STYLE | GIRLFRIEND

Borrowed From the Boys:
April Showers

I can honestly say last week marked the first time I actually prayed for rain.

borrowed from the boys, baracuta jacket, harrington jacket

Normally, I wouldn’t hope for dreary weather, but on this day, the threat of April showers meant I would get to break out my new Baracuta G9 jacket.

Also known as a Harrington jacket, Baracuta’s lightweight coat was catapulted to “icon” status when menswear legend, and all-around cool guy Steve McQueen took to wearing one. Now, the British brand has birthed its twin sister – the same great jacket - water repellent and tartan-lined - but with an updated silhouette adapted for the *ahem* female figure. 

baracuta jacket, harrington jacket, style girlfriend, borrowed from the boys

baracuta, harrington jacket, borrowed from the boys

 Tell me:

What’s your go-to rainy day gear?

…And how much am I totally channeling Steve McQueen in these pictures? Like, a lot, right? I know. It’s great.

Also! I have a sticky coding issue I’m currently trying to deal with…ineptly, as you can imagine. If any of my dear, kind, generous, patient readers are developers or have ninja coding skills and an extra hour to spare, could you get in touch? You can email me at megan@stylegirlfriend.com, and I’ll give you the low down. I’d be so super-crazy grateful. Thanks!!

SG at Home: My Office Makeover!

style girlfriend home office, before and after, home office makeover

For the last several years, I’ve been working from a wall in my living room (NYC apartment rents and a start-up entrepreneur’s salary do not a 2-BR make…). At first, the setup was merely part-time as I continued to hold down “real” jobs at real offices while trying to grow Style Girlfriend into the world-dominating enterprise that it is today. But when I made the leap to full-time on SG last year (a year this month actually! April is my work-iversary!), I knew something had to change.

My bland work area and barely serviceable ladder bookshelf/desk combo no longer cut it.

The “desk” was a stable surface that protruded from under my laptop by about 3 inches on any given side. I didn’t have anywhere to put my “to do” notebook, so I sat it on my lap while I worked, and steadied my coffee on one of the bookshelves hovering around my shoulders. My “chair” was an ottoman I kept blankets in that I’d pull over from the couch.

 

style girlfriend home office makeover, style girlfriend apartment therapybefore-3

{boring “Before”}

In short, not really an ideal workspace for someone who works from home.

So with the help of design service Homepolish, I completely overhauled my work space.

style girlfriend home office, style girlfriend apartment therapy, style girlfriend homepolish

{amazing after}

Because I’m a masochist, I took on this home office project at nearly the exact same time I started tackling the site’s redesign, so for the past several months I’ve been working in a state of limbo, literally and figuratively. I got rid of the desk and shelves wa-a-a-y too early..before the furniture company had even begun building my new desk, and took everything off my walls (and moved it all onto the floor of my bedroom) in anticipation of painting..in a few weeks.

I know, not great timing on my part. So I was working from my kitchen table (and lots and lots of coffee shops) for over a month. Closer to two.

But it’s done! And I love it, and everyone involved. Plus, Apartment Therapy featured it, and Homepolish did too, and I’m excited to humblebrag as my beautiful office bounces around Pinterest as “design inspiration” for years to come..

Shelly Lynch-Sparks, my HP designer and new Brooklyn pal, came to the table with a great plan that was very “me” but also listened to my ideas and incorporated them seamlessly into the final product. We’re already planning our next drinks date.

The space reflects so perfectly what my work is all about, with the combination of the navy wall and its new, pink accents. A perfect, and perfectly grown up, mix of the masculine and the feminine.

style girlfriend home office, style girlfriend home decor, style girlfriend homepolish, style girlfriend home office, megan collins style girlfriend

So, what have we got?

style girlfriend home office, recycled brooklyn, etsy desk, recycled brooklyn etsy

DESK: Recycled Brooklyn

This desk was built for me by Recycled Brooklyn. I love it. I want to sleep on this desk. It’s made from reclaimed wood, with hairpin legs and a locker basket for a drawer. The guys, brothers Matt and Steve Loftice, were great to work with, so easy going and pretty much exactly the kind of guys you’d expect to run a furniture business from Red Hook, Brooklyn. I sent them a picture of a desk I’d seen and loved, and what showed up when they carried it in was exactly that desk.

west elm chair, west elm office chair, style girlfriend home office, style girlfriend homepolish, style girlfriend apartment therapy

CHAIR: West Elm

I love midcentury modern design but have never wanted a living space that looks like a set from Mad Men. This chair is a beautiful – and comfortable! – nod to that era of design, while the stripe makes it feel modern. I was a little worried it would feel TOO comfortable and that all I’d want to do was curl up in it and read a book, but it’s surprisingly firm, so when i sit in it, I really do feel “at work.”

ikea rug, tribal print rug, patterned rug

RUG: Ikea

Ikea, baby! But man, rugs are expensive, huh? Even this Ikea number wasn’t exactly cheap. But it’s cool, I love it, and the navy and yellow are colors picked up in the wall and the plants’ holders.

the sill, the sill plants, the sill style girlfriend, style girlfriend home office

PLANTS: The Sill 

A friend of mine from my old life in advertising reached out to me last fall, letting me know he was working at a new start-up called The Sill. The gist? They’re interior designers…for plants.

We talked about what I wanted, what I needed, and what I could handle (i.e., nothing that required watering more than 1x a week), and they showed up on my doorstep with everything ready to go in beautiful vases and pots. They even set it all out for me. In a city like New York, where one trip to Home Depot requires a ZipCar membership and half a Saturday (at least), this kind of “at your door” convenience is really worth every penny.

antler decoration, antler decor, etsy antlers, style girlfriend home office

ANTLERS: “Mahzer and Vee” Etsy shop 

This was a last-minute find, and I’m very psyched it worked out. I had been thinking about getting some sort of antlers for decoration, but 1) don’t love the idea of the spoils of hunting hanging in my apartment, and 2) wasn’t sure if they’d look too stuffy in my apartment. Well, Etsy shop owners Mark-Anthony and Christine solved both conundrums. These antlers are faux, crafted from resin, and the shop offers them in pretty much every color imaginable. I was on the fence between gold and pink (though the mint look pretty great too). And they made it all happen in about two days, too, with a smile on their faces (or rather, in their email), shipping expedited from the west coast.

MAGAZINE HOLDER: cb2

Utilitarian, but still nice to look at. From CB2, and the next time you’re wondering, “Should I have this rather bulky and surprisingly heavy wall accessory shipped to me for a mere $4.95, or take two trains to go pick it up in the city by myself and lug it back home?” Choose the former. Always choose the former.

home office makeover, style girlfriend, homepolish

WALL ORGANIZERS: Urbio

The graphic designer behind SG’s recent redesign actually gave me the heads up about Urbio – perhaps the one good thing to come out of tackling two humongous projects at the exact same time?!

Since I’m a sucker for good design, I immediately fell in love with the way the pieces can be rearranged, and used for so many different things. I’m keeping pens, papers, and office supplies organized and off my desk (I’ve got more desk space than I did before, but it’s still a precious commodity), but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg with these little guys. Check out the company’s blog for clever ideas on more ways to use them – everything from storing diapers at arm’s reach in a baby’s nursery to growing herbs in your kitchen. As a city dweller always facing the issue of not enough counter space, being able to utilize storage on your walls is really smart.

ART: ARTtwo50, by Matthew Bailey Seigel

Shelly and I knew that a dark wall necessitated some bright colors to keep me from “Downton Abbey drawing room” territory. Which is why it was so perfect when the folks from ARTtwo50 reached out. They help people discover original art by emerging artists, all at consistent pricing – everything is $250. The piece we chose was by a California artist named Matthew Seigel, and makes me smile every time I look at it, which as far as I can tell, makes it well worth having.

PAINT: Benjamin Moore “Hale Navy”

We went with Benjamin Moore – Hale Navy, one of their classic colors. Can we just quickly talk about how stressful it is to choose a paint color that’s anything but white or eggshell? I mean, this is DARK BLUE, guys, and I’m going to be staring at it EVERY SINGLE DAY. Honestly, the whole ordeal was enough to make me want to give someone else the decision to make. But I’m so, so happy with I went with it. It really makes me feel like that corner of my living room is truly my office. It feels different enough to really give me that “on duty” feeling whenever I sit down to work.

LAMP: Target

The standing lamp was a great – and inexpensive – find from Target. I’d never had floor lighting in the room before, and chuckle to myself every time I turn it on at the difference it makes in how warm the room feels.

OVERHEAD LIGHTING FIXTURE: Restoration Hardware (copper sold out, but still available in silver)

The overhead light fixture is Restoration Hardware, and let. me. tell. you. That was not an easy purchase. Not because I don’t love it – I do, it was one of the first pieces Shelly brought to me and I was like, ooh, yes, tooootally.

And then I saw the price.

Believe me when I tell you that this whole project really tested the principles I preach to you guys ever day. Quality over quantity! Spend what you can on investment pieces! But when (nearly) every piece you’re buying feels like an investment piece, and when you’ve waited way too long in your grown-up life to really invest in your home, it can get expensive quick. Thank goodness for the home makeover budget I’d been squirreling away, which made it more palatable to pull out my credit card each time (it helped too, that Shelly did some of the buying for me – it’s much easier to let someone else spend your money – no eye bulges at seeing the receipts right away.

The best of the rest: pillow covers for the nearby couch (Ikea) by Dot & Bo (multi-color), and West Elm (grey silk)

A huge, huge thanks to everyone involved. I can’t tell you what a difference it makes every day I sit down to work on Style Girlfriend. Hey, look good feel good, right?!

 Read more:

Apartment Therapy

Homepolish blog

Watch more:

A behind-the-scenes look at the project on the Style Girlfriend YouTube channel!

Tell me:

What’s the last major renovation you went through in your home? How’d it go?

For more pictures of the (terrible) before and (amazing) after, add SG to your Google+ circle!

 

Style Girlfriend Wants to Know:
What’s in your Wardrobe Budget?

Tell me: What do you spend your money on?

And I’m talking wardrobe-specific here, guys, so as much as you would like to expound on the virtues of a gas grill, or your recent kitchen renovation, let’s keep it focused. Not that smoking meats and large prep areas and a new dishwasher aren’t worth splurging on.

For me, it’s bags, coats, jeans, and shoes. Here’s why:

investment wardrobe, investment bag

BAGS

I carry my life in my bag, and a less-than-stellar tote will show the wear and tear of that responsibility fast. Like, reality show relationship-fast. A leather number with solid stitching holds better, longer, and looks all the more handsome as the material takes on that beautiful patina that comes from treating it with tender loving care (and a generous dose of leather conditioner).

borrowed from the boys, nike destroyer jacket, investment jacket

{well-loved outerwear}

COATS

Like your bag, a coat is part of the initial impression you make. I might be hiding a great statement necklace under that jacket, but you don’t see that right away. You see the coat.

That said, while a good bag may last a lifetime, a coat will still start to show its age after a few seasons, so I spend what I can, but not more.

denim style girlfriend, men's jeans, men's denim

JEANS

Despite what popular female fashion bloggers’ personal style photos would lead – and like – you to believe, we are NOT all in party dresses, pointy heels, and perfectly curled hair every day. Most days, I can be found in skinny jeans, a pretty top, and some kind of flat shoe (or wedges, if I have a meeting..). So I need to make sure they look good, whether I’m headed to an office to meet with a brand I really want to work with, or just to the coffee shop where I’m hoping the barista slips me an extra shot.

As for why the really good jeans cost so damn much (because trust, it pains me to shell out three figures for my pairs as much as it does you)? The material and production that goes into a pair of quality jeans contributes to the elevated price tag, yes, but also to the durability of the denim itself. I’m sure you guys have had a pair of $20 jeans that have fallen apart in the washing machine after one wear, or become so loose you’d think they were sweatpants with the waist  worn out.

The other reason jeans eat up a good amount of my wardrobe’s budget allotment is that I buy in bulk. Once I find a brand that fits me, I tend to buy in multiples, so I have to go through the painful process of jeans shopping as seldom as possible (my current faves for both me and for you: Paige Denim and AG Jeans.

nike running shoe, nike id, nike style girlfriend

{not exactly dress-up shoes, but I still get a lot of wear out of them

SHOES

Like a good cobbler, I’m going to continue to pound this point in – when it comes to leather, quality materials and construction matter. Whether I’m wearing a pair of Nike Dunks, or dub monks, I want them to look clean. What’s more, a beautiful shoe tells people you’re someone to be taken seriously. Nobody wants the dude in dirty Chucks to lead the Monday morning meetings, y’know what I’m saying?

And when it comes to my running shoes, I still feel good about dropping coin. Because I place a premium on my health and fitness, I’m willing to spend more on shoes that will help me go the distance (the custom iD on the sneaks above? That’s just for fun).

 

…Of course, while I’d love to go on and on about all the money I spend on all the fabulous things, that’s simply not my reality. Since most of my overall budget goes to less glamorous things like keeping a roof over my head, and groceries in my refrigerator, I have to be discerning about my investment purchases. And unless I’m widely misreading my audience (you guys aren’t all oil shieks, right?), I’m guessing you’re in the same boat. Maybe for you it’s suits, or

Tell me:

Where do you spend the most of your clothing budget?

Have you heard that terrible new song on the radio called “Selfie?” It’s not about the Style Girlfriend Instagram feed, I promise. So go and follow it!

Travel Tips: How to Stylishly Survive Long Flights in Coach

travel tips, travel style, traveling coach

Today, we’ve got travel style savant Hitha Palepu from travel blog Hitha on the Go, helping us travel in style. After her consultant husband got assigned to a project in Australia, she decided to pack up and go with him for his first trip out there. I can’t blame her! I’ve never been to the land down under, but would love to travel there someday. To fuel my wanderlust, and your good travel habits, I asked for her tips on how to stay sane from the back of the plane.

Many writers have recommended their top items for surviving long flights. I’m no exception. But no one has written an honest post on how to survive those long flights. In economy. With no in-seat entertainment or power outlets.

It’s a bitch.

Especially when you’re on one of the longest flights in the world.

Before I hop into my tried-and-true tips on this highly requested topic, I need to be honest with you.

Your sleep will be restless. Your muscles will ache. Your skin will be dried out and you will feel disgusting as you deplane. There is no magic pill for enjoying a long-haul flight in economy. But I will teach you how to survive it, in as much style and grace as possible.

Prep your entertainment. Charge up all your devices. Download movies or seasons of your favorite shows (I highly recommend The White Queen and Continuum). Stock up on paper and books on your e-readers, as internationally departing flights don’t allow the use of small devices yet. Invest in a quality pair of headphones. And don’t plan on getting any work done on your laptop – there’s no such thing as elbow room.

Get comfortable. Change into a super comfortable outfit before you board. Think comfortable-but-still-presentable pants, a cotton t-shirt, a long-sleeved tee, a lightweight blazer or cardigan and compression socks.

That’s right, it’s all about layers, baby.

I also carry a pair of cashmere socks if my feet get cold (common for window seat aficionados) to top off those compression socks. For guys, this totally luxe Michael Bastian x Soxiety pair would do just fine.

How to actually get some sleep. Speaking from personal experience here – alcohol will only make your sleep worse on a long haul flight. Do. Not. Drink. Booze. Chamomile tea actually proved quite helpful in lulling me to sleep, as did the world’s best eyemask and neck pillow. I use the airline provided pillow as a lower back support, my own neck pillow to cradle my head, and – stay with me here – used my steeped chamomile teabags (wrapped in tissues) as compresses for my eyes before I slipped the eyemask on top. The skin under your eyes is the most delicate, and this tip significantly helps keep it hydated in flight.

Quench your thirst. I purchase the largest bottle of water available before boarding the flight, and will usually have it refilled by the flight attendants during the flight. Hydration is everything. I try to avoid heavy foods (read - bread, rice, meat) in flight as well – you’re not burning many calories by sitting on your bum for hours on end. Pre-ordering the strict vegetarian/vegan option is key - the food is usually decent, not to mention vegetable-rich, and it’s served before everyone else gets their meals. As for snacks, I’ll bring along vegetable sticks, fresh fruit (NOT bananas – the smell is too strong), and almonds.

Stay healthy. Planes are incubators for viruses, and I’m all about prevention. I wipe down my arm rests, seat belt fasteners, tray table, window pull, and wall next to my seat with these sanitizing towels. I’ll add an EBOOST to my water bottle after I’ve woken up for a boost of vitamins. And I ALWAYS use a paper towel to open the bathroom door from the inside as I’m leaving.

Pre-pack THIS. An in-flight toiletry case with the basics (toothbrush and toothpaste, your eyeglasses, face wash and lotion, facial spray, lip balm, hand cream, a spare set of contacts) is something you should have with you on any flight longer than 5 hours. Mine is an old United BusinessFirst toiletry kit, but you can use any waterproof-lined bag (or even a Ziploc baggie) to make one of your own. This case, along with my tablets and headphones, stay in the seatback pocket in front of me.

Pack it best. If you don’t read anything else, READ THIS. I keep a Baggu pre-packed in my travel bag. Prior to boarding, I’ll put everything I’ll need during the flight inside it – my iPad and Kindle, headphones, snacks, water, my in-flight toiletry kit, neck pillow, eyemask – and place the Baggu in the space in front of me. My other bags go in the overhead bin, thus yielding more leg room AND with everything easily accessible. To prevent items from falling out of the Baggu, tie it closed with a rubber band or your wife or girlfriend’s hair tie (don’t worry, she always has one on her). Also, lie a magazine flat at the bottom of the bag, to ensure it stays upright. There are few things worse than rummaging through your bag, looking for something lodged at the very bottom, while jabbing your neighbor. Except maybe being wedged in the middle seat while doing exactly that.

And there you have it, folks. My tried-and-true tips for surviving those awful and long flights. I’m thankful for the surplus of United miles it yielded me, so I can book my next trip to Australia in the upstairs business class cabin. Because there’s nothing like being on the second floor of an airplane AND sleeping horizontally.

This post goes hand in hand with packing your personal item, so check out that post if you haven’t already!

Guys, tell me:

Have you ever been on a flight this long? Where were you headed?