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Chicago, IL

Renaissance Girl is a Chicago lifestyle blog for every twenty-something and millenial, which focuses on fashion, beauty, food, career, travel and events

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Style

Pantone Colors of the Year: Rose Quartz & Serenity

Laura

Rose Quartz and Serenity Blue were chosen as this year's coveted Pantone Colors of the Year. Last year I featured an outfit incorporating the most important color of the year, marsala, so this year I wanted to provide some interior design ideas. 

Let go of your stress by utilizing Rose Quartz, which brings the energy rays of determination, commitment and caring while aiding in the effort to reflect and meditate. The color is a healing hue that brings a sense of faith and hope all in the vicinity of your home. Serenity provides us with a naturally connected sense of space with a calming effect, bringing a feeling of respite even in moments of distress. 

Rose Quartz & Serenity Color Ideas for Interiors

  1. Geometric shapes on the wall using these paint colors is a great way for a conversation piece, minimalist interest, and the #colorchic soft POP you're looking for.
  2. Why do you need to stick to just paint on the walls? For another maximum wow factor, why not paint a piece of furniture in one of these tones. In an all neutral room, the impact of an all pink or blue piece of furniture can really stand out and make a statement.
  3. For your styling toppers, find some old books around the house or from a flea market/thrift store and paint them in these tones.  An all monochromatic palette of books on top of a surface can really add interest to a space and even look like something you'd see in a gallery.
  4. Want another simple DIY? Black & White photography is also a huge trend right now in design, especially in #colorchic rooms. Take one of these tones and paint a frame. Then put your favorite B&W image in it for a really #chic contrast of minimalist and modern. Even a print of florals or plant life would look great with these tones!

5 Best Dressed Oscar Stars

Laura

Old school elegance seemed to dominate the red carpet at this year's most anticipated event. So to round up my top five favorites, here are my five best dressed Hollywood icons:

  1. Jennifer Lawrence in a Dior Haute Couture dress and Chopard jewelry
  2. Charlize Theron in a Dior Haute Couture dress and Harry Winston jewelry
  3. Leonardo DiCaprio in a Giorgio Armani Suit and Christian Louboutin shoes
  4. Lady Gaga in Brandon Maxwell and Lorraine Schwartz jewelry
  5. Daisy Ridley in a Chanel Haute Couture dress, Chanel Fine Jewelry, and Christian Louboutin shoes

What are your favorites?

Photos: Getty Images

Hannah Davis Gives Back With BANGS Shoes

Laura

When learning the concept of a new company, one might wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?” And that notion describes our thoughts on Hannah Davis, founder and president of BANGS Shoes. BANGS means help in Mandarin, because BANGS Shoes helps start business all over the world.

Davis was figuring out what she wanted to do in life when the idea dawned on her. “I was 22 when I came up with the idea for BANGS Shoes, at that age when people have a strong sense of idealism and the world is at your fingertips.” After gaining experience as a collegiate brand ambassador and seeing economical problems throughout the world, she wanted to make a positive impact on the global economy.

“Starting my company stemmed from my pull to want to make the world a better place.” Davis took action by creating a business model that strengthens local economies and supports entrepreneurs. BANGS invests 20% of net profits with micro-finance organizations who distribute small loans to help people start businesses in the US and around the world.

Hannah Davis. Photographed by Mariah Channing.


At Clemson, Davis studied abroad and fell in love with traveling. Davis also was a brand ambassador for Feel Good, a 100% nonprofit organization and an autonomous ambassador program all in one. Students who are Feel Good ambassadors ultimately raise money that was invested in organizations designed to eradicate hunger. According to Davis, the experience was invaluable, because it taught her not only the importance of philanthropy, but also the intricacies of how to build a business from the ground up. She explained further how it inspired her and fellow students, “This ambassador model is super effective in reaching people who want to make a difference.”

So after graduation, when the economy was spiraling downward and kids in top universities couldn’t land jobs, she signed a contract to teach English in China and attend law school after teaching. However, teaching in China changed the course of her life forever, because the sight of widespread poverty struck her. This caused her to think how she could make a difference in the lives of people all over the world.

In China, Davis also noticed that many middle-class workers wore the same type of military canvas shoes. These shoes were all in the same olive green monochromatic design, and she found the look fascinating. In fact, so much, that she used the design as inspiration for her own products under BANGS Shoes.

For this particular company, the planning and designing magic happens in Brooklyn, New York for several reasons. Like many successful businesses, the company is consciously thriving in the big apple. Davis noted several of the reasons behind their location, “There are just so many resources in New York; press, graphic designers, photographers.” What else would one need?

Since Davis was born and raised and currently works on the east coast, most of the BANGS Shoes following is eastward. But like any business owner starting in the east, she is aiming for westward expansion. This will widen the reach of BANGS Shoes within the United States and overseas, making their positive impact even greater.

Building a company requires blood, sweat and tears. And thinking back on her journey, Davis surmises, “It’s okay to ask for help, and you should ask for help every chance you get. A lot of people don’t want to ask for help because they feel like they’re being a burden. There are a million excuses for why you shouldn’t ask for help. I would encourage entrepreneurs to identify what they’re not good at, and ask for help in areas where they’re not the strongest.” Well said. If that isn’t inspiring enough to make you follow your dreams, Davis has profound advice to young professionals, “It’s never going to be perfect. Just do it.”

Grammys Fashion Recap

Laura

From suits to bandeaus, there were plenty of worthy risks at this year's 2016 Grammys. So in honor of these ensembles, here are my five favorites from modern music royalty:

  1. Ellie Goulding in Stella McCartney with Bulgari jewelry
  2. Jack Antonoff in a suit
  3. Taylor Swift in Versace with Lorraine Schwartz jewelry
  4. Demi Lovato in Norisol Ferrari, a Mouawad necklace, and Loree Rodkin jewelry
  5. Ariana Grande in Romona Keveza

Which are your favorites?


Golden Globes Fashion Recap

Laura

Per usual, the Golden Globes had an amazing roundup of custom dresses this year from Dior to Louis Vuitton. And Chic Sketch created some gorgeous sketches of the top ensembles that I wanted to share with you. Each creation is individually designed by an artist at Chic Sketch, making each a chic work of art. My favorite is Jennifer Lawrence, what's yours?

Kate Hudson

Kate Hudson

Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez

Jenna Dewan-Tatum

Jenna Dewan-Tatum

Zendaya

Zendaya

Teraji P. Henson

Teraji P. Henson

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox

Alicia Vikander

Alicia Vikander

Malin Akerman

Malin Akerman

Take Back Your Winter Style

Laura

Okay, so I live in Chicago, one of the coldest cities come winter time. It doesn't help that we live right off one of the largest lakes in the country with lake-effect wind, snow, sleet, etc, which really exacerbates any weather we already have. Lake Michigan just puts our bad weather on steroids.

With that being said, it's a true art form to gracefully bundle up in the windy city. Thus, I wanted to share some beautiful trench overcoats made with super-toasty wool. There is literally nothing warmer than wool and nothing classier than a trench. Pair one of these with a warm scarf and hat and you'll be covered up and back to your stylish self.

Warm Getaway Style Essentials

Laura

With the weather getting colder and winter looming here in Chicago, I'm dreaming of a warm getaway. It's a tough adjustment to lose the warm and sunny winters that I loved in Arizona! I'm dreaming of a warm vacation back in Arizona, Florida or even California. These pretty little things are at the top of my it list for a warm vacation.

These cute round shades by Ray Ban are the perfect mix of retro and modern, and this Moroccan-inspired suit by Wala Swim is perfect for a getaway. I'd pair that with a leather Madewell tote and some leather Vince Camuto Sandals and voilà, vacances instantanée!

Lady Gaga's Dog Teams up With Coach

Laura

As a PR lady with experience in marketing & advertising, I analyze ads on a regular basis; in my free time watching TV and movies, listening to the radio, etc. So I wanted to share one of my latest favorites.

One of my favorite brands, Coach, is launching its latest campaign with Lady Gaga's french bulldog, Miss Asia Kinney. Asia elegantly models the Edie and the Rucksack bags from the Fall 2015 star collection. This campaign has it all: adorable dogs, beautiful accessories, an engaging social component and philanthropy.

coach pups

The campaign celebrates the dogs in our lives and captures the pups’ unique personalities. Additional pups staring in the campaign will be revealed shortly, and Coach has made a donation to Chicago French Bulldog Rescue on behalf of Miss Asia Kinney.

Lady Gaga commented: “I am so proud of Miss Asia! She's a natural in front of the camera, and we're both so excited that the iconic Steven Meisel shot her for Coach's pup campaign! I really love getting to watch my best friend be a star.”
 
Stuart Vevers, Creative Director at Coach also noted, “'I’ve never had so much fun on a shoot. We wanted to create playful images that make you smile. That’s a spirit that’s uniquely at the heart of Coach." 
 
You can see these pretty images in print, online and outdoor come July.

Fashion for a Rainy Day

Laura

Living in the Windy City, I have to be prepared for my fair share of unpredictable weather. Accordingly, my current uniform is a combination of waterproof boots, slim pants, a sweater, a trench coat and of course a waterproof bag. I kind of love dressing up for rainstorms because there's just something so Audrey about a classic trench. So without further adieu, these are my favorite picks for a quintessential rainy day ensemble.

Designer Alyssa Kristin Chases her Dreams

Laura

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Alyssa Kristin, Chicago-based bridal designer, about her journey to becoming a designer for FELIX Magazine. She is honestly one of the most caring, bubbly and talented people that I have met, so I wanted to share her amazing story here on Renaissance Girl.

renaissance girl

Not only does this designer call one of the most exclusive design residency programs in the country home, she does so with no formal design degree.

Alyssa Kahle is the uber-talented owner and designer of Alyssa Kristin, a Chicago-based bridal design company. Kahle earned her bachelor’s in Accounting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business. She always wanted to be a designer, so she took a few fashion courses in college, including color theory and fashion illustration.

renaissance girl

After earning her bachelor’s degree, Kahle sewed little gifts for her family in her free time. She found sewing fascinating, and delved into deconstructing garments to see how they were made. And after meeting the man of her dreams, she had a wedding to plan but couldn’t find the right dress. So unlike most women who search endlessly for the perfect gown, Kahle took it upon herself to make her own wedding dress. This entailed painstaking research and constant hours of hand-stitching patterns.

The impeccable dress Kahle wore at her wedding was ultimately the catalyst of what is now Alyssa Kristin. After getting hitched, she soon thereafter learned of an amazing program called the Chicago Fashion Incubator. This fashion design residency gives designers two years at the State Street Macy’s to develop their fashion designs, and thus begin successful businesses. The program accepts designers of all backgrounds, from self-taught to formally trained in fashion school.

However, the application to the Chicago Fashion Incubator required Kahle to submit five of her fully developed designs. Kahle only had her wedding dress, so she took on the grueling task of making four more dresses in just three weeks. This meant sleeping very little and not seeing her husband. “You have to be overly optimistic to the point where people think you’re crazy, and you have to keep thinking positive until you turn your vision into a reality.” But her blood, sweat and tears paid off, because she was joyfully accepted into the program.

What makes Alyssa Kristin a unique company is Kahle’s insistence on building a design around a bride’s own favorite feature. Whether a collarbone or back, Kahle lets a bride choose the dress silhouette and anything her heart desires from pockets to removable elements like skirts or straps, so she can go from wedding to reception in a snap.

Kahle wants Alyssa Kristin to be in four boutiques by end of year. As she says to any aspiring designers, “Never give up, it’s not going to be easy. Keep your head up and keep working, it’s all going to pay off.” Her next collection is named Feel the Love, which was inspired by glamorous fabric and embellishments, combined with what women need in a functional wedding gown. And if Kahle’s exceptional designs thus far are any indication, this will be the first of many highly anticipated collections.

Alyssa Kristin. Photographed by Megija Vevere. Hair Stylist: Mia Millonzi. Makeup Artist: Desi Dusenberry. Assistant: Alex Stalter.

Mixing Classic + Trendy

Laura

It's time to make room for color in your closet! A simple yet elegant look like this has the perfect hint of color for spring, and can go from day to night. This particular look is a gorgeous and subtle mix of classic and trendy pieces. 

A long pink coat is the latest it-girl item, so get it before it’s gone! Even though so many are sold out at various retailers, this Topshop blush coat is the perfect way to add color to your spring wardrobe. Try draping it over your shoulders to show off these other awesome pieces.

These Topshop cigarette trousers are versatile and slimming, thus perfect for any event. And when you invest in high-quality shoes like these Valentino pumps, you don’t have to buy a cheap pair every other month. Next, a billowy top is the perfect companion for slimming trousers, so invest in one like this Ann Tayor Popover Blouse.

If your budget doesn't allow for investment pieces, Nordstrom Rack and Last Call are awesome places to find these designers at clearance prices. With these essentials, you'll gracefully transition into pretty pastels.

New York Fashion Week Recap

Laura

I was recently in Manhattan for New York Fashion Week. At NYFW, it’s standard for women to show off the creme de la creme of their wardrobe. So Chanel handbags, YSL stilettos and fur coats were the norm. It was under 10 degrees my first day there, and I luckily had warm Chanel slacks for a show and presentation. But the rest of my wardrobe was less than cozy.

It was so cold that editors and bloggers missed fashion shows; I guess Renaissance Girl just had to represent! Plus, it will be interesting to see F/W NYFW this year, since Mercedes Benz backed out and the Lincoln Center is no longer hosting. 

Aside from fashion, my favorite thing about NYC was the food. This mega-city has any cuisine you can imagine; Southern, French, Korean, Italian, etc. So I took the liberty of trying pho, oysters, lobster rolls, deli sandwiches, macarons, New York style pizza, and more. The foodie scene definitely made me feel more at home. 

At the end of the week, I learned so much about NYC, the fashion industry and entrepreneurship. It was exciting, fulfilling, eye-opening and exhausting all at the same time. That being said, seeing the Chicago skyline as I descended into my hometown was a sight for sore eyes.


NYFW Spring '15 Trends

Laura

Now that a successful Spring 2015 New York Fashion Week has come to an end, it's time to analyze the most prominent trends exemplified by some of the greatest designers around. I had the pleasure of sitting front row at a few shows, so I'm thankful for the good views of such amazing designs. 

For starters, one of the biggest trends for Fall/Winter 2015 collections was color variation. At Honor, frothy pastel colors graced the catwalk. At Leanne Marshall, wearable evening gowns were designed in classic fall shades of gold, ruby, maroon and burnt orange. But Vera Wang showcased timeless black and white designs for her Fall/Winter 2015 collection.

The second biggest trend at Spring 2015 New York Fashion Week was the use and variation of textures. Lightweight fabrics such as silk and chiffon was used for garments ranging from evening wear to blazers. This refreshing take on cold-weather style has me excited for an enlightened season ahead. 

Planning for New York Fashion Week

Laura

So, remember how I wrote about my desire to go to New York City in 2015? Well, I'm thrilled to say that I am going to New York City for New York Fashion Week!

In years past, I've been told by many friends and colleagues that I simply belong in NYC. Being from Chicago, I believe that the neighborhoods, culture and transportation systems of the windy city are good crash courses for learning the ropes of traveling around and understanding New York City. 

Getty Images

Getty Images

I will stay in Manhattan for a grand total of eight days, so I have a laundry list of things that I'd like to do on the island. I can't wait to write about my New York Fashion Week adventures here on Renaissance Girl! I know there are places to explore other than Manhattan, but this is my short list of things to see in the capital of food and fashion.

Shop.

  • Garment District
  • Dylan's Candy Bar
  • Chelsea Market
  • Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Sephora Flagship

Eat.

  • Beauty and Essex
  • Rosemary's
  • ABC Kitchen
  • Luke's Lobster
  • Katz's Delicatessen

Wander.

  • NYFW Runway Shows
  • Central Park
  • Empire State Building

What are your favorite things to in New York City?

Pantone Color of the Year: Marsala

Laura

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty obsessed with Pantone's color of the year for 2015, named marsala. It's a beautiful burgundy-meets-red wine that's easy to incorporate into almost any outfit. Thus, this mood board I created on Polyvore incorporates some pretty marsala items.

renaissance girl

I currently own a Calvin Klein bag, Ann Taylor loafers and Nordstrom cardigan in this rich hue, and I just added a gorgeous new dress to my marsala collection! I found the cutest dress in a floral print and marsala trim by 81 Poppies at Hasana in Chicago. It's made of silk so it's super breathable and comfy. I can wear it lounging at home or out with leggings, a jacket and booties. In the warmer months ahead, I look forward to wearing it by itself without leggings or a coat! How do you love to rock the color of the year?

Fashion Forward: Lauren Cecchi New York

Laura

This fall/winter, I've been so lucky to write for Lauren Cecchi New York, a fabulous handbag designer in New York City. After marveling over her well-crafted products for months, I have learned a lot about accessories and craftsmanship. Thus, I was recently thrilled to obtain a blush cardholder from Lauren Cecchi New York. Shortly thereafter, I was overtly thrilled when I could call one of her signature bags my own!

This blush Mezzo handbag with silver accents is the epitome of grace. Not only do the handles disappear on command, but they adjust from short to long like a shoulder tote or even a cross-body messenger bag. This is easily the most versatile and beautiful handbag that I've seen, because it's classy and subtle while still maintaining the aesthetic of a modern statement piece. If you need a gorgeous handbag to hold your essentials, the Sorella is a beautiful option as well.

Lauren Cecchi consciously designs and creates her handbags in America with impeccable Argentinian leather. Her latest collection includes keychains, cardholders, clutches, and handbags of every style for any occasion. With colors like lipstick red, blush, rose gold, chocolate and black, every woman could use a sophisticated, all-around handbag from Lauren Cecchi New York.

Chicago Fashion Soirée

Laura

I love being a part of Windy City Blogger Collective, a fun organization that provides great events and opportunities for Chicago bloggers. WCBC threw a fun holiday shopping party recently at Del Frisco's in downtown Chicago. It had a great turnout, with fashion, beauty, food and travel bloggers alike! There were fun stations to get made over, with Dream Dry doing ladies' hair and Benefit giving makeup touchups.

In addition to the beauty stations, there was plenty of room for fashion and style. My love for clothing and accessories at Renaissance Girl was in good company, because there were some gorgeous stands of fashionable clothes, pretty jewelry and cute accessories.

Not only did I get my hair curled by Dream Dry and my eyeliner touched up by Benefit, I indulged in some great fare! Drink Fashionably made a delicious punch which was so decadent that it was topped with rose petals! There were also little hors d'oeuvres and dessert bites, in addition to delicious red wine and champagne courtesy of Del Frisco's. Cheers to the holidays!

Photos courtesy of Donna Binbek/Donna Binbek Photography.com

Fashion + Beauty at Macy's

Laura

I'm really honored to participate in Macy's National Believe Day tomorrow on behalf of Renaissance Girl, in which Macy's will grant 50 wishes across the country for Make-A-Wish Foundation kids. At the Macy's on State Street in Chicago tomorrow, a young girl named Chelsea is getting her wish granted. She will arrive in style in a limo, get a makeover at Clinique, have a personal shopping appointment throughout Macy's, and tour the Chicago Fashion Incubator, a presentation of locally crafted fashion designs.

macys.jpg

Throughout this event full of beauty, fashion and style, I'll post to social media, so feel free to find me on Twitter and Instagram with the #MacysBelieve and #ChelseaILwith hasthtags. If you want to make a difference in the lives of deserving children but don't know how, take just 30 seconds to send a quick letter to Santa with the click of a mouse. For each letter, Macy's will donate $2 to Make-A-Wish!

Cold Weather Style

Laura

Now that I'm back in Chicago for my first real winter in five years (that's not defined by 75 & sunny days) I have to prepare my thin blood for the winter. I will admit though, it's way more fun to dress for the holidays here than in Arizona. I worked in fashion over the holidays last year, and was required to wear standard holiday clothing; leather boots, wool dresses, leggings and scarves. But that wasn't too fun when I was overheated just by walking around!

Here in Chicago, I'm excited to rebuild my winter wardrobe. I recently got some gorgeous ankle boots that I'm obsessed with, along with some super cute & comfy leopard print pants and a cashmere sweater. I love being able to wear cashmere, scarves, boots and hats again, but I may be singing a different tune come January. Anyways, here are some of my favorite go-to items to stay chic in the cold weather. Wish me luck!

Trend Report: Boots

Laura

Some of the gems in my bootie feature post are no longer available because they were so popular, so I wanted to put together some new picks for those of you who need to stock up on cute fall boots. Because if there’s one trend that reappears in fashion magazines every fall and winter, that would be the latest and greatest boots from various designers. From Burberry to Stuart Weitzman, a chic pair of boots is definitely a fashion investment. But when choosing a fabulous pair of boots, there are a few factors to consider. First, are your future boots for the day, evening, weekend or all of the above? If you need them for the office or cocktails, you should coordinate the style with the occasion. For example, you wouldn’t want to slosh around in clunky rain boots at your desk. Next, choose from heights including short, mid-height, up to the knee or above the knee. Lastly, consider your area’s impending weather. Are you in dry and sunny Los Angeles or soon-to-be-snowy New York?

If you live in a dry climate and don’t have to worry about staining leather, these short beige Isaac Mizrahi are a gorgeous option that can take you from the office to happy hour. For a weekend option to keep your legs warm while grabbing lunch or running errands, these rust-colored and budget-friendly Frye riding boots are ideal. But if you live in a rainy climate and want boots that can sustain moisture, these adorable Burberry rain boots show off Burberry’s classic plaid design with a little embellishment. Lastly, if you want to splurge on an elegant pair of versatile black boots that you can wear almost anywhere and have forever, invest in a pair of Stuart Weitzman up-to-the knee boots because black goes with everything.