The best parties are those that have the three G’s: good food, good music and good lighting. And of course, a good guest list. I decided to turn to my favorite DIY projects into a sensational party setting that would wow my guests.
Skip the Evite—the best impression for an elegant party is to mail invitations. Evites give the idea that anyone and everyone is invited and rarely get a prompt response. A sophisticated dinner party is exclusive. A DIY invite can save you money and look far more impressive to your guests. They'll be intrigued to come see what else you'll have at the party.
For this recent dinner party, I chose A Midsummer Night's Dream as my theme, but you can go DIY for a backyard BBQ and have just as much fun with your projects. I got crafty and became a DIY Diva with Cricut.com's new electronic cutting machine and their Make It Now projects. It cuts, paper, fabric, vinyl and even leather in minutes, flawlessly.
If you aren’t musically inclined or have the time to make a varied selection then search for DJ mixes online or CD’s that fit the theme of your party from lounge music or soft R&B for dinner and switch it to disco for dessert to keep the mood and energy upbeat. Or get yourself the Camden Square from PolkAudio.com and you can connect up to four iPhones so to share playlists.
Buy fresh from your local farmer's market or supermarket the morning of the party OR go DIY and make a stunning centerpiece like we did of paper and fabric flowers. With a few adjustments, I can mix and match different flowers, even mix with fresh for future parties.
Food and Drink
As for food, keep it simple. If you want a sit down dinner minimize the guests to 8-10 and prep the ingredients or portions of the meal ahead of time. Stick to what you know in the meal department. Stay away from complicated recipes and main courses that need constant attention. Don’t hesitate to dole out side dishes to friends and order your favorite dessert from the local bakery.
For more guests set up a buffet and hire someone to pass hot hors d’ouervres, serve dessert and clean up the kitchen. You can usually hire someone through a catering company, cooking school or college program. The point is to get out of the kitchen and enjoy the party.
Stick to wine and either beer or a signature drink for alcohol. Stick to seltzer and ice tea as your non-alcoholic choices. Nothing gets more bogged down that offering too many choices of soda and drinks.
Mix up where friends usually sit at your table. Create place cards and help establish some new friendships. To break the monotony that can occur with the same old crowd, come up with questions for your guests. Type or write them up ahead of time and place them under the dinner plates, dessert plates or in a bowl so guests are unaware until it’s time to share. You may suddenly learn of a hidden desire, their favorite gift given or received or even a silly fear.
For the Guests
Don’t let guests leave empty handed. Write or print up the recipes from that evening’s dinner, roll up and secure with ribbon and tie around a mini bottle of wine or champagne. Or just send them home with something sweet like a mini cupcake.
Don’t forget to capture the memories. Create your own photo booth. You don’t need to hire anybody. Instead create a backdrop with something as simple as a large sheet. And offer your friends props like simple DIY masks, hats and sunglasses. Take photos on each other’s cellphones and share.
Cricut is looking to get inspired by you! All my DIY projects were created with the new Cricut Explore.
The right clothes and accessories can shave years off your look. As one of the co-hosts of the past show, 10 Years Younger on TLC , I worked with women and men who had forgotten about taking care of themselves. They were busy, stressed, taking care of their kids and needed our help. Part styling, part good 'ole fashion listening to them discuss their lifestyles we were able to create makeovers that boosted their confidence, would translate to their everyday life and helped them look 10 years younger. My recent article as a contributing editor of Closer Weekly honed in on helping you look younger by the fashion choices you make.
Banana Republic Gemma Wrap Dress, $98 Banana Republic
Maggy London Printed Faux Wrap Dress, $118 Macy's
Creating the illusion of a waist is key to looking younger. Your secret weapon? A wrap dress. It cinches at, for most women, the thinnest part to make it the focal point of your look.
Rag & Bone Lorimer Blazer, $470 Shopbop
D & G Black Blazer, $372 Yoox
The best way to battle gravity? With structured pieces like a blazer that nips in the waist — they’ll pull trouble spots back into place. Shapeless silhouettes just look dowdy.
DARK BOOT-CUT JEANS
The quickest way to age yourself is in roomy, light-wash jeans. Opt for slimming dark hues and a wider hem, which balances widen-ing hips. Fabric with 2 percent spandex has enough stretch to give you a perky posterior.
Protect and cover up fine line with a pair of big shades like Julia Roberts'.
Elizabeth and James "Essex" Sunglasses, $165 Zappos Couture
A BRIGHT SHIRT
No sallow skin here! Jane Fonda's shimmery aqua top gives her a radiant, youthful glow.
Banana Republic Silk Utility Blouse in Cancun Turquoise, $80 Banana Republic
Dark colors worn close to your face can make fine lines stand out. But a bright hue, like apple-green or turquoise, gives skin a warm, youthful glow. Just be sure to wear neutrals everywhere else.
A BRA THAT FITS
Boosting your bust can take years off of your look. A right-fitting bra will restore your hourglass by lifting the bust up and away from your middle. Perks of a perky chest? Your torso looks longer and leaner. Get properly fitted for free at any bra store.
SHORT STATEMENT NECKLACE
J. Crew Stacked Stones Necklace, $160 J. Crew
A chunky necklace is totally on-trend, but it can also camouflage skin problems (like sun damage or a crepey neck). Pieces should sit on your collarbone — anything longer draws eyes down. Stones that catch light warm a complexion.
Aching feet beg for sensible shoes, but there’s no frumpy footwear here! This season’s crop of chic flats — in laser-cut fabrics or exotic skins — means you can be comfy and stylish. Look for a sturdy rubber sole.
ches at your thinnest spot to make it the focal point of your look,
It's officially shorts weather! There are shorts styles for every occasion from work wear to date night. Time to step beyond the basic t-shirt and cut-offs and embrace the newest way to wear shorts. From shorts suits for the office that bridge the gap between power meetings and casual Fridays to embellished shorts that replace your LBD for cocktail parties to your denim done better for weekends.
These are a few looks I recently styled. Get a similar look with my additional picks below.
Get The Look
The POWER Shorts Suit
Catherine Catherine Malandrino 'Phoenix' Jacket, $138 Nordstrom
Catherine Catherine Malandrino 'Taylor' Shorts, $88 Nordstrom
Vince Camuto Sleeveless Top, $69 Bloomingdale's
Seychelles 'Thyme' Wedge, $95 Piperlime
Splurge: Gucci Soho Leather Shoulder Bag, $1,490 Gucci
Embellished Shorts For Parties & Date Night
Boohoo Colette All Over Beaded Shorts, $45 Boohoo
Daniel Rainn Silk Easy Tank, $69 Piperlime
Tinely Road Pleated Cami, $54 Piperlime
Mixed Metal Gladiator High Heels, $275 J. Crew
Diane Von Fusternberg Envelope Faceted Stud clutch, $265 Bloomingdale's
Weekends Made Better In Denim
Paige Denim 'Jackson' Long Sleeve Denim Romper, $239 Nordstrom
Crystal Mobile Necklace, $145 J. Crew
Perforated Leather Belt, $55 J. Crew
Stuart Weitzman Platform Espadrille Wedge Sandals, $385 Bloomingdale's
Get the goods for spring! Accessories are the simplest way to update your wardrobe and usually the least expensive. A bright pop of color in your accessories can take a basic dress or even a t-shirt and kick it up a notch! So go get yourself a statement necklace, a bright blue pair of d'orsay heels, a pink clutch and some striped sunglasses.
Watch my segment on Home and Family (Hallmark Channel) to see all the accessories.
So many handbags and sandals to choose from at TJ Maxx and Marshalls. Did you know that TJ Maxx is now online too? It's awesome!
A few of my picks from the site:
Nila Anthony bag, $30 TJ Maxx
Nila Anthony bag, $20 TJ Maxx
These sandals, wedges, heels and d'orsay styles are available at Marshalls and TJ Maxx.
A few of my picks:
Charles David Wedge, $60 TJ Maxx
Sebago Thong Sandal, $15 TJ Maxx
Jewelry from brands like Jennifer Lopez, Apt.9 and Simply Vera Vera Wang all available from Kohls.com
Apt. 9 Gold Tone Necklace, $14.40 Kohl's
Apt. 9 Bead & Cabachon Bibb Necklace, $14.40 Kohl's
SHOUT! custom cell phone cases and DeBari rhinestone styles from Cellairis
As a contributing editor for Closer Weekly, I share advice, tips and the latest trends in style and home plus what's trending in entertainment news. Here's my recent piece on spring dresses that are best for your body shape.
Looking for a little country western flair or bohemian style addition to your wardrobe?
From jean shorts to breezy dresses in lace or patterns, you can add some cowboy boots or layer a few necklaces and you're ready for multiple music festivals this summer... or just going out with friends. I styled these looks for the famous country music festival - Stagecoach - that happens in California the weekend after Coachella, but you can work these outfits all summer long.
Floral Maxi Dress by Free People
Jean Jacket by RL Denim & Supply
Boots by RL Denim & Supply
Dress by Free People
Jewelry by Macy's
Boots by RL Denim & Supply
Camouflage Jacket by RL Denim & Supply
Crochet Top by RL Denim & Supply
Jewelry from Macy's
Jean Shorts by Free People
Lace Top by Free People
Jeans by RL Denim & Supply
Sandals by RL Denim & Supply
Lace Dress by Free People
Jewelry from Macy's
Cowboy Boots by Rampage
Shirt by RL Denim & Supply
Shorts by Free People
Boots by RL Denim & Supply
Denim Jacket by RL Denim & Supply
Dress by Zooey Dechanel for Tommy Hilfiger
I've always been a big fan of denim shirts. If you walked into my closet you'd see a grouping of at least eight denim shirts from light to dark wash, button-front to henley and even an ASOS shirt with a long tie front for a denim take on being super feminine. I was already wearing the mix of denims before it came back as a trend two years ago. I don't look like I should be working part-time on a cattle ranch, instead I mix my denim shirts with color blocked A-line skirts, black skinny jeans and patterned pencil skirts. I'm such a fan that I try to make converts of every client and have them add just one good fitted denim shirt to their wardrobe. I believe there are multiple ways to wear them when you strike that perfect combination of feminine and strong. Just look for fabrics that aren't thick so they're easy to tuck into whatever you choose to pair it with.
A few of my favorite denim shirts range from medium wash to dark rinse and fit the body well.
ASOS Denim Shirt in Dark Wash, $47 ASOS
Banana Republic Dark Denim Shirt, $80 Banana Republic
Gap 1969 Floral Denim Shirt, $60 Gap
DONDUP Denim shirts, $136 YOOX
Banana Republic Denim Shirt, Medium Wash, $80 Banana Republic
Time to dress to impress in the four latest styles that are a must for your spring wardrobe. I love dresses! When you're having one of those "what do I wear?" moments, choose a dress. Dresses are so simple to figure out in your wardrobe and barely require a thought, just slip one on and add heels or sandals.
Midi Dress with Nipped Waist
ASOS Midi Dress In Animal Print, $35 ASOS
ASOS Skater Dress In Check Print, $105 ASOS
Hitting just past the knee the midi dress is sweet and demure. Look for a style that defines the waist and for this season a print means the need for fewer accessories.
Gemma Chevron Print Wrap Dress, $90 Banana Republic
Diane von Furstenberg Wrap Dress - Faith Silk, $207 Bloomingdale's
Another waist defining style with a flattering v-neck is the wrap style.
Michael Stars Exclusive Stripe Halter Maxi Dress, $97 Piperlime
Diane Von Furstenberg Long Two-tone Patterned Maxi Dress, $311 Yoox
Long, flowy and comfortable, the maxi dress can be weekend wear or party wear.
ASOS Swing Dress With Floral Border Print, $42 ASOS
The swing dress can easily transition between totally casual with flip-flops to a cocktail party when you add heels. For the buff color dress from Haute Hippie add a colorful necklace or cuff bracelet.
I thought it time to share a few of the companies I've come in contact with that are doing good in the world. I wish more time were spent sharing their stories. So here are four of the many I admire.
Boll and Branch
Missy and Scott Tannen were perplexed when shopping for sheets last year. They couldn't figure out between thread count and price which was the best brand or product to buy. Been there, done that. But they decided to start their own sheet company and not just any sheet company; one with a mission. The Tannens describe their new line as "linens with a mission": 300-thread-count sheets and cable-knit throws made exclusively from Global Organic Textile Standard-certified organic cotton from fair-trade farms and factories in India. Boll & Branch uses only low-impact, fiber-reactive dyes rather than pigment dyes because they do not contain any known toxins or heavy metals and are considered eco-friendly pigments.
Their sheets are crafted by adults who are paid a fair wage in above-standard work conditions that keep everyone's health and safety in mind. Their products are made ethically by workers who are treated well and are working by choice. Their cotton is 100% GOTS-certified organic which means less impact on the environment, less water used in production, and guaranteed to be safe. Plus, Boll & Branch donates a portion of every sale they make to Not For Sale, which fights modern-day slavery around the world. So these are the sheets I've chosen recently for a good night's sleep.
This teardrop necklace is made by a partner group in the Entoto Mountainside, just outside of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Started by a local church group, this project employs men and women who are HIV-positive. It all began when HIV-infected men and women heard of "healing waters" emerging from the mountains, and so they followed paths up the mountains to wait for this water. These men and women left jobs and homes, and thus started begging and even selling their bodies in order to make a living while waiting for healing to come. As the local church watched, they devised a plan to create a jewelry training program for these men and women to give them employment, and bring them away from the lure of these healing waters, which left them still sick with HIV. Now, Entoto Beth, Karama's partner, employs hundreds of men and women who create jewelry out of coffee beans and recycled artillery and other recycled metals.
Novica.com (part owned by National Geographic) is an online, fair-trade market place based in Los Angeles. At any given time, NOVICA features more than 30,000 limited edition and one-of-a-kind handmade works of art, ranging from artisan-crafted jewelry to home decor. Launched in 1999, to date NOVICA has helped change the lives of 75,000 people in developing nations, including artisans and their dependents, uniquely helping each artisan earn personal recognition and real-world prices for their work.Couldn't resist this incredible photograph of the Melasti Ceremony in Bali. According to Hindu traditions in Indonesia, the Melasti ceremony serves to purify Bhuana Alit (small world) and Bhuana Agung (universe) during the Balinese New Year.
Prom season is upon us! Dresses, hair and makeup, heels and the limo are on the agenda.
I attended two proms and didn't learn my lesson from one year to the next that I should have foregone the strapless. I didn't have the boobs or the right bra to hold up the dresses. Thankfully, no camera phones to capture my nip slip on the dance floor. Back then you wore Jessica McClintock, but now while wearing a poufy dress may be the dream for some girls a little black dress, faux Herve Leger sheath or even a sequin top and pencil skirt work just as well.
For my first prom, I lay on my bedroom floor under a sun lamp trying to get a tan and for the second I visited a tanning bed. I know, I know, tanning beds and sun lamps are evil, but I was a teen desperate for a sunny glow. Neither worked. I used too much Sun-In on my hair and was left with an orangey tint rather than the bottle's promise of golden blonde tresses and I used hair spray like an addict. And as I look back I must admit, my parents had to have been cool or foolish since I took the SAT's the morning after attending my first prom as a junior. Perhaps they felt safe knowing I could always re-take them. After nodding off during the first test, that's exactly what I did a few months later for a higher score.
If I were to time travel back to my high school prom, I would make different dress and hairstyle choices, but most importantly, I'd have the confidence I possess now which ultimately makes all the difference.
Dresses featured: Speechless, City Triangles, and B. Smart from JC Penney and Kohl's, and LittleBorrowedDress.com. The hair and makeup were provided by the amazing talent at The Private Room in Beverly Hills.
As a Luminary Circle member of Step Up, each year I help some of the teens we mentor get ready for their prom. This year, I helped Maria and Lesley from Gertz-Ressler High School and gave them a chance to show off their looks on Fox's Good Day LA. Step Up is a nonprofit organization that mentors high school girls from under-resourced communities to empower them to become confident, college-bound and career-focused. For four straight years, 100% of Step Up seniors have graduated high school & been accepted to college. Yeah, it's awesome! Visit SUWN.org and meet other cool women in the organization and join our awesomeness.
Here are choices I'd make today for prom:
It's sweet and I could guarantee it would stay in place. A-Line Princess Sweetheart Floor-Length Floral Gown, $245 Lightinthebox
Jacqueline Dress by Coren Moore, $80 BHLDN
Unique Vintage Garden State Dress, $102 Zappos
Aidan Mattox Dress - Double V Neck Sequin, $365 Bloomingdale's
Adrianna Papell Beaded Chiffon Blouson Dress, $355 Nordstrom
Dalia MacPhee yellow lace dress, Neiman Marcus