April 29, 2011

Linking Up: Chicago's best shoe shops; Retailer secrets to buying cheap; Chanel in color; A D.I.Y. pillowcase clutch

Refinery29 lists the best shoe shops in Chicago! (click HERE for the rundown)

Second City Style shares with us some retailer secrets to buying cheap. (click HERE for the inside scoop)

Swagger360 shows us that color looks even better when it's Chanel. (click HERE to fall in love)

Fashion du Jour demonstrates how to make an oversized clutch using a pillow case. Wowzers! (click HERE to get your creative juices flowing)

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April 28, 2011

Canvas + Leather = The Versatile Spring/Summer Bag

The canvas tote always has a resurgence when Spring arrives.  This season, rather than going for the typical going-to-the-grocer-or-market tote, look for canvas bags that also incorporate leather.  Leather has a way of refining a canvas bag and turning it into a more versatile wardrobe item that's appropriate for both work and play.

I scoured the web for some examples in every price range. Here are my top picks!

Clockwise from top left:
Meli Melo BB Canvas and Leather Tote - $625
Cooperative Canvas Bucket Bag - $48
Ann Taylor Leather and Canvas Satchel - $248
DKNY Canvas Double Handle Tote - $195 (retail $325)

Do you already have the perfect canvas bag? If not, any plans to pick one up this season?

For more options, check out the below selection.


April 27, 2011

College Couture Week teaches students (and me) Fashion 101

College Couture Week at the University of Illinois ended over a week ago and I'm still on a high!

Fashion Talk was amazing. I, along with Fashion Design professor Susan Becker, had the opportunity to speak to a room of fashion-enthused students about our respective passions. While I focused on fashion blogging and the Chicago fashion scene, Professor Becker touched on her experience in the fashion industry.  Working for designers like Marc Jacobs, Professor Becker shared stories that taught me a a few lessons as well. If only we had her course when I was attending. Who knows what path my post-college career would have taken.

Throughout my entire blogging career, which is all of 2.5 years, I have to say Fashion Talk has been my most rewarding experience to date.  I truly enjoyed sharing my background (e.g. how the London markets led to my creation of ChiTown Fashionista), my achievements as a blogger (e.g. guest blogging for Rue La La) and the recent momentum within the Chicago fashion scene (e.g. Borris Powell's Oscar Design Challenge win and the Kenmore reality series, "So You Wanna Be a Designer").

After Fashion Talk, I headed to the Trunk Show, where I had the opportunity to mingle with the students.  I also had my first encounter with the fantastical up-and-coming t-shirt line from Tom and John's Chocolate Factory, the colorful footwear from BucketFeet and the photography genius Gino Baileau. *more to come on all of them*

That evening, I returned home excited to make the drive back down to Champaign for the finale runway show.

As the official climax to the week-long festivities, the finale runway show was the main attraction. The looks featured designs by Goca Designs, Ciano Von Jo Designs, Kenneth Crowder and Alexandra Forrest - all of which are student designers. Also, my good friend, Jillian of Joules Jewels Vintage, made the trip downstate to showcase her exceptional vintage collection.  The show was cleverly produced, the music was spot-on and the models, both male and female, worked the runway.

Here are some of my favorite moments:

Click HERE to access my Flickr page with even more pics!

From my first encounter with the committee, I knew College Couture Week would be a success.  And I'm pleased to have played a part in this inaugural event.  I'm certain that the next one will be even bigger and better.  Maybe I'll get to moderate a panel of Chicago fashion insiders....you never know. *wink*  Regardless of my involvement, I will continue to support the College Couture organization as they work to expand fashion on the campus of the University of Illinois.

After this experience, I'm even more proud to be an alum! #GoIllini

Sidenote: Special thanks goes to Jenn Ruppert and the College Couture committee for the invite! And BIG LOVE to hubby, lil sis and my friend Andrea for being my road trip buddies. Your support means the world to mean. xoxo

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April 21, 2011

Linking Up: Chicago's hottest 30 under 30; The perfect umbrella; Essie reveals the nail polish naming process

Refinery29 lists Chicago's hottest 30 under 30.  From designers  to DJs, see who's taking the city by storm. (click HERE for the list)

Chicago Street Style Scene snaps a photo of my friend Trey and now has me on the hunt for the perfect umbrella. (click HERE to see the fabulousness)

Fashionista sits down with THE Essie Weingarten to talk nail polish. (click HERE to learn how the colors are named)

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April 19, 2011

Leetie Lovendale Lucite Earrings - GIVEAWAY WINNER ANNOUNCED

Big LOVE to everyone who entered the Leetie Lovendale Lucite Earrings Giveaway! It's always a treat sharing one of my favorite Etsy sellers with you.
And now for the winner...

CONGRATS to Baby Shopaholic!

If you didn't win this time, don't fret. I have another giveaway coming REAL soon. And this time it's a clothing item. #excited


Modern Vintage continues to woo me!

I attended Modern Vintage for the first time in October 2009 and have been an avid supporter ever since. Organized by the creators of the Randolph Market, Modern Vintage is typically filled to the brim with vendors selling jaw-dropping, heart-palpitation-ensuing vintage finds. And this past weekend was no different.

There were some new additions as well as the longstanding favorites. As usual, Ladybag International had everyone drooling over Chanel, Hermes and Fendi. While newcomer, Joules Jewels Vintage, introduced Modern Vintage attendees to her cute and quirky vintage clothing and accessories.

In general, I tend to focus on jewelry and handbags at these events. However, the clothing, hats and housewares equally gained my attention this time around.

I also ran into the enthusiastic Sally Schwartz, founder of the Randolph Street Market AND the ever-stylish Nena Ivon, the Fashion Director of Modern Vintage. This year, Nena decided to nix the runway show format and opted to have professional models walk around the event showcasing some of her favorite vintage pieces. As we discussed how brilliant the concept was, she escorted me to a few of her favorite vendors; one of which had THE most amazing handmade necklaces I'd ever encountered (as shown on the model above). And as a Georgia-based traditional seller (i.e. no website, facebook page, etc.), Modern Vintage is quite possibly the only place I would've had the opportunity to view his work.

Now do you see why I can't stop going?!?

Check out more of the fabulousness I encountered:

Visit RandolphStreetMarket.com for the full market schedule.

OK. You know the drill. Let me know what you scored at Modern Vintage. I'm dying to hear about your great finds!

P.S. There was another vendor/Etsy seller I finally had the chance to meet at Modern Vintage. She's so awesome, I'll be dedicating an entire post to her shop. So, stay tuned...

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April 15, 2011

IMAGINE the future of Chicago fashion

Last Sunday, the IADT Schaumburg design students showed up and showed out for the IMAGINE runway show!

A few weeks ago, I sat on the jury that reviewed the designs in an effort to pick the best collections and individual garments. At that point, I was already impressed by the talent these students possessed. But seeing the designs on the runway was even more impressive!

Held at the gorgeous Loft on Lake, on one of the most beautiful days this city has seen in awhile, the IMAGINE runway show was the perfect opportunity for family, friends and media to view the work of Chicago's brightest design students.

Erin Creaney and the IADT Schaumburg staff produced an outstanding show, which included Chicago designers Lara Miller and Borris Powell as the hosts and FORD models rocking the runway. I must add that the hair and makeup was phenomenal. I will be attempting those looks at home...emphasis on "attempting".

Now to the runway! Here are some of my favorite moments from the event.

  fashionisto and fellow blogger, Luis of ChiCityTrends (on the right) with friends

designer: Jennifer Mathis (peep the cuff bracelets on the ankles..BRILLIANT)

designer: Ashley Martinez (I need that faux fur vest ASAP)

designer: Temi Adejutigbe; designer: Courtney Zingler (both have amazing technique)

designer: Courtney Zingler (creative mix of colors and layers)

designer: Rhonda Love (this is red carpet worthy)

Congrats to all of the students for their amazing work! The future of Chicago's fashion scene is looking even brighter.

So what's your verdict? Which designs are speaking to you the most?


April 14, 2011

Linking Up: A crew of eight with major swagger; Amazing Chicago-based Etsy sellers; Strong shoulders and bold color

SWAGGER 360 photographs 8 young chaps with outstanding swagger. (click HERE to be impressed)

Refinery29 provides us with a list of amazing Chicago-based Etsy sellers! (click HERE to check it out)

Dara Udom gives us strong shoulders and bold color. (click HERE to get inspired)

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April 13, 2011

On my way to College Couture Week at University of Illinois!!

It all started on Twitter...

I noticed a new Twitter follower. When I went to her timeline,  I realized she was a fashion blogger and University of Illinois student. When I told her that U of I was my alma mater, she informed me that something exciting was brewing on campus and that she was going to send me an email about it. That "something" turned out to be U of I's first ever COLLEGE COUTURE WEEK!! A fashion week at U of I?! I couldn't wait to learn more and see how I could help. THEN, she told me that she was the President and Founder of the event AND that the planning committee would like for me to speak at one of the fashion seminars!

What. An. Honor! Speaking about fashion at my alma mater? I was down!

And who is this "she"? She is the lovely Jennifer Ruppert, creator of the Turquoise Lagoon blog and new intern to the amazing Sarah Vargo, whose widely known for her MAVEN Diva and Divo Series.

In addition to speaking about my blog and the Chicago fashion scene, I was able to secure a local vintage shop owner, my girl Jillian of Joules Jewels, for the College Couture Week finale runway show. The committee (shown below) also have student designers as well as Tom and John's Chocolate Factory, Ciano Von Jo Designs, Evil Kitty and Bucketfeet on board for the runway show!

back row (l-r) Thomas Mui, Kenneth Crowder, John Jeong
front row (l-r) Jenn Ruppert, Leah Sammak, Caroline Smagacz

College Couture Week is officially underway and I'll be making my way to Champaign today for "Fashion Talk" where I'll be speaking along with U of I's Fashion Design professor, Susan Becker.

*Of course, I'll also be live tweeting while I'm there.*

The full itinerary is below. But you can also visit CollegeCoutureWeekUIUC.com for more details on the events and sponsors. This committee has been working HARD!

April 10th - Illini's Next Top Model
April 11th - Illini's Next Top Model Finalists
April 12th - Fashion Talk with Nora Del Busto
April 13th - Fashion Talk with Professor Susan Becker and ChiTown Fashionista creator Nikia Jefferson (Illini Union Room 406, 5PM)
April 13th - Trunk Show (Illini Ballroom, 7PM)
April 14th - Couture Night Out (Clybourne, 9PM)
April 17th - College Couture Runway Show (Illini Union ABC Rooms, 5PM)

Additionally, the proceeds will benefit Designers Against AIDS (DAA).

If you're in the area, definitely stop by. And if not, consider making the drive on Sunday to attend the finale runway show. I'll certainly be there because I know it's going to be thebomb.com. Plus, who doesn't want to support this outstanding committee and all of their efforts?

Hope to see you there!


April 11, 2011

DecadesTwo.1 Offers Chicago Some Luxury Goodies

A few days ago, the Hollywood-based consignment shop, DecadesTwo.1, made a stop in Chicago as part of their famous pop-up tour.  DecadesTwo.1 is known for scoring pre-owned luxury items from A-list celebrities, stylists and all-around fashionistas.  The travelling pop-up shop allows cities across the country to score hard-to-find items at easy-to-swallow prices.

No, these luxury items are not cheap.  However, when compared to retail, you can expect to find items at discounted prices...some as much as 80% off.

I headed to the Chicago pop-up shop, at Space519, knowing that I would encounter some great finds. There was plenty of Chanel clothing but it was the jewelry that stole the show! The blue sequin Christian Louboutin pumps had everyone attempting to squeeze their feet in, in hopes that they would fit...talk about a modern day Cinderella story! There were also some unique and intriguing pieces like the Burberry Knotted Skirt Trench (at 50% off retail) and a pair of the Christian Dior Goddess sandals that uses naked sculptures for the heels.

As expected, I ran into a few local fashionistas. We simply do NOT pass up an opportunity to drool over luxury designer items.

Brielle and Lindsay of Luxury Garage Sale; Raijean of Swa-Rai.com

And two of them were wearing Lanvin for H&M. Can you tell which ones?

If you missed the pop-up shop, no worries. You can now shop the merchandise online at DecadesTwo1.com. Just try not to max out the credit card.

Speaking of maxing out credit cards, this experience got me to thinking about the most I'd be willing to spend on a designer item. I've concluded that shelling out $2000 for a Chanel handbag is not too farfetched. But for a pair of shoes? Or an article of clothing? I could never see myself paying that much.

What's the most you'd spend on a designer item? Does it depend on what the item is?

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Etsy Showcase and GIVEAWAY: Leetie Lovendale Lucite Earrings

Yes. You already know I love Etsy. But Leetie Lovendale lucite earrings are a little secret I've been keeping to myself for some time now. Sooooo, I figured there was no better way to share my Etsy crush with my readers than with a GIVEAWAY!!

I adore post earrings. However, it's hard to find a variety of styles and colors. When I stumbled upon the Leetie Lovendale Etsy Shop, filled with bright, bold and colorful post earrings, I felt like a kid in a candy store. Designer Heather DeSimone creates amazing posts, hoops, and now wave sticks using the 40,0000 lbs of vintage lucite beads and components she purchased in 2004. That's a LOT of lucite! And the best part is that the surgical steel earring posts are hand set...no glued-on posts here!

With over 100 earrings, all sorted by color scheme, you are bound to find something that meets your needs. And with most items priced under $15, you can try as many colors as you please.

Heather has given me a pair of hoops, a pair of "cubist" posts (my personal favorite) and a pair of her new wave sticks.

One lucky winner will win ALL THREE PAIRS!

To enter, you must do the following:
Leave a comment below (including your email address) stating which pair you like the most and why.

For additional entries:
1. Join the ChiTown Fashionista Facebook Page
2. Retweet this post by using the 'Tweet' button at the bottom of this post


*The giveaway ends on Monday, April 18th at 11:59pm CST and is only open to U.S. residents.*
*Winner will be randomly selected.*

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April 8, 2011

Linking Up: The fashionable way to tackle the rain; The green Zara blazer I'm drooling over; A review of the Peninsula Spa

Refinery29 shows us how to fashionably tackle the Spring showers (click HERE to learn how)

Fashion Bananas has me coveting a green blazer from Zara! (click HERE to see why)

Afrobella gives us an in-depth review of the Peninsula Spa. Massage anyone?! (click HERE for details)

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April 7, 2011

IADT Schaumburg presents IMAGINE - THIS Sunday!

Join the students of IADT Schaumburg as they showcase the designs of some of their best students! I've already had a sneak peek and I must say these students are TALENTED!
The event will be held in Chicago at Loft on Lake (1366 W. Lake Street).

Visit IADTImagine.com to view the fashion show teaser and purchase tickets.

I will most certainly be there. And you should too!

UPDATE: Click HERE to check out my recap and photos from the event. It was, indeed, amazing.

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April 4, 2011

Mobile Shopping Chronicles: Ralph Lauren Crested Blazer

At a discounted price of $99, this is high quality preppy chic at a steal!

*spotted today at TJ Maxx (1745 W. Fullerton Ave)
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.7

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Join Me for the MAVEN Diva Series: FASHIONISTAS

Join MAVEN for this month's DIVA Series honoring Fashionistas! The list of women includes designer Anna Fong, local socialite and fashion authority Candace Jordan, A-Line Style Services founder Tamika Maria Martell and....YOURS TRULY!!

I'm blessed to be in the company of so many amazing women (see complete list below). Now, all I need is to see YOUR face in the place. Because, you, my dear readers, are equally amazing. Come out and mingle with a room full of fashion mavens. I'm sure it will be nothing short of awesome!

Admission is Free. Simply RSVP to sarah@maven-chicago.com.

Can I expect to see you there?


Thursday, April 7, 2011 | 6-9PM

JBar | 610 North Rush 

Maven, The Aparecio Foundation, Today's Chicago Woman and Jbar have teamed once again for the DIVA SERIES to honor influential and success women in Business, PR, Media, Fashion, Fitness, Beauty, Lifestyle and much more!

Join us as we honor the FASHIONISTA Divas! They are often found shopping, wearing the latest trends and fashions and helping us look good!

diĀ·va - [dee-vuh, -vah] noun, distinguished female singer; prima donna. Goddess, fine lady.


*Candace Jordan - Model/Actress, CandidCandace.com Author

*Tamika Maria Martell - Founder of A-line Style Services/Wardrobe Coach/Personal Shopper -As seen on "The Rachael Ray Show", NBC 5 News, WCIU "The U" & More

*Ashley Zygmunt - Owner and Designer of Zamrie 

*Melissa Maynard De Kerch - Factio-Magazine and RunwaytoRental.com

*Carol Calacci - Second City Style Managing Editor

*Nicki Brashear - Proprietor of Fashionista Chicago

*Michelle Elfvin - President of Shop Mag Style 

*Kristen Pizzolato - Shop Mag Style

*Corri Mcfadden - Owner of Edrop-Off Express

*Anna Fong - Owner and Fashion Designer

*Jessica Lindsay - Freelance Fashion Test Stylist for Ford & Factor Models, Owner of Double-Edged Couture accessories 

*Julie Blake - Fashion Consultant at Mark Shale and Founder of Julie Blake Enterprises

*Katie Cahnmann -www.nowYOUknowevents.wordpress.com

*Nikia Jefferson - Creator of ChiTownFashionista.com

*Jessi Sheehan - Bridal and Marketing Director at Belle Vie Bridal Couture and Vera Wang Chicago

*Maria Noll - Senior mgr/ Sequin brand Ambassador

*Erica Strama | Senior Manager, Marketing for The Shops at North Bridge>

*Lissa Shipley - Owner and Buyer for Lissa

Spring into Style with Stella & Dot. Come shop the newly released Spring Collection that has been featured on the pages of People, InStyle, Oprah and more. This celebrity coveted jewelry line has every day casual pieces as well as standout head turners to help you ring in spring with style! With half the line affordably priced under $50, there is something for everyone on your gift list....especially YOU! (you know you deserve it)! Can't make the party? You will be missed but you don't have to miss out on Stella & Dot.! Shop online at http://www.stelladot.com/lauraalexander

Specialty cocktail and Half off food menu!

SPONSOR -Today's Chicago Woman - http://www.tcwmag.com/

CHARITY PARTNER - The Aparecio Foundation is a registered, non-profit, 501(c)(3)
charity. Every dollar donated goes toward our mission to fund
mentoring, academic assistance, and scholarship programs for
high-potential, low-income women in Chicago Public High Schools.

To learn more or to make a donation, please visit

Inspire change. Empower women. Believe in a better future.