Get Ready for Black Friday

Do you participate in Black Friday activities? Personally, I don’t actually visit any stores in person, but I’m always more than happy to take a look at the deals in my pajama pants at my computer. (My mom has worked in retail for decades, and so Black Friday was always a dreaded “holiday” in our house!) In my tips for planning ahead for holiday gift giving, I talk about RetailMeNot.com. Before I make any purchase online, this is one of my stops; RetailMeNot.com aggregates coupons, sales, and other info for shoppers, and you can usually find a free shipping code or discount on there.

I just heard that the second version of RetailMeNot’s iPhone app has launched, just in time for Black Friday. Optimized for iPhone 5 and iOS 6, I couldn’t resist downloading it. (If there’s an app, I’m in!) I like the geo-fencing and geo-targeting feature which has been so popular among mobile apps, since the coupons shown to you can be location-configured. You can also save coupons for later if you’re not yet ready to make a purchase, and the ability to add coupons to Apple iOS 6′s Passbook is even better for user experience. This is what the app looks like in action:

RetailMeNot iPhone App // Curating Style

Download the RetailMeNot iPhone app right here. I also wanted to share with you some of my tips for hitting the stores on Friday:

Prep your gear. Charge your cell phone, prepare a cold water bottle to bring, and pack a piece of fruit or a granola bar—just in case!

Make a plan. Though it’s unlikely anyone’s trying to do any casual browsing on Black Friday, you might still be interested in browsing. Put your plan together in advance to help you prioritize what to look for. A 60″ TV? Write it on the list. Otherwise you might find yourself distracted by some shiny object across the room. Also, don’t forget to set your budget! (For what it’s worth, I’ll be doing some casual browsing at UES boutiques on Friday. I can’t really imagine Lilly Pulitzer being too crazy, but if anyone has experience with Black Friday in Manhattan – and not Macy’s Times Square – please chip in.)

Bring a buddy. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes make impulsive decisions if I’m faced with a good sale and there’s no one around to dissuade me. Invite a sensible friend to come shopping so you don’t lead yourself astray.

Don’t lose your mind. I feel like violent crime spikes on Black Friday. Don’t let yourself participate in the crazy.

Have a great Thanksgiving and good luck to those of you braving the crowds on Black Friday!

Disclosure: RetailMeNot has sponsored me to write about this post, but I have used RetailMeNot in the past and will continue to do so regardless of any compensation. As always, I would never write or feature any brand that I would not otherwise use or consider for review on my blog. If you have any questions about my policies, feel free to email me!

Posted in Gift Guides | 5 Comments

The Holiday Season Begins

Did Thanksgiving sneak up on anyone else?

I feel like fall is flying by, and I can hardly believe that it’s just about time to take off. Since this Christmas we’re visiting both of our families and attending a wedding, we’re heading to New York City for Thanksgiving vacation. Then, when we get back, I start my new job. (Told you I’ve been busy!) I’m excited to have a long, relaxing weekend in one of my favorite cities. Being away for Thanksgiving does make me long for home-cooked meals, though, so tonight I’m remedying that by throwing a Friendsgiving get-together. (This year I am thankful for friends, family, love, opportunity, and good fortune. How about you?)

Wednesday is sure to be full of last-minute things, like errands, packing, and tying up freelance work until Tuesday. I’ve already started thinking about what I plan to bring with me so that I don’t overpack or scramble to figure out outfits:

How to Dress for New York City in November // Curating Style

Camel coat. I picked up a timeless-looking camel coat (not pictured) at the Banana Republic Outlet a few weeks ago, and I dropped it off to the tailor last week. My fingers are crossed that it will be ready by tomorrow so I can bring this along. Coats like these are perfect for crisp days and chilly evenings in the fall.

Quilted down vest. I own this one in navy, and it is literally the perfect daytime piece to layer over sweaters, button-ups, and more.

Brown booties. Comfortable, warm, and stylish, I’ll be bringing my ShoeMint booties with me for sightseeing, shopping, and museum-going. (I love this Rag & Bone pair, and if you use code BIGEVENT12 at checkout you get $99 off.)

Pearl studs. Can’t leave home without these.

Quilted crossbody bag. I don’t normally “do” faux leather, but I couldn’t resist the size and color of this bag—especially as a nighttime accessory in lieu of a clutch.

Navy miniskirt. A woman can never have too many miniskirts, especially in solid wool. I recently picked up a similar style from Banana (though in a lighter fabric) that I intend to wear on Saturday to brunch, a freelance client meeting, and college football game-watching. Versatility always wins for travel!

What are your Thanksgiving plans? Are you planning to watch football, take a Thanksgiving nap, or run a turkey trot?

Posted in Life, Style | 8 Comments

Be Merry & Minted

Even though I started thinking about gift giving a while ago—a long while ago—I’m woefully behind on shopping and preparing to send out cards for the holidays. But one of the items on my 101 things in 1001 days list is to actually send out Christmas cards to friends and family on time. This year I’m trying to be proactive and start looking sooner rather than later for some cool cards.

Enter Minted, a site where you can shop for fresh, modern stationery, wedding invitations, holiday cards, and more. (You might also remember the Zou Bisou Bisou print I featured in the past—that’s also from Minted!) Just check out some of these lovely personalized holiday photo cards I’d love to give or receive:

Be Merry & Minted // Curating Style

CLOCKWISE, TOP LEFT: holiday map postcard, for the geography lovers who left their hometowns | blushing Christmas (looks almost like Rifle Paper Co.!) | cheery 2013 gift tag, reminiscent of springtime | wish banner card for some whimsy

I also love the paisley design and the hilarious reinpets too.

Though I haven’t yet determined what my cards will say or feature yet, I’m planning on ordering them this weekend so they’ll be here by the time Thanksgiving is over. I’ll undoubtedly be ordering from Minted since the cards are gorgeous and come in a range of paper types. What are you sending for holiday cards this year?

As an added bonus, I’ve partnered with Minted to offer one lucky reader $50 credit toward a product of his or her choice. Enter below! (If you’re reading this on Google Reader, please click through in order to enter.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FINE PRINT A winner will be chosen and announced on Wednesday, November 21, 2012. U.S. residents only.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Minted. As always, I would not work with or feature any brand, company, product, or service that I wouldn’t use or recommend personally. All thoughts and opinions are my own. If you ever have any questions about who I work with and why, feel free to email me.

Posted in Life, Style | 2 Comments

New Biz on the Block: 5-Knots

Today I’m excited to share with you an up-and-coming online pop-up shop and lifestyle guide for preps—5-Knots! Enjoy this sneak peek interview with co-founder Amy Devlin and be sure to sign-up in advance of their November 26 launch.

5-Knots Sneak Preview // Curating Style

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came up with the idea of 5-Knots.

I am definitely a prep out of place. I’m originally from a small coastal town in Massachusetts. I lived in Boston for five years and worked in marketing after graduating college. A few years ago I moved over to Ireland to pursue a master’s degree in marketing. Now, I’m currently living in San Francisco soaking up the laid back west coast lifestyle.

The idea for 5-Knots came from my love of anything preppy paired with my obsession for finding unique, one-of-a-kind items. I’ve moved around quite a bit and I’ve been exposed to a variety of styles and new brands. My aim is to introduce 5-Knots members to high-quality brands that maybe they’ve never heard of before. I want to infuse a sense of excitement and discovery into our collections and content.

On the editorial side, 5-Knots will focus on highlighting critical wardrobe elements that you should invest in vs. the type of item that’s better to get on sale. Preps, as you know, buy classic quality staples that will last years. Pairing these classic staples with some fresh trends can enliven your wardrobe and take you from season to season (without breaking the bank).

What is your favorite thing about starting your own business?

I love that I have the ability to execute my vision without having to report to someone else. After years of working towards someone else’s goals I am now working towards my own and it’s a very rewarding feeling! Plus, I will admit that it’s nice to wear pajamas to my “office.”

What kinds of things can we expect to find at 5-Knots? How will it be different than other shops or e-commerce sites?

I want 5-Knots to bring together various curated preppy styles and brands under one metaphorical “roof.” Shopping online is convenient but I miss that feeling of walking into a boutique and discovering brands that I’ve never heard of before. I was in Maine a few months ago and I walked into a small shop called Beachology. I was lost in that shop for hours! I want to bring a similar sense of discovery and excitement back to online shopping.

What I’m most excited about is having the opportunity to work with preppy lifestyle bloggers to curate styles. I have a small team of stylists who I am working with now but the goal is to mix it up and bring in fresh perspectives. It’s interesting to see how preppy styles evolve in different parts of the world. California, for instance, definitely has a preppy flair but it’s more laid back and subdued. I want 5-Knots to explore all of those different styles without straying to far away from what we all consider “true prep.”

We’re entirely focused on building 5-Knots slowly. We don’t want to just put products on our site to make money. We will take our time to really find interesting products we think will resonate with our members. This month we launch in beta. It’s such an overused and contrived term but honestly, it fits the stage we’re in right now. We’re testing the waters with some unique, small collections to gauge what our members are interested in.

What brands, styles, interiors, or destinations inspire you?

I love classic brands that manage to transport you to a specific time and place. Whenever I see Vineyard Vines flip flops I just think of summer on the beach in Massachusetts. But right now I am actually completely in love with what’s happening in menswear! It seems like every where I go now men are dressed to the nines in well-tailored suits or just well thought out and dapper looking outfits. Brands like Indochino and Frank & Oak are making that not only possible but affordable.

I used to work for an architecture firm so I have a heightened sense of awareness when it comes to interior design. I love a mix of modern and classic styles. There’s something about the old meets new juxtaposition that creates a space that’s both cozy without being stuffy. I will always feel immediately at home in worn-in beach cottages. The mish-mash of furniture and sand on the floor that never seems to go away; it reminds me of being a kid!

My favorite destinations are ones that obviously involve a beautiful beach but I also love places that really push me out of my comfort zone. I’ve traveled to some interesting places, where I didn’t know the language or have a working cell phone. There’s a huge sense of accomplishment that comes from being able to get from point A to point B in a foreign country with a language barrier and no GPS working against you. I’m not even convinced I can get around San Francisco without my iPhone now!

What advice would you give to anyone looking to launch an online boutique or pop-up shop?

The two most important lessons I’ve learned so far are:
1.) It never hurts to ask.
2.) Tell everyone!

I realized that I had two weaknesses when I started 5-Knots. First, I hated asking people for things, whether it’s a discount, a donation, whatever, it just feels like begging. But, I was amazed at the generosity and understanding of the various designers and brands I’ve worked with so far. It’s hard to ask someone to buy into a vision before they can see anything tangible.

The other challenge I personally found was my trepidation to tell people about my idea. Getting the word out in your own social network is incredibly important in the early stages. I told a few close friends who spread the word like crazy for me but I didn’t tell everyone. It’s scary to start something on your own and my biggest fear was “what if I tell people about my idea and it doesn’t work out?” Getting over that initial fear is intimidating but if you believe in what you’re creating, then other people will too.

Sign up for 5-Knots today, or stay up to date with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Posted in Style | 2 Comments

#GirlsGetaway

Hello, blog readers! I’m back from my self-imposed hiatus last week. I know I’ve been a less than reliable poster as of late, but sometimes…it happens. I’m also back from a weekend out in the woods with some of my girlfriends! (You might recognize them: Janine, Halle, Erika, Allie, and our not-yet-blogging friend Megumi.) It takes us months—literally—to plan things of this scale, and since August we’ve been planning, so it was finally time for our #GirlsGetaway. (Yes, we hashtagged it.) I also crossed another item off my 101 in 1001 list: hiking in the Hocking Hills!

#GirlsGetaway // Curating Style

Though we brought movies and board games, we spent a ridiculous amount of time—like I’m talking double digit hours—talking over wine and cheese. Add in a hot tub, a hike at Ash Cave, and leggings, and that was my weekend. I also learned a valuable lesson, which is that I like secluded, wooded cabins in theory…but in actuality I’m a wimp and prefer city life. (But hey, at least I know it now.)

#GirlsGetaway // Curating Style

It may seem that we spent the majority of the time outdoors, but in reality our trip looked a lot more like this:

#GirlsGetaway // Curating Style

Have you taken time recently to see friends or plan a trip? Hope you all had a lovely weekend!

Posted in Life | 10 Comments