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SUMMER TO FALL STYLE

In my mind it’s somewhere around June 15th. But in reality, this is the last weekend of August. This time of year always feels a little bittersweet to me, but perhaps never more so than this year. I mean, I never even made it to the beach.. how can summer be over?! And the looming uncertainty of what’s to come this winter has me shivering on a 90 degree day.

But, on the other hand – I truly love the feeling of fall and September always feels like a fresh start. So I’m trying my best to give in to the time warp that is 2020 and just lean into the excitement I feel over the change of seasons.

As it were – this outfit has a bit of a foot in each season. A floaty summer dress. A new bag that is sure to be a fall staple. In a couple of months time, I’ll pair this same dress with a cozy, oversized sweater and leather riding boots.

Until then – I’ll be doing my damnedest to soak up every last moment of summer. I hope you do the same.

SHOP THE STORY:

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HOW TO BRING TRAVEL HOME

Half in a daydream, my bags already mentally packed – I’m a person that is always conspiring towards my next trip. In fact, our suitcases were barely back in the closet after an escape to St. Pete Beach, FL in late February when the world went into quarantine. And while, judging by Instagram at least, it does seem like people are moving about the country right now on summer trips – we have no plans to do the same (in the immortal words of JVN – “Just because you Ameri-CAN, doesn’t mean you Ameri-SHOULD”). And the rest of the world won’t even have us. Which leaves me without any travel plans for the first time in about a decade.

To fill the void, I’ve started to think about how I could bring the feeling of travel home instead. And here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Escape into a Book or Movie instead. Dreaming of Paris? Pick a rainy afternoon, pop the champagne and have a movie marathon – I love Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn and Midnight in Paris (minus the connection to Woody Allen). Had to cancel your summer getaway to Italy? I read Call Me By Your Name earlier this year and then watched the movie all in one weekend and felt totally transported. I can’t wait to read ‘From Scratch’ a memoir set in Sicily next.

Cook a Dish from that Region. I think we can all agree that trying the local flavors is one of the best parts of traveling. And has there ever been a better time to learn something new in the kitchen? Try recreating that amazing paella you had in Spain, find the recipe for those biscuits you fell in love with in South Carolina or learn to make sushi before that dream trip to Japan. Admittedly, I am not the world’s most innovative cook, but I actually love doing this with cocktails. I whip up a French75 when I want to reminisce about Paris and 8 years after a trip to Arizona, I’m still trying to recreate a perfect spicy tequila cocktail I sipped there.

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London

Sort Your Travel Photos. This always seems like such a chore – but at the beginning of quarantine I sorted through our travel photos to find all of my “front door” pictures and saved them to a separate folder in my phone. I plan to get them printed into a coffee table type book, but even now – just looking at them all grouped together makes me feel happy and takes me back to the places where the snapshot was taken.

Dress for the Trip You Want. I don’t think it comes as any surprise that I take a lot of joy in planning the outfits I’m going to wear on any particular trip. I like to try and add a little bit of the feeling of that destination into my wardrobe. And even if I can’t pack my bags – I could still dress up for a movie night at home in my favorite French-inspired look, mais non?

Do Your Research Now. Shy of actually booking your flight – now would be a great time to dig into researching some of the places you’d like to go in the future. I like to use a mix of Instagram (search hashtags of cities or tagged locations) and Google Maps (I star anywhere I want to visit and then plan each day of the trip based on what’s grouped nearby). It’s the equivalent of hitting ‘add to cart’ and then not going through checkout. I really do still get a little rush of endorphins just from the planning.

Happy virtual travel friends!

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AN EARLY FALL WISHLIST

I’m never one to wish away summer, but every year around mid-August I start to get the craving for Fall styles. Something about the promise of a new season, no? Below, the styles I have my eye on, that can be worn now and right on into fall.

SHOP MY EARLY FALL PICKS:

  • This ‘Pretty Woman’-esque dress is calling my name and is on major sale right now (just $50!). No further explanation necessary.
  • I don’t have much occasion lately for statement earrings but these classic gold link earrings are perfect for instantly adding a touch of polish to your look. They’d be great for Zoom calls.
  • A timely vote t-shirt – all proceeds go to the ACLU.
  • I’ve been swooning over domed and signet rings lately to offset my daintier everyday pieces. This one is super affordable and can be engraved while this one is a bit pricier (around $200) but feels like a forever piece. And don’t get me started on this ‘croissant’ ring!
  • This plaid tie front blouse feels a little bit 1970s cool, a little bit British schoolgirl. Aka – my sweet spot.
  • I don’t see the need for face masks going away any time soon. I desperately need a couple more in my rotation and like these transitional floral prints.
  • The silk slip skirt is a trend that I didn’t immediately think was for me – but last year I picked up a black version and loved how versatile it was. I’d style this rust-hued one with a simple tee shirt now or a chunky sweater later.
  • I’ll be honest, my heels haven’t seen the light of day in quite some time. And I don’t know if fall is going to change that. Instead – I’m looking for cute flats for walking around town. These leopard sneakers are fun and these pretty gold ballet flats feel like they’re just begging to be taken to Paris someday.
  • Blame it on Taylor Swift’s ‘Cardigan‘ but all I want is a cozy knit sweater with a vintage feel. I think I’d wear this navy anchor version for years to come.
  • I, for one, am still not over headbands. This plaid one would look just as cute with a bathing suit as it would with a fall blazer.
  • If you’re in the market for a new purse this fall – might I suggest this classic option, in an impossibly chic ‘cappuccino‘ hue. I have a few bags from this brand and the quality and wearability far exceeds the cost.
  • If you’re not in the market for a new purse, one of my favorite ways to dress up an existing bag is by tying a fun scarf to the handle. The print on this one looks convincingly vintage and adds a nice pop of color to an otherwise neutral outfit.
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MY TOP 10 BEST HOME BUYS

A lot of what I feel makes our home feel unique and like “us” comes down to the sentimental pieces, the vintage finds and the souvenirs from travel. However, when it comes to more mainstream purchases – there are a handful that we’ve purchased for this apartment that I truly love and would recommend. Below, my top picks and reasons why.

SHOP MY TOP 10 HOME BUYS:

No. 1 – Blue Velvet Couch: this was probably our biggest purchase for the apartment and so far we’ve been so happy with it (isn’t that nice when that works out?). In rich, navy blue and easy to clean performance fabric this feels like both a statement piece and also something with a practical, long life in our home.

The Steele Maiden: DIY Fireplace Makeover with The Home Depot

No. 2 – Glass Lanterns: I wanted the decorative fireplace in our living room to feel warm and cozy each night. These gold lanterns play off the geometric tile we chose (full DIY fireplace design here) and bring a sense of warmth to the whole space.

No. 3 – Bedroom Wallpaper: I looked at what felt like hundreds of options, but I still swoon over the one we ended up with (linked as similar as I could find as the original is sold out) and it truly elevated the entire room. I love that it’s a traditional looking floral/brand design in a modern feeling oversized scale. I honestly feel happy every time I see it.

No. 4 – Milk Glass Ceiling Light: I’ve talked about it before, but replacing the stock lighting in a home makes such a world of difference. It’s an affordable upgrade and if you’re a fellow renter, simply store the originals and then take the new ones with you when you go. This milk glass ceiling light is a huge improvement from the weird black, three pronged fixture that was there before.

No. 5 – Mantle Mirror: I was looking for a mirror that was large in scale but small in price and this one fit the bill at almost 4′ tall. It turned out to be such good quality for less than $60! I painted the wood frame to this ivory color as a small upgrade.

No. 6 – Clothing Rack: Not only does it perfectly hide the strange eyesore that is this extra door in our bedroom but it also provides SO much extra storage while looking pretty seamless with our other furniture. Judging by the fact that I get DM’s every time this appears in the background of my style videos, I think you all agree.

No. 7 – Electric Tea Kettle: I’m embarrassed by how long I was heating up water in the microwave or a pot on the stove. This electric kettle looks like a real teapot but heats up lightning fast and the copper looks chic enough to leave out on the counter.

No. 8 – Jewelry Box: I’ve had this gold jewelry box for a few years now and still love it. It holds a ton, has a tiered, removable shelf inside and looks sleek on my dresser top.

No. 9 – Jute Rug: I wanted something that provided a lot of coverage without being too expensive in case it doesn’t work in the next place. I love the look of this natural jute and it’s still soft on bare feet!

No. 10 – Record Player: Our old record player was what I’d call a ‘starter model’ but when it finally gave out on us after a few years we knew we wanted a slight upgrade. This one is still compact in size but has better quality sound and a sleek, more modern look.

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WHAT’S NEXT FOR NEW YORK?

Last night Adam and I reminisced about summer nights in the city. We have a shared favorite memory that started at happy hour in the East Village followed by a crowded subway ride, then an outdoor movie in the park – a blanket squeezed in among strangers – which led us to a loft party in Williamsburg and finally a cab ride back to my old apartment on the Upper East Side. It was the kind of night that began with almost no plans at all and was swept along by the current of New York City in the summertime. A night that seems as impossible now as it seemed possible then.

A few of you have asked me to describe New York right now and if I had to sum it up – it would be that the spark has sort of gone out this summer. That feeling of spontaneity (the best kind of uncertainty) has gone missing. The spark has been replaced instead with a slow burning tension. A shared understanding that we’re all but powerless over the fate of this city.

Teenagers sit on stoops looking restless, itching to get into trouble just to have some say in the story of their summer. A cashier at the grocery store laments to me that he used to work in theater and misses the creativity.. but is thankful to have a job. The park is full of women and their babies in the morning, many of whom look unsure about their newly appointed title of stay at home mom. They wear workout clothes while their heels presumably collect dust at home. 

Cops stand guard alongside barricades outside our neighborhood precinct and in front of the Washington Square Park Arch. Protecting themselves and their monuments while a convenience store 20 blocks away is robbed at gunpoint. An older woman in our neighborhood compares it to the New York of the 1970s. She says she’s seen it all. Tells us to be careful.

Moving trucks line the streets as fair weather city dwellers go in search of fairer weather. Without the usual swarm of summer tourists those of us that are left spread out like we own the place – because well, we do. The streets are ours alone to rule or to ruin.

The truth is that no one has ever known what’s next for New York but that hasn’t stopped the evolution. And so, we go on. The protests and the progress. The work that needs to be done and the feelings that need to be wrestled with. The thick August heat and our relentless hope keeping the embers of this city hot until it can spark up again.

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The Steele Maiden © 2012

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.