pretty little things

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My love affair with bags began in grade school. Case in point, my favorite part of back-to-school shopping wasn’t the new pencils or even new shoes [although that was a close second], no, it was the part where I picked out a new backpack. My parents couldn’t understand why I was so fixated by backpacks. In their eyes it was just a sack you store your books in, but to me it was oh-so much more. I campaigned for a fugly black leather backpack one year, a hunter green L.L. Bean another, an embroidered Notre Dame one, and when North Face first came out with pink backpacks you bet I was all over it… *sigh* I could go on. This isn’t normal, right? I’m certain experts would classify this as early-onset purse addiction.

My parents supported my obsession reluctantly but willingly. They saw my love for school accessories and assumed it translated into a love for schoolwork… and there was definitely some truth in that. In eighth grade my mom finally put her foot down and said, no more, and I begrudgingly obliged… but like an unstoppable rebel force [thank you meet the parents] my childhood addiction found it’s grownup counterpart: the purse.

From clutches to cross-bodies to carryalls, the right bag can transform an outfit from casually cool to seriously chic. The only problem? Choosing which essentials make the cut from purse to purse. Here are the eight staples that I toss in my tote each time I switch it up.

1. this ralph lauren ralph girl rollerball [$18] is the only perfume I wear. it’s perfect for a quick swipe when you’re running out the door and the delicious fragrance is subtle yet feminine.

2. rosebud salve [$8] this little compact is worth it’s weight in gold. you can use it for everything, from dry skin to blisters, and i’ve had the same tub for three years! bonus, this everyday balm has a light rose scent.

3. mary kay timewise age-fighting eye cream [$26] i love how silky smooth this light cream goes on. it’s barely-there texture is surprisingly moisturizing. your eyes will thank you after a long night on the town.

4. tide to go [$13.50 for a pack of 6] portable stain remover, enough said.

5. neutrogena hand cream [$4.50] i slather this on my hands as often as i remember, not only because it feels like a mini massage, but it’s über-important to take care of your hands. did you know the skin on your hands ages quicker than on your face -and- hands are exposed to the elements more than any other part of your body? keep those babies moisturized.

6. ipod nano [5th generation, $120] always and forever an apple girl, i love how sleek this little gadget looks and feels. it’s about the size of two credit cards stuck together, holds all my music, and has a radio. love.

7. band-aid friction block [$7.50] enter the lifesaver in a stick: it prevents blisters and enables allover happiness. i no longer need to tote around band-aids when my poor heels fall victim to my sky-high stilettos.

8. mor body souffle in sorbet [$24] this australian based cosmetics company makes perfectly luxurious body lotion with a soft coconut scent.

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This weekend I got to spend some much-needed quality time with my sister who surprised me with a birthday visit. We had a lovely ladies weekend from start to finish: we got mani/pedis, we ate delicious meals, we sipped some wine, and, of course, we shopped ’til we dropped.

One of my favorite finds was this Itsy Bitsy Bag for just $18 from Francesca’s Collections on Halsted. I love the snazzy gold chain-link strap and the go anywhere, ready for anything crossbody style. Although teeny, it’s just big enough to hold the essentials. The funny thing is, I must have been subconsciously looking for a similar version of this $228 wonder I’d been fawning over from Marc by Marc Jacobs. Can you point out the pricier find?

Aside from the gold chain, you’d have to do a double take to tell these two apart. They even share the trademark Marc by Marc Jacobs turnlock, and yet the one on the left was a staggering $210 cheaper [almost enough for this pretty retro KitchenAid Mixer in a mod shade like pistachio].

I also snagged these little gold bow earrings for a mere $12 [also at Francesca's Collections] that suspiciously mirror these pricier Marc by Marc Jacobs studs [$38]:

[the look...

... for less]

Without meaning to, I landed two charming copycats for a fraction of the price.

PS: I also picked up this pretty bauble from Mint Julep on Armitage [bad news: that location is closing, good news: everything is 20% off, plus their Southport store is alive and well]

Have a lucky day everyone!

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1. sequin studio sweatshirt $168 in heather stone [my wardrobe-go-to, the sweatshirt, all dressed up!]

2. wool bell skirt $79.50 in henna [this feminine skirt is flirty yet office-appropriate. i love the unique silhouette and unexpected pop of color.]

3. alecia suede platform peep toes [was $265] now $198 in  pumice stone [i've had my eye on these since their debut several months ago - gorgeous]

4. braided chain-and-pearl necklace $118 [i never spend this much on costume jewelry but this is just too pretty to ignore]

Oh no, they’ve gone and done it again. If you’ve haven’t checked out the J.Crew Fall 2010 collection yet, go go go. I’m absolutely smitten and want every.single.thing [a girl can dream...].

If there’s one thing J.Crew does well, it’s make high-quality essential pieces that stand the test of time. Their collections consistently range from super affordable [$10 cotton tanks] to obscenely luxurious [$1,200 wool poncho - yikes] but there’s a sweet spot for everyone, no matter how much, or little, extra moola you have to spend. This fall I’ll be doing lots more browsing than buying but it’s still fun to window shop!

[bonus: 20% off women's apparel orders of $150+. use code shopfall.]


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