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VISITING THE COSTWOLDS: ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE INSPIRED STYLE

The Steele Maiden: Cotswolds, England - English Countryside Inspired Style for Fall

Yesterday I styled these velvet jeggings in a way that was simple yet chic for the office or casual holiday parties – but because honestly I just can’t get enough of them and wore them multiple times on our recent travels, I’m back with a more weekend ready alternative.

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LUXE TEXTURES FOR FALL: CASHMERE, VELVET AND FAUX FUR

The Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid Vest

One of my favorite things about Fall fashion are all the luxe textures. And this outfit from Talbots I wore on our first day in Edinburgh checks off all my favorites. A classic cashmere sweater, velvet jeggings and faux fur vest. Not to mention plaid on plaid (when in Scotland.. do as the Scots do, right?).

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I like that all together it feels simple but because of the mix of rich textures it also feels super chic. It’s exactly the sort of thing I would wear to the office and then straight out afterwards for an event or holiday drinks this season. Plus, the fact that they’re separates means that you could also add any of them to a more casual look to elevate the whole thing. And can we talk about these velvet jeggings?? I know, I felt skeptical at first too but then I tried them on and proceeded to wear them on 3 separate occasions during our 10 day trip. They come in a bunch of colors but I’m loving the ivory color. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing an entirely different way to wear them.

P.S. This area in Edinburgh was called Dean Village and was truly like stepping back in time. Can’t wait to tell you more about our short but sweet time in Scotland.

Talbots Faux Fur Vest, Velveteen Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Plaid Bow Heels c/o

The Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid Vest The Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid Vest The Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid VestThe Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid Vest The Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid Vest The Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid Vest The Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid Vest The Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid Vest The Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid Vest

Thank you to Talbots for sponsoring this post. As always all opinions are my own.

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NIGHT OUT IN LONDON: LEOPARD RUFFLE DRESS

The Steele Maiden: London Night Out Style - Leopard Ruffle Dress, Fisherman's Cap and Patent Booties

London calling! As we speak, I’ve made it back to New York and am fighting off a cold and jet lag (no easy feat) – but also am so excited to share with you all the places we went and naturally, all the things I wore. This look is from our first night out in London and one of my favorites from the whole trip.

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We headed to Camden Town (kind of the East Village of London if you will, and where I lived when I studied abroad there for a semester) for a night out and ended up grabbing last minute tickets to London’s Jazz Cafe where they were playing a tribute to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks album. I’ve been a huge Van Morrison fan since high school so I was hoping they’d do the album justice… and was literally blown away. So good that Adam and I still haven’t stopped talking about it. Then it was a few more drinks, a little dancing and back to our first AirBnB of the trip to collapse into jet lag. For the record I don’t recommend this big of a night for your first day adjusting to a new time zone, but I also don’t regret it one bit.

This leopard ruffle dress (under $40!) and patent booties held up through it all and hopefully helped fit in with the British girls who just always look so effortlessly cool. Also, carried my vintage YSL clutch that is one of my most prized purchases from the vintage markets in Camden Town – bought almost exactly 10 years ago. How’s that for full circle?

Who What Wear Leopard Ruffle Dress | Brixton Fisherman’s Cap | Marc Fisher Patent Booties | Vintage YSL Clutch | Express Belt | Burberry Liquid Velvet Lipstick in Bright Plum | Sheer Dotted Tights

The Steele Maiden: London Night Out Style - Leopard Ruffle Dress, Fisherman's Cap and Patent Booties The Steele Maiden: London Night Out Style - Leopard Ruffle Dress, Fisherman's Cap and Patent Booties The Steele Maiden: London Night Out Style - Leopard Ruffle Dress, Fisherman's Cap and Patent Booties The Steele Maiden: London Night Out Style - Leopard Ruffle Dress, Fisherman's Cap and Patent Booties The Steele Maiden: London Night Out Style - Leopard Ruffle Dress, Fisherman's Cap and Patent Booties The Steele Maiden: London Night Out Style - Leopard Ruffle Dress, Fisherman's Cap and Patent Booties

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A WINTER TRAVEL GUIDE TO MONTREAL, QUEBEC

The Steele Maiden: Winter Travel Guide to Montreal Quebec

This time 2 weeks ago, Adam and I were traipsing through a Canadian winter wonderland, popping into cute cafes for coffee and hot chocolate (and okay a few cocktails.. basically anything to keep us warm) along the way. The city of Montreal has long since been on our travel ‘wanderlist’ both for its proximity to New York and all the rave reviews we’ve heard from friends. So when Adam got news that he was being sent for a couple of days on business – I jumped at the chance to tag along. Couple that with the fact that it was Valentine’s Day and under a fresh blanket of snow and the beautifully European-feeling city had us under it’s spell.

GETTING THERE

When we looked at ways to travel from NYC up to Quebec there were a variety of options (driving, bus, plane..) but I can’t say enough how happy I was to have chosen the train on the way there. Although the Amtrak trip will take you most of the day – you can sit back in spacious side by side seats (equipped with free wifi) as you enjoy scenic views of the Hudson River, upstate New York and Lake Champlain. While the ride was honestly gorgeous in Winter, I can only imagine how good it would be in full foliage Fall. I seriously can’t recommend it enough. 2 insider tips? Eat breakfast before you get on the train and pack a lunch. I’m not a fan of the pre-packaged sandwiches and snacks you find on trains, so a healthy breakfast beforehand and the gourmet deli sandwiches we packed picnic style in a small insulated cooler bag meant we spent $0 on the train and really added to the overall experience. And my second tip – fly back to save yourself travel time.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Now – we’re there. The upside – February is definitely not tourist season, so we really felt like we had the city to ourselves with just friendly locals to act as our guides (they’re not kidding when they say Canadians are nice – everyone went out of their way to offer kind and helpful tips throughout our stay). The downside – freezing cold and so much snow. Without shoveled sidewalks or plowed roads we truly ice skated our way through most of the city. That said, there is something pretty magical about being inside of a living snow globe. Pack warm and waterproof if you choose to go at this time of year with comfortable and sturdy boots.

PLACES TO GO

Despite the weather conditions we did our best to see the outdoor sights – the scenic lookout point atop Mont Royal (the city’s namesake mountain), the Notre-Dame Basilica and Rue Saint-Paul in Old Montreal (you guessed it – the most historic and oldest area of the city), and window shopping along Boulevard Saint Laurent in the trendy Le-Plateau-Mont-Royal borough. And when we were in need of warming up – the Underground City – a huge series of connected shopping centers, commercial buildings and hotels that sits below downtown offers every shop you can imagine and even an ice skating rink!

THINGS TO DO

While we didn’t have time to partake in any winter sports, Montreal offers a plethora and if we go back in the Winter ice skating, skiing (for me)/snowboarding (for Adam), and trying snowshoeing are all on our list! And after all of that? You eat. We barely scratched the surface of Montreal’s foodie scene but if I had to recommend just a few places: Melk for coffee and pastries convenient to downtown, C’Chocolat for a decadent hot chocolate or crepe stop and Dominion Square Taverne for pre-dinner drinks. And if you only make one dinner reservation? Le Bremner. Aside from the fact that everything we tried on the inventive, seafood heavy menu was delicious and the cocktails were perfectly crafted – it’s the people and the space that really took our experience over the top. It’s a true hidden gem that was recommended by locals and sits tucked away in a basement entrance filled with cozy, wine bottle-lined booths – and once you’re in there you immediately feel at home. Like taking shots with the wait staff at the end of the night kind of home. It’s a must visit.

I think the same could be said of Montreal in general. We’ll be back… perhaps in warmer months.

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A YEAR’S GUIDE TO TRAVEL PLANNING

Travel Guide to Amsterdam - what to see and where to go

Whether your New Year’s resolution was to travel more or you’re just hoping to get ahead of the game – January is always my favorite time to start to dream about and ultimately begin to plan travel for the coming months. Since I follow a pretty specific game plan when it comes to making my far-flung fantasies a reality, I thought it might be helpful to share.

Step One: I like to begin here – on my Pinterest board of bucket list destinations near and far. I try to start to pick out a few that seem fairly doable (based on distance, expense, etc.) and one or two ‘reach’ destinations (that will require more savings, travel and time off work). I call these top picks my “wander-list” for the year.

White cutout top and white denim shorts, lakeside weekend getaway

Step Two: Next I look to my calendar and hone in on any locked in dates (this could be a friend’s upcoming wedding or a business trip) and also any locked out dates (a month that will be particularly busy at the office for instance).

Step Three: Begin to make matches between your “wander-list” and your calendar. I always do this with Google Maps open. Is that wedding only a short driving distance from a new city you’ve been meaning to check out? If you’re taking a long international flight, is there a day trip you could make while you’re there? This is also a good time to think strategically about scoring off-season prices or overlapping your trip with major local events (like Jazz Fest in New Orleans or Oktoberfest in Amsterdam).  Weather is also a huge factor here.. think New York in the Fall or Paris in the Spring. I always take the time to research things like average rainfall for my destination during the month I’m looking to visit. While rainy days don’t necessarily equal a bad trip, I like to know what I’m getting into ahead of time.

NYC Central Park Bow Bridge wearing Talbots quilted vest and scarf

Step Four: Once I’ve made matches and decided on destinations, I use Google Docs to make a to-do list and Google Calendar to create a coordinating time frame. The Google Doc makes it easy to add names of accommodations and additional details such as transportation or activity reservations as I make them (and share them with your travel buddies).  And the Calendar is helpful for setting reminders on when to actually pull the trigger and book. Is it an international flight? I’ve found between 3-4 months out to be the sweet spot for finding the best deals while I allow no less than 1 month for domestic flights. Plus, if I know I’ve got 6 more months to save before I need to book a flight it makes it so much easier for me to make a realistic plan for doing so.

Step Five: Book away. I like to use Google Flights for initial searches and then usually hop over to Expedia to compare actual flights/book. As far as accommodations, I’m a huge fan of AirBnB for access to a more ‘local’ vibe and you usually get more space for your buck. Plus things like a kitchen or washer/dryer (if you’re going to be gone for more than a week or are traveling with little ones) can really come make all the difference. However if a luxe resort at a tropical locale or a hip little boutique hotel downtown are the style you’re shooting for – I love searching Tablet for ideas first and then comparing prices and reading additional reviews at Trip Advisor.

Things to see, where to stay, what to do - A Travel Guide to Prague, Czech Republic

Happy travels!

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The Steele Maiden © 2012

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.