Not-So-Extreme Makeover

It’s makeover day here at Boardroom To Ballroom!  One of my favorite days when it comes around every few months – haircut and highlight day! The winter months are dragging on, and a fresh crop is definitely in order.

Finding a salon is always hard, no matter where you live. Here in NYC, I used to find the celebrity hairstylist factor to be pretty enticing. I bounced around to a few salons, usually being shocked by the price and not overly giddy about the results. Then, I went through a Gilt Groupe phase, where I purchased cuts or highlights for a lower price. This I found problematic for a few reasons:

1. Salons were generally not the most established or were struggling for new clients
2. During the run of the coupon, the salon was packed and the staff was exhausted
3. You can’t pick your stylist. Luck of the draw.
4. Stylists who volunteer for the lower rate tend to have less experience

For all the reasons listed above, the experience can be absolutely amazing or downright dismal.

Then, one day in 2012, I met my perfect hairstylist match. I happened to be leaving for a trip and needed a last minute trim that was close to my office. I made an appointment at the Paul Labrecque salon (located inside the Reebok Sports Club) on 67th and Columbus, and was placed into the careful hands of Jovany. He has a gift for both color and cut (which, in today’s world of separate specialties, I do not take lightly). He is thoughtful and quiet, but is always ready with a laugh or a story if you feel like chatting.

The “before” was taken early Wednesday morning. I’m wearing a dress by Tucker for Target, pants by Express, belt by Banana Republic. (Side note on this outfit: I am still a huge fan of the dress-over-pants trend that really isn’t a trend anymore, for the simple fact that it allows me to wear dresses to work that would otherwise be too scandalously short. Plus, I love the slimming effect of tone-on-tone dressing – navy in this case.)

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During: 

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Wednesday evening, after cut and highlights:

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Happy as a clam and delighted with my new look.  Thanks again, Jovany!

xoxo,
Mimzy

Jeans day

Thanks to a few text messages and e-mails, I realized that I never provided the resolution to my denim dilemma of last week.

Funny enough, I dressed that morning (jeans on the bottom, but preppy Blair Waldorf on top), and got to the subway only to find that it was skipping my stop all together! I spoke with my boss, and ended up working at home (as did a majority of the other staff). Saved by the snow! I happily worked at my kitchen table in my lovely jeans day outfit.

Headband: JCrew, Jacket: Cartonnier, Scarf: Urban Outfitters

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To recreate this look, try the following:

Headband

Tasha 'Single' Crystal Headband

Jacket ( #1 is on sale right now at Anthropologie. I just might have to buy it.):

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Scarf: (also coveting the on-sale Henri Bendel (example #3)

  

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Happy future jeans days to all of you! Dressing down takes a bit of thought, but when executed well, can be a lot of fun.

xoxo,
Mimzy

The Denim Dilemma

Am I the only person in the style-challenged U.S. office environment that gets stressed over a jeans day?

For some time, I ignored these days. I pretended that I forgot. I pretended not to like pants. I even pretended I didn’t own jeans. 

Then, a previous workplace linked jeans day to a charity contribution, i.e. “Donate $20 and you get to wear jeans!” Everyone wearing jeans had obviously been wonderful, magnanimous, and generous, while those not wearing jeans were automatically judged as cheap, or worse, un-philanthropic. My ego rose to the occasion, and I started writing checks and wearing jeans.

With yet another impending snow and sleet storm to ice our way through tomorrow’s morning commute, my company announced that tomorrow will be a “dress down day.”

I’m new at the company, so I poured over the CIO’s e-mail, hoping to find some parameters or guidance. Alas, the only missive (and I quote) was, “No torn jeans.”  Great. I scanned the pages of my current magazine on the subway home, hoping for inspiration. No such luck, I was reading Self, and everyone seemed to be wearing Lululemon.

You’ll have to tune in tomorrow to find out how I decided to tackle “dress down day” at the office…

Until then:

Today’s outfit was an example of my favorite work attire (skirt, black & white with pops of color): Skirt: H&M, Button-down: Joe Fresh; Blouse: unknown

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This outfit is pretty easy to recreate, as I’m sure you already have a black pencil skirt and white button-down in your closet. If not, I’ve linked above to the precise pieces I’m wearing.  The vest-like blouse is another matter – it is sheer and the tag has long since been removed.  But, here are three super-cute similars:

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Have a great night!

xoxo,

Mimzy

Shopper’s Delight

The people have demanded that I provide more ways to buy pieces similar to the outfits I’m wearing.  Or rather, I should clarify, my best friend Kiki suggested it when I pressed her for feedback on this little project of mine. 

I shall endeavor to bring the people what they want!

Here goes with a weekend outfit:

Saturday and Sunday. Because, really, if an outfit is any good and you feel amazing about it, you should definitely repeat it. (Provided you run zero risk of being seen by any of the people from the day prior). I had a number of events to attend this weekend, including my regular volunteer shift at MoMA, church, the movies, after-movie drinks, and an afternoon of brunch and shopping the next day.

Jacket: Tinley Road, Pants: Cartonnier, Shoes: Kenzie

Create the look! (prices range from low to high):
Jacket: (P & YGreylin, Herno, Philipp Plein)
Pants: (ExpressMCQYSL )
Shoes: (BCBG, Manolo Blahnik, Charlotte Olympia)

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More to come! I’ll figure out to adjust these posts so you can shop images as opposed to links.

xoxo,
Mimzy

P.S. How did you like my little Vogue-inspired pose here? Those models always look so cheerful – if only Mario Testino was behind my camera!

Macaroni and Cheese Soup

One of my mom’s dear friends is a classically-trained French chef. I had this rather outlandish fantasy of her slaving in her kitchen, whipping up coq au vin and delicate vegetables, along with heady spices and herbs for her children on a nightly basis.

It was not until this week that I learned the devastating truth. Her kids like basic American food just as much as the rest of us.

Apparently, one of her children’s most oft-requested meals is Macaroni and Cheese Soup – a recipe so embarrassingly simple that I wasn’t even sure I should share it. But it is quite inexpensive and delicious; a welcome respite from rich foods and evenings out in the city.

I modified it slightly to add a little extra flavor.

  • One box, Annie’s Homegrown Mac & Cheese
  • 10 oz. Birds Eye frozen mixed vegetables (the one with beans, carrots, corn & peas)
  • 1/4 cup margarine (I used Smart Balance)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 14 oz cans of chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • A few twists of fresh ground black pepper and pinch of Hungarian paprika (optional)

Cook macaroni in boiling, salted water for 5 minutes. Add the frozen vegetables and cook another 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Melt the margarine in the same pot. Add the flour and cheese packet from the Annie’s box. Mix well. Slowly stir in milk and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add the vegetables, macaroni, paprika and black pepper and heat through. Serve with a nice, crusty bread and a glass of Sancerre.

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Confession: I eat Annie’s Mac & Cheese at least once a week. So often that I now buy in bulk, as if I were feeding a family of four rather than just my single-girl self. This soup is a nice way to mix things up and feel like I’m meeting my veggie quota as well.

xoxo,

Mimzy

A smattering of outfits

I don’t know about you, but I find it dreadfully challenging to dress when it is ridiculously cold multiple days in a row.  A day or two here can actually be fun; you get to pull out those once-or-twice-a-season-super-warm-furry boots  and maybe throw on a hat you completely forgot about. But when cold, frost-bite-inducing weather stays around for days on end? Now there is a challenge I’m ready for.

A few of my strategies for getting excited about getting ready on a cold morning (or any morning, really):
1.  Breakfast and coffee for a jump start
2.  Mixing new and old or high and low pieces from my wardrobe
3.  Styling my hair differently than the way it was any other day this week
4.  A spritz of great perfume

Thursday:
Jacket – Milly, Skirt – an old standby from H&M, Boots – Banana Republic
Hair: straight with curled ends and a just shy of center part. 

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Friday: Dress – Calvin Klein, Earrings – Stella & Dot, Shoes – JCrew (pleeeeease bring back the Mona pumps! I would buy so many more pairs!)
Hair – a fun, twisty updo

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Monday: Dress – Ann Taylor, Shoes – Dolce Vita
Hair: straight, bent ends, center part

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Tuesday: Top – JCrew, Sweater – unknown, Skirt – H&M (see, told you it was a standby!), Necklace – Ann Taylor
Hair: French braid (tucked in)

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Today (Wednesday):
Jacket – Greylin, Top – Gap, Skirt – Phillip Lim
Hair: pin straight, side part

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That’s all for now! Let’s see what inspires me for the remainder of the week!

xoxo, Mimzy

Easy Protein-Packed Meatballs

When the weather outside is frightful…its nice to be able to stay in and cook!

My mom shared this simple meatball recipe during our Saturday morning phone call, and I felt completely inspired.  I ran to the grocery store to pick up the meat and parsley, and spent less than an hour making the recipe. It is loaded with good-for-you protein (quinoa and lean beef). The fresh parsley is a must, as it brings that delightful peppery kick and pretty green flourish.

You could, of course, make this more labor intensive by making your own marinara sauce. But this version was absurdly easy, which is sometimes all I’m looking for in a recipe. I plan to put a few in the fridge to eat over the next day or two, and then freeze the rest in individual servings to be enjoyed on a weeknight when I’m weary and longing for Italian food. They are hearty enough to enjoy alone, but you could also make a nice little bed of pasta for them, too.

Quinoa and Beef Meatballs (adapted from Food & Wine)
Makes 12 delicious meatballs

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (I used sirloin)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese (Sincere apologies to my foodie friends – I used Kraft cheese in the green bottle)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 24-ounce jar of marinara sauce (I used Barilla)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400° and grease a large baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray. In a large bowl, using your hands (disposable gloves are a must here), gently mix all of the ingredients except the marinara sauce. Form the ground-beef mixture into twelve meatballs.
  2. Arrange the meatballs in the baking dish and roast for 20 minutes, until just cooked through. Spoon the marinara sauce on top and bake until the sauce is hot, about 10 minutes. Garnish with extra grated cheese and serve.

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xoxo,
Mimzy

First day: presence and precedents

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The “first day” of a new situation is one of life’s purest opportunities for reinvention: first day of school, first day in a new neighborhood, first day at a new job. My case for this is simple:

1) No one knows you: your style, your work ethic, whether you are an introvert or extrovert
2) You’ll be meeting lots of people for the first time, so you can set a widespread tone
3) You won’t easily fall back into old routines – after all, you’ve got people who look up to you now!
4) It’s a chance to put those lessons learned from past mistakes into action

It’s not only a chance to be different, but to be better.

Maybe you were a gossip at your old school or job – did it really get you anywhere or make you any friends? Actively choose to contribute less snarky-ness to the world. Be the girl who secretly tapes pink Post-Its with “You’re beautiful!” in the ladies’ room.

Maybe you trusted someone you shouldn’t have. It stung, didn’t it?  This time, be more reserved until people start to show their true colors. Put a jar of candy or homemade muffins on your desk and let people come to you to tell their stories.

Maybe you always gave in on your diet to please other people – having a piece of each kind of cake so as not to offend or, conversely, skipping free pizza because you were so regimented to spinach salad. Don’t go to either extreme! Be strong but gracious. And, please, set an example by never commenting on other people’s food.

Maybe your last job cost you hundreds of hours of frustration, thinking they meant what they said about “meritocracy,” only to send you packing. Give more than what’s necessary, but never give your heart. Jobs come and go, and like friends and relationships, are often just poignant ways for us to learn something about the world or about ourselves. Be you, be your best, and be proud of the work you do everyday. You are shining light into someone’s life just by showing up.

First day at my new job outfit (although I was clearly not quite awake, as I forgot to add the Anthropologie jacket before I snapped the photo):
Top: Calvin Klein, Skirt: Tahari (similar) Watch: Michael Kors

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xoxo,
Mimzy

Favorite new DIY lip scrub

Confession: I’m not usually a DIY-beauty sort of girl. That’s why I tend to be in Sephora several times per month (or week). Friends, this is as close as it gets.

I was feeling a little under the weather today and have quite a few social events scheduled for the weekend. The New York winter air is not helping remedy dry lips and skin, so the timing was opportune to do a lip scrub.

After raiding my beauty cabinet, I found I was out of any lip-appropriate exfoliant. Many of the homemade lip scrubs I’ve seen contain messy ingredients such as olive oil or lemon juice. So, I created the easiest little recipe and was very pleased with the results.

Instructions:
Load up your lips with Smith’s Rosebud Salve
Top with Turbinado Sugar and mush with your index finger for 60-90 seconds.
Wash or tissue off, add some additional Rosebud Salve, and you are good to go!
I suggest doing this routine weekly, especially in the cold climates.

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Easy peasy. And I feel ready to take on the weekend!

xoxo,
Mimzy

 

It’s impossible to be overdressed

I feel so strongly about the importance of playing dress-up at every age.  I was very lucky to have a group of childhood friends that played dress-up in my grandmother’s gowns until we were at least fifteen years old. Now that I’ve transitioned to grown-up status, I still look for ways to be glamorous whenever possible. While sophistication and taste are paramount, you should never ignore a reason to get dressed up. Even if you are the dressiest person in the room, don’t dress down to make other people feel comfortable. Be the best version of yourself for the particular event – it just feels good!

This weekend, I was summoned to be a fashion consultant for my friend Jayme, who is to be the MOH for a wedding in Las Vegas. She had no color or style constraints from the bride, leaving us lots of room for trials and exploration. We shopped for a few hours at traditional stores before ending up at Rent the Runway at Henri Bendel.  So many options! We narrowed the themes to “long” and “glamorous.” Its relatively impossible to be over the top at a Vegas wedding, right? 

Our stylist, Mink, at RTR was absolutely lovely. She saw me patting several dresses while Jayme was busy, so offered to set up me up with my own fitting room. I tried on the most fanciful dresses I could find, and had so much fun. See evidence below!

1: Carolina Herrera, 2: Nha Khanh, 3: Vera Wang

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Jayme ended up renting two stunning gowns: a Badgley Mischka and a Narcisco Rodriguez. I’m so proud of her and so grateful to her for letting me hijack her fitting with my own runway show!

xoxo, Mimzy