Friday, December 21, 2007

Winter Wonderland

Since we’re already in the throes of a snowy, icy winter (even though technically, the first day of winter is December 22!) it’s nice to think about products that make us feel cozy and luxurious.
Take bliss' winter line of ultra-moisturizing products, with holiday names like “Two Turtle Gloves” and “Jingle Bell Socks.” Pull on the robins’ egg blue “glamour gloves” lined with self-activating grapeseed and ceramide gel and hands will emerge twenty minutes later softer and younger-looking (for real—I tried them!). The “softening socks” with a polymer gel lining promise to “alleviate dryness, soften rough skin and battle the buildup of corns and calluses.”
I read recently that alpha-hydroxy acids in body lotions help aid skin cell turnover and reveal the fresh layer of skin underneath. That’s why the Foot Patrol lotion might be a good pick for ailing feet—it’s packed with alpha hydroxy acids and aloe leaf, has a nice peppermint smell and exfoliates and softens feet. Slather on a thick layer before bed, pull on some socks and your feet will also be nice and soft by morning. The High Intensity hand cream makes skin feel instantly silky and moisturized. I’ve tried both products before bed and am a happy customer!
Also try the bliss “Snowed In” set, which contains the aforementioned foot and hand creams, plus the lemon+sage soap, vanilla+bergamont bubbling bath+shower gel, lemon+sage body butter and vanilla+bergamont body buff.


Speaking of pampering, I found out about a unique product called Bootie Pies. These “pedicure boots” have been featured in People, Life & Style, and on the Today Show. Simply put, the boots allow spa-goers to venture out in the cold after a pedicure and most importantly, not smudge your polish job. On the way to the salon, Bootie Pies can be worn like a regular boot. After the pedicure is complete, spa-goers unzip the back zipper on the boot and slide their foot in. The patent-leather toe on the boot can be folded down and the foot slides over the toe. If you’ve got $128 to spare, a pair could be yours.
The creators of Bootie Pies know a thing or two about cold-weather pedicures: sisters Deanna Kipnes, Pamela Karp and Erika Whitman all graduated from UW–Madison.

Weather Or Not

Now here’s an interesting story: meteorologists aren’t only predicting weather trends in their usual mediums (TV, radio, newspaper, internet, etc) but a few apparel companies are taking weather very seriously and hiring consultants to advise them on future weather trends. The New York Times reports that clothier Liz Claiborne has hired a climatologist from Columbia University to predict weather for its designers; Target has established a “climate team” to advise the retailer on types of apparel to sell throughout the year and Weatherproof has bought a ten million dollar insurance policy against unusually warm weather.
“Two consecutive years of volatile weather—last November and this October were the warmest on record for the New York City area, a retail Mecca—have proved disastrous for companies that rely on predictable temperatures to sell cold-weather clothing like sweaters and coats,” according to The Times.
Apparently, this means more season less clothing will become popular—lightweight sweaters, cashmere blends and layering pieces. Locally, I’ve noticed retailers like Fair Indigo roll out layer-worthy tissue tees and cashmere-blend sweaters. A few cozy, heavy sweaters at Karen & Co. on State Street beckoned customers to pull one on over a long- or short-sleeve T-shirt.
This season’s popular and ladylike three-quarters length sleeve coats (intended to be worn with elbow-length gloves) were an indication to me that some clothiers might have taken the global warming thing a little too seriously. Although they’re cute, they’re best reserved for a mild day since here in Wisconsin a glove-covered forearm might still be too cold!
In the future, look for clothing that can be worn over the seasons. Fashion magazines like Lucky and Glamour even discuss how to take a summer-weight dress into fall and winter by pairing it with thick tights, substantial shoes and a cute cardi. Global warming is not good, but the multi-season clothing thing? Good for consumers since we can wear our favorite clothing year-round!

Is Local Losing Out?

Since it seems as though a global warming trend here in the area is a pretty far stretch right now (ice storms, school closings, cars plowed in by snowplows) I wanted to share with readers the effect crazy weather can have on our local retailers. I can’t imagine anyone would be going out in a blizzard just to pick up that hand-blown glass ornament from an art gallery.
Carol “Orange” Schroeder, owner of Orange Tree Imports, recently had this to share with Neil Heinen, Madison Magazine’s editorial director: “… Our recent snowy weather has been a real burden to the independent retailers … It’s our hope that shoppers will take advantage of the better weather during this last week before Christmas to get out and support the local shops they value. Anything you can do to get this message out would be much appreciated!”

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fashion Show Photos

Imagine: the house lights are dim, the excitement is palpable and the house music is bumping. Show attendees are wearing their best: lipstick-red pumps, bubble dresses and designer denim. As the show begins, beautiful, lithe models strut their stuff on the runway modeling the latest from Oscar de la Renta, Christian Lacroix, Bill Blass, Carolina Herrera and more.
Nope, I wasn't at New York Fashion Week; I attended the fabulous Ebony Fashion Fair this past weekend right here in Madison. The "world's largest traveling fashion show" celebrated its fiftieth anniversary this year.
Besides showcasing fashion giants like Roberto Cavalli and Dolce & Gabbana, the show had a greater purpose, too: to serve as a fundraiser for the Madison Metropolitan Chapter of The Links. This worldwide nonprofit, service-based volunteer organization strives to "enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry." Since the Madison chapter's inception in 1985, The Links have awarded over $100,000 in scholarships to Madison youth.
A good cause and good clothing? I'm in!

Hot trends I saw:
Metallics, glitz and glamour. Fantastic sequin-encrusted minidresses, a disco-shine sequin jumpsuit and a ladylike golden coat were all here.

Fur. Models were covered from head to toe—literally—in all kinds of furs. Models sported fur-trimmed cuffs on coats, a mink shrug and floor-length coats.

Animal prints. Lions and tigers and—well, OK not bears—but animals of all stripes were represented. Check out the three lovely models clad in their fashion-forward animal-print frocks.

Plaid. Plaid was the ticket in wide-leg pants, duster coats and jumpers. Many of the outfits were very matchy-matchy (i.e.: a plaid coat with matching shift dress underneath), and therefore more suited to the runway than the realway. So use just one of these plaid pieces to jazz up an outfit.

Tailored, polished looks. Check out the black belted cardigan with wide-leg pants or the elegant Grecian-inspired white shift dress with metallic accents.

Brights. The runway was an abundance of rich color: chartreuse, mustard yellow, apple red and of course, this striped, full-skirted frock. Outfits also mixed and matched colors like a mustard-yellow trench and fringed dress paired with shiny red pumps and a vibrant plum pleated shirt (paired with gray pants) and minidress.

The new swimsuit. Swimsuits were given the full-fashion treatment in metallics, stripes and animal prints. Paired with elegant caftans and wrap dresses, these pieces were practically outfits.

Embellished denim. Sequins and embroidery dressed up this wardrobe standby and made it more evening-worthy. With casual becoming more of the norm these days, I'm not surprised.
Finally, check out Elizabeth Wewerka (owner of Lady Moxie) and myself with our "posse" of male models...ha ha. These gentlemen modeled in the fashion show. Bottom photo courtesy of

Friday, December 7, 2007

Gift Ideas

Looking to shop local or “green” this holiday? I’ve got ideas for you!

Fromagination (click here to read this month’s Genuine Articles on Fromagination) has a tasty array of gift baskets for your giftee. If you’ve got relatives or friends that don’t live here, consider buying local and sending the goods out to them! The shop offers pre-made baskets ranging in price from $35–$100.
Otherwise you can’t go wrong making your own basket and stuffing it with treats like Potter’s Crackers, Door County cherry jam and Hook’s cheddar cheese. Well, Fromagination’s actually got ninety cut-to-order artisan cheeses plus olive oils, mustards, nuts, charcuterie and gift accessories.
Other things you might notice about the downtown shop? The reclaimed wood floors (from a warehouse in Chicago), vintage clocks (courtesy of the State Capitol building) and the store’s gift basket return program—which allows customers to bring in an old gift basket to exchange for another recycled basket, or receive two dollars off a new basket. Per the store’s website, “our store incorporates sustainable, renewable, recycled, recycled vintage and found materials whenever possible.” So not only will you be buying local at Fromagination, you’ll be supporting a green business too.
Fromagination, 12 S. Carroll St. 255-2430.

Want a night at Lombardino’s for four, a hot-air balloon ride or a Packers helmet autographed by Brett Favre (this might be the only time I mention Brett Favre on this blog ☺) at a potential savings? Go to the Wisconsin Partners for SustainAbility’s online auction and bid on these items and more. That Lombardino’s night had a leading bid of two hundred dollars as of press time, but the estimated actual value was three hundred dollars.
Josie Pradella, owner of Terra Source chocolates (which were delicious—we got to taste-test them here) recently stopped by our offices to talk about buying local and encouraged us to visit the auction site. You can even bid on a Terra Source “Box-a-Month” chocolate package.
The organization’s website encourages auction bidders to “Help support local, independently-owned businesses and educational outreach year round, where we live and work and worldwide.”
Bid now, because the auction ends December 16.
Wisconsin Partners for SustainAbility Auction, through Dec. 16.
Terra Source chocolates, 877-808-9217.
Dane Buy Local,

The Bohemian Bauble’s annual “Bohemian Bazaar” is this weekend, Dec. 7–9. Um, have I mentioned buying local yet? Stop by this quaint shop to pick up bath and body goods, jewelry, art, and fun decorative goods. Bonus: many of the items are made with recycled or vintage goods, which isn’t too shabby for the environment. I see stuff like iPod cases made out of juice bags, sweater scarves, candles in tins, magazine purses, original photography and more.
Free gift wrapping all weekend, cookies and artists giveaways don’t hurt this event, either.
Bohemian Bauble Bohemian Bazaar, Dec. 7–9, 10a–4p. 404 W. Lakeside St. 333-BOHO.

Three Orange Doors will be celebrating its second birthday in December by giving to a good cause: Second Harvest Foodbank. Twenty percent of profits between December 7 and 9 will go to the cause.
So get the trifecta shopping here: shopping local, buying green (the shop peddles vintage finds like a mahogany bar back from Tyrol Basin in Mt. Horeb) and donating to a good cause.
Three Orange Doors, 2789 Fitchrona Rd. 848-3336.