Let’s be honest: When it comes to fashion shows and red carpet events, Bellevue Collection’s Fashion Week is truly head & shoulders above the rest. And this year was no exception! From designer meet & greets, to platters of fresh macaroons wafting through the crowd, to a famous artist giving out personalized caricatures, everything about Bellevue Collection Fashion Week 2018 was done to perfection.
Our crew of adventurers consisted of 15 fashion-loving Boise women, all ready to explore, wine, dine, and shop till we dropped! On day one, we hit the ground running with a VIP party at Nordstrom.
But first things first: lunch at the new Bento Grill, where chef Tom Douglas crafted a unique dining experience that melds gourmet Asian cuisine with take-out-buffet efficiency.
Debbie Evy, a brilliant stylist from Nordstrom’s Collectionsdepartment, showed us how to select our dish, then customize each step to create the perfect bento box experience. Top off lunch with a blended mango sake shake, and you’re in for a fabulous afternoon!
Next stop: Nordstrom’s Designer department for champagne and shopping! Debbie and her crew brought in new fall pieces from Gucci, Prada, Louie Vuitton, and more to tantalize our couture-craving crew.
While models displayed how to style this season’s scrumptious Chloe sweater dresses and vibrant Tory Burch jackets, makeup artists from Trish McEvoy primped and pampered our travel-weary faces.
On the lower level, hair stylists had style-&-go stations ready to plump, smooth, curl, and tame our tresses! With our Nordstrom treasures and beauty swag-bags in hand, we dashed back to our rooms at the Westin Bellevue for a quick clothing change…
And then off to the show!
The Independent Designer Runway Showis one of my all-time favorite events! In the past, designers from around the Pacific Northwest have competed for a coveted top spot, cash prize, editorial coverage in Seattle Met Magazine, and the opportunity to display their looks in Bellevue Square.
This year, instead of fledgling designers, the Collection graced us with a special show that brought back past winners to compete in a best-of-the-best runway throw-down!
Flip through the slideshow to be inspired by looks from: DEVONATION by Devon Yan LOURDES é EVA by Nore Suárez Cute Like Mad by Jeanette Svensk Li Poppyseed by Rebekah Adams Valentina & Valenti’s by Milena Natanov Deyonte’ Weather Collection by Deyonte’ Weather Chany Venturini by Maria Venturini
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”18″ gal_title=”Independent Designer Runway Show 2″]
A brand new Albertsons grocery market just opened in Boise, boasting an extended International Foods section. As a travel blogger and lover of global cuisine, I just had to check it out!
I just have to say: this new store is HUGE! Besides the aforementioned global foods, there’s an extra-large beauty section, complete with expanded natural and local options, an incredible meat department, cheeses from everywhere you can imagine, and floral choices that are out of this world. Basically, it’s your new favorite one-stop-shop!
Spanish, Indian, German, French, British, Dutch, Asian… ALL the foods!!! With so many great culinary choices, I was inspired to put together a very special picnic, to commemorate one of my favorite travel memories.
Once upon a time (jk; last summer!) I took a group of Boise women to Paris for a girls’ getaway. Of course, we had to visit the Eiffel Tower, but we did so in way that was markedly different than the average tourist…
Instead of standing in long lines & paying big chunks of change to ascend to the top, we stopped by a neighborhood market, loaded up on local food & drinks, and spread out a picnic dinner at the base of Paris’ most famous landmark!
Did you know that the Eiffel Tower has a massive public park at its feet? Called the Champs de Mars, this green space is extensive and lush, with soft grass, shady trees, playgrounds, and unparalleled views of the historic structure that rises over it!
We had a glorious meal, and as the sun began to set, the Tower lit up, illuminating the park with over 20,000 dancing, sparkling lights. Music played, people danced, everyone oohed and ah-ed…
I’ll never forget it that night!
While walking through the Global Foods section in the new Albertsons back home, I was inspired to recreate that fun Parisian moment right here in Boise, with a whimsical picnic from around the world.
Everything I needed was right at my fingertips!
1: SAVORY MEATS
Choose a classic, like Genoa Salami, and pair it with something more exotic, like Mortadella from Italy. If you like meats with a little more kick, be sure to check out Albertson’s Basque section of delicious choices, back in the dairy department!
2: CHEESY GOODNESS
I like combining a trio of different, yet simple flavors: a mild family favorite (ours is Gouda), a soft spread (Brie from France), and something flavorful and intense, like an aged asiago or savory Manchego.
3: FRESH & FRUITY
Balance out salty proteins with some fresh fruit, which Albertson’s makes easy in pre-cut disposable bowls. A jar of lemon-flavored Oui French-style yoghurt by Yoplait makes an excellent fruit dip, and the little glass jar washes out easily to become a petite flower- or candle-holder for later!
4: SUMPTUOUS SIPS
I love a light, refreshing rosé with a glass or screw-off top for easy opening in the park, because who ever remembers a corkscrew, really?!? For a kid-friendly picnic, it’s good to include something indulgent and unique, but also non-alcoholic, like this delicious Sparkling Limonade from France!
5: DON’T FORGET DESSERT
Perhaps the most important part of your Parisian picnic, the pièce de résistance, so to speak, is a decadent dessert. Just like on our Eiffel Tower day, nothing compares to fresh chocolate eclairs, made daily with love in the Albertsons bakery!
So, there you have it – c’est délicieux, as they say in France. Lay out your blanket on the grass, pluck a small bouquet for atmosphere, and picnic away! It’s simple, easy, and mouthwateringly scrumptious.
Enjoy your summer, #EatLifeUp to the max, and be sure to stop by the new Albertsons in downtown Boise for an unparalleled market and cuisine experience!
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Albertsons on Broadway. The opinions and text are all mine.
*Some details are subject to change, like restaurant choices, if in the moment a different option becomes necessary.
Cost Breakdown and Additions:
Westin Hotel – Special reduced rate, room w/ two queen beds is $220/night ($660 + tax.)
If two want to share a room, that’s $110 per person, per night ($330 each plus tax.)
If four ladies want to share a room, that’s $55 per night per person ($165 each plus tax.)
Admin fee – $125, for my planning time, fashion week coordination, and on-trip responsibilities, incl. driving.
Shuttle Service – Limo and group shuttle Friday and Saturday, approx $80/person
Meals – Not included. Reservations will be made for scheduled group events, but how much you eat/spend is up to you!
Up-Front Payment required to secure your spot: $375 due Aug. 1st. Additional costs like meals, hotel, etc. will be pay-as-you-go. Airfare and airport transportation are not included.
ARE YOU IN???? Message me on Instagram or Facebook for the direct payment link,
and/or if you have any questions!
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Vancouver BC Addition
~ Optional for anyone who would like to add 1 day and 1 location to your adventure! ~ Fly Boise to Vancouver BC on Wednesday, Sept. 19th, early morning.
Goal: Explore Downtown Vancouver’s Gastown and Pacific Center! At the edge of fashion in the heart of downtown, CF Pacific Centre is Vancouver’s premier shopping destination featuring Holt Renfrew, Nordstrom, Harry Rosen, AllSaints, kate spade new york, Ted Baker London, Michael Kors, Hollister, Sephora, Apple, Browns Shoes, the Four Seasons Hotel and so much more. Gastown is Vancouver’s emerging hipster neighborhood, packed with cafes, shops, and artsy curiosities.
Dine:Reflections Rooftop Garden Terrace. Combining downtown Vancouver’s vibrant energy with the tranquility of the outdoors, Reflections: The Garden Terrace offers a variety of light tapas-inspired dishes in a sophisticated outdoor bar and lounge setting.
Stay: Overnight in hotel or AirBnB, to be determined.
Cost: Approx $50-100 for transportation and train ticket, plus additional costs for hotel stay and meals.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are choosing this option, pleaselet me know as soon as possible, so I can secure hotel and train reservations and get group prices put together!
So you’re going to Paris? Bien por vous! The City of Light is a fashion mecca, and has some of the best shopping in the world, especially for those hunting vintage and couture fashions. Chanel and Louis Vuitton, for example, originated here and still call Paris home, so if you know where to look, you might just stumble upon something priceless!
In recent years I’ve had the opportunity to scout out the shopping scene here, and take a few friends with me on girl-time getaway trips as well. The guide below is by no means exhaustive, but rather a journal of my personal finds and favorites, that I hope you’ll find helpful!
Pro tip: While some of us may dream of dressing up like Audrey Hepburn and perusing Parisian avenues in style, truly successful treasure hunting favors the practical shopper. Trust me; your best friends will be a lightweight totebag, a water bottle, and your most comfortable shoes. Save your haute couture look (and your feet!) for a night on the town later.
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Open Air Markets
Paris has a number of amazing flea markets, the largest of which are Marché aux Puces de Montreuil and Puces de Paris Saint-Ouen. (For the smaller neighborhood and seasonal markets, click this handy guide by David Lebovitz to get all the info you need on everything from local rummage sales, to roving brocantes!)
I haven’t had the opportunity to explore the Montreuil market, so my focus here will be on Les Puces de Saint-Ouen Market, known to localsas Les Puces (The Fleas). This is a massive maze of thirteen markets combined, with over 2,500 shops and stalls, dating back to the 1800’s. The outer edges are comprised mostly of knock-off clothing, shoes, and accessories imported from overseas, but once you dive a little deeper – into the Dauphine, Serpette, and Paul Bert markets, for example – you’ll find everything from vintage corsets to Valentino handbags!
One of my favorite shops is Les merveilles de Babellou(photos below)in the Paul Bert market. I bought my first real Chanelbrooch here for a fraction of the price new, and everything in the shop is certified authentic. From vintage Gucci to Prada runway samples, you never know what you’re going to find in this treasure trove, all on consignment from local fashion lovers and couture collectors!
Pro tips: Check days and hours before you go to any flea or outdoor market in Paris, as hours are variable and sometimes seasonal. Bring cash, because although nearly every vendor will take credit cards, you can haggle prices better with paper money. Also, keep safety in mind, and leave your valuables at home or wear them someplace secret and secure on your person. Cell phones and handbags are a pickpocket’s favorite targets, here!
For more vintage and couture treasure shopping in the Paris Flea Markets, visit this handy guide.
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Thrift and Consignment
Paris is also home to many amazing resale shops, where you can find everything from 70’s concert t-shirts, to authentic studded Louboutin pumps. KILO shops were a big hit with our crew, and have multiple locations across Europe. They are much like Buffalo Exchange or Plato’s Closet in the USA, but instead of individually-priced items, your purchased are weighed and you pay by the kilo. We found some amazing leather jackets and vintage denim, as well as funky retro sunglasses and unique leather handbags.
I have two favorite luxury resale shops in Paris: Reciproque and Depot-Vente.
Reciproque is a huge, two-story couture consignment and resale shop, and it has E V E R Y T H I N G. It’s also the largest luxury consignment shop in Paris, and can be a little overwhelming if you’re in a hurry. It’s a good idea to pack a water bottle, some snacks, and give yourself plenty of time to devote to your treasure hunt here! The upper floor is upscale designer clothing and handbags. Shoes are downstairs, along with a massive secondary room filled with racks of dresses, jackets, sweaters, and more.
Depot-Vente is much smaller, but it’s my go-to place, where I always find something I can’t leave Paris without! This shop doesn’t look very fancy from the outside, but on multiple trips I’ve found treasures like a gorgeous full-length Chloewool coat for $200, a Valentinojacket for $80, and Chanelsunglasses for $50.
The shop is run by a mother/daughter team, and if you’re searching for something specific, just ask! They know every single item that’s in their shop, and will dig through stacks & racks to find exactly what you want. Depot-Vente doesn’t have its own address, but sits between 21 Rue de la Pompe and 19 Rue de la Pompe, Paris, France 75116.
Pro tip: Credit and debit cards are accepted almost everywhere, but when it comes to consignment and resale shops, cash will almost always get you a better deal!
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That’s it for now! If you’re heading to Paris in the near future and would like to connect for tips and recommendations, please comment below! Or send a message on my Facebook page – I’m always happy to help out a fellow globetrotting fashion lover. 🙂
For more awesome shopping tips and locations, I also recommend checking out this awesome local touring & guidance website: www.parisperfect.com!
And stay tuned for more tips in my upcoming article series on Paris, London, and Amsterdam, too!
Both the historic town of Ketchum and its ritzy neighbor Sun Valley are packed with restaurants, art galleries, furniture and gift shops, and boutiques. And trust me, the fashion alone is worth the drive. I recently headed up to the Wood River Valley with a group of girlfriends for an overnight shopping trip.
It’s easy to get around Ketchum, and many shops are within walking distance of each other. And parking spots abound (with no meters — yay!). Up the road, nearly everything is close by once you get to Sun Valley, too. So pull in, grab a latte and get walking.
Elle Rose is a couture-packed treasure trove, spread out among two sister shops: designer and contemporary. On the designer side, you will find a polished array of luscious luxury items from Valentino, Versace, Chloe, Hermes, Manolo Blahnik and more. On the contemporary side, you can unleash your inner posh-rock-goddess with stunning pieces from Alexander McQueen, Theory, Stella McCartney, Rag & Bone, The Row, etc. This is a couture shop so expect to pay couture prices, but check out the clearance racks in the back of the contemporary store for last-chance deals. 641 Sun Valley Road, Ketchum; 208-726-8871; ellerosesv.com.
The Sheepskin Coat Factory was opened in 1971 by David Norton. He operated a tannery at that time, and manufactured and designed coats and jackets from shearling (sheepskin), selling wholesale to large stores on the East Coast as well as retailing directly in his Ketchum shop and his other regional stores. Although Norton no longer personally produces all the pieces in his store, Sheepskin Coat Factory has stuck to its high-quality values, and it imports inventory only from U.S. and Canadian vendors. The store sells predominantly outerwear and accessories from multiple brands in a range of price points, and it has added several ready-to-wear ladies lines. Our group was particularly impressed by the winter-to-spring transitional travel jackets, like one by Diana Rosh that’s super lightweight and rolls up into a tiny bag. 511 Sun Valley Road, Ketchum; 208-726-3588; sheepskincoat.com.
When I walked into Theodore, for a moment I thought we were in a London boutique. Tall shelves stacked with denim and walls of glass adorned with color-categorized racks of clothing entice the eye and pull you deeper into a shopping heaven. The fashions in Theodore are right on trend. The shoes, the attitude, the vibe … very urban chic. 511 Leadville Ave., Ketchum; 208-726-3544.
Déjà Vu is an otherworldly treasure trove. For more than 20 years, owner Suzy Hart has cultivated a collection that must be seen to be believed. From vintage Chanel necklaces to Valentino blouses, fur collars to crystal tiaras, every nook and cranny of Hart’s shop is packed with awe-worthy finds. Déjà vu is not a consignment shop, but an estate and couture boutique. 511 Leadville Ave., Ketchum; 208-726-1908; dejavuvintagestore.com.
On trend, on budget
Fly fisher and local legend Dick Alfs opened Silver Creek Outfitters in 1963 after years of tying and selling flies that he would hand-deliver to local customers. Decades later, his landmark shop has grown to include men’s and women’s clothing (both functional and fashionable), shoes, accessories, eyewear, luggage, gift and home décor, and everything you’d need for hunting or fishing. Silver Creek Outfitters carries what you need to “take you from a day on the river to an evening on the town.” It carries classic fashion brands like Peter Millar, Scott Barber, 34 Heritage and Patagonia, as well as TRASK shoes. The store also offers outfitted tours and trips. 500 N. Main St., Ketchum; 208-726-5282;www.silver-creek.com.
Sway is a bright and airy shop packed with fashion-forward and accessible styles. With a vibe reminiscent of Malibu or Beverly Hills, this store was one of our group’s favorites. Soft colors, uber-trendy denim, must-have blouses and the latest Instagram-worthy accessories stock every shelf and table. Owner Roxanne Harris has impeccable taste, and brands include MiH, Free People, DL 1961, Rails, Elizabeth and James, Paige, Maison Scotch and Joie. 511 Sun Valley Road, Ketchum; 208-928-7884.
Ketchum Flower Company-Girl Friday is your one-stop shop for all things lovely. Michelle Ferris opened her shop 18 years ago to bring “beautiful fresh-cut flowers, tasteful arrangements and eclectic affordable gifts to the valley.” Girl Friday, the clothing side of the shop, is packed with denim, shoes, shirts, scarves and more, from brands like Bed|Stu, Gentle Fawn, Larissa, Free People, Raffi, Sanctuary and Good hYOUman. 440 E. Avenue N., Ketchum; 208-622-7364, ketchumflower.com.
Farmer’s Daughter, founded by self-proclaimed “treasure-hunters, nostalgia keepers, memory creators and magic makers,” is a sweet store with more home décor and less fashion, but the fashions the store does carry are indeed magic — from vintage flannels to repurposed Louis Vuitton handbags draped with fringe, feathers and riveted belt shoulder straps. If you’re on the hunt for unique, check out Farmer’s Daughter. 331 Leadville Ave., Ketchum; 208-726-6433; thefarmersdaughtersunvalley.com.
Ketchum is home to a couple of fun and fabulous consignment/second-hand shops:
Worth Repeating, downstairs from Atkinson’s Market grocery store, is packed with fabulous designer wear, funky décor items, art and jewelry, as well as vintage and resale furniture. Owner Merilee Hansen moved here 51 years ago after she visited from California and fell in love with the area. About 15 years ago, Hansen decided to follow her passion for collecting cool and eclectic things and opened Worth Repeating. In Giacobbi Square at 451 4th St. E., Ketchum; 208-726-9440.
When you shop at the Gold Mine Thrift Store, you are supporting Ketchum’s Community Library. How cool is that? Also cool: sifting through racks of $3-15 clothing and finding a pair of glittery black Diane Von Furstenberg pants for only $10. When I took them up to the register to pay, the cashier was so excited to see the pants go to an appreciative home that she proceeded to regale me with tales of similar finds, like the Burberry coat scored here for under $30 a couple of years back. If you are looking for an “Are you kidding me?” fashion discovery moment, this is the place to shop. It’s also a great place to find skis and slope gear, jeans, coats and even children’s wear for when you’re in town with the whole family, and you have that one kid who always forgets their swimsuit. For designer treasures, head to the thrift store’s Gold Mine Consign on the very next block. Our crew found previously loved Prada pants, Betsey Johnson fur coats, Gucci bags and more at deeply discounted prices. The Gold Mine Thrift Store is at 331 Walnut Ave. and the Consignment Shop is at 591 4th St. E., Ketchum; comlib.org/goldmine, 208-726-5544.
While we didn’t visit on this trip, the Barkin’ Basement Thrift Store in nearby Hailey is packed with fun finds, and proceeds benefit the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley. From fabulous dresses for all occasions to shoes and boots, there’s a bargain waiting here for you. 111 S. Main St., Hailey; animalshelterwrv.org/activity/barkinbasement.
Shoes and more
Susan and Mark Nieves opened Independent Goods in late 2016 after leaving Seattle in search of adventure and community. They specialize in handmade gifts and collectibles ranging from copper flasks to restored vintage axes. They also have jewelry, T-shirts, household goods and handbags, all made in the United States, including a selection from Idaho. Independent Goods is also set up like the coolest campground you’ve ever visited. Wooden chairs line the walls as display shelves, and a massive canvas tent divides the register area from the clothing part of the store. There is a massive mural inscribed with John Muir’s famous quote, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” 330 Walnut Ave., Ketchum; 208-720-9004; independentgoods.com.
Ozzie’s Shoes owner Steve Carlson stocks brands that are fashionable and yet immensely functional for mountain winters. During snow season, stop in for a cozy pair of Uggs, rugged waterproof Sorels or chic Freebird by Steven boots. For year-round footwear, Ozzie’s also carries brands such as Superga, Franco Sarto, Dansko, Born and Birkenstock for men, women and children. 406 Leadville Ave. N., Ketchum; 208-726-3604.
Huck & Paddle owner Brandy Herold first ventured into retail when she began creating candles for a friend’s boutique in Washington state. She opened her gift and accessories shop in 2014. Along with her signature homemade candles, Huck & Paddle is stocked with scarves, hats, gloves, jewelry and home décor. Huck & Paddle’s vibe is kitschy/posh, ranging from fur blankets to laser-stenciled suede bracelets, and a wide variety of things you never knew you had to have — until now. 400 Sun Valley Road, Ste. 101, Ketchum; 208-928-6550; HuckandPaddle.com.
If you’re looking for a place to touch and feel all the soft, cozy things your heart craves, step into Madeline & Oliver and run your fingers through a rack of bathrobes. This shop is all about texture. From pajamas to lotions, candles to comforters, they have everything you need to indulge yourself — both “Above and Below the Sheets!” 460 Sun Valley Road, Ste. 103, Ketchum; 208-726-7779, madelineandoliver.com.
The area’s newest lingerie and sleepwear shop, Undercover, is coincidentally one of its oldest, too. Kim Donald first opened Undercover back in 1978 but moved away after about 10 years. Nearly two years ago, she moved back to Ketchum, and friends and family began asking her to reopen her beloved shop. At the end of 2016, she did just that, taking her original lingerie store concept and expanding it to include sleepwear, loungewear and luxurious body products. Undercover carries lines such as Wacoal, Natori, Chantelle, Bedhead, Cosa Bella, Hanro and Spanx. Be sure to sample the scents of the incredible lotions, bubble baths and bath salts by K. Hall. The Lemongrass body lotion was my favorite; you have to smell it to believe it. 320 Walnut Ave., Ketchum; 208-928-7002.
Sun Valley Resort
From downtown Ketchum, take Sun Valley Road up to the world-famous Sun Valley Resort, a village in its own right that hosts skiing championships, music festivals, celebrity events and, of course, the renowned Sun Valley Film Festival. The resort boasts dozens of skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing trails, as well as biking and hiking paths, a golf course, a spa, several delicious places to wine and dine, and a plethora of delightful fashion and gift shops. Here are two of our Sun Valley favorites:
Brass Ranch has two locations: one in Sun Valley and another in Ketchum. The huge modern boutiques are packed with large collections of European and American ski and sportswear, plus off-slope fashions, handbags and shoes from designers such as Arc‘teryx, Bogner, Canada Goose, Eider, JetSet, Kjus, Moncler, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Zadig & Voltaire, Rossignol and Toni Salier. There’s also a great skin care and makeup bar. We enjoyed the store’s cheerful customer service and the wide variety of fashions for every budget. There’s even a men’s section.
Panache fashion boutique opened in 1981 in Sun Valley and now has a second location in Park City, Utah. Stop in for a wide range of fashion-forward brands, including Mother, Helmut Lang, Diane von Furstenberg, Velvet, Juicy, Brunello Cucinelli, Goldsign and more. You’ll get personalized assistance. Be sure to check out the clearance rack in back for off-season finds. 3 Sun Valley Road, Sun Valley; 208-622-4228.
Note: My “Sun Valley” article first appeared in the Idaho Stateman’s “Treasure Magazine,” under the title “Hit the road to Sun Valley for shopping and fun,” dated April 14, 2017. I’m reposting to my blog with their permission; the original is linked here, if you’d like to view it.
If you’ve traveled much, you have likely experienced both the joy and agony of hotel selection. Finding the right one can mean hours of research, pouring over hotel details and user reviews, or you can play it loose and gamble on a bargain-hunting travel website. But particularly if you’re going to Paris, the task of “where to stay” can be incredibly daunting! Paris has over 2,000 hotels within the city limits, along with innumerable AirBnb-type rental homes and flats available. What part of town do you want to be in? How much are you budgeting per night? Which one is walking distance to the places you want most to visit?
If you’ll allow me, I can make this task truly easy for you: When in Paris, stay at the Bradford Elysees.I am not being paid or compensated in any way for passing along this advice! I simply had a personal experience that surpassed other hotels I’ve stayed in so far, and I wanted to pass along the recommendation to my readers.
The Bradford Elysees is an intimate boutique hotel that behaves like a 5-star resort, but at a bargain price, and everyone ought to know about it!!!
Having traveled extensively in Europe, I’m accustomed to standard hotel rooms that value function over space. Often you’ll get a tiny room, packed tight and well-arranged to take advantage of every square inch… But I’m pretty sure I let out an uncontrolled “Oh my gosh!” upon opening the door of our room at the Bradford Elysees. High ceilings, big open areas, and tall windows with luxurious drapery gave the room a regal feel. And it… Was… HUGE. My roommates and I had plenty of space for three beds, multiple suitcases, a generous seating area, and more!
One evening, we spread out all our groceries and had a “room picnic,” right on the floor!
We also enjoyed the open-air balcony, for people watching and Parisian sunsets. Some of our travel posse who booked a room on the top floor did not have a balcony, but they DID have glorious views of the Eiffel Tower glittering in their windows every night! C’est joli!
Our group specifically wanted to be north of the Seine River, close to sights, convenient to transportation, and walking distance to shopping. The Bradford Elysees had all of that. Catching taxis was convenient at this hotel, but with the Saint-Philippe-du-Roule metro station only a 3-minute walk away, we found it easy to get around town whenever and wherever we needed to by simply hopping on a train.
We were about a 5 minute walk from Paris’ famed Avenue des Champs-Élysées, an avenue running between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle, where the Arc de Triomphe is located. Everything you could ever wish to shop for is on this avenue! From macaron bakeries to designer flagship stores, it’s all here, on wide-open walking streets packed with tourists.
We also loved exploring the many restaurants that surrounded our hotel, and appreciated having a Monoprix nearby for grocery shopping. This came in handy, especially for our Eiffel Tower picnic day!
Speaking of food… After staying at the Bradford Elysees, I’ll never be satisfied with a standard continental breakfast, as long as I live!
Every morning began like this: wake up, get dressed, run downstairs to the dining room, and be greeted by a kind gentleman named Francois asking “Good morning, madame! May I fetch you some coffee with breakfast?” Yes, please! Merci boucoup!
Breakfast is complimentary at the Bradford Elysees, and if you don’t take advantage of it, you’re missing out. Omelettes, waffles, crepes, fresh pastries, fruit, meats, cheeses, yogurt, and more were spread out before us every morning, tantalizing our taste buds and spoiling us rotten.
But beyond breakfast, there’s even MORE food to appreciate at this amazing hotel! Every afternoon, a complimentary snack bar is laid out. Yes, complimentary as in FREE. Juices, coffees, fruit, cheeses, pastries, and a rotating array of surprises greeted us every day.
And I’m not done with the food part yet! Oh no… not even close!
The Bradford Elysees is just one of a small chain of boutique hotels known as the Astotel group. There are 16 of them throughout Paris, each with its own unique themes and amenities. And ALL of them have free afternoon snack bars set out, which you have access to regardless of which hotel you’re booked in! Anytime we needed energy or hydration, we could pop into an Astotel around town, relax and recharge. What an amazing concept – I’m in love with them, can you tell??
In the evenings, two more special touches surprised and delighted our crew. A beautiful “honor bar” opened up each night in the hotel, in a posh and airy room that felt like a luxurious parlor from a bygone era. You can mix any cocktail you like, jot down what you used on a checklist, and hand it in at the front desk to be added to your room charges. Easy-peasy!
We also appreciated the nightly “Bonsoir” knock on our suite door, where a smiling staff person handed us candies and wished us a lovely evening. What better way to end the day, than with candy and kindness?!?
#4: ALL THE LITTLE THINGS
Besides the food (so much of it!), location, price, and amazing amenities of the Bradford Elysees, I want to take a moment and acknowledge the sheer beauty of the place. Along with being well-appointed with every modern convenience (air conditioning, flatscreen cable tv’s, mini fridge, and a 24-hour reception desk), her glorious Parisian charm gleams in every nook and corner. From the carved wood period elevator to portraits of 19th-century owner Lord Bradford and his family adorning the walls, this hotel is steeped in Haussman era flavor and refined decor.
The honor bar room dazzled us with its glass canopy and velvet armchairs, beckoning us to either lively conversation with friends, or a quiet reverie for book reading at the end of a long, busy day jostling crowds of fellow tourists.
Every staff member we encountered was kind, gracious, helpful, and treated us like their most precious guests. Especially Francois, a true gem among the bustling crew that made our stay so special.
Thank you Véronique, Francois, and everyone at the Hotel Bradford Elysees, for an unforgettable Paris experience! I look forward to staying with you again and again, in the future. (Because you’d literally have to pay me to stay anywhere else!) 😉
Cheers & love,
All photos by Amber Daley & Tanya Carnahan
This September 2016, we booked a Style Spy Girl Getaway travel group to New York for shopping, exploring, dining, sightseeing, and some incredible Fashion Week shows. Here is a recap of the incredible time we had together! (Most photos in this post are by ammophotog.)
Who We AreHeather, Jody, Tina, Lisa, Tanya, Amanda, Maria, Amber
Each Style Spy Girl Getaway is a slightly different crew! Some ladies have joined us for every trip, while others pop in and out as they are able to accommodate costs and dates. For New York 2016, we had a wide variety of lovely friends from Idaho, Arizona, and Washington state; bloggers, hair stylists, media pros, entrepreneurs, business owners, and more! Despite our varying backgrounds and hometowns, a love of adventure and girl time bonded us together. ❤
Where We Stayed
Our crew loved coming home each evening to our bright, posh rooms at the Innside New York Hotel by Melia! It was such a calm oasis in the midst of a very busy city; no construction, no crowds, super central location, and easy to catch a cab to anywhere in town. On our first night in town, we met for cocktails, got settled in, and then headed to Times Square for an unforgettable experience in the heart of NYC! Did you know you can shop there all night long? Sephora at 2:00am is a very unique experience! Excuse me, but which lipstick makes me look like Kylie?
Where We Shopped
Where do I begin?? Our goal on this trip was to be inspired by the fashion shows and street style around us, and explore all of the places we don’t have access to in Boise. We started off with a bang, piling into a limousine for a jaunt to Tiffany & Co.on 5th Avenue in downtown New York, where we were served champagne and guided on a private tour of this historic flagship store! We had such a blast, oohing and aahing over all the gorgeous sparkly things, and appreciating the heritage of this iconic American brand.
Throughout the rest of the trip, we explored a wide variety of shopping options, including Bergdorf Goodman (with a Chanelapartment pop-up inside!), Saks Off Fifth, Chanel (of course!!!), as well as street shopping in NOLA, Little Italy, Chinatown, and really cool consignment stores around the area, too.
Of course, the heart and soul of a New York Fashion Week Getaway has to be FASHION SHOWS! We had a blast at two major runway shows on this trip, both of which blew our minds: Macy’s Fashion’s Front Row show (above) starring Arianna Grande, Iris Apfel, Betsey Johnson, and more… and the FTL Moda Show (below) that challenged our hearts and our views of what beauty truly looks like.
First up: Macy’s! This show had everything, from Flo Rida welcoming us to his house, to light-up Samsung wrist bracelets that sparkled and flashed to the music, and Arianna Grande rocking our socks off with her incredible voice and energy. Everyone got swag bags that included whimsical glasses inspired by fashion icon Iris Apfel, along with the Samsung bracelets and other fun tidbits. The fashions rocked, and the show was non-stop high-velocity glam from start to finish!
My personal favorite legendary designer Betsey Johnson wowed us all, when she followed her new collection for Macy’s with a frolicking, joyful sashay down the runway herself, bedecked in stripes, bright colors, and her signature tutu. Jaws dropped and the audience exploded, as she threw herself into an exuberant cartwheel in the middle of the runway, her traditional grand finale move! The 74-year old rocking designer ends each of her shows this way, as a tribute to her personal battle with breast cancer, and commitment to live each day of her life to the fullest!
Our next major show was for FTL Moda, featuring a variety of stunning and inspiring fashion designers! The entire evening was about diversity, culture, identity, beauty, and courage. We saw half-veiled faces, live snakes (!), and one brave and stunning model who was missing part of an arm, but used the other to literally carry the word “RESPECT” with her down the runway. That moment was deeply moving in itself, but nothing could prepare us for what came next…
Acid attack survivor Reshma Bano Qureshi, who was only 17 when a vicious attack by her own brother-in-law destroyed her left eye and half her face, stepped out onto the runway. She’s 19 now, and the second she appeared, bedecked in a white gown by Mumbai-based designer Archana Kochhar, all the air left the room… I can’t speak for every woman, only myself, but my heart shattered in a million pieces when she appeared! In that moment, she stood facing the world, with tears in her eyes and scars tracing the grooves of her skin… In that moment, she was every one of us; every woman who has ever been a victim, or been afraid, or suffered injustice… In that moment, she squared her shoulders and marched down the runway, towards the crowds and flashing lights, and showed us all what true courage looks like. And our hearts marched with her.
Reshma, you are my hero!
Click here to read more about her campaign to help other women like herself here: MAKE LOVE NOT SCARS!
Girls’ Nights Out!
One of our favorite things about adventuring in New York was the nightlife. We adore our walkable downtown Boise, but one thing that’s lacking back home is rooftop nightclubs. Trust me; get a group of women standing on an open high-rise balcony overlooking a glittering Empire State Building and all the lights & sounds of NYC, and magic will happen! Every place we went was stunning and unique, from 230 Fifth Avenue to The Skylark. Some nights we walked, some we Ubered, and a couple we ended up deciding a limo was the best way to travel! Whatever the reason, or the destination, we all had a BLAST. Thank you NYC for taking such good care of us!
Of course, you haven’t seen The Big Apple, until you’ve walked in Central Park. With it’s acres of grassy knolls, regal trees, ponds, pathways, and explorers, it’s easy to see why this place is considered such a magical oasis to its residents. Once you’re in it, the Park is far bigger than you realize! We loved lunch in the center, at The Loeb Boathouse, right on the water. While we waited for our main course little turtles paddled up to the edge of our feet, vying with huge fish for dropped crumbs! Most of the time, the fish won.
We had a great adventure aboard the Hornblower sightseeing cruise as well, learning about the history of this gorgeous city from it’s stunning bay. We saw the Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building, World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial, and of course the Statue of Liberty. All around us were visitors from across the globe, gathering to gaze upon her welcoming face and outstretched arm! We had no idea, mere months ago, all of the changes that a newly-elected president would soon enact on our nation’s borders… For us in that moment, as we stood contemplating those who came before us – our grandfathers and grandmothers from every nation of the world who came to these shores seeking freedom and a better life – we were deeply proud to be Americans. ❤
In all, we had 6 days in NYC, and we seized every opportunity to make the most of it! At the end of the week we were exhausted, but headed home with our bags packed with fashion souvenirs, our cameras full of once-in-a-lifetime selfies, and a new sisterhood of friends forged by our shared New York minute.
Until the next adventure, ladies, cheers and hugs!!!
Do YOU want to join the Style Spy Girl #TravelPosse on our next adventure?
It’s open an any and every woman who’d like to adventure with us!
Click below to find out about our next epic trip: AMSTERDAM AND PARIS, SUMMER 2017!!!
Earlier this month, I shared the Why behind my girls-only Fashion Getaways: Empowering women to travel! To recap, I believe magic happens when you step out of your comfort zone, your city, and your culture. Your eyes see something new, and your heart expands to take it in. Travel changes you; it makes you stronger, but it also makes you see the world as more accessible! (View the full Part 1: Why article HERE!)
Now,I’d like to explain How we’re making it all happen! My goal is to plan at least two trips per year, one domestic/US trip and one international, loosely based on the Fashion Week calendar of Spring and Fall.
For 2017, I am currently putting together TWO Fashion Getaways. The first is an early-summer Amsterdam & Paris trip – which I’ll release information about SOON – so those of you who want to come can purchase your airline tickets while they’re less expensive!
Then for the domestic/US trip, later in the year, say Aloha! to a tropical getaway to Honolulu Fashion Week. This Getaway will be in the Fall, with luaus, exploring, beaches, poolside cocktails, shopping, hula dancing, snorkeling, and much more. My mouth is already watering for Kahlua Pork and Mai Thais, is yours?
So here is the big question:
How are we going to empower each woman to have the fashion/cultural/empowering adventure that she wants?
BY GIVING YOU CHOICES
Beginning with the Amsterdam/Paris 2017 trip, the Style Spy Girl team will create itineraries that have a daily scheduled group activity (a fashion week show, dinner reservations, etc.), most likely in the evening. During the morning and afternoon, we will incorporate YOUR wishlist/bucket list items(if you will be on this trip, please write in and tell us what those are!) into the schedule.It’s important to note: these will be optional activities that each woman can sign up for, or you can choose to have free time instead!
This information will be provided weeks in advance, so you can plan ahead and decide exactly how much alone time, group time, shopping time, and sightseeing time YOU are interested in, and how much you want to budget for each of those things. It puts the power in your hands to create the adventure you want, and you can plan exactly how much you want to spend doing it.
So, tell me: where in the world do you want to go?
And what do you want to see/do/eat/hear/watch/experience while you’re there? Click reply to email me back, and let’s keep the conversation going, or connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
The world is ours to explore – so let’s hop on board, babes! 🙂
Come with me, and together we can #GlobeTrotLikeAGirl!
It’s time for an update! You may have heard about theladies-only Fashion Getaways I launched last year. If you want to know the How, What, and Why behind these trips, read on…
For starters, a heartfelt THANK YOU for your feedback — to you who have been on excursions with me and those who are interested in joining future trips!
I’ve heard everything from “I’d love more shopping time!” to “There’s too much shopping; I’d prefer to sit in a café and absorb the culture!” and “Will there be more fashion shows?” or “I don’t want to dress up and do fashion shows every night; let’s just relax and go get dinner!”
The truth is, I want all my travel companions to have a wonderful time on every getaway we plan! On our way home from our recent New York trip, while thinking through all we accomplished and ways we could improve, I had an epiphany: Yes, we really can do it all, and I know exactly how we’re going to do it! But before I share the How, I’d like to share some of the reasons Why we’re doing this in the first place…
What’s the goal of Fashion Getaways?
Is it all about fashion shows? No. Is it all about shopping? No. Are we a glam squad that always looks amazing and camera-ready? I’ll answer that as soon as I stop laughing… um, definitely no!
NYC was honestly a lot of shorts, t-shirts, and sneakers — and we did our best to comfortably explore the city during a surprise heat wave. Humidity in the Big Apple is no joke!
I started Fashion Getaways because I want to empower women to travel.
Here’s the thing: this means ALL WOMEN. Yes, all women are welcome on these getaways — women of every age, style, and demographic.
I believe magic happens when you step out of your comfort zone, your city, and your culture. Your eyes see something new, and your heart expands to take it in. You encounter challenges and rise up to meet them. You figure out how to navigate a new city, explore new food, see historic landmarks, meet people that aren’t really as different from you as you might have thought, and embark on adventures you never would have encountered back home.
And travel changes you! It makes you stronger, but it also makes you see the world as more accessible. It helps you realize that you can go almost anywhere, and do anything you want! And how much more fun is it to do with a group of adventurous women?
But more than that, I am passionate about traveling, having new cultural experiences, and empowering women to have life-changing adventures! This is what I hope to achieve with these Fashion Getaways; to bring together ladies of all ages and backgrounds – even strangers! – who share a love of travel. I want to see women experience the world in their own unique ways, and I want to create adventures that make it all possible.
Come globetrot with me… watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle and shine, learn to hula dance in Honolulu, eat a cone of fries “mit mayo” while walking the cobblestone streets of Amsterdam, listen to street music on the sidewalks in New Orleans, watch a sunset from the breezy beaches of Greece… and yes, do a little (or a lot of!) shopping along the way. Because we’re girls, and that’s how we roll!
Stay tuned for my next update… when I explain How — and describe the exciting ways we’re making all of this happen!
I’ll be releasing details regarding a women’s trip to Amsterdam and Paris VERY soon, so make sure to connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
Come with me, and together we can #GlobeTrotLikeAGirl!
If you are among those jetting off on vacation this summer, you’ll likely have to endure many of the hassles of flying: baggage check-in, security, flight delays, layovers and the eternal baggage claim carousel.
Some of these things are unavoidable. However, there is one major way you can cut down on the vacation time you spend stuck in an airport while beaches beckon you: Pack everything in carry-ons.
Seriously, you can do it. This spring I traveled to London, Amsterdam and Paris with my husband and was determined to only take what I could carry quickly through an airport: my carry-on and a cute backpack.
My husband laughed when I stated this intention; he knows that as a fashion blogger I feel compelled to always dress well for the hundreds of photos I’ll be taking as we travel. He also knows I have a particularly passionate habit of accumulating fashion treasures along the way and once or twice have had to purchase extra luggage to bring it all home with me!
Not this time, I vowed, because I’m writing a book of travel tips for women adventuring abroad, and I had to make this work.
And if this little shopping-crazy fashionista could manage two weeks abroad in a carry-on and a backpack, so can you!
1. Mix and Match
Don’t take your favorite outfits; only take things that match each other. Focus on multi-functional pieces. I found a breezy swimsuit cover-up at Target (pictured above) that also looks great with a tank top and jeans or thrown over a dress. It’s a neutral color, too, so it goes with everything. Great for the beach, exploring and shopping, or a night out on the town.
Photo by Valerie Davenport / Swimsuit cover-up from Target / Sandals by Dolce Vita, Nordstrom / Bags by COACH
2. Go Monochromatic
Pick three colors, and I mean it. My “Eurotrip” suitcase had only black, white and gray in it. Somber, yes — but with my intentionally blank canvas, I had plenty of room to add accent colors and fun accessories along the way. A blue scarf here, a red umbrella there and a pretty cardigan or patterned handbag to seal the deal!
3. Ditch the Big Coat
Unless you’re vacationing to snow, pick the most versatile layering jacket out of your closet and wear it on the plane. That saves space in your luggage and gives you a blanket of sorts to stay warm on a long flight or a pillow to cuddle with.
(Bonus tip: Wear all of your largest items on the plane. Not only does this give you options to make yourself more comfortable on long flights, but it also saves room in your carry-on for more compact items. )
4. Leave Behind the Bling
Leave diamond rings (and other high-end jewelry) at home, in a locked safe or with someone you trust. Even in many modern European countries, for example, diamond wedding sets are not customary; most folks wear simple bands. Major bling can quickly brand you as an American tourist and might cause people to make assumptions about your wealth.
When I travel, I wear a small silver band I bought for $3 at Charming Charlie and leave my fine jewelry with a trusted friend. I also take only three necklaces: one small piece, one multi-strand chunkier piece and one multi-layered piece. That way, every neckline in my suitcase is covered.
5. Take 2 Pairs of Shoes, Period
You really only need one pair of comfortable walking shoes and one dressier heel or wedge. You can buy cheap flip-flops just about anywhere in the world if you really need something extra for the beach — and then leave them behind before you head home.
6. Pack everything inside everything else
On my Europe trip, I discovered I could fit six pairs of rolled-up socks in each of my favorite ankle boots. Six! I can also fit 6-7 pairs of underwear in one ankle boot as well. Look for unused nooks & crannies for extra space! I chose a small second purse for evenings out ,and found to my delight that my ziplocked toiletries fit perfectly inside it. No additional toiletry bag needed!
I also learned I could fit my everyday handbag into my backpack, with more toiletries and extra gear on top, so I had a total of three purse options for my trip, ranging from mini to large, each one compactly nestled inside the other.
Another great option is to purchase a specific compact multi-functional travel bag, like the one I bought (below) from Coach at Boise Towne Square, to use for trips. It’s a wallet, handbag, phone holder and clutch all in one!
Don’t bring all your toiletries; only take samples. Every time I shop for beauty products, I end up with extra trial samples from stores like Sephora and Macy’s that I use for traveling. Not only are they compact and disposable, but I also enjoy the adventure of trying new things as part of my travels. “Good morning, London! Let’s see how these ‘Revitalizing Moisture’ under-eye strips help with my jetlag!”
You can also buy things wherever you travel. Plus, it’s fun to explore new products. A need for facial moisturizer in Paris led me to find some amazing new brands of skin care that I never would have discovered had I brought my own.
(Bonus tip: Many larger beauty shops and department stores all over the world will give you neatly packaged samples of products you’d like to try. Run out of conditioner? Ask for a sample. It might hold you over for the trip and help you discover something new.)
8. Ship it
If you’re anything like me, you’re likely to accumulate things as you travel. You can certainly purchase a suitcase inexpensively in most tourist markets, but don’t forget the convenience of global postal services.
I lived in Amsterdam when I was a teenager, and some of my best memories of that city were exploring all the incredible candies and chocolates made there. This winter I had the opportunity to return with my husband for the first time in many years.I visited a local grocery store, filled a massive box to the brim with all the stroopwafels, kinderspekken, drop (licorice) and gummy things I could find and walked straight to the post office to ship it all home. We had such a blast at home a few weeks later, opening up all that yummy stuff and explaining it to my kids.
(Bonus tip: If you’re shopping in high-end boutiques or department stores abroad, ask about shipping. Some shops will let you buy an item and will mail it home for you.)
When you’re on vacation, you really don’t need as much as you think. People won’t notice how often you’ve worn an outfit. Do laundry if you need to, but keep your luggage light. You never know when you might discover an awesome new treasure to bring home — and you’ll be glad you have room for it!
Watch how it all goes together, in my video tutorial on How to Pack Light, below!