Outdoor Summer Party
OK, I know it's hot, but summer parties are meant to be outdoors so rub on some sunscreen, grab a bag of ice and get outside! Sure, you’ll likely serve up the standard BBQ fare like burgers, wings and hot dogs, have a beach ball or two in the pool, but you can make it a party to remember by adding a few simple elements.
Food & Drink
Create a "lemonade stand" with multiple drink dispensers; each with a different drink. Offer both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks just in case there's kiddies attending the party. Serve up your concoctions in mason jars with colorful striped straws for drinking. Give drinks a snazzy look by adding frozen berries or melon balls instead of lots of ice. Or use cupcake tins to fill with water and slices of lemon or lime to make fruit filled ice cubes. The drink will look prettier and add flavor without watering it down. You can find a variety of drink dispensers and mason jar drinking glasses at Cost Plus World Market and Bed, Bath and Beyond.
Here's three of my favorite super simple summer cocktails from Pinnacle Vodka:
Pinnacle® Pool Party Punch
1 part Pinnacle® Original Vodka
2 parts Lemonade
Splash of DeKuyper Blue Curacao
Mix ingredients and serve over ice
Pinnacle® Raspberry Lemonade
1 parts Pinnacle® Raspberry Vodka
2 parts Lemonade
Mix ingredients and serve over ice
Garnish with a lemon wheel or raspberries
Pinnacle® Ruby Sunset
1 Part Pinnacle® Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka
2 Parts Lemon Lime Soda
Splash of Cranberry Juice
Garnish with a Lime Wedge
Offer options for the grill from steaks to burgers to even bratwurst. You can order a "Freedom at the Grill" package from Omaha Steaks (now $77) to feed all your friends.
While you're at it, order the cherry pies too for $15. Yum!
Serve gourmet chips or popcorn without the need of a fancy caterer. Warm up the chips in the oven, pop the popcorn and toss with various seasonings like rosemary or paprika and serve them in brown paper bags. Cut the tops off the bags, fold over, fill with the savory snacks and tie some colored twine around the bags. It’s easy for guests to walk around with them in hand and toss when they're done.
Opt for flowers in mini pots for added décor rather than the expense of cut flowers. You can give your guests the mini pots as gifts to take home and re-plant or you can add them to your garden after the party.
Or use colorful summer vegetables as your centerpieces. Fill vibrant veggies like mini tomatoes, carrots, radishes, green beans in pretty bowls, jars and vases of varying heights.
Make one or two spots the main areas for food and drink whether it be turning your potting table or picnic table into a buffet set up and decorating it with a colorful outdoor tablecloth or brown kraft paper that you decorate with markers or even crayons. Or try adding a strip of wrapping paper down the center like a table runner.
Light Up The Night
When the sun goes down you need good lighting to keep the party going. String white holiday lights, if you don't want to buy new lights, across fences or patios and in trees, add outdoor lanterns and even candles. Otherwise, try stars or vintage looking glass bulbs you can pick up from places like Bed, Bath and Beyond and WorldMarket.com. Add extra decor with party artwork from Minted.com
Let the Games Begin
Small talk can get tedious real fast. A good time in my book include games. And when outside they include games both adults and kids can enjoy. Or just adults acting like children.
Create your own mini-Olympics. Draw names randomly to set up teams.
Want to go the extra mile? Give participants bandanas to signify their teams. You can find then online for about $1 a pop.
Games don’t have to be fancy or require a big set up to be a success:
- A colorful croquet set can be set up in under five minutes.
- Bean bag toss
-Inflatable dart board set
Guests go through various games to get points.
If you don't have some of the equipment then revert back to the games you played during recess like red light/blue light and tag and have relay races with leap frog, crab walk, one legged hop, and even a water balloon toss.
Don’t forget to capture the memories. Create your own photo booth. You don’t need to hire anybody. Instead create a backdrop with something as simple as a large bed sheet or brown kraft paper which is super cheap and draw polka dots or write your guests names on it. Offer your friends props like silly sunglasses. Take photos on each other’s cellphones and share.
If you have any shy friends, opt to do something that I call a Cocktail Selfie, which is just fun a picture of your drink. Offer some fun arm candy and garnishes and snap away. Take photos on each other’s cellphones and share with the hashtag #CocktailSelfie.
Have a bucket or a beach bag nearby with sunscreen, bug spray and even a few small shot bottles of First Aid Shot Therapy (F.A.S.T.) for your guests to avoid a sunburn, a bite and a hangover or headache.
The Best Gifts to Give for Wedded Bliss
Picture it... Your friend in a beautiful white gown, her groom looking dapper in a tuxedo, people crying and balling up tissues in their hands while vows are exchanged. Champagne flutes clink, cakes is consumed and the dance floor gets busy. You hug your newly married friends as they talk excitedly about the honeymoon. When they get back they'll eventually write a thank you note for that gift you gave them. So what will they write you? Thanks for the pots and pans or the silly pot holders and towels they registered for? Why not give them a unique gift that they won't forget. These are the gifts that symbolize their love and marriage, they'll use to entertain guests and savor their time together.
Let Love Bloom
Kate Spade 'Pearl Place' Vase, $75 Bed, Bath and Beyond
Waterford 'Diamond' Vases, $135-250 Bed, Bath and Beyond
Ok, so a vase doesn't sound like an unique gift, but it's the additional step you take that makes it so memorable. Most people stop at the elegant vase, but go the extra step and set up bouquets to arrive a few times over the first year of marriage. Now your vase is awesome!
With names like "Wild About", "That's Hot" and "Darling" and "Devotion" you can brighten up their week by setting up bouquets to arrive at their door several times over the year. What better arrangement for the vase you bought them. $40-60, The Bouqs
Always Find Time For Eachother
Jord Wood Watches, $120-295 Wood Watches
For men, a watch may be the only piece of jewelry he wears, for women – we see them as a statement piece and add other jewelry around it. And while we may check our iPhones regularly, watches have made a strong comeback for their style and aesthetic. Sure the couple exchanged wedding rings, but you can give them an accessory that symbolizes never taking their "time" together for granted. These wood watches are not only conversation pieces, but unlike metal or other surfaces that get dinged and scratched over time, these wood watches develop a rich natural patina over time. The company's name sounds Swedish, but they're not. They just love the Swedish way of life: progressive, creative, modern, without stepping all over the environment in the process. JORD is a Swedish word with multiple meanings, but it stands for: earth, soil, land. The brand said it was a good fit for what they wanted to evoke in their designs and company – an appreciation for nature and natural materials. So besides the ring the couple shares, they'll know they share a watch with symbolism as well. Personally, I found it hard to choose just one as a favorite. I love the minimlist styles with a circle face in both the dark wood and the light wood and switch it up depending on my outfit.
Remember Where It Started
Real Foil Art Prints, $96-106 Minted
Such a simple artistic gift that can hang in plain sight for years. Commemorate where the couple came from, where they live or where they got engaged or hitched.
Keep Celebrating And Toast To Good Times
Three Nights Wine Box, $130 Uncommon Goods
Anniversary Wine Box, $130-180 Uncommon Goods
The toast-worthy moments dont; stop just because they tied the knot. Customize a box for the couple and fill it with the some of their favorite wines for future celebrations whether it be the everyday or the extraordinary.
Add A Little Mystery Into The Mix
Aphrodisia Love Potion Cocktail Kit $42, Uncommon Goods
Lovers have looked to nature for help in producing a potion that could spark a spontaneous, amorous attraction. Well, your friends already nabbed the ring so say it's about keeping love strong. Follow the simple instructions to infuse your favorite neutral spirit with rose hips, elder flowers, paradise seeds, and raw honey for a potion that's potent on its own, or as a secret ingredient in cocktails. Be sure to add in some of their favorite liquors to blend with their potions.
Mickey Hargitay Plants in Hollywood, Mickeysplants.com
Planting a tree to celebrate a marriage is an ancient tradition that is shared by numerous cultures around the world. It's a novel twist to symbolize their newly intertwined lives.
These trees symbolize:
Olive tree - health and well-being and a symbol of peace
Orange - generosity and welcome invitation
Get Back to Basics
Vintage and Vine Slate Cheese Board, $20 Bed, Bath and Beyond
These boards are just the start of the gift. Wait until they're back from the honeymoon and settled into daily life and give them one of the cheese boards PLUS some fancy cheeses, crackers, fig jam, proscuitto and a baquette for a picnic dinner. A reminder that the simple things in life can be good.
The statement necklace is taking a backseat to the newest statement maker for summer - the KIMONO!
Put thoughts of Coachella and music festivals aside and start making the kimono part of your everyday wardrobe. We can't all be as cool as Stevie Nicks circa 1970, but it's an easy way to express our carefree spirit. Whether you choose long or waist skimming, fringe, lace or dip dye treat it as a far more cooler cardigan. Wear it with a jumpsuit to a party - a two trends in one look or pair it with your tank top and jeans when you want to look stylish without putting in much effort for drinks with your girlfriends. One of my faves - fringed long or short versions. Be experimental, a kimono can totally transform a look even as simple as a button down shirt and shorts.
Watch the video I made on wearing some of my favortie kimonos:
Heartloom Kimono, $119 Joyus.com
Heartloom 'Daisy' Wrap Kimono, $128 Joyus.com
Multicolor Print Tassel Fringe Kimono by Roffe Accessories, $33 Nordstrom Rack
Black and White Fringed Swim Suit Kimono Cover-up, $28 Nordstrom
ASOS Dark Red Fringed Kimono, $83 ASOS
Free People 'Salt Spray' Dip Dye Kimono, $53 Free People
Floral fashions are in bloom every time the weather turns warm and sunny. This year I'm skipping floral fit-and-flare dresses that looked plucked from my mom's garden and instead choosing from a range of wardrobe separates with prints inspired from the jungle to Bali to palm fronds from Cali.
It's time to mix it up and wear a cropped top with culottes, a dense printed skirt with a striped top and pair the floral heels with boyfriend jeans and a crisp white shirt.
Pair this top with white jeans or dark denim culottes or add a camisole underneath and a tuck it into a high waisted pencil skirt.
Croppped Silk Popover in Tropical Fern, $98 J. Crew
Perfect dress for your friend's summer wedding.
Eliza J Floral Print Pleat Maxi Dress, $158 Nordstrom
Pair this dress with stripes up top to make a style statement. Hesitating? Then keep it simple with a navy v-neck or white top.
Collection Faux Wrap Skirt In Jungle Print, $228 J. Crew
These work with your skinny jeans. With your cuffed boyfriend jeans. With your knock-out, oh so hot red dress. With your A-line striped or solid midi skirt. With your white sheath dress. Endless options.
Manolo Blahnik 'BB' Floral Print Pump, $695 Nordstrom
This is that simple top that kicks your standard tee to the curb. The top that works both dressy and casual and you'll keep reaching for it all summer long.
Amanda Uprichard Cami Top in Bali Flower Print, $158 Bloomingdale's
I love dresses!! I've devoted half of my closet to dresses and many of them are wrap styles and shirtdresses. I stopped counting at 18 the number of shirtdresses hanging in my closet from sleeveless to short sleeve to long sleeve. So why does the oft-overlooked shirtdress get a big play in my wardrobe? It's stylish simplicity. The dress is effortless and gives me more options than a wrap dress when accessorizing. Recently, while styling a client for her upcoming vacation I came across a simple, intensely colored blue shirtdress from Maggy London. It didn't fit my client so before returning it I tried it on and, well readers, I fell for it. I've worn it three times so far and all three times I've gotten compliments. I even scoured the internet looking for it in other colors, but alas, no luck. So I shopped for other options that fit for work, parties and plenty of play time.
Here are two of my favorites:
Kate Spade 'Tobin' Shirtdress, $321 Nordstrom
Because white in the summer time is a requirement.
Banana Republic Drapey Shirtdress, $110 Banana Republic
This is the ultimate date night dress. Or for you single girls, the dress you wear when you know that attractive guy will be at your friend's birthday party.
IRO 'Oceane' Print Silk Shirtdress, $577 Nordstrom
I aspire to be hip enough to wear this "I'm so cool, I don't care" kind of shirtdress.
Milly Printed Silk Organza Shirtdress, $525 Net-A-Porter
Wedding attire now answered with this dress.
Diane Von Furstenberg 'Scarlet' Mixed Print Cotton Shirtdress, $398 Nordstrom
This rarely goes off duty when it can be worn to work, parties and even just cocktails outside at your favorite cafe.
Band Of Outsiders Sleeveless Striped Shirtdress, $475 Nordstrom
This one is going with me on vacation. Enough said.
A.P.C. 'Riviera' Printed Crepe Shirtdress, $485 Net-A-Porter
This printed shirtdress was made to live in on weekends with your favorite wedge sandals or just your flip-flops. On Monday for work add a fitted blazer.
RED Valentino Taffeta Fit & Flare Shirtdress, $695 Nordstrom
Don't be buttoned up in this look. Wear this for work with sandals and when you pull it out for the party add a thin belt at the waist, strappy heels, and a chunky cocktail ring.
"Those were the days," some say. I attended two proms, one as a junior and one as a senior. First with a friend and the second time with a boyfriend; a college boyfriend--oooh wasn't I cool? Both times I foolishly wore strapless when I barely had anything to hold the dress up. This was before I found good strapless bras and before I actually grew a pair--me the late starter. Both years I chose two tone dresses from a pink and white "candy striper" like confection to a black and white gown (remember Jessica McClintock?) and both years my hair had too much hairspray and a little too much Sun-In creating a strawberry blonde effect. Not the choices I'd make today. Setting aside other choices like white knee socks with brown sandals in 5th grade or my Thomas Sweets t-shirt with red suspenders I look back on my style as a kid and teenager and find that I may have made some quirky choices, but I was sassy and didn't care. Plus, my style choices lead to a career as a stylist directing fashion shoots all over the world. Pretty good, right? So whether you want a flowing "princessy" ball gown or something vintage dress or a cute cocktail dress - just enjoy the party! And if you choose strapless be sure it will stay up when you "swing your hands in the air like you just don't care" because now there are phones that catch nip slips.
This is happy!
Lots to choose from for prom attire these days.
On Connor: Black Slim Fit Notch Lapel Tuxedo by Combatant Gentleman, $200 CombatGent.com
On Katie: 50's Style Black And Teal Tulle Tea Length Party Dress, $130 Blue Velvet Vintage
Black Heels and Clutch, Nina Shoes
On Landen: BLACK by Vera Wang Slim Fit Grey Tuxedo, $799.99 Men's Wearhouse
On Shelby: WHITE by Vera Wang Polka Dot Strapless Ruffle Dress, $198 David's Bridal
Men's shoes by Massimo Matteo, Zappos.com
On Wyatt: Navy Slim Fit Shawl Collar Tuxedo by Combatant Gentleman, $200 CombatGent.com
Step Up Teens : Melissa & Christina
On Melissa: Coronado Princess Dress in Papaya Color by Byer California, $68 Byerca.com
On Christina: 20's Reproduction Silver Beaded Black Fringed "Jazz Baby" Flapper Dress, $210 Blue Velvet Vintage
On Austin: Charcoal Slim Fit Notch Lapel Tuxedo by Combatant Gentleman, $200 CombatGent.com
Men's tuxes from Combatant Gentlemen and shoes by Massimo Matteo from Zappos.com
Clutches, jewelry and heels for the ladies from Ninashoes.com
Hair accessories from Soho Style
These are mine. Get yours below.
I'm not sure when avoiding laces became a "thing," but the slip-on sneaker trend has invaded my closet and I'm not turning back. I've got styles in all price points like the Salvatore Ferragamo pair bought in Venice as in Venice, Italy while on vacation with my husband. We were looking at ties for him and while I found the prints on the ties amusing I thoguht they were too small to make an impact so I gravitated to the shoe section and BAM! the slip-on sneaker with the signature Ferragamo bow caught my eye. Then I was pulling clothes at Kohl's for a TV segment and a simple black leather pair from Vera Wang caught me eye. This is the pair that just about everyone owns when they venture towards this trend; the pair that I bought for about $40, but some pay $400 plus for the same style. Then came the pair while in NYC for Thanksgiving. I moved to LA from NYC about six years and while I head back often for work, this holiday is the yearly trek my husband and I make for family, friends, food and the theater. And for some reason we seem to stop into the same Cole Haan store in Rockefeller Plaza every year and buy something. No joke! I think it's because I always need a second look at the Bergdorf windows nearby. By day we see it with my family and at night it's just the two of us and as we walk down Fifth Avenue afterwards and look at the twinkling lights beckoning us in store windows we always walk into Cole Haan. This past holiday it was for the very last pair of leather gloves they had in the store. Daysun, the hubby, always forgoes gloves, but with my prodding and temps below 30 he succumbed and I bought him a pair. Then I walked into the shoe department and found yet another pair of slip-on sneakers that would continue to forge my fondness for the trend. A coppery, brassy colored faux snakeskin style that in my mind would be an alternative to flats when worn with skinny jeans. Next up, a pale marsala colored canvas pair from Vans. I haven't worn these yet, but they're ready and waiting for a turn in my wardrobe. So with four pairs I'm going to try and stop since it's halfway towards my obsession with brogues (I own eight pairs of them and a half of them have come from that same NYC Cole Haan store). I find it fascinating that this simple slip-on can range so drastically in price. My savvy-minded approach says there'll probably all made in about three factories, but priced vastly different depending on the brand. My style side says just go with it; they're comfortable and you like them no matter the price.
Stylish Slip On Sneakers For Spring
Vince 'Blair' Slip On Sneakers, $195 Bloomingdale's
Van's Leopard Slip On Sneakers, $55 Bloomingdale's
Jimmy Choo Demi Snake-Effect Slip On Sneakers, $525 Net-A-Porter
MSGM Leather-Trimmed Floral Print Slip On Sneakers, $365 Net-A-Porter
Karl Lagerfeld Coated Printed Canvas Slip On Sneakers, $130 The Outnet
Tod's Two Tone Leather Slip On Sneakers, $495 Net-A-Porter
Superga Pony Hair Slip On Sneakers, $93 The Outnet
3.1 Phillip Lim 'Morgan' Nubuck Leather Slip On Sneaker, $375 Net-A-Porter
Sperry Seaside Luxe Slip On Sneakers, $75 Dillards
I admit it, I've been wary of the jumpsuit ever since it made it's comeback several seasons ago. I was sure it wasn't for me. Something about so many styles looking tight or uncomfortable or the extra ten minutes of trying to get out of it when you're in the bathroom stall at a restaurant. BUT, I've made a 180 and I'm fully embracing the ease of the look when it's done right.
Suddenly my go-to look of a dress being the "easy-peasy" piece in my wardrobe may take a back seat once in a while. The idea of "one and done" can now be applied to a jumpsuit as well.
So here's a few tips for the ideal look:
-Tight is not right. You are not at a Catwoman casting. Jumpsuits should fit a little looser with dressy versions nipping in at the waist giving the illusion of two pieces. With denim jumpsuits, think of the fit of your boyfriend jeans. You want someone to walk by and think "wow, why haven't I done that?" not "what was she thinking?"
-Look for styles that extend to just above your ankles or hang longer. Leave the rolling of a cuff to your own discretion, don't buy it that way.
-You can spend a little more on a jumspuit since you're getting a complete look rather than just a top or bottom. Think of what you'd spend on a dress and apply the same logic. Of course, if you're hesistant about this trend at all, then try out an inexpensive version to determine if you love or loathe the trend.
-To put your stamp of style on this one piece wonder add your own belt to a dressier style or roll up the cuffs of a coverall style and wear a pair of high heels.
Here's seven jumpsuits that I'm ready to slip on:
Jumpsuit With Contrast Wrap Front, $74 ASOS
Love the contrast of this one looking like two pieces. And pockets, just like I love them on a dress, I love pockets on a jumpsuit.
Diane Von Furstenberg 'Caroline' Embellished Stretch Silk Jumpsuit, $240 Nordstrom
Just the right amount of sparkle on this party piece. RSVP yes to the cocktail party and wear this jumpsuit.
ASOS Wine Colored Tie Waist Jumpsuit With Long Sleeves, $92 ASOS
This bold jumpsuit still looks comfortable and effortless. A gold cuff bracelet would give it a little extra oomph.
Halston Heritage Satin Trimmed Jumpsuit, $495 Net-A-Porter
A jumpsuit worthy of a black tie wedding. Add a white or pale pink chic blazer for contrast.
Bardot Colorblock Strapless Jumpsuit, $142 Nordstrom
Simple and stylish just as it is, but you could add a thin patent belt in a bright hue for evening with your strappy stilettos. For day pull on a fitted denim jacket rolled at the sleeves and sandals.
Diane Von Furstenberg 'Purdy' Belted Crepe Jumpsuit, $470 Net-A-Porter
This jumpsuit makes me think of Halston, Diane and Bianca Jagger at Studio 54.
6397 Denim Jumpsuit, $595 Nordstrom
This denim jumpsuit looks like the perfect mix of casual and cool. The look does border on appearing like you've started as an apprentice mechanic so keep the look simple- just a watch and a few thin bracelets and some slip-on sneakers or a wedge sandal and you're done. Not a fan of the white slip-ons in this photo. Be sure to keep the fit a little slouchy since tight would look oh so wrong.
As a fashion director, I've styled my fair share of wedding dress shoots. As a TV host I've covered everything from the best bets of where to shop for your gown to bridesmaids do's and dont's to what to buy the bride and groom. As a stylist, I've helped clients find the right gown at the right price, helped dress the groom when he doesn't want a tux and always suggest the bride-to-be have a reception dress because if you can avoid the weight of a gown when it's time to get your groove on the dance floor, then you should.
The scoop with these dress picks? Well, after a friendly game of tennis, my friend Amy mentioned her friend had asked her to go from being a guest at her wedding to taking the wedding photographs as well. Amy's a professional photographer so that's easy. But the kicker in this story is the wedding is in two weeks and while they've had all the other tasks and choices completed for months they were missing a few important ones. I immediately asked about the dress because in my world it's all about the dress and the photography. (If I'm attending a wedding then it's about the food, drink and dancing.) Amy says,"She hasn't gotten her dress yet." Crazy, right?! She said it had to do with part budget and part at a loss of what to wear. I get it, weddings are stressful and the dress is a big part of it. You want to look GORGEOUS, but wearing a dress for just one day with a hefty price tag is daunting. Well, challenge accepted. I offered some advice on the spot and then decided to find 10 wedding dresses that could be found online or in store last minute and under $1,000 bucks.
Couldn't help but show off my big day as well:
Here they are:
Arianna Papell High Neck Beaded Gown, $350 Bloomingdale's
Erin Fetherston Tiered Lace Gown, $695 Cusp
Sadie Gown In Swiss Dot Chiffon, $695 J. Crew
BCBG Max Azria 'Elisia' V-Neck Lace Gown, $498 Bloomingdale's
Tadashi Shoji Sleeveless Illusion Lace Pin Tuck Gown, $428 Bloomingdale's
BCBG Max Azria 'Elyse' Strapless Gown, $338 Neiman Marcus
Floral Beaded Slip Dress, $495 J.Crew
Zimmerman Silk Plunge Long Dress, $390 Zimmerman
Adrianna Papell Lace Peplum Dress, $150 Ideel
A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz Sleeveless Peplum Back Drape Gown, $99.99 Ideel
One more before you go:
Dress by Lloyd Klein
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