About two years ago I left California and I moved to Portland. Since then all my friends (most of them still in the Golden State) keep asking me the same two questions: “Why did you move away from California” and “how is Portland?” Usually, people that are not from Portland tend to associate this city with the satirical sketch comedy television series Portlandia. It is easy to understand that they all make fun of me for living in such a hipster city!
When I first moved here I didn’t really like it. I was moving from California so I was definitely used to living in a more sunny and warm location. To be truly honest I have never been a fan of neither the rainy weather nor the hip urban communities. But who would like a constant low hung ceiling of grey clouds that sunbursts from time to time for a quick shot of sunshine between rain and more rain? However much I try, I will never learn how to appreciate these meteorological conditions!
I spent the first couple of months complaining about basically everything…the weather, the fact that I had no friends and most importantly that the city was a lair of hipster people. I know that it might sound a bit shallow but for a fashionista that daydreams about Fifth Avenue and the Magnificent Mile, Portland is definitely a “different” planet where people are definitely not into the mainstream of fashion and culture. But then as I always do, I decided to keep a positive attitude and I gave Portland a chance. So one step at a time I started meeting new friends, I started going out and exploring the restaurant scene and cocktail bars. I have been seriously impressed and I began appreciating the city with a different approach…a more culinary one! After all Portland is the nation’s most lauded food truck and farmers market city. It is the place where foraging for organic veggies at a farmers market is the State sport. It is a city full of eclectic little coffee house and bookstores. It is nerdy…but a very cool form of nerdy!
I chose to embrace the saying “when in Rome do as the Romans do” so I started hanging around farmers markets and embracing the healthy farm-to-table concept. I discovered that most of the people (at least the authentic “Portlandia guys”) buy sustainable, locally grown organic food and firmly believe in the magic power of cultured food. Most of my Portland friends religiously drink fermented beverages because “it is good for you”. The coolest and hippest people brew those cultured drinks in their own houses because they say “it is even better for you”….go figure! I must admit little by little I started to be intrigued by the young, hip urban community. I embraced this new life style but of course with my own twist. I still feel that some of the unique, unconventional fashion sensibilities coming out of this city are still a bit too much for me. Dreadlocks, unshaved armpits and quirky accessories will never be part of my fashion vision but the best part of Portland is that here you can really be yourself.
Here for the first time I feel I can experiment with any kind of outfit because Portland is the capital of creativity. Besides owning a good coat and boots (“a must”) to combat the long cold, rainy season, I am totally jazzing up my style with splashes of color, designer finds and thrifty picks. After traveling and living in so many different places I am well aware that there is no perfect place.. but then I found Portland and here I can totally experiment myself in freedom…this is seriously cool, hip….this is Portland!
I have never been a big believer that we all miraculously change ourselves in January. Let’s face it… changing at any time of the year is hard, almost painful and because of that, most of us tend to shy away from it. Now if we decided to go for a change, January is always the best time to do so. In one way or in the other we all start a new year promising to get rid of bad habits or to improve our behaviors.
This “New Year’s Resolution” pledge is by no means a new concept. It all started with the ancient Babylonians who began each year by making promises to their gods that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. The Romans were used to making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. What kind of promises were they making…I am not quite sure but I bet that even 2000 years ago people were already promising to be good!
Nowadays we all vow to improve our physical well-being: eat healthy food, lose weight, exercise more, stop smoking, drink less alcohol, stop biting the nails and yada yada yada. In my case things are a bit different because I am already a health freak woman. I workout six times a week, I eat homemade fresh food every day, don’t smoke and only drink socially. So from my point of view these healthy resolutions are a gigantic pain in… you know what… I mean because these resolution outbreaks results in the annoying huge crowds that invade the gym. This kind of New Year’s Resolution usually don’t last too long because the rush of people that hope to patch up too many burgers and beers with a few workouts ends by mid February. Kudos to those dedicated people whom will stick to their healthy plans because fit is definitely the new black.
With regards to my part, this year I decided to do something that I usually never do: I made a list of a few things that I am really excited about for 2014. I decided to focus on improving from good to great by strengthening some of my weakness. Here is a small list of the things I am excited about:
- I recently started a new job…so I have a lot to learn and a lot of room to grow. So I am planning to read professional articles every day. I believe that if I learn something new (even if it is a small thing) every day, in a few months I will become a master!
- Write and post one new blog every week. (I admit I neglected my sharplyedged the past few months due to a new job and a lot of changes in my life)
- Brush up on both my French and Spanish…speaking my four languages even better in a country where people barely speak one might represent a big asset!
- Dress more dangerously…I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try new looks here and there.
And last but not least (I know this might sound cheesy), this year I am seriously planning to think positive, love and laugh more often.
What else…I truly hope that all the New Year’s resolutions will fuel a fitter and more glamorous 2014 for everybody!
I always thought that there is nothing more Christmassy than spending Christmas in New York City. Who didn’t dream as a child of being accidentally left behind in New York during the Holidays like Kevin McCallister (alias Macaulay Culkin)? Every time I watched “Home Alone” I fantasized about the entire city being a playground. Easy to understand if you think about the scene in the toy store and the mad dash through Central Park!
Now that I am a grown up, I still picture the city of NY as a sort of playground… the dreamland of shopping and fashion. Last year I visited the city just before Thanksgiving when things were about to be lightened up but I left the day before the annual Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony so quite disappointing! Especially because I imagined million of times all the scenes from my favorite movies (“Elf”, “The family man” and “You’ve got Mail” “Miracle on 34th Street”) where the city is absolutely dazzling in Holiday adornments. So this year when I got the chance of spending the entire Christmas week in my favorite city I was thrilled.
I flew in on December 20th and I was so excited to feel the Christmas spirit and to enjoy lights and decorations in every single store that just a few hours after I landed I was already strolling up and down Fifth Avenue. (For the first time I didn’t even feel the side effects of the red eye flight). My expectations have been exceeded with Macys and Bergdorf Goodman amazing Holiday window scenes! I visited the Big Apple many times in different periods of the year but during the Holiday Seasons the entire city is transformed in the most magic festive style. Luckily I arrived few days before Christmas so was able to walk around a little bit. Every corner was a pretty spectacular sight, with Christmas trees, department-store window displays and other holiday attractions popping up all around. Of course, for those like me that are a shop-ahaolic and fashionista, Christmas in NYC is also synonym of the most authentic Holiday bonanza.
December in NY is great but comes with a couple of major hazards. The first one is a brutal blast of cold air for which I was very well prepared with my favorite Moncler. The second threats are the end-of-the-season-sales that combined with the Holiday spirit and the Christmas carols could be quite the temptation for credit card holders. The road to sin can be quick and after words painful, so to avoid any January regrets this year I decided to shop wisely by setting up a budget and carefully premeditating my shopping plan. My strategy was easy: before buying I had to pay a visit to my favorite shops around the city, which include a couple of real gems, vintage boutiques. I hit the ground right away looking for the perfect outfit to buy. During my first parade lap I hit the jackpot by finding not one but two perfect LBDs, both on deep holiday discount! I had to fight the impulse to buy them both immediately because for one time I really wanted to stick to my shopping budget master plan. I kept walking around for a couple of hours and then I decided to splurge (after all it was Christmas and we only live once, right?). I ran back to both stores…to discover that everything was gone!! (I felt to cry)
Apparently in NYC just a couple of hours are enough to completely wipe out ‘s inventory of sales items.
I soon realized that this was just the beginning of a crowded journey. As we got nearer to the actual day of Christmas, around December 22nd , shopping, walking the streets, restaurants or even a simple cup of coffee became almost off limits as everything became jam-packed. There is something magical and even dreamlike about New York City at Christmas time, however, everything is too crowded (A little too much!). I had a bunch of fun activities planned (one above all…ice skating in Central Park but the line was a city block long and the rink packed elbow to elbow) and at the end I found myself fighting my way through clogged streets and puffy coat-wearing tourists. Not to mention how difficult it is to find a restaurant open and with seats available for Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
What else I can say.. the city glistens and glows with the most contagious magical spirit of the holidays – enough to convince anyone that maybe Santa Claus is a real deal and lives in Manhattan and everyone should see NYC decked out in Holiday splendor…but earlier in the season. Next year for the actual days around Christmas I will plan my vacation in a less crowded and crammed city.
$415 - brownsfashion.com
$735 - harrods.com