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BEST OF: HOLIDAY SHOES

Is there anything more fun than holiday shoes? Sparkles, satin, plaid, bows – gangs all here. While these are obviously begging to be taken out to a holiday party, I argue that you’ll get lots more bang for your buck (and feel infinitely more festive) if you wear a pair all throughout the season. Try sparkly mary-janes with jeans and a cozy knit. Or a fancy pair of booties with a simple sweater dress. And when you’re ready to go all out on New Year’s Eve – you’ll have already broken in your dancing shoes.

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HOLIDAY CAPSULE WARDROBE WITH TALBOTS

Earlier this Fall I posted a Fall Capsule Wardrobe IGTV and corresponding post here and the response was so positive that I knew I wanted to do it again for the holiday season. I’ve been making a concentrated effort all this year to really only add pieces to my wardrobe that I love and that can be worn a variety of ways. Dressed up for a dinner date, pulled together for a day at the office or dressed down for weekend’s running around the city. These holiday pieces from Talbots can do all of that. They’re fun and festive but I know I’ll be wearing these long past Christmas and straight through the winter. Below, each look + links to shop.

Hope that this inspires you to pick up a few new holiday pieces to spruce up your own wardrobe and try a new way to style some of the things you already own and love. Don’t miss the full video here.

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*A special thank you to Talbots for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

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MY NYC HOLIDAY BUCKET LIST

Aside from the cold – this really is the most magical time of year in New York. The city is decked out in its holiday best, there are lights everywhere and plenty of occasions to pour a glass of bubbly. I can’t get enough. Which is why I wanted to create a holiday bucket list to be sure that I make time to enjoy as much of the season as possible. Some of the things on my list are beloved traditions at this point while some are things we have still yet to experience in New York and really want to get around to doing this year. Also – a reminder that not everything has to be expensive this season – plenty of the things on my list are super budget friendly, if not free!

Ice skating Dates:

Now that Adam and I both own ice skates, we want to take advantage of all of the fun rinks in the city! My favorite is skating in Central Park – with the city in view around you – but Bryant Park and Rockefeller Rink (if you get there super early or on a weeknight) are also great. Budget tip: Bryant Park is actually free to skate at and so are locker rentals if you bring your own lock, so this is a great cheap date idea.


Lights at Dyker Heights:

Remember that one house in your town that used to go all out with lights and yard decorations for the holidays? Dyker Heights is like that.. but x100. A neighborhood in Brooklyn where for about 4 square blocks – every single house is boasting thousands of Christmas lights, and more Santas and snowmen then you have ever seen in one place. We usually pack a “car picnic” and then drive through the neighborhood while listening to holiday tunes. Festive and totally free!


Dinner at Lucien and Minetta Tavern:

There are some restaurants that just really shine in the winter. Cozy and intimate, all candlelight and linen tablecloths, they make braving the cold for date night well worth it. Lucien in the East Village and Minetta Tavern in the West Village have been on our restaurant bucket list for a long time and I’d love to finally try them both this holiday season.


Hot Toddies, Rockefeller Tree + Fifth Avenue Windows:

This has quickly become one of our favorite holiday traditions. We pick a Sunday evening in December, make a big thermos of hot toddies and then head uptown to see the Rockefeller Tree and the windows on Fifth Avenue. Notoriously crowded and often quite cold – we found that the hot toddies really raise your spirits on the trek and ultimately make the whole thing a lot more fun.

Volunteer:

It can be easy to get swept up in all of the consumption of the holidays without pausing to think of those that are having a much tougher time. I hate to think of families that are struggling to get a few gifts under the tree for their kids – so this year, Adam and I starting the yearly tradition of picking up toys for local families. Someday, we plan to continue this with our own little ones, letting them pick out toys for kids in our community that are less fortunate than them. We’re looking into Stockings With Care or Operation Santa – or both!

Jazz Standard Holiday Show:

I love live jazz any time of year, but it feels extra festive around the holidays. Jazz Standard in Gramercy is one of our favorites for big band style jazz and last year we went on January 1st which was such a fun way to kick off the new year.  

West Village Wander:

Is there any place prettier than the West Village around Christmas? I love taking a Saturday, hot chocolate in hand and just wandering through the streets and looking at everyone’s decorated doors. Grove Street is a particular favorite. 

Classic Movie at the Theater:

Our local movie theater plays classics like It’s A Wonderful Life this time of year and I want to make it a point to catch one – even better if it’s one I’ve never seen!

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ON HAPPINESS: HOW I’M COMBATING THE WINTER BLUES

As I write this it hovers around 35 degrees in New York City and while it’s a clear sky day, it will be dark in a mere 8 hours. For some people this probably means next to nothing.. but if you, like me, feel the winter blues acutely in your bones – this is the first real scare. The first shift in the winds and the clocks that says “I’m coming for you”.

The tricky part is that I truly love November and December – they’re filled with joy – holidays, traditions, decorations everywhere you turn in the city. Which is often why I’m tricked into thinking maybe I won’t feel the winter blues this year. But every year, like clockwork, January rolls around and I want to crawl out of my (very dry) skin and move to Mexico just to avoid one more single short, cold day. So this year – I’m getting a jump start and putting some simple practices in place so that by that time we’re in the real depth of winter I’m not just surviving.. but actually enjoying it.

One of the things I’ve noticed in winter is that it can be easy to sort of let yourself go. You’re engulfed in a huge puffer coat 90% of the time after all – why not just wear sweatpants underneath and go home and order takeout? But when I put on a real outfit, do my hair (even though it will just be smashed beneath a knit hat), keep up my workout routine and cook healthy meals at home – I feel a huge boost in mood. Today I’m getting my hair colored, I’ve been slowing adding a few new winter pieces to my wardrobe (like this cozy tweed dress that will be great with tights and a turtleneck beneath it) and I’m already in a good routine with working out that I plan on ramping up throughout winter. So far, so good.

The next thing is relationships. Spending quality time with Adam and making a point to trek out in the snow/ice/cold to see friends is always worth the effort. To that end, Adam and I just reinstated our “weeknight date” routine. It can be easy to fall into the pattern of holing up at home and watching TV.. so we plan to mix things up by having one mid-week date night that we take turns each week planning. Mine was this week and I planned an at home date of scrabble, spiked cider and playing records. It was so fun! Now even if I’m having a tough week, I’ll have something to look forward to halfway through. On the friend front – I joined a new book club this past week with the hopes of meeting some like-minded ladies and it was lovely. We’re all planning to go see the new Little Women movie when it comes out next month (that was the book of choice this round) and we’ll meet on the next book in January. Again – things to look forward to with people you enjoy is key!

Lastly, I’ve found that when I dedicate time to things that keep my mind sharp (again – it can be tempting to just binge watch netflix all winter.. but that seems to only add to my blues in the end) make a world of difference. That means reading as much as possible, pushing myself to try new things even if that’s just a new recipe and dusting off old hobbies like drawing or playing the piano – all make me feel great and are perfect for when it’s dark and cold out. Adam recently declared that we should get rid of the desk in our bedroom and replace it with an upright piano for me and I think he may really be onto something. By which I mean, he too is scared of my winter mood. Ha.

And if all else fails – we’re planning a warm weather getaway come March.

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ON CAREER: DRESSING THE PART

Earlier this year I moved in to a management role at my company. And while we have a super flexible “creative casual” type dress code, suddenly I found myself looking down at my beat up converse sneakers and thinking that I didn’t look like I passed for anyone’s “boss”.

Part of me still feels like a girl who should be running around the city in mini skirts. Part of me doesn’t feel qualified to be the boss. But the reality is that I’m a 32 year old woman who has 5 people that report to her. And while I don’t think anyone in the office probably gave it a second thought, my split ends and old sneakers weren’t exactly helping me build confidence in my new role.

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So last week I made a conscious shift. I chopped off the ends of my hair and dug through my closet for all of the nice clothes I actually own. I started planning my outfits the night before so in the morning’s I don’t fall back on grabbing a pair of jeans and running for the door. And I feel so much better already. Instead of feeling like I was giving up the old me… I feel like a slightly new and improved version of myself. Still feminine and a little bit playful but sleeker, more “grown-up”.

Dress for the job you want right? Or at the very least, for the one you have. And don’t worry, I’ll still be running around the city in miniskirts and converse… I’ll just save it for the weekends now.

Anthropologie Sweater via Nuuly Subscription | Franco Sarto Loafers | French Connection Slip Skirt c/o | Dagne Dover Bag c/o – similar here

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The Steele Maiden © 2012

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.