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LET’S CATCH UP 9.4.20

Perhaps a little worse for the wear, but we’ve made it to the unofficial last weekend of summer. Adam and I have been in the throes of some really demanding work weeks lately and are more than ready to blissfully check out at the lake house all weekend. Hope you all have equally relaxing plans. Below – what’s on my mind, on my bookshelf and in my shopping cart.

ON MY MIND:

  • I think we are all in agreement on how crucial voting is this year. I just submitted an application to be a poll worker. As someone with flexibility in my schedule and in good health – I want to make sure that I’m doing anything I can to help the in-person process at my local polling sites go smoothly. Apply here if you’re interested.
  • Museums have finally reopened here in the city! You need to buy tickets in advance and there are plenty of safety measures in place, but I’m already planning on a trip in late September or early October so that I can see the leaves of Central Park in all their glory from the rooftop of the Met. It’s one of my absolute favorite spots in the entire city.
  • The other night Adam and I spent several hours indulging a vivid fantasy in which we buy a cottage in the English countryside. I’m talking Google maps street view down rural roads, floor plan comparisons – the whole thing. I blame @hillhousevintage and the entire #cottagecore trend.

ON MY BOOKSHELF:

  • Truly one of the best things to come out of this strange year is the fact that I started two book clubs. And we’re into our second sessions already! The virtual group is reading The Paris Hours by Alex George this month and my NYC-based group is reading The Boys of Alabama by Genevieve Hudson.
  • I tragically once ran out of books to read at the lake and I’ll never not overpack them again. I’ve got my library copies of The Chelsea Girls and The Topeka School in my weekender bag – just in case.
  • Claire – my other half @prettwords – has been reading and raving about Andr√© Leon Talley’s (former Vogue Creative Director) memoir: The Chiffon Trenches and I’ve promptly added it to my list. In a year of sweatpants, we could all use a dose of high fashion, no?

IN MY SHOPPING CART:

  • One of my goals this year was to invest in basics. Not that they necessarily needed to be expensive – but just to put a focus on filling in the holes in my wardrobe with good, solid staples. I always find myself wishing I had a dark brown leather belt – and this one could finally solve that problem.
  • I just switched over my closet from summer to fall and have plenty of great dresses to wear again this season. But if I do add a new one to my rotation, I think it will be this Seventies-inspired floral midi dress (30% off sitewide). Belted with boots for a stroll through the park or barefoot on the couch for Saturday napping – it works either way.
  • We’ve been using this year to tie up the loose ends around the apartment. Case in point – finally getting around to hanging curtains. We worked with Calico Corners on a quick home office update back in March (see that post here) – and loved those draperies so much we moved them down into the living room. Meaning we now need to replace the office/bedroom panels. They’re running a 25% off sitewide sale right now and I can’t tell you how much it elevates a room to have true, quality window treatments. It makes me feel like a real grown-up!
  • I want to add another pair of non-denim pants to my rotation for the fall and these wide leg cropped khakis are less than $40 now and look super flattering. I like the olive green shade.
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STEELE MAIDEN BOOK CLUB: CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Look at me! Getting you book reviews in a timely fashion! Honestly changing the format of these posts to simply recap what I read in the past month instead of forecasting what I’ll read next and then having to stick to those really helped. So we’ll keep that going! I can’t say this was my all-time favorite stack of books but there were some gems in this batch, some light just for fun reads and a couple of more challenging books. Something for everyone!

All Adults Here by Emma Straub: I read Modern Lovers by Straub a few summer’s back and admittedly wasn’t really blown away, but I tend to lean towards literary fiction more than popular fiction. That being said – I liked this one more and felt like I was equally invested in all of the family members in the story. I also liked that there was a good representation of relationship types. This would make a great “beach read” if you’re still looking for something for the long weekend. (4 stars)

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo: I can safely say I’ve never read anything like this. Written in uniquely casual prose it took me a couple of chapters to absorb the rhythm but once I did I was hooked. This novel weaves together the stories of 12 different British women of color – giving a voice to those who are rarely the center of the story. I loved it. (5 stars)

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradel: A multi-generational story of female brewers set in the midwest. This book felt slow at times to me but I’m glad I stuck with it because the last half picked up and I liked where the story went. Best enjoyed with a cold lager, naturally. (3.5 stars)

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson: This book is a YA memoir – but honestly I don’t think you need to fall in the ‘young adult’ category to glean something from Johnson’s straightforward and honest account of growing up Black and Queer in America. (4.5 stars)

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham: A quick read that offered a light-hearted look at Graham’s career and life. It wasn’t the most riveting information but I think this would have been fun on audiobook and more-so made me want to re-watch Gilmore Girls, which is a perfect “on in the background” fall show. (3 stars)

Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson: Shifting between NYC in the 1970s and present day and following a young girl’s rise in the competitive world of ballet alongside a life-altering relationship, this book was a little bit coming of age nostalgia a little bit dark thriller. Lolita meets Black Swan. (4 stars)

The Perfect Date by Evelyn Lozada & Holly Lorincz: Set in the Bronx and featuring a diverse cast of characters, this quick read romance followed a down and out star baseball player and a hard-working single mom. To be honest I’m not sure that I really loved our leading man here but I read the entire thing in an afternoon and the other aspects of the story were still enjoyable. (3 stars)

Supper Club by Lara Williams: I heard the term “millenial malaise” the other day and this book definitely would fall into this category. If you were a fan of Sally Rooney’s Normal People or Otessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest & Relaxation I think you’d like this. Honestly, I was on the fence about those two but in comparison liked Supper Club more. (4 stars)

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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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Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.