Just recently I contributed to an article for Refinery 29 on common shopping mistakes. As a personal shopper, I see firsthand the do's and don't's my clients have made before we started working together. My goal is always to not only help them improve their wardrobe, but also to become a smarter shopper. Check out some of my top tips (slides 1, 5, 12, 20 and 26) to learn more. Happy hunting!
You can say what you want, but upon moving to Houston, one of the things I was most excited about was having a Target just minutes away. Yes, Target, said the NYC personal stylist... because I like to think that when you have good style you can find gems anywhere. Growing up in Brooklyn I never shopped at Target, never cared to. (I clearly didn't know any better.) Then, I moved to Florida, and as a college student shopping on a budget, I quickly realized that Target was my best friend - from clothes, to shoes, to accessories (and oh, the swimwear!) I found myself scoring incredible deals on a regular basis. I'll be the first to admit it. I was a Target junkie. Fast forward four years when I moved back to NYC, where I had any shop or designer imaginable at my finger tips. Yet, somehow, I found myself missing Target. (Seems crazy, I know.) Sure there are a few locations sprinkled throughout the boroughs, but none that were conveniently located plus the selection and service truly is not the same.
Anyway, since moving to TX this past August I have made three successful runs to Target (one may have been at 10 o'clock at night with my BFF when she came to visit from NYC. Yes, a Target run was most definitely on our "to do" list!) Each time I have walked out with what are now some of my favorite pieces in my closet like this cold shoulder maxi dress and this embroidered midi dress. It's hard to find an item priced more than $30, and yet, I've gotten compliments already on every piece! So just the other day I returned (excited like a little kid the night before their birthday) and as I browsed, I started tossing a number of pieces into my cart that I was interested in. 19 items later I found myself in the fitting room. Only this time, the unthinkable happened.
I was trying on a pleated midi skirt (which ironically enough I can't find on Target's website). I pulled it on, zipped it up and I decided I was going to pass. I went to unzip the skirt and the zipper would not budge. I tried a few more times and was getting nowhere. I called the fitting room attendant over to ask for assistance. She tried and tried. The zipper wasn't moving. Now I know what you're thinking. "She must've squeezed into a size too small." That wasn't the case here though! I had plenty of room, promise. It was a #BadZipper! She turned to me and said, "I have to get permission from my supervisor before we cut you out of this." At that moment, I knew I had a solid story to share. A few minutes later, as I patiently stood half naked in the fitting room, her boss comes over first to see if she can work her magic on the zipper. After having no luck with it she returned with a pair of scissors and started cutting along the seam. I freed myself from the skirt (took a photo of it for the evidence) and thankfully was not forced to purchase the damaged goods.
People often ask me what is craziest thing that has ever happened when working with a client. The truth is there are not many instances that come to mind. I may have been by myself this time, but it sure makes for one hell of a story. Happy bargain hunting!
Two weeks ago marked the closing night of the first annual Fashion x Houston. As soon as I heard about it I knew I had to go. It sounded like THE fashion event of the year in Houston, showcasing independent and emerging designers, including a gallery of pop up shops hosted by jewelry and accessories designer. (Sold!) There was one problem. I was flying back from NYC that evening, and the odds seemed impossible getting there on time. However, I was determined to make it work (even if I had to roll in with luggage). Here's what happened...
My flight was scheduled to land at 5:30 at Hobby. Registration for the event was from 6-7 and it had been made clear that guests would not be permitted in after 7 (so I told myself 7 was doable). Forget all the elements that were against me: possible flight delays, rush hour traffic and where/when/how would I get ready for such a big fashion event -- at the airport? Well, yes. That's exactly where I planned to glam up.
With a crazy two weeks of work behind me, I had no time to find something fab for myself to wear! Luckily, I shop well under pressure (as all good personal shoppers should). With about an hour to spare the night before the event I made a quick run to a department store in NYC and skimmed through four floors to ensure I didn't miss a thing before heading to the fitting room. I walked in with four dresses feeling really confident and walked out with two - two very different style dresses, as I was unsure of what the dress code was going to be for such a big fashion event as this. So I decided on keeping my options open. Later that evening I sent photos of myself in each of the dresses to a few friends to get some opinions and it was instantly clear which one was the winner. So I packed it in my carry on (rolled up, of course, so that it'll come out wrinkle free) along with a pair of nude pumps (I don't travel without them) and my cosmetic bag. This was going to happen.
By the grace of G-d my flight somehow landed 30 minutes early. I called my fiancee to let him know of my early arrival and to get his butt over to me quickly! Upon exiting the plane, I immediately parked myself at the first ladies room I saw at the airport terminal and so the transformation began. From a maxi dress, denim jacket, fedora and ballet flats the bathroom attendant watched a caterpillar turn into a butterfly right before her eyes in a matter of minutes. Needless to say, we were best buds by the end of our interaction. "Bye hunnie, have fun tonight! You look beautiful," she said.
My award winning fiancee arrived shortly after with a stack of tupperware filled with a three course meal. (The man doesn't joke around when it comes to food.) He thought I had traveled all glammed up as he couldn't imagine how/when/where I would've gotten ready otherwise. (Girl's got skills.) The forces of nature had alined that evening. There was no traffic and I got to the event at 6pm - one of the first to arrive, with my guest arriving just minutes before me. He dropped me off, took my luggage home and then the night began...
The night was filled with incredible fashion, talented designers and hundreds of fashion forward men and women. The icing on the cake was having the event's Instagram page repost one of my photos from the night. I guess they liked the dress too ;-)
Upon my second week in Houston I met a wonderful young woman named Francesca, who is the owner of Brio & Co., a platform for sharing beautiful hand-made Italian shoes, and the story that comes with each pair. "Brio" is a word of Italian origin, defined as "the quality of being active or spirited." It is another word for "life force." (Gotta love the Italians!) The mission of Brio & Co. is to handpick quality brands not ordinarily found in the shopping scene, visit the manufacturers in their workshops in Italy, learn about their work and bring limited quantities of selected footwear and accessories as true storytellers, preserving the artisan spirit and flair. For Francesca, "It's really about stories, passion & shoes." I couldn't agree more.
Check out some of my top picks below and be sure to use promo code "SHOPWITHVAL" (all caps) at checkout in order to receive 10% off your purchase!
Oh, and if you're wondering what to get me for the holidays this year I'll take one of these insanely adorable coin purses. That's how you make a statement with change!
On October 13 I had the honor and privilege of speaking to over 50 employees of New York Life about the importance of dressing for your best self. In this workshop I covered topics such as transitioning to a business casual environment, how to dress different body types, and even shared some of my favorite shops and designers. The event was a huge success and I hope to have the opportunity to come back and speak to them again down the road. Big thanks to PLC (Peer Leadership Circles) and TWI (The Women's Initiative) for hosting me. A special shoutout to my client, Kari, who was the recipient of the Financial Women's Association's Pacesetters Award, which recognizes women who are emerging leaders within their fields and in their companies. I enjoyed meeting all of you and look forward to connecting in the future!
Nora Gardner, is a young, smart and talented designer who I have had the privilege of working with for nearly three years now. Over time, I have seen her collection grow and evolve, and it just keeps getting better. What I love about her line is its simplicity and versatility - two things we all crave in our wardrobe. Although my clientele is incredibly diverse, one of the biggest requests I get from women is for transitional workwear -- that perfect dress or outfit that can take them from desk to dinner or work to weekend. Now a days women typically no longer want (or need) to have two separate wardrobes. It's my job to show them how to focus on finding the right pieces that will suit them for both work and play. Nora Gardner's pieces are classic, beautifully designed, and made in NYC. #winning! Below is a peek of one of my favorite new styles (the Lizette dress in merlot) from her newly debuted fall collection. Check out her website and enter promo code, 'shopwithval16' to receive 10% off your purchase! If you're located in the NYC area, go visit her in person at her midtown location at the Bene Realto Market, 13 West 38 Street between 5 and 6 Avenues. Just mention 'Shop With Val' to receive your discount. Enjoy!
Tonight, I went to a great event at the Jonathan Adler shop in Houston. As soon as I walked into the store it made me realize how much decorating still needs to be done in my home. It also made me realize that home goods shopping CAN be fun! Now some of you may not know this, but I have a mild obsession with pillows. I like lots of them - on the couch, on my bed. I can easily sleep with 4 pillows. The goal is to feel like I am floating on a cloud of marshmallows. Call me crazy. Isn't that the point of pillows? Anyway, as I walked through the store I "oohed" and "aahed" at all the pillows I was mentally adding to my "wish list." I thought I'd share a few of my favorites with you here in hopes that they inspire you to find some fun and even quirky statement pieces for your home. Style isn't just about the clothing you wear. It can, and certainly should translate into your home. So here are a few that I'm currently drooling over...
If you get yourself one be sure to tag @ShopWithVal #iloveJApillows so I can live vicariously through you. Happy hunting!
Yesterday I got to visit the acclaimed Cheeky Vintage boutique, here, in Houston. As they were throwing a bash for their 9th birthday I figured it would be a great day to see the space. It was everything I imagined and more. As soon as I entered, I was greeted with champagne by their friendly staff, along with cupcakes and nibbles, and walls that were lined with bright and colorful pieces I couldn't wait to get my hands on. I immediately felt as if I were a little girl, lucky enough to raid my mother or grandmother's closet. Every nook and cranny was filled with hats, bags, and shoes that gave each of the five rooms the perfect personal touch. This is the kind of place you could spend hours just rummaging through every single item until you find that gem that speaks to you... or perhaps a few gems, actually. From Oscar de la Renta and Valentino to their own Cheeky Vintage line this place will win you over if you've never considered yourself a "vintage type of girl." I can't wait to go back and bring some of my own clients in so I can share the goodness.
With a little help from the lovely and talented writer and Houston blogger, Julie Lauren, Shop With Val is proud to have made her debut in the Houston fashion world. Thanks to Julie, Houstonians can now learn more about how Shop With Val got its start and how I'm bringing the best of NYC to Texas. Check out my interview here. Thanks, Julie!
I spent 10 days in NYC this month; my first time back since moving to Houston in August. It certainly kicked off with a bang! I was able to reconnect with a number of my existing clients to assist them with their wardrobe and styling needs for the fall, and even got to squeeze in a few new clients, as well. In between, I got to attend some great events for NYFW (New York Fashion Week, although you probably already knew that). There are some exciting new partnerships and exclusive Shop With Val promotions in the works that I am thrilled to announce to you soon. All in all, the trip was a huge success and I can't wait to come back again in October.