My Winter Survival Kit for 2019

And so we enter these tough months in upstate NY. The months that stretch the thermometer into the single digits.  The days that feel so short. The weekends that you pray for the snow to ski, but not for “foot-warmer” lows. The cough drops, humidifiers, endless supply of tissues… winter is tough around here.

To make matters worse, it’s not all that much fun getting dressed this time of year. My style attitude, come January, shifts from wanting to “look great” during the holiday season, to wanting to “look acceptable but be warm and comfortable.” SO sad, but so true. (Notice many fewer outfits shared on my IG feed… now you know why!) I thought I’d share some of my winter essentials.  In other words, the “stuff” that makes MY winter months slightly more pleasant. As always, a description and direct links to items are under photo.

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  1. PERFECT WINTER HAT, like this customizable cutie from Ralph Lauren. How fun!  Choose your stripes, letters, and pom-pom!  I LIVE in hats during the winter months to avoid having to do my hair as much as possible, and need to order one of these!
  2. WINTER LAYERING CAPE, like this wool cape by & Other Stories.  I love wearing blazers and furry vests during the winter months, and it’s often tough to fit a coat over all those layers!
  3. LIGHT MATTE BRONZER, like my ALL-time fave, the Two Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer. When my pale winter skin becomes transparent mid-season, I always appreciate a little “sun” on my face.
  4. WINTER BOOTS with warmth, traction AND style! I live in Sorels, but I LOVE my Bean Boots (as discussed in my very first style post!). These shearling-lined 16″ Bean Boots are on my winter wish list!
  5. GREAT WINTER PARKA, like this white The North Face Arctic Down II Parka (Backcountry).com. A warm coat is essential in the Northeast, and some definition in the waist always will prevent you from looking like an oompa loompa.
  6. SMALL VERSATILE CROSSBODY, like this super cute SeeByChloe Camera bag.  When it’s this icy, I want my hands free when running around town with the boys. When out with the baby or traveling, I usually use a tote for my larger items but keep my personal essentials “on me” in a small crossbody.
  7. INSPIRING BOOK, like my most recent read, The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein. Gabby’s books are great for overcoming fears and ego, and living your best life through prayer and reflection.  I enjoy using these slow, quiet winter months for self-reflection and improvement.
  8. OVERSIZED SWEATER, like this super cozy cable knit from H&M.  I often go one size up, look in the men’s department, or order the tall for some additional coverage.
  9. SKINNY JEANS WITH STRETCH AND SUPPORT, like these GAP Super High Rise True Skinny Jeans with smoothing pockets. I always choose a flattering dark wash that tuck neatly into boots, and I love how these high-waisted jeans hold me in and don’t stretch out after only one wear.
  10. WINTERIZED BOOTIE, like this Blondo bootie from Nordstrom. One step up from the casual winter boot, with a small heel, textured sole and waterproof upper to get you through the slushy puddles of upstate NY.
  11. LIGHTWEIGHT FACIAL OIL, like the No.1 Brightening Facial Oil from BEAUTYCOUNTER.  I’m OBSESSED with how my skin has stayed moisturized during this frigid ski season, and the clean, citrus scent brings the spa to YOU!
  12. LONG LAYERING TUNIC, like this textured one from Anthropologie. Worn over a tissue turtleneck or under a chunky sweater or blazer, this piece can make or break my (emotional) comfort in leggings or skinny jeans.
  13. COZY PJ’S, like this classic cotton set from J.Crew Factory. I can get SO warm when the heat cranks on, and sometimes flannel plus my down comforter is overkill.

Hopefully something I mentioned will make YOUR winter a bit more tolerable. As my girlfriend pointed out last week at dinner: “Look on the bright side. It’s not bathing suit season… it’s sweater season! So let’s order the duck fat fries.”

Let’s live in the sweater weather moment, while we have it.

XOXO, Ally

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Game Changing Habit.

bedroomWhat if I told you that you could make a SIMPLE lifestyle change this year and see gigantic results. What if those “results” came as noticeable improvements in every segment of your life, including (and not limited to) work product, parenting, nutrition, fitness, appearance, and physical and mental health? You wouldn’t believe me. NOPE, I haven’t started selling anything.  This totally FREE and amazing thing is called SLEEP, and it’s something most of us are not getting enough of.

Anyone who knows me well will tell you: 1. I’m certifiably crazy about my children’s sleep habits and bedtimes.  2. I turn into a pumpkin at 10 (I may not be up for after-hours but I’m great fun during happy hour)!

Ever since I became a parent, I value a good night’s sleep more than just about anything.   David and I have always been “regimented” (a.k.a. Type A) and knew if we had kids we’d want a (somewhat) predicable, scheduled day to fit in what WE wanted too (a jog and a glass of wine in peace).  However, when my oldest son began having major behavioral issues as the result of a spectrum disorder, I needed ALL the patience I could muster. Most days, that wasn’t even enough.  With three little ones back then, sleep was absolutely non-negotiable… and it still is.  (I will write a future piece on sleep training / habits if readers express interest.)

This holiday season absolutely kicked my butt, and it was a great reminder of how incredibly important sleep is to both me and us as a family.  The aspects of my life (and everyone’s lives!) that are so quickly negatively impacted from lack of sleep include:

Parenting.  I am so incredibly impatient with my kids when I’ve been out too late or didn’t get a good sleep.  Frankly, I’m just a bad parent.  I’ll raise my voice, snap over minor things, and give them more screen time than I normally would because I CAN’T DEAL.   And then I feel guilty.  I bet I’m not alone here.

Relationship with Spouse.  Remember how short you were with each other during those months with a new baby?  When no one was getting sleep?  Oh, I remember it vividly.  A good, continuous night’s sleep helps everyone to be less defensive and emotional. (Let’s face it, the spouse usually gets the brunt of it!)

Nutrition and Fitness.  We have MUCH better impulse control and make better choices after a good night’s sleep.  And, I’m SO much more likely to get up and go!

Mental Health and Clarity. When I’m feeling great, this truly overflows to all other personal connections.  I’m so much more likely to approach people with an open mind and heart.  Also, tasks that may seem overwhelming when exhausted become do-able after a good night’s sleep.  Poor sleeping habits can spin you into depression.  Studies show that children with good sleep habits perform better and have an easier time attending to classroom assignments than their overtired peers.

Physical Health.  Have you ever felt yourself coming down with something?  Then you go to bed at 8 and sleep for 12 hours, waking up feeling perfect?  Good sleep is amazing in helping the body’s immunity and staying healthy.  I see what happens to my kids’ health when I “give a little” on sleep (doesn’t happen often).  It spirals downhill, and quickly.

Now I am NO sleep expert, but I’ve read plenty of health-focused articles and lived long enough to identify three common obstacles that, in 2019, are interrupting our sleep.  These three things include:

  • Children’s Poor Sleep Habits.  Whenever I am asked to give advice to a mom-to-be, this is my mantra: Get that child sleeping through the night ASAP.  When parents get a good night sleep, they are better parents.  Start early and stay firm.  YOU are the boss here.  Good sleep habits from the start create children who are able to self-soothe through colds and nightmares and are able to fall asleep much quicker when feeling “less than perfect.”
  • Alcohol.  It’s like clock-work.  If I have more than 2 drinks on a given night, I wake up in the middle of the night and have difficulty getting back to sleep.  The nights that I have nothing to drink, I usually sleep SO soundly and through the night.  If you’re waking, try cutting back on the booze.
  • Technology.  Whether it’s late night social media scrolling, responding to unimportant text dings, or simply watching a mindless reality show, we’re all guilty of using a screen in bed.  Pediatricians recommend turning devices off hours before bed to encourage the mind to “wind down”.  This goes for adults as well.  Still feel like you “need” that device close-by?  Try listening (instead of watching) to a calming audiobook or doing a short sleep-focused guided meditation.  I promise you it helps.

A tiny change that results in SO many benefits?  Go for it!  And you never know, it could also give you the strength and motivation to keep that resolution that you’ve never ONCE successfully kept.

Besides, NOTHING looks good on the outside when you’re feeling bad on the inside.

Happy New Year!

XOXO,

Ally

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOCAL Last-Minute Gift Guide (SARATOGA Style!)

You’re FULL OF IT when you say you’re all done with your shopping. There is ALWAYS that lone teacher, hostess, or other deserving individual that just kind of fell off the radar.  I’d like to say I created this local gift guide with these people in mind.  BUT I DIDN’T… entirely.  I created this guide, also, with your significant others in mind.  You know those who say “you STILL haven’t given me any ideas… and I have NOTHING for you to open next week!”  So please, feel free to forward onto any of YOUR special someones, noting the “#” and size… and let our amazing local shops do the rest!  One walk down Broadway this season proves that we have some FABULOUSLY stylish gifts, from accessories to home goods.

Happy hunting… AND hinting!

And of course, Happy Holidays to you and all your special someones.

XOXO, Ally

Collage1. Charles David Black Western Booties: Did someone say Girls’ Night Out?  Violet’s of Saratoga, $249

2. SECRET BOX Gold Necklace : Wear your astrological sign,  alone or stacked with other faves!  Silverwood, $28

3. PINE Coconut Wax Candle: Amazing Balsam Fir Scent, my personal fave this season and the PERFECT hostess gift!  TOGA Heritage, $38

4. Joules Faux Fur Lined Vest: A great color and shape, and the gorgeous faux fur collar and hood are both detachable.  The Pink Paddock, $190

5. Lilly Pulitzer KAT Leopard Crossbody: Lilly’s gettin’ all crazy with the leopard!  (which I firmly believe IS a neutral.)  The Pink Paddock, $178

6. Tortoise BaubleBar Geometric Earrings:  Who says you can’t wear tortoise in the winter?  NOT ME!  LOLA Saratoga, $38

7.  Silver Horse Bit Platter: A perfect gift for the Saratoga or horsey home who loves to entertain!  Silverwood, $65

8. Pendleton + Stanley Buffalo Plaid Thermal Mug: Caffeinate in style!  Silverwood, $48

9. Joules Honey Bee Wellies: Honeycomb lining (so sweet!), perfect for our sloppy weather seasons.  Caroline and Main, $73

10. KJP Fortunate Sailor Gold Rope Wrist Wrap:  I love these stacked… or alone!   The Pink Paddock, $58

11. Tory Burch Juliette Crossbody: I’m loving the updated and streamlined hardware, and a perfect size!  LOLA Saratoga, $398

12. Tortoise Apple Watch Band: Style-up your wearable gadgets ladies!  LOLA Saratoga, $88

13. TOGA 10″ Melamine Plates: Tartan, Buffalo Plaid, and other seasonal designs.  Available by the single or in sets of 4, 6, and 8.  TOGA Heritage, $26 each

14. Chanel Vintage Button Necklace:  Additional bracelets, necklaces and earrings available in various designers (Louis Vuitton, YSL, etc. ) Loved ’em so much, I got one for myself!   LOLA Saratoga, $95-$275

15. Plaid Luggage Tag : Wellies, Stirrups, and more!  Travel in style!  The Pink Paddock, $24

16. KJP Anchor Earrings:  A staple for the modern-day preppy fashionista.  The Pink Paddock, $57

17. FRYE Faye Cognac Pull-On Boots: The perfect marriage of casual block heel and shaft height.  Violet’s of Saratoga, $398

18. Louise et Cie Chestnut Circle Crossbody:  I love the day-to-night vibe and great color!   Violet’s of Saratoga, $198

19. Silver Cuff bracelet by Kashmiry Fine Jewelry.  Modern design.  This accessory alone would make your outfit!  Encounter, $150

20. SUPERGA Tartan Sneakers: “Spruce” up your cold-weather outfits with some fun plaid kicks!  Caroline and Main, $99

21. Hooked Wool Skier Pillows: Customize your sofa with their many retro snow sport designs!  Chandler4Corners at Silverwood, $80

22. COVEY Parfums: They will look as pretty on your vanity as they smell on your body!  A variety of scents available at Encounter, $110

23. TIFFANY’S TABLE MANNERS for Teenagers: A perfect excuse to gift a book to your teen, or raise the reading level of your tween!  And frankly, most adults I know (including myself) could use a primer.  Silverwood, $17.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Favorite #2 : Wide Leg Trousers and Suiting Blazers

I was so excited to see a flurry of wide leg pants hit the stores this Fall.  I’ve always loved their flattering nature and was aching for them during these past years of “nothing but skinny jeans” (as mentioned in my How to Wear Wide Leg Pants post last spring.)

I got these TOPSHOP pants from Nordstrom in winter white, navy and black, and envision wearing them for years.  I consider them good quality for the price.  Each season, Theory has a great variety of long, lean designs, like these.  I also love the sharp look of these checked wide legs from MANGO.

DSC_1482When I go out I often drape blazers and coats OVER my outfits and wear them like a cape.  I also do this in the heart of winter, when my coat won’t fit over my layered blazer look.  I got this long check double-breasted blazer (that feels like a sweatshirt!) from GAP at the start of fall.     Although it’s just about sold out, it’s still available in long (I usually buy my blazers in LONG for more butt coverage). The same blazer is available in a slightly different plaid here.  I also like this double-breasted one from ZARA.  The black windowpane design of this Joie blazer is a classic alternative to the plaid.

I consider a basic black turtleneck a wardrobe ESSENTIAL, like this black ribbed one I’m wearing from J. Crew, or this wool-blend turtleneck sweater from Banana Republic.  A lightweight cotton one is also a good alternative when layering, like this basic from Everlane.

Lastly, this bag!  For decades, Gucci has featured bamboo in their handles and hardware… such a classic look!  I love the bamboo-handled bag from Mark & Graham that can be monogrammed!  This Lilly Pulitzer gold and bamboo tote could easily go from holiday party to beach!  I also love this smaller woven one from Halsbrook.  Locally, Silverwood has a great bamboo handled bag design currently available in two sizes.

I hope your holiday shopping has been a success… and that maybe you throw a little something for yourself in your cart this holiday season.

XOXO, Ally

Fall Favorite #1: The Midi Shirt Dress

When my super artistic and talented friend Sarah offered to take some photos of my favorite fall outfits, I decided to give my 5,7 and 9 year-olds a break and take her up on that offer.  The midi shirt dress immediately came to mind since it’s been in weekly rotation since the end of summer.

Back in August, my favorite blogger at Atlantic-Pacific featured this Nordstrom 1901 shirt dress.  I ordered it, instantly fell in love with the forgiving fabric, and then ordered every other solid and print that was available until they sold out.  Since then, I’ve worn them to horse races, formal and informal dinners, temple, fundraisers, meetings… talk about versatility!  Soon after, J.Crew released a similar version in a variety of stripes and fabrics and it’s still available.  Brooks Brothers currently has a great, slightly shorter alternative in this holiday-inspired plaid and is both reasonably-priced AND perfectly preppy!

The basic, classic design of this dress makes it the perfect backdrop for some fun, girly accessories!  Any friends who have seen me frequently this fall have noticed the current infatuation with hair bows!  The navy one featured here was an inexpensive no-brainer and purchased from H&M, and I love that it is a bit larger than most.  J.Crew Factory has a sweet tartan plaid  bow that is perfect for all your parties this season!  I also LOVE these “trailing bow ponytail holders” , available in a variety of gorgeous crushed velvet colors, from Anthropologie.

The navy polka-dot scarf featured is one of the many sweet designs I found at Violet’s of Saratoga, one of my favorite local stores for dresses, shoes and accessories.  ECHO also always has a fun variety of shapes, sizes and prints at reasonable prices, like this diamond Tiger Lily design.  Scarves too complicated?  Have you heard of a “twilly”?  (Think scarf for dummies.)  An Hermes “twilly” is a narrow, long strip of silk fabric, very easily worn as a choker, wrist tie, or attached to your handbag to add an interesting or colorful element.  Check out this great tutorial on how to tie an Hermes Twilly.

Lastly, I feel that everyone should have a great, “go-to” navy bag in their fashion arsenal.  I got this unique leather floral Kate Spade clutch / crossbody last spring from Lola of Saratoga.  Lola has a variety of fabulous bags, from new Tory Burch and Kate Spades, to “mint condition” vintage designer treasures (Chanel, Louis Vuitton, etc).  This all-purpose  Tory Burch Fleming Convertible bag, available locally at Lola of Saratoga, would get plenty of use in your closet and can be worn with everything from dresses to jeans.  I also love the navy suede and leather combination of this small Botiker crossbody.  This simple navy Madewell crossbody  is versatile AND affordable.

I look forward to sharing some more details of my favorite fall outfits in the weeks to come!  Fortunately, these looks can still be worn even with winter arriving two months early!  Ugh.

PS… Thanks Sar!

XOXO, Ally

 

 

Get Stuffed IN STYLE this Thanksgiving

Face it.  There’s nothing worse than eating too much and feeling SO uncomfortable in clothes that were already too clingy.  Check out my video blog featuring Five Tips for Getting Stuffed in Style this Thanksgiving!  Links to items shown, and similar ones, are listed below.

A pair of PJ-style drawstring pants make you feel like you get to stay in your PJs all day long!  I love the leopard ones featured in the video, ora dressier version in velvet, both from ZARA.  Want something more sporty?  I’m in LOVE with these velvet joggers from GAP.

There’s no room at the Thanksgiving table for heels!  Get yourself a sweet pair of flats, like these Anthropologie camo calf hair ones, featured.  Tory Burch’s super cute cap-toe ballet flats are gorgeous and timeless!  Or, step into the holiday season with these J.Crew sparkle leopard smoking slippers.

The perfect RED lipstick dresses up even the most casual of outfits!  I really love the wearability of the new MAC powder kiss liptick, featured here in Shocking Revelation.   Another all-time favorite of mine is NYX lip cream in Morocco.  Don’t forget the drug store favorite, Revlon Super Lustrous, in Red Rules the World.

Blanket scarves and toppers are amazing for covering up the button you had to undo and are a fall favorite with jeans or jeggings!  I love this oversize cashmere topper from a local favorite, Caroline & Main!   This navy windowpane  cape scarf from Madewell is another favorite!  Take a walk down Broadway in Saratoga and you’ll find an amazing selection of cashmere toppers and blanket scarves in stores including Lifestyles, and LOLA Saratoga.

Are you hosting and don’t know what to wear?  It’s not really the first thing on your mind, right?  Anyone who has EVER come to a dinner or party of mine knows that I am ALWAYS in an apron!  Why?  Because I didn’t feel like thinking about the “under-layer”.  Grab yourself a cute apron and “fake it ’til you bake it”!  Check out this adorable one, as featured, from Crate and Barrel!  Or, this classic tartan one  from Williams Sonoma will take you straight through the Holiday season!  Not into the seasonal ones?  Pick up an equestrian-inspired one from Silverwood locally!

Last and surely not least (and not featured in the video)…  Thanksgiving is for family and fun, NOT FOR STRESS.  So relax, pour yourself a mediocre glass of Beaujolais Nouveau and CARPE DIEM.  Oh, and happy shopping.

XOXO, Ally

The Five BEST Vests this Fall!

I LOVE vest season for two reasons:

  1.  It’s yet another layering piece that I can play around with.  Whether it’s under a jacket, over a blazer, with a turtleneck, oxford, belted… there are SO many options to choose from!
  2. It’s a way for me to comfortably wear skinny jeans and / or leggings (usually with tall boots) by choosing longer hemlines that cover the derriere / thigh region.

There are SO many different styles of vests available, all that appeal to a variety of lifestyles, body shapes and budgets.  Check out my first ever video for my five favorite styles, with examples of each (direct links below).  I hope YOU find your BEST VEST this fall!

  1. Vero Modo Faux Fur Vest (Lord & Taylor)
  2. LL Bean Military Style “Luna” Vest
  3. Lands End Ultralight Down Vest
  4. Barbour Quilted Vest (Orvis)
  5. Bagatelle Trench Vest (Bloomingdale’s)

Happy shopping!

XOXO, Ally