Friday, November 30, 2007

New Shopping Content!

Read my shopping content from our December 2007 issue:

Window Shopping: Jet Set in Style
Find out why this 121-year old Madison store is still going strong (hint: it's probably their beautiful leather goods, luggage and more!)

Fabulous Finds: The Simple Shopper
Gotta know what to get now for the holidays? We'll tell you!

Shopping for the Tops
We ask local storeowners what they'd pick up for local celebs.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Gala Photos!

I attended the HospiceCare Butterfly Gala on November 17. What a great cause to support and we had a lot of fun in the process!
Take a look at the photos!

Photos, from top:
Top left: Shayna Miller, associate/style editor, Madison Magazine; Tiffany Thom, marketing director, Madison Magazine; Sarah Andler; Sara Goetz, foundation executive assistant, HospiceCare; Jenn Sweet, special events coordinator, HospiceCare.

Top right: Shayna Miller and Dan Chin, director of public affairs at HospiceCare.

Middle: Jenn Sweet, special events coordinator at HospiceCare and Sarah Andler, senior production designer at Madison Magazine.

Dan Chin and Sarah Andler.

Bottom: Tiffany Thom, Shayna Miller and Dan Chin.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Holiday Happenings

It’s the Super Bowl of the shopping season: the weekend after Thanksgiving. Hilldale Shopping Center is celebrating by kicking off its sixteenth annual Tree Walk. Each store in Hilldale has the option to partner with a charity and decorate a tree with a theme of their choosing. According to a press release, customers can buy ornaments off of the trees, buy items off of the charity’s “wish list” and place them under the tree, or donate to the charity. All proceeds will of course go to the charity the tree represents.
Hilldale is also hosting a concert series from November 23 through December 24. Every weekend sees different performing groups like the Madison Youth Choirs, Edgewood High School Orchestra, Yahara River Chorus and more.
Hilldale Shopping Center, 702 N. Midvale Blvd. 238-6640.

Want your pick of more than 350 shops? Head downtown and check out some great shopping and holiday cheer. State Street will be decorated with greenery and holiday snowflake lights. Ride the free holiday trolley from November 24 to December 23. The best part? Free stuff! Trolley riders will receive gift bags filled with coupons and information from more than thirty businesses and organizations.
Also check out weekend song and dance as carolers and dancers take to the streets to perform.
Downtown Madison holiday activities: Nov. 24–Dec. 23. Trolleys run Sat. and Sun. noon–4p. Song/dance performances Sat. and Sun. 1–3p.

Recently I found out that Dane Buy Local will be selling gift cards this year, good for use at their two hundred-plus members (some members: A Great Gift, Fontana, Eldorado Grill, The Washington Hotel Coffee Room).
Dane Buy Local’s membership roster has steadily gone up in the past few years, and this is the first year the gift cards were introduced. Cards can be purchased in any denomination from $25–$250. The card (basically a VISA gift card) is a great gift and keeps money in our local economy, which is a good thing.
Buy the cards at any of the five Home Savings Bank branches six days a week (Mon.–Fri. 7:30a–5:30p, Sat 8a–12p). 282-6000.

This Weekend Only!

Two local businesses are hosting events this weekend for your shopping pleasure, too.

Check out the third annual High Noon Craftacular on November 24–25. Twenty emerging and established artists on the “alternative” craft scene will have their crafts for sale. Items include crocheted hand towels, purses and rugs; baby items; fun kitschy stuff; and handbags, clothing and more. “Recycling artist” Emily Kircher, one of the Craftacular’s featured artists, wrote to me: “In light of recent recalls on imported and mass-produced goods, it makes more sense than ever to shop handmade and local!”
So stop by the sale and buy something unique for a loved one—something they surely won’t find anywhere else!
High Noon Craftacular, Nov. 24–25, 10a–4p, free. High Noon Saloon, 701 E. Washington Ave.

Dottie Rose will be hosting an OR’iEN trunk show. From what owner Melissa Ernst writes about the designer: “ORi’EN is designed by the fabulous Chicago designer Cyndi Chan. She uses classic silhouettes and shapes with modern details and construction!” From what I saw online, Chan’s items are beautiful (I saw a short and long satin trench coat and a pleated halter dress that were gorgeous) and Ernst writes that Chan’s clothing was recently featured on Oprah and in Lucky. Cool!
Dottie Rose ORi’EN trunk show, Nov. 24, 10a–5p. 1835 Parmenter St. 831-9099.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Shopping Made Easy

Shop It To Me is like your own personal shopper—online. Shoppers simply fill out basic personal information about themselves and then select the brands and sizes they're looking for. Soon after, shoppers will receive heads-up emails on matches they've selected. Sounds pretty easy to me. Brands include Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Ellen Tracy, Ann Taylor, Christian Dior, and more.
One of the featured retailers on Shop It To Me is Shopbop, right here out of Madison (others include Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, etc.). I have been to Shopbop's website quite a few times (ALL work-related of course) and was very impressed with their extensive and easy-to-navigate site. Shopbop could teach other retailers a lesson or two in how to lay out a website. It's no surprise they're featured on Shop It To Me (well, the clothing doesn't hurt either)!

Bop, 222 W. Gorham St. 255-2570.


Barbie was my favorite toy growing up. I know—surprise, surprise. I still like fashion today, and I think I have credit Barbie for that with all of her interchangeable outfits! Mattel, maker of Barbie, is opening a brand-new Mattel Toy Store in Middleton on Monday, November 19. This is Mattel’s seventh toy store (the rest are located in California or Texas).
On Mattel’s website, you can print out some great coupons to start saving on holiday shopping. Since Mattel makes the brands Hot Wheels, Barbie, Matchbox, Tyco and Fisher-Price, you can start stocking up on presents for your favorite little boy or girl.

The Mattel Toy Store, 8400 Fairway Place, Middleton. 836-7200. matteltoystore

Go Big Red

The downtown University Book Store, known for all things Badger (and, well, textbooks too—you know, those things you use in college?), will be carrying a fair-trade T-shirt. The T-shirt actually looks the same as a regular old standard-issue “Wisconsin” shirt. The difference? This T-shirt is made by companies that pay their workers fair wages, have good working conditions and gender equality, and encourage better environmental practices. According to Wikipedia, “In 2006, fair trade certified sales amounted to approximately $2.3 billion worldwide, a 41 percent year-to-year increase.”
I also noticed that the University Book Store carries an organic cotton T-shirt, too. Looks like Bucky’s jumping on the fair trade/organic bandwagon—hopefully that means there’ll be more of those products to come.

The University Book Store, 711 State St. 257-3584 (downtown).
702 N. Midvale Blvd. 238-8455 (Hilldale).

Step By Step

I received a copy of a new magazine called Make It Mine, put out by Kalmbach Publishing. This magazine targets “creative women in their 30s, 40s and 50s.” A flip through the magazine reveals projects on how to customize jeans, and make handbags and jewelry. The magazine spreads are nice and uncluttered and show step-by-step instructions for each project.
A lot of the homemade stuff didn’t really float my boat (like the penny bracelet or felt purse), but some of the ideas were cute—and it was inspiring to read about ideas you really could do yourself. These projects are kind of like your own couture creations.

Jewelry Galore

Katy’s American Indian Jewelry has more jewelry than they know what to do with! This weekend, November 16–18, check out the thirty-two cases of pawn and vintage Indian jewelry the store has got on hand. Plus, owner Katy Schalles just got back from a buying trip and she has plenty of Hopi and Zuni pieces to sell.

Katy’s American Indian Arts, 1817 Monroe St. 251-5451.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Top Six for Winter

This week I thought I’d talk about hot picks for this winter and what I consider as “essentials” for the season. Hopefully you can appreciate these pieces, too.

I love incorporating metallic pieces in my shoes, accessories or handbags. This season it’s all about silver (I’ve seen silver handbags everywhere) and charcoal grays. If you don’t like bright, in-your-face metallics, try a pair of cozy flats in a gunmetal gray or warm bronze, some subtle bangles or a cute clutch that adds just enough excitement to your look. (Above: Rafe metallic clutch, picture courtesy of Twigs).

Trouser jeans
Now that workplaces have gone more casual, trouser jeans are one item that many employers will probably accept on a casual Friday. Found in affordable brands up to luxury lines, I predict that this is one wardrobe staple that won’t go out of style. (Above: Kasil jeans, picture courtesy of JC Madison).

Not only are they practical in our chilly Midwest climes, tights add pop to an outfit. Most of the fashion magazines are showing plain black opaque tights paired with holiday cocktail dresses and skirts. I also like patterned versions like argyle, subtle stripes or herringbone. Be careful with the wilder patterns—it takes the perfect outfit to match. Here’s a tip: If you want to walk on the wild side but the outfit you’ve chosen is neutral in color, turn up the fun with a funky, multicolored print.

A statement-making coat
Because I’m not Catherine Zeta-Jones, I don’t have an unlimited clothing budget. Alas, the pieces I buy need to be durable, yet fashionable, so they’ll last a couple of seasons. While a winter coat is a must for our weather, we don’t all have to wear puffy (sometimes unflattering) parkas just because it’s cold! Try a coat in a fun print (I recently received a houndstooth coat), a bright color, or one with unexpected details, such as cool buttons or a vibrant waist tie. Jazzing up your ensemble will cheer you up when it’s cold and dreary.

As far as the cut, fitted silhouettes are always better; you don’t want to add extra bulk to your frame. Coats that nip in a bit at the waist or tie around the waist are best to achieve a nice hourglass figure—even if you don’t have one.

Vibrant shoes
Have you noticed a trend yet? I’ve been discussing punching up classic looks with trendier accessories (tights, metallics) or picking out pieces that will never go out of style (a classic coat). Most of the clothing I like is more conservative, but then I’ll throw a loop in the outfit by wearing my favorite leopard-printed stilettos or my funky disco-esque gold wedge sandals.

Bright shoes are another way to add excitement to your outfits. Try zebra-printed flats, anything patent leather or a royal-blue platform heel.

A swing coat or nice blazer
This season’s mod inspiration is the reason behind the swing coat featuring an easy, A-line silhouette so it can work on virtually anyone. Try a cute cropped version with three-quarters sleeves. Or pick up a classic blazer in a texture like velvet or tweed and a cute bow to tie it instead of buttons.

Places to shop for trendy winter gear:
Dazzle, 8426 Old Sauk Rd., Middleton. 826-4455.
Jan Byce, 702 N. Midvale Blvd. 233-1606.
JC Madison, 1650 Deming Way, Ste. 106, Middleton. 824-9735.
Karen and Co., 309 State St. 258-5500.
Patricia Shoppe, 137 W. Johnson St. 256-1111.
Twigs, 1925 Monroe St. 255-4363.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

City Sights

Everyone needs to get away once in a while. That’s why I like to go to Milwaukee to experience a different city and scene. Milwaukee feels like a big city but it’s still a manageable size to walk around and be familiar with—and the traffic isn’t terrible (compared to Chicago, for example). For a mere hour and a half (or less) you can experience all of this.

Yummy Eats
The Wicked Hop is one of my all-time favorite places to hang out and get a bite to eat. When it’s warm out, I relax on the patio outside and experience the laid-back scene of the Historic Third Ward. The food is affordable and easy to like—burgers, chicken sandwiches, wings and more. They’re also frequently named for having the best Bloody Mary in the city (they garnish with a mushroom, shrimp, blue cheese-stuffed olives, mozzarella whips and a beef stick).
Say “bonjour” when you walk in to Trocadero—this adorable French joint has great food, affordable wine and one of the best outdoor patios in the city. Their ham and gruyere crepe is one of my go-tos for a meal, but their spinach dip and cheese plates are also top-notch.
Elsa’s is an elegant choice for casual dining in an upscale, bustling atmosphere. Their martinis are the drink of choice here, and be sure to wear a cute outfit if you go here. If you go for dinner, get a burger—you won’t be sorry! Fun fact: local celebs are sometimes spotted here (Bucks and Brewers players).
Other places to try: Bella’s Fat Cat (awesome burgers), Oakland Trattoria (pizza to die for), Pasta Tree (mmm … pasta) and Eddie Martini’s (heavenly filet mignon). P.S.: if you want health food, don’t ask me … ha.

Hang Out
I’ve only been to Water Buffalo in the Third Ward once—but that was enough for me to want to go back again. This sleek restaurant/bar actually won “Best New Restaurant” by’s readers—quite a ringing endorsement. I haven’t tried the food but would like to soon!
Blu at the top of the Pfister offers a bird’s-eye view of the city. This classy, sophisticated cocktail lounge usually has live music and an interesting mix of people. It’s a little pricier than most area bars/lounges, but the atmosphere more than makes up for it.
The Nomad on Brady Street is the ultimate hangout, and is another place that’s fun in warm or cold weather. Sit outside and sip a brew while surveying the Brady Street scene or snuggle up inside in the wintertime for good conversation.
Other places to try: Hi-Hat Garage, (cool lounge-y place), County Clare (fun Irish-themed bar), Bar Louie (a bit rowdy, but fun with friends and nice outdoor patio) and Harry’s (casual but lovely establishment and good food).

Where to Shop
Um … do you think I forgot the most important category?! Of course not. Milwaukee’s got a lot of independent, locally owned boutiques.
Peruse Lela for beautiful, feminine clothing (dressy tops, cocktail dresses), a small selection of consignment goods and the latest trends by Milwaukee’s up-and-coming designers like Shanel Regier and Lauren Edgar Duff. Fun fact: This past summer Lela hosted Project Lela, modeled after Bravo’s Project Runway. The boutique carries clothing by the winner of the challenge, Erica Fox, as well as runner-up Kristi Schomberg.
Detour is Milwaukee’s answer for premium denim. Look for all of the hottest brands that will set you back a few bucks, but hey, you’ll look good!
Blush in the Third Ward offers the finest in cosmetics like Laura Mercier, DuWop and Paula Dorf. Their website also boasts that Blush is home to Milwaukee’s first Lash Bar. They also have a Brow Bar for shoppers to pick out their unique look.
Other places to try: Anomaly Design Shop (kitschy home d├ęcor products), Aala Reed (beautiful men’s and women’s clothing) Metropawlis (pet boutique and bakery) Milwaukee Public Market, and indoor food emporium featuring ethnic cuisine, meats, cheeses, Wisconsin products, flowers, coffee bar, candy, and more. Finally, check out George Watts for a really nice gift or for yourself, but be prepared to spend some money on this quality tabletop and gift specialty store.

Fun Things To Do
The Milwaukee Art Museum has really stepped up its exhibitions lately. Last year’s Biedermeier: The Invention of Simplicity, earned rave reviews.
Tour Lakefront Brewery, a local microbrewery on the Milwaukee River. For a mere five dollars take a tour of the charming brewery (complete with your tour guide singing and dancing to the theme song from Laverne and Shirley), get a free pint glass and tokens for four, yes four, beers. Be sure to bring your designated driver!
Summertime means Milwaukee is festival central. Check out Bastille Days, Summerfest or any of the local street/community festivals that go on (Brady Street, Locust Street, Bay View, etc.)