Winter Fashion Round-Up

 

2016

The onset of winter weather elicits a multitude of feelings amongst New Yorkers, some of which include fear, dread, and the desire to hibernate indoors for several months. But for die-hard fashionistas, the extreme cold and heavy snow merely present an exhilarating opportunity for layering and extra accessorizing. It is possible to survive arctic temperatures without looking like an urban Eskimo, even while gallivanting around the neighborhood with a toddler and infant. This winter I traded my maternity long johns and unflattering layers for cozy cashmere, luscious furs, vibrant jewel tones, and luxe footwear. Pictured above (and described below) are my most adored pieces from my own winter wardrobe.

Over-the-Knee (OTK) Boots

2016-bootsOTK boots are the hottest shoe trend of the season and can instantly elevate your look from drab to chic and sophisticated. I fell in love with these “Breley” boots by Marc Fisher the moment I laid eyes on them and knew I had to have them. Made from rich caramel-colored suede, these boots ooze luxury. The neutral color beautifully compliments any color palate and their silhouette is universally flattering. OTK boots accentuate legs by making them appear longer and leaner and can be paired with skinny jeans, a mini dress, or even an oversized shirt. These boots are made for walkin’!

Statement Sweater

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This chilly-day companion from Bloomingdale’s exclusive Aqua collection is crafted from thick luxurious cashmere and provides mega warmth without the need for several layers. The vibrantly colored skull design adds edge to an otherwise feminine piece. Lauren Moshi is another designer whose unique cashmere sweaters are embellished with rock & roll themed designs (think Guns N’ Roses meets Breakfast at Tiffany’s). I am currently loving the relaxed-fit “Hollis Heart Breaker” cashmere pullover from her current collection.

Classic Cardigan

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This classic never-goes-out-of-style cardigan made by C by Bloomingdale’s strikes the perfect balance between comfort and chic. Its elegant design, delicate hardware and white contrast trim pay homage to Coco Chanel’s classic designs. I usually wear this sweater with skinny jeans, but it can also be paired with leather pants and heels for an easy day-to-night transformation. This is a fashion statement that will last you for years to come.

Down Puffer

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This lacquered nylon puffer comes from the Italian-based brand known best for their luxury outerwear – Moncler. Although this form-fitting jacket comes with a hefty price tag, it’s an investment piece worth its weight in gold. In a city where temperatures frequently dip below 20 degrees, freezing fashionistas need to sashay down the sidewalks in style.

Multicolored Fur

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This Jocelyn genuine fox fur patchwork vest is EVERYTHING! From school drop-off to grabbing drinks with the girls, this piece is the ultimate winter wardrobe investment. An undeniably chic way to bundle up, this vest makes heads turn every time I wear it. The multicolored fox section vest with hood by Blue Duck Shearling is extremely similar and at 60% off it’s an absolute steal. Buy it now!

Luxe Snow Boot

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The Australian Luxe Collective “Foxy” wedge boot is sheepskin done right. An elegant alternative to the long-established Ugg boot, these have a hidden 2 1/2 inch wedge heel and are adorned with authentic, opulent Fox fur. Never before has comfort looked so decadent!

Novelty Jacket

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The perfect addition to any winter wardrobe, the J. Crew Stewart Plaid Quilted Lady Jacket is the answer to my prayers. What sets this jacket apart from others is the attention to detail and quality of craftsmanship.  The cuffs, edges and pockets are framed by fringy braided trim and the tailored silhouette makes for an ultra-polished look even when paired with distressed denim.

Manhattan Mommy Winter Must-Haves

In the city that never sleeps, not even an apocalyptic ice storm could keep New Yorkers indoors. For Manhattan residents, winter brings with it a plethora of exciting seasonal activities, including ice skating at Bryant Park Winter Village, sledding down Pilgrim Hill in Central Park, sipping hot chocolate at Serendipity, and shopping for the perfect resort wear.  Manhattan is picturesque in the winter, but braving the great outdoors in frigid temperatures with little ones takes a great deal of planning and preparation. It can be downright exhausting to dress fidgety babies and toddlers in multiple layers, hats and gloves and ultimately tuck them into stroller blankets. But with all of the focus on the children, who’s making sure that Mom has everything she needs to endure the frosty temperatures? Below are my Manhattan mommy winter must-haves that will make venturing out in a winter wonderland as enchanting as it sounds. Don’t leave home without them!

Stroller gloves

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Gloves: 7AM Enfant

Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood is home to more families with young children than any other region of the city.  Our sidewalks are lined with stroller-striding moms who systematically weave in and out of sidewalk traffic as if they could do it with eyes closed. Dressed in our heaviest down puffers and thermal accessories, we are often multitasking while running our daily errands. It can be difficult to reach into our wallets, answer our phones, grab a burp cloth or anything from inside the diaper bag, or even touch our babies while wearing cumbersome winter gloves. Continuously removing them and putting them back on is not only an inconvenience, but also a needless time drain. Introducing stroller hand warmers, the no-fuss accessory that keeps your hands warm on the coldest of days while simultaneously making it effortless to attend to our babies needs.  Unlike conventional gloves that always seem to go missing, these mitts are securely attached to the stroller handlebar and impossible to lose! Thanks to these innovative gloves, moms no longer need to choose between warmth and convenience.  Who said we couldn’t have it all?

Tech Gloves 

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Gloves: Echo

Smart phones are pocket-sized computers designed to utilize various communication modalities to simplify our daily lives. Their development has revolutionized the way we keep in touch with family and friends and has literally put the entire world at our fingertips. But why is it that we can’t operate our devices while wearing our finest winter accessories to keep our hands warm? How can a thin layer of cashmere suddenly cut us off from the outside world? I didn’t know either until I did a little digging.  Apparently, when we swipe our finger across the touch screen it produces an electrical current that allows the user to interact directly with what is being displayed on the screen. When we wear gloves, the fabric interferes with the passage of this electrical current, rendering us unable to operate our smart phones. I don’t know about you, but nothing comes between me and a good online sale, not even my favorite winter accessories! This fall I embarked on a quest to find the perfect tech gloves, the kind with coated fingertips that transmit the electrical current from your body to the device. I was afraid my efforts wouldn’t bear fruit as I sorted through pair after pair of uninspiring options that reminded me of shoddy juvenile mittens. And then, just as I was about to give up, I discovered the Echo tech gloves with fur cuffs. These beauties, still available at Bloomingdales, are made from the most buttery soft leather and are equally warm and sophisticated. Most importantly, they are compatible with iPhones, iPads and other touch-screen devices. You really can have your cake and eat it too!

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Echo Leather Gloves with Asiatic Raccoon Fur Cuff – $129, Bloomingdales

Aquaphor

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Aquaphor healing ointment is the first line of defense against your baby’s minor cuts and scrapes and for this reason it’s a staple item in the diaper bags of most moms. It’s best known for its use in healing baby’s sensitive skin and the treatment and prevention of diaper rash, but unlike most other baby products on the market, Aquaphor’s uses extend far beyond the nursery. It’s a multipurpose ointment that can be used to promote healthy skin for moms and the entire family.  Flakey chapped lips are a common cold-weather complaint for everyone in a cold climate, especially Manhattan moms who spend a great deal of time outdoors transporting children and running errands. Sure, you can apply layer after layer of balm to your lips, but this isn’t an effective long-term solution to a chronic condition. Aquaphor, on the other hand, not only moisturizes severely chapped lips, but also adds shine and keeps lips soft by acting as a barrier against cold winter weather. This is one item I cannot live without. Grab some of your baby’s Aquaphor and pucker up, Moms!

Insulated Coffee Mug

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Coat: Moncler   Fox Scarf: Optimal Accessories (old), similar here    Sunglasses: Prada   Gloves: Echo    Jeans: Seven For All Mankind

Rain or shine, Manhattan moms are always on-the-go. We schlep our little ones to classes and play dates even in the most frigid temperatures. We arm ourselves with coffee to warm our bodies from the inside out, but how many of us have taken a big gulp of a venti Starbucks latte only to discover it’s quickly gotten cold? We’ve all been there. A durable, well-insulated, and spill-proof coffee mug is an absolute must-have for java-drinking Manhattan moms. The LifeSky mug keeps coffee piping hot for 8 hours and features a one-hand opening mechanism, perfect for stroller-striding moms who don’t have use of both hands. Fill your mug with delicious brew and drink it at your leisure because this mug will keep your coffee piping hot for an impressive 8 hours. You can buy your own here.

Headgear

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Earmuffs: Surell

All fashionista moms would agree that the one thing sabotaging their perfect blowouts this winter is none other than the traditional winter hat.  There is nothing worse than arriving for an event and removing your hat, only to discover that your perfectly tousled tresses have fallen victim to “hat head.”  But what is a Manhattan girl to do in a city plagued by abysmal winter weather?  Earmuffs and thermal headbands are cold weather accessories that won’t wreak havoc on your hairstyle like hats do. From cozy cashmere to luxurious furs, there are plenty of options in all styles and price ranges. I received a pair of Surell ear muffs for Hanukkah and never leave home without them. Get yours here.

Rethinking New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year from my family to yours!

For many Manhattan women, the start of a new year marks the initiation of healthy diets, exercise regimens and other self-improvement resolutions, many of which are decided upon while nursing New Year’s Eve hangovers and vowing never to drink again. New Year’s resolutions are both optimistic and fundamentally flawed, as most of us set unrealistic goals, thereby setting ourselves up for failure. This year I have a different strategy – rather than making resolutions that I’m unlikely to attain, I’ve formulated smaller, more manageable lifestyle “tweaks” that if adhered to will contribute to a healthier and more productive 2017.

      1. Clean-out my closet

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Every city girl remembers the iconic “Take or Toss” scene from Sex and the City when Carrie has the girls over to help clean out her closet. Much like Carrie’s, my closet is in dire need of decluttering. Having too many clothes actually makes getting dressed much more difficult and sabotages my morning routine on almost a daily basis. And even more crippling, it leaves me with no space for new clothes! Although every item in my closet has at one point made my heart flutter, Manhattan closet real estate is far too precious to house pieces that aren’t part of my current rotation. While it might be tough parting with some of my lesser-worn pieces, regaining control of my closet is a small undertaking that can really make a huge impact on my day-to-day life.

      2. Get more sleep

sleepSleep – the elusive slumber sanctuary of moms everywhere. “Just nap when the baby naps,” people eagerly suggest. What an innovative idea! How have I never thought of that? I suppose these very same people will pay my bills, tidy up my apartment, check my emails and do all of the hundreds of other things I do when my toddler and infant are sleeping. I should also mention that only occasionally do their naps actually overlap. In any case, sleep deprivation is real, especially for nursing moms who are waking for night feedings. Going to bed early is an effective means of counteracting my high sleep debt and I wake up feeling well-rested and prepared to tackle the needs of my toddler and infant… not to mention that restorative sleep helps prevent fine lines and promotes a glowing complexion. Here’s to sleeping my way to a brighter, fresher, and more vibrant 2017!

      3.  More “Me-Time”

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As busy moms of the Big Apple, we try to take advantage of having the world’s greatest parks, museums, theaters and play spaces all at our fingertips. Our days are often spent toting our tots to music classes, play dates, story times and workshops, leaving little time for sanity-saving solitary moments. Although time apart from our babies can be guilt-inducing for many busy moms (myself included), it’s an essential part of contemporary parenting. Avoid confusing self-indulgence with self-preservation and give yourself permission to unwind for a few moments every day. Whether it’s perusing the racks at Bloomingdale’s, getting a massage or meeting a friend for lunch, taking some much needed “me time” every day will help me gain a fresh outlook and a renewed sense of perspective in 2017.

      4. Drink more watermmmWe all know the health benefits of drinking water, but how many of us are actually drinking the recommended 10 glasses per day? Not only does staying hydrated flush out toxins and leave your skin looking radiant, but it also has the beauty benefits of helping to strengthen hair and nails. Although it seems like the busy lifestyle of a Manhattan mom isn’t conducive to meeting the recommendations for daily water intake, it’s actually easier than it sounds – just take it on-the-go. The best way to make sure that I’m drinking around 10 glasses of water a day is to keep a bottle of water with me throughout the day. Recently I became the proud owner of a cheetah-print S’well bottle and it accompanies me wherever I go. Not only does it keep my water ice-cold, but its sleek appearance makes a fierce fashion statement. Let’s raise our glasses of H20 and drink our way to looking more radiant in the coming year!

      5. Prioritize family dinnerhires

Despite knowing the long-term benefits of eating together as a family, pleading with a 2-year-old to sit at the table rather than paint the walls with ketchup is a monotonous routine that would send even Mary Poppins into a tailspin. At the end of a long day, it can be so tempting to give the kids an early dinner, put them to bed and indulge in Chinese take-out with my husband while playing catch-up with our DVR. Despite chaotic schedules, we will prioritize family meal time 2017 and eat together as a family as often as possible. Sitting down at the table and talking about our days is the perfect way to connect in today’s busy world. Besides, food tastes better when you eat it with your family!

Have Babies, Will Travel

Sunscreen ✅, bathing suits ✅, passports ✅, toddler and infant ✅.   Some people think my husband and I are crazy for bringing our babies on vacation with us, but the truth is, it wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable and fulfilling without them in tow. Traveling with our children also exposes them with to new people, cultures and lifestyles that will help them become well-rounded adults with a perspective that extends beyond our neighborhood. We really love embarking on these adventures with them and cultivating memories that will last a lifetime.

Our family just returned from a week-long trip to Riviera Maya, Mexico. While there, we stayed in a 2200 sq foot suite at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun Resort. Like most Manhattan parents, we sacrifice living space for the unique opportunities that raising kids in New York City provides for our family.  When we travel, however, we never skimp on space and instead opt for spacious family suites at hotels that specialize in providing a luxurious experience. YOLO! The Grand Residences did not disappoint and in many ways even exceeded our high expectations. You can find my honest review here.

Regardless of the quality of accommodations awaiting you at your destination, you must first conquer one of the most dreaded aspects of traveling with multiple kids – the plane ride. Below I will share some useful strategies for navigating airports, eliminating stress, and keeping even the most challenging children content and quiet on airplanes.

  1. Wear sensible shoes.

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Before having my babies, I had no problem navigating airports and train stations while teetering in 5-inch platform heels. After all, how else are we supposed to reach those overhead compartments? These days, traveling most often involves wearing my infant in a carrier and sometimes even carrying my toddler simultaneously on my hip.  In these instances, heels would be extremely impractical and arguably hazardous. In addition, most airlines require that you remove your shoes when you go through security so it’s essential to wear a shoe that easily slips on and off. There is no need, however, to sacrifice fashion for function. I almost always travel in a ballet flat or smoking slipper, both of which are incredibly on-trend.

       2.  Infinity scarves – wear one.

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They’re chic, small enough to stash in your carry-on, and sometimes all you need to transform an outfit from DRAB to FAB!  Most important, an infinity scarf can even double as nursing cover. The Itzy Ritzy “Nursing Happens” infinity breastfeeding scarf comes in a variety of patterns and colors. An absolute must have for any nursing mom on-the-go, this is the one accessory that I cannot live without, especially while traveling with my kids. You can get yours here.

       3.  Do your research.

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Mamava pod in JetBlue terminal at JFK

As a nursing mother, it can be daunting to locate an on-the-go nursing space that is both clean and private. Mamava is an app that acts as an online GPS tool to help nursing moms locate their pod-shaped booths away from home. The Mamava booths provide comfortable and private nursing/pumping space with deadbolt closures and indicator lights that show whether the space is vacant or occupied. Each of the pods features a bench, fold-down table and an electrical outlet to charge your phone or plug-in your pump. Mamava pods can be found at all major NYC Airports (JFK, LaGuardia, Newark) in addition to many other airports, stadiums and convention centers around the country. After checking in at JFK Airport for our most recent flight to Mexico, I used the app to locate the closest nursing pod to feed my infant prior to boarding.  It just so happened that the closest Mamava pod was only a few gates away in the JetBlue terminal – jackpot! I was able to seamlessly feed my daughter while still allowing for plenty of extra time before boarding, which leads me to my next tip.

        4.  Board early. 

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Evan and Chloe – all settled onboard

Many airlines announce pre-boarding for families flying with children under the age of 2. While other airlines may not announce pre-boarding for families with children, they might grant it if you request it at the gate. When you arrive at the gate, tell him/her that you’re flying with infants or toddlers who are likely to require additional time. In my experiences, flight attendants are usually accommodating to parents with small children as many of them are also parents and understand the lengthy process of getting small children settled on the airplane. Boarding the plane early also allows for extra time to sanitize the seats, windows, arm rests and tray tables before the other passengers board. Fact – the dirtiest part of the airplane is actually the seat headrest, as these never get cleaned!!

        5. Stick with the Schedule.

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Try to keep your travel day schedule consistent with that of a normal day at home. Altering your child’s nap schedule can backfire and create a nightmarish flying experience for parents and passengers alike. If your child sleeps easily in a car, your best bet is to schedule a flight during nap time. My toddler naps at 1pm and my infant naps around 1:30 or 2pm. I typically try to fly around 1pm when I am almost certain to get a nap from both. Once my toddler starts nodding off I can then focus on getting my infant to sleep, which sometimes requires pacing in the aisles while wearing her in my Ergo carrier.  I almost always wear her facing inward otherwise she gets too distracted by the other passengers and won’t fall asleep.  Once facing inward, her tired eyes are no match for the combination of gentle turbulence, white noise from the engine and the closeness that the baby carrier provides, which brings me to my next point.

       6. Use a carrier. 

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If you don’t have one, get one.  I love my Ergo 360 for its multiple positioning options, but any carrier would suffice.  I typically wear my infant in the airport and use my free hands to push my toddler in an umbrella stroller, which makes it extremely easy to weave in and out of crowds. As previously mentioned above, the carrier is also invaluable on the plane.

       7. Technology is your friend.

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The Amazon Fire (Kids Edition) tablet is hands-down the best purchase I’ve ever made. My toddler is obsessed with it and can easily spend hours perusing the preloaded kid-friendly apps and videos. On the tablet he can easily flip through e-books, watch his favorite television shows, trace numbers and letters, and engage in so many other educational activities. As if that’s not enough, the tablet comes in a removable foam case that protects it from the wrath of even the angriest toddler. If somehow your child defies the odds and manages to break the tablet, Amazon will replace it at no charge for up to two years.

Grand Residences – A Tropical Wonderland

Gourmet dining, pristine beach, immaculate spacious accommodations and exceptional service – what more could any family want? The Grand Residences Riviera Cancun Resort provided the most perfect backdrop for our first international vacation as a new family of 4.  Our private driver greeted us at the airport and whisked us away in a luxury SUV only after providing chilled aromatherapy towels and bottles of ice cold water. Our car was equipped with two car seats for our children and our driver was extremely helpful in getting them settled in their seats and making sure we were all comfortable.  During the short drive from the airport he called the hotel and arranged for the most delicious cucumber margaritas to be offered to us upon arrival. After a quick check-in, we were given a tour of the grounds, ending in our beautiful 2200 sq foot suite.  Much to our surprise, aside from the two cribs we had requested, our concierge had also set up an infant bath tub and diaper genie and left dolls in the cribs for each of our kids. I was also delighted to find the greatest assortment of Bvlgari bath and shower products in our bathrooms in addition to espresso machine in our kitchen and many other amenities throughout the suite.

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living/dining room in the master suite

Although my toddler was too young to be left in the Kids Club (for kids 4+), we spent several hours in the colorful activity rooms with him and were extremely impressed with both the staff and program.  Kids can paint pottery, make t-shirts and jewelry, build with Legos, read books and participate in many other fun activities. The staff members were extremely interactive and kept all kids busy and happy. I wouldn’t hesitate one bit leaving my children (once old enough) in the Kids Club. There is an activity desk across from the Kids Club that provides sand toys for the beach and anything else kids may need, including life jackets, snorkel gear, and body boards.

The Grand Residences Resort is home to Riviera Maya’s largest infinity pool, and their staff goes above and beyond making sure that you enjoy every minute under the sun. The moment you choose your chair at either the pool or beach, a server arrives to set up your chair with towels like a bed and leaves ice waters, chilled towels, and Evian facial mist.

There is a very large children’s pool area in addition to a swim-up bar, a separate lap pool and several hot tubs.

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bikini: Asos   sunglasses: Prada

For those who love the beach, this is the place for you! The water is incredibly crystal clear and there are hardly any rocks or seaweed on the beach.  My toddler loved frolicking in the white powdery sand and dipping his toes in the surf.

While my husband and toddler braved the choppy waves, my daughter and I enjoyed exploring the resort and walking along the beach. 

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shoes: Valentino    sunglasses: Prada    kaftan: Lindsey Brown Luxe Resortwear (old)

The beach bar, appropriately named Heaven, serves a wide array of menu items including (but not limited to) chicken tacos, salads, burgers and a full children’s menu. The palm trees and tropical flowers were certainly a welcome departure from the concrete jungle. 

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If you choose the all-inclusive option like we did, you will be eating most of your meals in their El Faro restaurant, which is truly a fine dining experience from start to finish. Some of our favorite dishes were the lobster and filet mignon, fig and goat cheese salad, and the créme brulée trio.  The service is impeccable and waitstaff will honor any special request. My toddler would become antsy toward the end of our meals and our waiter would bring him crayons or other small toys to keep him happy while allowing my husband and I to finish our dessert. There is almost always live music in the dining room, which really makes for quite a lovely ambiance. 

Although it didn’t bother us much, the night life is quiet (or non-existent). After putting the kids to bed, we enjoyed sitting on our balcony and listening to the ocean or taking a dip in our private outdoor hot tub.  My toddler was determined to get into the hot tub and we allowed him to join us on our last evening. 

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This resort is the personification of five-star hotel service. If there is such a thing as heaven on Earth, it’s at the Grand Residences. After 6 nights in paradise, we returned to the concrete jungle feeling rejuvenated, refreshed and comforted knowing that this tropical wonderland is only a short plane ride away.