Couture Cakery

In an effort to be all inclusive and politically correct, Bloomingdale's theme this season is "Happy Merry Peace Love Holiday." While my personal aesthetic leans more toward Barney's Taste.Luxury.Humor (how awesome are the SNL windows!?) I decided to fully embrace the vision of my place of employment and go all out for the company bake-off. I adapted a red velvet peppermint cake recipe from Southern Living to incorporate our quirky holiday colors. The cake is lined with simple sugar cookie shopping bags adorned with our signature lowercase b. Once the pristine white frosting is sliced, a swirl of neon pink and lime green cake awaits inside to be devoured!

1 (18.25-ounce) package white cake mix
3 egg whites

1 1/3 cups buttermilk

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 (9-ounce) package yellow cake mix

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 large egg

1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

*Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened 1 cup butter or margarine, softened 1 (2-pound) package powdered sugar 2 teaspoons peppermint extract


Beat first 4 ingredients according to cake mix package directions.

Beat yellow cake mix and next 6 ingredients according to package directions. Spoon red batter alternately with white batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cakepans. Swirl batter gently with a knife.

Bake at 350° for 22 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks.

For Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting:

Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating at low speed until smooth. Add extract, beating until blended.

Spread Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. (Cake may be chilled up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month.) Garnish, if desired. Serve within 2 hours.



All That Jazz

Call it the Michael Jackson effect. Since the entertainer's passing last summer jazz shoes have been seen adorning the feet of everyone from It-Brit Alexa Chung to Belgian model Anouck Lepère. Typically in black patent leather or the occasional metallic, they complement every look from cropped skinny pants to baby-doll dresses. For those who tend to lean toward the New York uniform of all black as a fall back option when pressed for time or creativity, there is no better shoe to add interest to an otherwise safe outfit than Christian Louboutin's Fred glitter lace-up shoes. With the amount of complements you'll receive, you'll be toe-tapping and moonwalking your way to the top of all your peers' best dressed lists.

What You'll Need:
One pair white sneakers
Black Sharpie
Glitter & gem glue
Small paint brush
Silver glitter
2 yards leather cord
Mod Podge® or other glitter sealant

First, remove the shoe laces. Color around the edges and stitched detailing of the shoes with a Sharpie. Don't worry about making the lines perfect; in fact, it is better to color a bit outside the lines as well.

Now, cover your work area with newspaper (and keep a vacuum handy for clean up). Begin painting glue on the white canvas of the shoe, one section at a time. Be sure you are covering all the canvas right up to the black edges. Pour glitter on the glue covered part of the shoe, then shake off the excess. Repeat until the entire shoe is covered in glitter. Allow to dry overnight. Dab on a glitter sealant to prevent the sparkles from falling off (however, I still wouldn't recommend wearing the shoes around your house!). For the finishing touch, lace up the shoes with a leather cord.



Ice Ice Baby

Though the weather outside is frightful, there are still a multitude of holiday parties to attend! With tiered party frocks and sequins getting a bit stale, why not spice things up with a cool asymmetrical tank from Elizabeth and James? Pair with satin skinny pants for the office party, opaque tights and a sleek mini for a festive fête, or denim and ankle boots for a casual night of bar hopping. No matter what your plans are for the holidays, the sleet gray jersey and ice hem detail will keep you looking fresh and sparkling all through the night!

What You'll Need:
Tank top
Bugle beads


Thread (one color matching tank + one color of your choice)


Begin by trying on your tank and lightly penciling a diagonal line from under your rib cage to your hip. Lie the tank on a flat surface and cut along your guide. Next, sew the bugle beads around the entire hem of the shirt using the matching thread.

Using your complementary thread color, sew loops around the middle of each individual bugle bead. This adds the ruffle effect along the hem. The thread will pop against the silver beads to add unexpected color to an otherwise soft and subtle top!



Shades of Jade

I've been DIYING (pun intended) for the perfect shade of nail polish since I saw pops of green all over the classic black and white Chanel runway last spring.

After numerous (failed) attempts at concocting my own varnish, I decided it was time to give up hope.

Then while Christmas shopping this past weekend, I found the perfect color at Urban Outfitters. The title? Simply "Green 2." Guess it only took UO two attempts to match the aforementioned designer shade. The best part? At only $5 a pop it's the perfect stocking stuffer for all your friends!



Shopping Around the Christmas Tree

It's the most wonderful time of year! That time when you have to brave crowded malls, watch your year of hard earned savings deplete, and appear to enjoy every spoonful of Grandma's jello mold. After you're done with your charitable holiday gift giving, why not reward yourself with a little something from recently launched e-boutique Les Nouvelles?

The site was started by two former ELLE magazine staffers who found themselves with a little too much closet space after migrating south to Atlanta. Les Nouvelles offers the perfect selection of separates for weekend brunching from cult faves like Jenni Kayne and Gryphon to party pieces from Karen Walker and Issa. What really sets Les Nouvelles above other online shops is its "paper doll" section - a mannequin on which you can play stylist and test the versatility of the piece you're considering. Considering the holiday marathon you have in front of you, why not start your shopping cart today!?



Gem Dandy

What do you get when you cross a L.A. based stylist/Kitson buyer with a L.A.M.B. designer? The chicest little clothing line for girls with a temerarious temperament - Pencey. Named after Holden Caulfield's boarding school, Pencey has a preppy presupposition with unexpected edge. Case in point? Graphic tees with smileys - upside down - and cozy waffle sweaters cut just a wee bit too short. Pencey's Holiday 2009 collection is available on shopbop.com, but you won't find this simple gray sweatshirt with a sparkling surprise.

What You'll Need:
Gray sweatshirt
Assorted flat back jewels

Fabric glue

Lay your sweatshirt on a flat surface. Insert a magazine/book/dvd case in between the front and back layer of fabric so glue won't seep through. Arrange your crystals in a diagonal line from the collar to the armpit on both sides.

Once you are happy with the positioning, place a dot of glue on the back of each jewel and press firmly. Allow to dry at least an hour, but preferably overnight.



Industrial Revolution

With temperatures dropping and sidewalks getting slicker the standard BFs (ballet flats, duh!) just aren't cutting it anymore. The thought of donning UGGs in public is more horrifying than J. Lo's AMA performance. This winter there is a new way to keep your toes toasty with embellished oxfords thanks to the girls of Vena Cava. The duo's fall collection, aptly titled "Crystalarium," takes the old English staple into the digital age with added studs and industrial size chain along the back heel. Tires need a little chain to make it through the harsh winter, so why not your shoes!

What You'll Need:
One pair loafers or oxfords
Industrial size needle
Industrial size chain

Start by making two even pieces of chain (approximately 7 inches long each), using your pliers to open and close the links. Then double thread your needle, tying a secure knot at the end. Using your thimble to protect your thumb, stick your needle through the back center of the shoe from the inside out.

Loop the thread through the center link of the chain and push the needle back inside the shoe. Repeat, making sure the chain is secure. To tie the thread off push your needle to the outside once again. Loop the thread around itself (the part already holding the link in place) to make a few ending knots. Thread the chain to the shoe at the two ends of the chain, and on either side of the center. This ensures the chain runs straight across the back of the shoe and does not droop.



Extra, Extra...

Parson's alum Eugenia Kim hasn't stopped making hats since suffering a bad haircut and being forced to shave her head. Suffer in vain she did not! Her newsboy caps were quickly all over the red carpet on the precocious heads of young Hollywood a few years ago, but now the young designer has solidified her status as the hat guru with fedoras, berets, and even headbands. Newsboy caps haven't looked this good since crowning the head of a barely legal Christian Bale in the 1992 film Newsies.

What You'll Need:
Black hat
Gold chain
Thin black ribbon

First, braid two strands of chain and one strand of ribbon. Make sure the braid is long enough to lie across the entire front brim of the hat. Thread your needle and sew the ribbon part of your braid to the hat. Be sure the braid lies flat and you are only stitching on the underside.

Once you have sewn the entire braid, snip off any loose ends. Although the hat isn't entirely similar to Eugenia Kim's, it would fit in quite nicely with Chanel's Fall 2004 collection, used liberally in The Devil Wears Prada.



Take It to the Lim-it!

Walk into any department store this holiday season and you'll see bling is back in a big way. If blinding sequin garments are a bit over the top for your style or you don't have the dough to drop on legitimate ice, you may want to consider a more practical, yet totally unique option - Phillip Lim's accordian pleated necklace. This version is a spin-off from the one that opened his runway show. Decked out with colorful jewels, this necklace combines the best of two trends with the tough gold metal chain, an ode to biker chic. Throw on over a simple dress or plain top to add character to any ensemble. Dressing for holiday soirees or office parties couldn't be easier this season. Gem dandy!

What You'll Need:
Black grosgrain ribbon (approximately 2 inches wide)
Black tulle ribbon
Gems (assorted colors and sizes)
Two metal loops
Hot glue gun

First turn the iron on and spread out the grosgrain ribbon. Thread your needle to have it handy. Leave about 5 inches of ribbon at the end, then use your fingers to fold the ribbon into half inch pleats and press firmly with the hot iron. It works best to fold about three to five pleats at a time. Make a row of tiny stitches across the top of the pleated ribbon to hold it in place. Continue working your way down the ribbon in this manner until you reach your desired length. The ends of the ribbon should lay on either side of your neck, leaving room across the back for the tulle ribbon.

Lay the pleated ribbon flat. Using the needle and thread, sew the chain down across the top of the pleated part of the necklace. Next, slip one of the loops through the end of the ribbon. Fold the ribbon around the loop and sew flat. Repeat for opposite side. Attach the tulle ribbon in the same manner on the other side of the loop. Finally, hot glue the colored gems on the front of the necklace just below the chain.



Third Time's the Charm

Luella Bartley may have been watching too much "Mad Men" while designing her Spring 2010 collection, but we love her for it! Dainty skirts and blouses under mod swing coats in candy bright colors were a welcome departure from the current climate. Luella's ladies were adorably buttoned up and all ready to attend 60's church service. Not sure how to infuse such optimistic dressing into your biker chic wardrobe? Take one of these fun floral key chains that adorned all the purses in Luella's show for a spin.

What You'll Need:
1.5" Styrofoam balls
Silk and wire stem flowers
Jump rings
Eye pins
Lobster clasps

Depending on the color of your flowers, paint the Styrofoam balls to match. Even though they will be covered with flowers it hides any larger gaps from the naked eye.

After the paint has dried begin inserting the wire stems into the Styrofoam. Space the flowers so the petals are touching. Once the ball is covered, insert one eye pin into the Styrofoam.

Using pliers, connect a jump ring to the eye loop sticking out of the Styrofoam. Then attach about 4 inches of chain and another jump ring at the end. Finish off the key chain with a lobster clasp for easy attachment to purses, keys, belts, and other accessories!



Black Dress and the Cherry Tree

Inspired by Japanese photography, Oscar de la Renta alum Adam Lippes interpreted far eastern culture into western fashion at its best for his eponymous label's fall collection. From swirling full length skirts reminiscent of kimonos to sequins galore on regalia befitting a samurai warrior, Lippes left naught for want for the modern jet-setting bohemian. Among the superior sportswear pieces were silk dresses and draping tops embellished with delicate cherry blossom branches. The Orient is having a big moment in fashion right now, but better don this LBD for the holiday season because just like the cherry blossoms, trends bloom and die in the blink of an eye.

What You'll Need:
Little black dress (preferably cotton)
Silver beads

Black thread
Red thread



First, make the branches off which you'll sew the cherry blossoms. It is helpful to lightly sketch an outline of the branches in pencil on the fabric. Knot a long strand of black thread through your needle and come up from the underside of the dress. Thread one silver bead on your needle, then go through the fabric and back up again, securing the bead. Continue threading the beads in a row, being sure to loop through the fabric each time.

Once the branches are complete, thread your needle with red string. Begin at the bottom corner of the dress and begin scattering leaves and blossoms up the branch. To sew a petal, bring your needle up through the fabric right next to the branch. Make a stitch (approximately 2 inches long) with the thread and come back through the fabric right next to where you began. About 5 to 7 stitches like this will create a petal. See the diagram below for a simplistic version of how the thread should be sewn. The center stitch should be the longest, with stitches decreasing in length on either side.

To make an entire blossom, simply sew five petals in a circle, creating a "star" shape. Add petals all over the branches, or just at the ends for a bare look.



Lumberjack Luxe

Lumberjacks are not known for their sense of style, but thanks to a unique collaboration between Pendleton Woolen Mills and hip shop Opening Ceremony they're slowly finding their way out of the woods and onto the runway. To celebrate its 100th anniversary Pendleton lent its classic plaid and Native American print wools to OC for a line of updated button downs, mini-skirts, and blazers. Whether hitting the trail or heading to the metro, the classic flare coat is sure to make you stand out and keep warm this winter.

What You'll Need:

3 yards Native American print wool
Coat Pattern

Sewing Machine

Pin needles


This was my first ever sewing machine DIY, so I'm not going to be much help in explaining any steps.

The chaos mid-project

I'm assuming if you own a sewing machine you are aware of its virtues and know how to use it. Pick out a coat pattern that resembles the OC coat in your size. *Warning* Measure yourself! Sewing pattern sizes run differently. I was able to find many similar patterns at my local fabric store. I ended up using one that was a wee bit long, so I shortened the hem line and the sleeves for a 3/4 length effect.

Next, pick out the fabric. My fabric was the inspiration behind this entire project. For years I would walk through Jo Ann's or Hancock Fabrics staring at the hideous felt and wool bolts. I wondered who on earth bought it and why there was always so much of it in stock. When I saw Pendleton's collab with OC, it reminded me of said fabric and I had my light bulb moment. I guarantee if you head to your local fabric store you will find a perfect match hidden beneath the High School Musical and Peter Rabbit prints. Lastly, take your pattern and fabric home and follow the instructions. Happy sewing!

The Secret Garden



Buy The Book

One of the oldest pastimes for young women is stitching. In colonial days girls were taught to perfect their needlepoint by completing samplers displaying practical sayings. Over centuries the craft became popular with grannies the world over.

One Christmas I got a bee in my bonnet to make hand stitched stockings for my family. This does not say much for my middle school social life, but had I been born back in the 1700s you can bet I would have been married off by the time I was thirteen thanks to my ambitious needlepoint skills.

While the hobby may have stuck around through changing times, unfortunately the patterns have not evolved as drastically. Unless there is a baby on the way or you are in need of a floral pillow, you are not going to find much in the way of variety. After the "Great Stocking Project of '99" I abandoned the activity and moved on to chicer pursuits. However, a few weeks ago I was thrilled to run across a new handbag line of intricately stitched clutches based on classic book covers by Olympia Le-Tan. She scoured dozens of vintage book stores before finally settling on a smattering of influential reads such as Moby Dick, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, and The Catcher in the Rye. Each clutch is lined with Liberty-print fabric also used in Le-Tan's shoe line at Colette.

Photo via purple DIARY

After an intimate debut on the eve of Paris Fashion Week, the designer continued her party at an exclusive night club with Lady Gaga and Adrian Grenier. Now who says stitching can't be stylish?!



The Bee's Knees

Designers must have held a covert brainstorming session this season because embellished tights trotted down runways across the world. From Doo.Ri in New York to Ungaro in Paris and finally Miu Miu in Milan, no accessory complimented winter footwear better than luxurious and blinding stockings. Completing outfits such as Cher Horowitz's yellow plaid skirt suit and Blair Waldorf's take on the classic school uniform, knee highs have never strayed far from the spotlight. Miu Miu got it just right this season with paillette-covered kneesocks that take any old outfit from drab to fab in a flash!

What You'll Need:
Knee socks

Seed beads




First, put your socks on. This ensures the tension of the thread is correct and it will not break when you put them on to wear. Thread your needle and tie a double knot at the end. From the underside of the stockings, stick your needle through and pull. Knot a few more time through the stockings to secure. Start by making three "flowers." Thread a sequin and a bead onto the thread. Go back through the sequin with your thread, and through the socks. You have secured the first sequin!

I found it easiest to poke my needle into the stockings, then come right back up in the next spot for a sequin in one motion so you do not stab yourself! To make a flower start with the center sequin, then attach the "branches" in a circle around the center. Add the ending "petals" last. To tie off the thread, simply tie a double knot around the underside of a sequin. Make three (or more) separate flowers down the length of the sock.

Next, add random sequins down the entire front of the socks. Keep the sequins concentrated on the front top half of the sock, then place them more sporadically as you move down and outward.

Worn with vintage Prada suede wedges


Just Like A Tattoo

Karl Lagerfeld must have been tapping his feet to the "Hoedown Throwdown" while designing the Chanel Spring 2010 collection. Girls stomped down the straw strewn runway in pinafores and poppy prints toting basket woven bags. Oh Karl, you know I love to be reminded of my childhood road trips through Tennessee and Kentucky! What better way to provoke memories of the waitresses at Cracker Barrel and dudes fillin' their pick ups at the Texaco than by putting a classy spin on the tattoo as only the Kaiser can do. Serving as mock garters and wrap around bracelets in classic chain and pearl prints, this just might be the push I need to get in touch with my inner rebel come spring. Now, time to start searching for an all inclusive henna kit ...

Photos from top: Style.com; bottom: jakandjil.com



Ms. Brightside

Imagine starting your own jewelry business and in under a year your pieces are featured on "Gossip Girl," beloved by Natalie Portman, and carried in stores such as Henri Bendel and Harvey Nichols. For sisters Danielle and Jodi Snyder this is their reality. The Florida natives felt they could capture the polarity between "rough and edgy" and "soft, feminine and dainty" to fill a need that just wasn't being met by other jewelry designers. With this concept and a little manipulation of their names, Dannijo was born. Favoring neon colors, heaps of delicate chains, and interesting textures like yarn, the line has a decidedly tribal feel sure to brighten any ensemble.

What You'll Need:
Rubber tubing (I used an old stethoscope)
Strip of tie dye felt or fabric

2 yards suede or hemp string

2 yards chain

Beads (optional)

Copper wire

Necklace clasp

Super glue


First, cut your rubber tubing to the appropriate length. The tubing should circle in front of your neck ending at just about your shoulders. Next, lay the piece of felt face down. Spread a line of super glue across one edge and place the tubing on top. Be sure to bend the tubing as straight as possible and hold in place for approximately 30 to 60 seconds. Continue coating the felt with glue and twist around the tube in sections, making sure the felt is pulled taut. When the entire tube is covered, cut the excess felt off in a straight line and glue the edge down.

There should be some extra felt on either end of the tube. Pinch it together and tightly wrap wire around the end of the tube, similar to how many pieces of candy are wrapped. Next, take a 4 inch piece of wire and insert it into the middle of the pinched fabric, pushing it down into the tubing. Put a few drops of glue where the wire enters the fabric to ensure it doesn't slide out. Using your needle nose pliers, make a loop out of the remaining wire sticking out. This is where you will attach your chain. Repeat for other side.

Next, you need to attach your tubing to a chain that will go around your neck. If you already have some heavy duty chain that will work well and yield a similar result to the original. I made a beaded chain using this wire wrapped loop technique. Measure around your neck to determine where your necklace hits and how much chain you'll need. Cut the proper length, then cut that chain piece in half. Attach your necklace closure at one end of each chain and attach the other ends to the wire loops on the felt tube at either side.

Lastly, tie a piece of suede string on a wire loop near the clasp. Twist it all the way around the necklace, and tie it off near the clasp on the other side.

Repeat, twisting the opposite way around the necklace to form X's out of the suede. Repeat using two pieces of chain.



Mirror, Mirror on the...

Skirt!? Apparently Thakoon Panichgul took it upon himself to rewrite the famous fairy tale line when designing his Fall 2009 collection. The Thailand-born wunderkind added tiny bits of broken mirror to jewelry, shoes, and even a jacket and skirt for his runway show. No more interrupting your evening to run to the ladies room when you can check out your reflection on your own clothes! With just the perfect touch of surrealism, this piece travels effortlessly from catwalk to sidewalk. Whether partying with Patrick Bateman at Canal Bar or meeting your girlfriends for dinner at Espace (80's are so hot right now) Thakoon redefines basic black.

What You'll Need:
Black skirt
Mirror mosaic tiles

Fabric glue

Line up your first tile in the bottom left corner of the skirt, just above the seam. Glue to the skirt by rubbing some fabric glu directly on the material and pressing the tile on top [Note: If you can find mosaic tile with sewing holes on either side, I recommend sewing them instead] .

Next, work your way out from the bottom by gluing pieces above and to the right. Continue adding on until you covered as much of the skirt as you like.

Shown with hot pink DIY
woven lanyard necklace and Chanel
wraparound stilettos