Take the Stress Out of Father’s Day Gift Giving

Compensation was provided by T.J. Maxx and Mode Media

One reason my dad is awesome: he will chase down a toddler to get the shot.

One reason my dad is awesome: he will chase down a toddler to get the shot.

Everyone’s dad is the hardest person in the world to buy a gift for, right? I’m pretty sure it’s not just me. But I’ve found a tactic that works for finding great surprises for myself as well as for dad: Go to T.J. Maxx with an open mind, and see what goodies you find.

The merchandise at T.J. Maxx is always changing, and that’s one of the things I love about shopping there. There’s always a sense of discovery. My local T.J. Maxx is right next to the grocery store I visit weekly, so I make it a habit to stop by whether I have something in mind to buy or not.

Last week, I made my regular visit with a vague idea that I needed a Father’s Day gift. I was secretly hoping for some T.J. Maxx magic, but I didn’t want to jinx anything. I casually passed through the men’s clothing—that’s one of the many things he does not need—and headed to the tech gadgets. He loves his iPad, and is a master photographer. He’s got tons of accessories for his DSLR, but he hasn’t experimented much yet with the camera on his tablet. So when I spotted a fish-eye lens made for a mobile device, I snapped it up. Then I spotted a five-piece “task master” tool set, which included a magnetic pick-up tool, carabiner, light-up screwdriver and leveler. It was inexpensive, would be easy to ship to Pennsylvania, and since my dad is doing some kind of odd job around the house pretty much every day, I’m pretty sure he’ll use it often.

Mission accomplished! But no visit to T.J. Maxx is complete without a visit to the home section. I scored a ceramic frying pan—my latest cooking obsession.

I'm so serious: these were a score.

I’m so serious: these were a score.

On my way out, I also grabbed these tortoiseshell sunglasses for myself, plus a white polo shirt in my dad’s size. After all, clothes aren’t always about “need,” right? As usual, T.J. Maxx magic helped me make it work.

maxx savings. maxx style. maxx life.

How to Get Free Tickets to the California College of the Arts Graduation Fashion Show!

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Photos by Stevan Nordstrom

It’s one of my favorite times of year. Not only did some amazing cruise fashion presentations happen in far-flung locales around the world, but here at home in San Francisco, the senior fashion students are putting on their graduate fashion shows. They’re always a ton of fun, and not what you might imagine when you picture a “student” fashion show. We have serious talent in this city, and some of the best will be on display this Friday when the California College of the Arts Fashion Design Program sends their hard work down the runway.

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The CCA campus at 1118 8th Street will become a full-blown runway tomorrow night, and as you can see from these photos taken at previous years’ shows, you won’t want to miss it. You can support the school by purchasing a ticket to attend the event for $40, or $100 for VIP entry, which includes wine and hors d’oeuvres at our a pre-show party from 6:30-7:45. Show starts at 8pm!

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Or, you can win free entry by commenting on this post! Just say hi, or tell me your favorite color, or if you’re feeling creative I really like poems. I will announce the randomly selected lucky winner tomorrow morning! I hope to see you there!

A Backyard Pirate Ship

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Our neighbors two doors down asked if we had seen the boat yet. Not in the ocean, which is just a few blocks away, but in the neighbors’ backyard oba dare (That’s how Frida says “over there.”) We had to tramp through some pretty high grass and, I suspect, some poison sumac. But our short hike led to a pirate ship, complete with a mast and sails, a ship’s wheel, and a bin of clothes for dressing up like pirates! Ahoy mateys!

Frida was in heaven, even though she fell off the ladder trying to get down out of the boat (I feyl off boat! I feyl off boat! Was her refrain the rest of the evening.). Two little boys came tearing out of the neighbor’s house, followed by their sweet mom, who invited us to come play on the boat anytime.

As you can see, I was wearing an unconventional outfit. I grabbed this blazer on the way out of the house because there was a little chill in the air. And I don’t usually hike in my Freda Salvador booties, but sometimes when a toddler is involved, you have to favor speed over appropriateness. Anyway, slightly inappropriate is better than bland, right? Arrr!

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What’s in Your Bag for Spring Break?

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I’ve collaborated on a video with Glam to talk about a topic near and dear to my heart: spring break. The truth this year mine will be spent welcoming a new member of our family in to our home and my vacation will likely come in July, when I’ll finally pack up this cute BluKicks bag with my favorite Mara Hoffman kaftan and a few other essentials and lounge for hours on the warm sand.

Watching the video made me realize some serious sunscreen would also be vital, like Maria emphasized in her segment, and a giant hat like Nkechi mentions. Both of them and the Glam crew were so much fun on set, can’t wait to do it again! What are your essentials for spring break?

One Reason for Wearing a New White Shirt to Play With a Toddler

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Photos by Kourosh Karimkhany

We’ve had a lot of house guests recently, one of which will soon become permanent. My office/closet is the default guest room, so when someone is visiting, I have to grab everything I’ll need out of there for the length of their visit. I always, always forget something (of course I do), and end up sneaking back into the room for underwear or deodorant or whatever. On this particular day, we were trying to get out the door for a walk and I realized I had no shirts available, except for this Tommy Hilfiger one I had just bought at Nordstrom (on sale!). I threw it on even though it was pristine white and we were heading to the park with Frida. File it under reasons why a mom might wear a crisp white button down to the park with her toddler. I’m happy to report it survived the trip shockingly dirt-free.

It’s all good incentive to get started on the massive reorganization in my near future. It’ll be much easier when everything is in one place. Danny of Key & Kite Woodworking is building me a clothing rack that I’m pretty excited about, and I have some Ikea visits that I’m much less excited about in my future!

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Wearing: White shirt by Tommy Hilfiger, similar here,The Stevie Jeans by Goldsign, Stella McCartney for Adidas shoes, similar here, Ralph Lauren sunglasses, similar here.

The Importance of Being Nice

Erin Kleinberg with her The Coveteur  co-founder Stephanie Mark in 2011 at Lucky FABB.

Erin Kleinberg with her The Coveteur co-founder Stephanie Mark in 2011 at Lucky FABB.

Yesterday’s Huffington Post interview with Erin Kleinberg is short and super sweet. I love her tips on succeeding in fashion, in particular the parts about being nice and doing time in retail.

I hate to admit it, but it hasn’t always been easy for me to be nice. I’ve worked in many jobs in the service industry including as a waitress and barista, and sometimes I wanted to tell my customers to shove it. Especially the caffeine addicted coffee people! There was one guy who came in every day and barked his order like a Marine colonel: LARGE DOUBLE CAP LOW FAT NO FOAM! No please, no thank you, just the tiny cafe filled with his bass vocals. After a couple weeks days I really could not muster a smile for this guy. As a waitress, I was hopeless. My customers were as miserable as I was and my attitude sucked.

I also worked in retail, where you had to at least paste a fake smile on your face. I tried to be genuinely happy—after a 12-year career in tech and science journalism I was working in fashion! I learned quickly that this was not my place in the industry. Bossy, cranky shopper vibes and intensely sore feet and legs were not my jam.

I think it was my job as an administrative assistant that taught me that you get farther, faster by being nice—genuinely nice. I still have a troublesome weakness for road rage, but when it comes to work, I am nice (I swear!). It has a lot to do with the fact that I now like what I’m doing.

So I get what Ms. Kleinberg is saying—being nice has major perks, and working in retail is important, if only to figure out that you hate it.

Team Seventies!

The trend everyone (including myself) is talking about the most coming out of fashion month is the seventies trend. It’s music to my ears, because seventies style lives on in my heart and mind forever and always. But knowing that I’ve got lots of people on my team makes it even more fun.

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And even though the February shows were for fall, I’m ready NOW to rock my wide-leg denim and billowy blouses. I’m also seeing turtlenecks everywhere, and I never thought I’d say it, but I’m excited to rock some turtlenecks! Here are some items I’ll be stocking up on for San Francisco’s spring, summer/winter, Indian summer—basically the rest of the year, which regardless of our complaints, doesn’t fluctuate in average temperature more than 10 degrees in a year.

Line Cove Turtleneck, $74

Weekday Cut-High Flared, Cropped Jeans, $65

Freda Salvador Free Fringed Suede Sandals, $495 (on sale!)

Etro long beaded necklace, $261

American Apparel iridescent clutch, $71 (on sale!)

How Bob Dylan Inspired a Timeless Men’s Fashion Collection

Bob Dylan by Richard Avedon, 1065

Bob Dylan by Richard Avedon, 1065

Last year I started writing about luxury style, design and beauty for Forbes, did I tell you guys? I’ve covered a beauty line created by a cancer survivor, seventies trends on the runways, and a necklace vibrator (which got picked up by Reddit and now has more than 600,000 pageviews!).

Photo via John Varvatos

Photo via John Varvatos

One of the fun things about Forbes fashion coverage is that menswear designers get more attention than most of the publications I read and contribute to. For example, I was so excited to stumble upon this video interview with John Varvatos. He describes how his fall 2015 collection, which he showed in Milan (and which features a few hats Pharrell would surely love), was inspired by Central Park and the above photo of Bob Dylan, taken by Richard Avedon on 1965. Varvatos has always been heavily influenced by music. I interviewed him last year when he was in San Francisco and had just published his book Rock in Fashion. He told me back then about how music became such a big part of his life.
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Black Tights, White Dress, Loose Layers

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So, this sweater again! I threatened to layer it over a Mara Hoffman dress, but I got inspired to pull it over this vintage nightshirt-type vintage dress. Loose clothing is all I can tolerate lately, and I’m getting excited for spring and loving light, neutral colors. Also there’s something about black tights with a white dress that I kind of love.

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And these boots—sigh if only I could wear them for longer than 20 minutes!

Dress, vintage via Reliquary SF, similar here (also seen here); Sweater, vintage, similar here (also seen here); Boots, Margiela x H&M, similar here.