Saturday, June 11, 2016

Date Night

"Honey - they just posted Parents' Night Out - we're in!" I half-shouted into the phone, the opportunity for a date night after a few fun but intense weeks sounding more than delightful. "I call dibs on you planning!"

That plan he made turned out to be oodles of fun - out of the ordinary, affordable and in a part of town we rarely venture to in our more "mature state" of life (read: exhausted parent/worker people).

We started at Char Bar in Westport, my fear of barely keeping my lids open fading away as I enjoyed one of the best brewskis that have ever touched my tastebuds. We followed that with perhaps a top five favorite meal around town (holy cheesey hushpuppies!),  porch swings, bags to toss and excellent people watching. It was an excellent entrance to an enjoyable, laid back evening.
Since we were already in Westport, hitting Murray's was a no-brainer, despite the lack of tummy room to hold all the goodness. Move over intestines, there is mint chocolate chip to be had!
We closed with something we've never done in our 15 years together, which was to catch an improv show at the Kick Theater. Tucked in a dark corner of a coffee shop, air barely venting through and a slightly rowdy crowd, we weren't sure what to expect. But several minutes in to the announcer pumping us up, a killer MC for the night and meeting the comedy crew, we were hooked. The humor and talent of those folks to constantly think on their feet and be funny was pretty baller. There is one skit that still makes me laugh today, which involved a "pick me up" theme with rounds of role playing strippers, a dad trying to take his kids to TCBY and a constipated lady. Needless to say I was in tears.
We closed the night feeling fat and happy, which I vote is always a win. So if any of this is newish to you, give it a shot. It just might be the comedic relief of a date night you need.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Never Shop Again

For clothes at least. Because Abby Wood should do it for you. You're not longer qualified...

It started out innocently enough, the daunting task of her finding me the perfect fitting jeans. It spiraled into incessantly texting her about what exactly should go over my winter formal, then quickly ended up into a three-page email of requests.

Then, there was our appointment.

Oh, our appointment...swoon!

After several Stitch Fix bombs (everyone my size was wearing the same thing around town, then they sent the "totally 80s" box and not in a good way), my eye was drawn to the many compliments floating around on Abby Wood Wear's Facebook page. An old sorority sister with the greatest of smiles and warmed of hearts, I began to follow her on Pinterest and marveled at how she could coordinate the simplest ensems. After becoming a mom and hitting my mid-30s, I yearned for that effortless, comfortable, wearable look that was still trendy, and simply didn't know how to do it. Couple that with body image woes and an unhealthy love of accessories, and I was ready for help.

The idea of working with a stylist was very new to me, and something I thought only people with a lot of money and a thin frame could pull off. Instead it's been quite the opposite, with affordable packages and ensems that fit YOUR frame. In other words, I suddenly became a size 14 that still looked and felt like all the beautiful single-digit-somethings around me, even sporting some of the latest trends, all while building a wardrobe that would work from 9-5 and 5 to, er...midnight!

The final result: only about 4 tops and 6 pair of pants from my original collection and a whole lotta new tops, dresses and even a swimsuit that fit my new style. Each morning, it's no longer an emotional, drawn-out game of what to sport - it's just grab n' go. Because it all goes together, feels great and inspires happy all day long.

You know why? Because Abby picked it for me! Here is how I chose to work with her, and couldn't be happier with the results:

1. Define your goal. Are you shopping for a specific event? To find some new things to pair with your favorites? A complete ensem makeover?

2. Name your budget. Consider Abby's costs and what you want to spend on clothes in this round, particularly if the Anthros and Nordstroms of the world are your fav.

3. Review her packages. Choose if you want her to shop for you virtually or in person, or shop together. For me I looked forward to connecting with her and having the whole experience. Nothing is more exciting than entering a fancy dressing room with racks of clothes, sparkling water, a big ol' mirror and piles of accessories. Plus you can hash it out ad nausea and have some fun along the way.

4. Have a pre-styling appointment. Meet her at TLoft to review your goals and answer any outstanding questions she may have so she can be most effective in choosing clothes for you. Plus she generally picks up the tab - ha!

5. Have her over to audit your closet. She'll kindly tell you what to keep, toss or donate, then use what you have to pair your new pieces together to make multiple outfits.

6. Review the Pins she posts for you. She'll create your own board for consideration on Pinterest based on your goals. You'll dig through them and leave little notes on what you do and don't like or ideas to consider. She'll evaluate and use your feedback on her shopping journey.

7. Shop! For me, she did her pre-work at Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack with Anthropologie as a strong third location. Given my limited budget and preferences, we started at Nordstrom and I of course fell in love with my entire budget in one swoop. Here, we combed through the racks of items she had selected and talked through them first, then she helps dress you like the days you searched for your wedding gown. Assessing as she goes, she cuts the pile, you create yours, and wa-la - your new wardrobe is ready for the next year's wearing!

It's the most I've ever spent on material items in one sitting outside of furniture, a house, vehicle...that sort of thing, but again, it's not something I will have to do again anytime soon (darn!). Our trip completely supplied me with versatile work and fun outfits for week, the perfect items for my upcoming vacation and some great basics I'd not been able to effectively find on my own. I even tested it by wandering through Nordies a week later and selecting the items I would've chosen for myself, tried them on and found them not nearly as appealing as what she had pulled.

I can't wait to do undies, accessories and athletic wear next!

One of my favorite ways to use her is a minimal cost, and includes shooting her a text, email or pic message where she quickly responds with links on where to shop or how to pair what with what. It's practically become a standing budget item in our house, and some days I wonder how I walk out the front door in clothes without her...

Abby Wood: look her up, check her out and shop away. You won't regret it.