biases! 

Being in LA where it's already starting to feel like spring (my apologies to the east coasters staring at the snowflakes in the forecast right now), I'm already allowing myself to tip-toe around spring trends and indulge in one of my favorite themes of the season (pastels). I first spotted this pink skirt in Addition Elle's Spring lookbook a few months ago and honestly felt like it was made with me in mind (but truth be told, I probably think that far too often about anything pink!) Confession: I actually emailed my friend who works at Addition Elle, Jen, asking how they had gotten so many of my personal must-haves that have yet eluded the plus-size market out of my mind and into their lookbook. It sort of felt like style kismet... 

It has been way too cold to think about wearing this perfect pink midi on the frozen, sludge-filled streets of NYC, but in Southern California? It's a no-brainer. The sheer polka dot top I paired it with was just another perfect-10 for me, (PS - it also comes in white and it's going in my shopping cart riiiiight now). It feels like a quintessentially me outfit to wrap my head around all the personal victories I have on my to-do list. 

Spring, we're on. Let's do this. 


Thank you to Addition Elle  for including me in their new influencer series.
All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

February 14, 2015

{GIVEAWAY} Celebrating Self Love with Curvy Couture

This text is longer than many on my blog, but trust me, once you get through it- there's something big in it for you!

In the midst of fashion week, I'm reminded how much self-love is a journey and that not every day has the same circumstances that allow you to feel as confident as you did the day before. It's a process that begins internally and has to be renegotiated constantly as you face changes in your life, your body, and your environment. Every fashion week, despite knowing that I do belong at shows as a contributing editor at Marie Claire and as a person who maintains great relationships with publicists and designers, and am validated by invitations and front row seat assignments (not to every show, of course, but it happens enough now that I no longer automatically assume it's a mistake like I used to), I still question whether or not I deserve to be in that environment. Of course, the logical, thinking side of my brain knows that's not true, but it's hard not to question things when PR interns snub you because they don't know who you are or what relationship you have with their boss, and while recognizing that there are so few people who look like you in these spaces. (The latter, rightfully, is a testament to why I need to keep going and being visible, as well as why I'm always so grateful for the opportunity to be there.)

So, with all the craziness (and also lots of fun, and reunion-happening with my friends across publications, and the immense privilege of getting to go to shows and celebrate the hard work of my friends and scope out next seasons collections) that is fashion week, and on the heels of Valentine's Day, which I cannot believe is today, I'm recommitting myself to prioritizing me and my sense of self above all. I'm reminding myself to do the things that make me feel good each day, from being active and walking through the city instead of cabbing it, to eating all the fresh veggies and sipping on green tea, and taking breaks to catch up with my friends, and of course, reveling in coming home to my beautiful soon-to-be-wife and our fur babies.

In celebration of this recommitment and renewal of mine (and everyone's, because we could all use a recharge), journey towards self-love, I've partnered with lingerie brand Curvy Couture to celebrate you with an incredible giveaway! I was first introduced to Dora Lau, Curvy Couture's founder and designer, just about two years ago after she launched her collection following a long term, 20+ year career as an innovator in the full-figured lingerie market and an award-winning designer. Dora is the real deal - with a resume that boasts everyone from the late Oscar de la Renta to Agent Provocateur. At the time, I was immediately captivated by her bubbly personality, enthusiasm, and commitment to making beautiful pieces that fit perfectly. When Curvy Couture launched, however, my bust size (an overwhelming-to-me 38H) was not part of the initial collection, but as their business has grown the size range has, as well, now offering 36C-44H.

Lingerie has been a huge passion of mine for the last few years, after a lifetime of struggling to find pieces that looked AND felt good, and finally finding that you don't have to sacrifice one for the other. It feels like a huge coup to be able to add another brand and designer to my list of people who satisfy my needs for fit and aesthetic, and Curvy Couture is certainly that - with fantastic colors, luxe embroideries, a great price point, and all-day comfort. And, I want to pass along the experience to one of my readers! Curvy Couture and I are hosting a giveaway for two full sets from their collection (and there are lots of great pieces to choose from!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to Curvy Couture for sponsoring this contest. 

All opinions and content are my own.

February 12, 2015

{INTERIORS} Making It Colorful

Other than fashion and baby animals, one of my greatest loves in life is interior design and creating spaces that are inviting, warm, and inspire my creative side (especially as a semi-work-from-home kinda gal). Not many people know this through my blog, but I actually started my career as a design strategist at an interiors and architecture firm - where swooning over chair details and upholsteries and marble finishes were a major perk of my work life. Working there also gave me the opportunity to become fluent in the very specific vocabulary of interior design, and while it's no longer my professional life, it continues to be something I love. 

I'm back in NYC and first things first - it is cold. It may be fashion week and I'll be willingly (and enthusiastically) running around outside trying not to get frostbite, but I can't say that I won't be dreaming about snuggling up with Ali and Francoise in my colorful living room watching 90s movies, (plus, it has been a really long time since I've watched Can't Hardly Wait and I suddenly feel like that needs to happen). 

So, back to my humble abode. When I'm in NYC, I spend a lot of time in my home-slash-office, so having a space that is bright, cheerful, and easily refreshed so that I do not get bored has become pretty crucial to my happiness and productivity. I love switching easy things up like my bedding, accent pillows, or changing out my wall art to give my home a feeling of newness without breaking the bank. When I heard about the partnership happening between West Elm & Kate Spade Saturday, I knew it was going to be right up my alley. And then, when West Elm reached out to me about being one of their Saturday girls for the launch and I actually got to see their line, all my assumptions were confirmed tenfold! The collection is modern and feminine, cheerful with great splashes of color, and kind of worked perfectly with the aesthetic I've already had going on in my space! 

Galaxy Bedding, Throw Pillows c/o West Elm, Striped Top, Puppy (sorry, not for sale!)
Photos by Lydia Hudgens

As part of the partnership, I got a chance to take over WestElm's Instagram feed - and if you missed it, you can get an awesome recap of my perfect Saturday on the FRONT + MAIN blog! Plus, I shared some of my secrets with them, so... you should definitely click through and read the mini-interview in their post, too.  

I think the winter time is the perfect opportunity to refresh one's space and get a head-start on spring cleaning (because once it's spring, I actually want to make the most of the good weather and be outside!) What updates do you like to make to your space?? 


I received products from the West Elm x KSS collection, as disclosed above, but have not been paid for this partnership. All opinions and content are my own. 

February 9, 2015

{STYLE} Inside the AVA & VIV Look Book

Left: Me wearing the striped blazer (also available in grey) and striped dress.Right: Chastity wearing the denim jacket and jumpsuit (both available in March).

By now, many of you have already seen the AVA & VIV look book that Gabi, Chastity, and myself had the immense pleasure of modeling. I have to say, I've been on a lot of professional shoots, but this one was a personal highlight for me; while shoots of this scale are usually a mess of perpendicular anxieties, this one managed to be FUN and incredibly relaxed in spite of all the moving pieces. Every single member of the team, from hair and makeup, to styling by Zanna Roberts Rassi (my esteemed Marie Claire colleague and E! contributor), to the photographer were all incredible, and jived exceedingly well. It's days like these that I have to pinch myself and remember that this has somehow become part of my job. I swear all these years later it's still surreal. 

While they've yet to roll out at my local Target stores, I've been getting lots of tweets that some of you have already seen AVA & VIV in person - with lots of great floor space! I'm so excited to see it in real life, but for now, I'm really grateful that I got to be part of this shoot. It's pretty remarkable to me to see three women with a variety of sizes and body types and all of mixed-race descent in a campaign in a time where we're still arguing over whether or not size-8 models should appear in plus-size campaigns. It's like a little personal revolution that the three of us, none of whom are models (though my girls Gabi and Chastity could definitely give a lot of pro models a run for their money), were featured in a huge shoot like this one. Yes, as an entire industry we have a ways to go, but I'm really proud of this one.

Below are some of my favorite shots from the campaign! Also, be sure to check online and in-store, because there are lots of cute pieces that we never got a chance to shoot (like this adorable green and blue printed top). 

Wearing the chambray dress (available in March) and khaki anorak

Left: Me in the denim jacket, black eyelet top, and jogger.Right: Gabi in the white eyelet top and distressed boyfriend jeans.The eyelet tops and joggers are among my favorites in the collection! Tops will be available in April, and the denim jacket and joggers will be out in March. 

Left: Chastity in the striped maxi dress (available in March).Right: Me in the cardigan, striped tulip skirt, and coral tee.

Gabi wearing black and white contrast trousers (available in March) and black top.

Stripes and chambray are always essentials to my wardrobe, so I'm really excited to bring a few of these home to my closet - they're especially apropos for my slightly more relaxed approach to dressing on the west coast!  So far, just about half of the spring assortment is available online - with deliveries being added until May for this initial collection which we shot.  Some pieces (like that amazing jumpsuit modeled by Chastity) will be exclusively online.

This post is part of an ongoing partnership with Target.
All opinions and content are my own!