Fashion Forward Fridays: Fashion for Smiles

Hoping you all had a fantastic holiday and are enjoying some down-time now. While you're relaxing, please enjoy reading about this fabulous, up-and-coming non-profit, currently located in Pittsburgh called Fashion for Smiles, and how you can get involved with helping their mission! Here's an interview with the co-founders of Fashion for Smiles, Kyle van der Kemp and Kristen Tomkosky.

Tell us what Fashion for Smiles is all about.
Fashion for Smiles is a nonprofit (application pending) company that is changing children's lives through fashion. We've strategically aligned with two incredible charities, Operation Smile and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. We are set to host various fashion related events throughout the year, which all leads up to the Pittsburgh Smile Gala in September 2014.
We are also in the process of developing the Smile Fund at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, which is designed to help any family with a child suffering from a facial deformity, by completely covering the cost of surgery and other medical expenses.

Why did you create this non-profit & what motivated you to do so?
Kristen and I started Fashion for Smiles because of our love of children and passion for helping those in need. We both have a huge interest in fashion, which is what drove us to create an organization that combined fashion and philanthropy. ‎‎


Pretty Presents: Small Business Holiday Catalog

So whether you're a very last minute shopper or just ready to look for something for yourself as a treat for getting through the holiday rush, Pretty Living has you covered. With their holiday gift guide, Pretty Presents, you're sure to find something that satisfies your need to shop. And every item included in the guide is from a local small business, which is really a present to this community as well, since your purchases will help those little guys grow and thrive in Pittsburgh, and you can shop easily from home! Win-Win-Win.

Above I've selected just a few of my favorite pieces from the catalog in hopes that you will browse through it for yourself and support these great businesses! The catalog includes items for men and women, so you're sure to find something great for yourself or a friend. 
Wishing you a very happy holiday and happy shopping!

This is a partnered post, but all opinions are my own.


KANDALS: Planet-Friendly & Cruelty-Free Shoes

A while back I was contacted to do this review for KANDALS, which at the time, I had never heard of. After a little research, I agreed, and in the mail were these cute and comfy shoes. I must admit that while they look similar to other shoes, I personally think they're more comfortable and seem like they'd survive longer than others that are like them. They feel very well made and they have lived up to the test of bartending all night and the running around like a crazy person test of working a weekend night shift at Family Video. These suckers are built to last. There have been multiple times while I was wearing them that I either moved awkwardly or scraped the top of them against something and I thought for sure it would damaged them in some way, and yet, there's not a mark on them at all.

As a lover of shoes, I'm still hopelessly abusive towards them. Which is the main reason I keep them in their boxes while not in use. But my new KANDALS seem to be living up to the battle very nicely. They also smell amazing, which is weird to say, but since they are scented, it's something worth pointing out. Especially since you probably would never wear them with socks, it's nice to know that they won't have that awful foot smell to them anytime soon. Small things are important to me, okay guys?

The big amazing thing about these shoes, and really this company in general, is that it is student-run and entirely vegan. When buying and wearing these shoes, you can feel good about the fact that you are not only helping a small business, but that what you're wearing is not harming the environment in any way. They are made in Spain with organic cotton and natural rubber, are machine washable, and for every pair sold, a tree is planted through the partnership of KANDALS with Trees for the Future. And they come in a variety of colors and styles.

I feel like the fashion industry has a long way to go when it comes to being sustainable and eco-friendly. I love that vintage and consignment shopping is currently on trend and that reusing or repurposing items seems to be on the rise in today's fashion culture, but it also helps if the products we buy are good for the planet from the beginning. I really believe that KANDALS is helping to create that positive change.

This is a sponsored post, I received these shoes as a gift, 
but as always, all opinions are my own.


Painting With A Twist: In Pittsburgh!

Around Halloween, I won a Twitter contest for two free tickets to an upcoming class at Painting With A Twist in Robinson. Just hearing this made me jump out of my skin with excitement because I have seen pictures on Facebook of friends who have gone to similar studios or this one in particular, and because my mother did not pass on her painting skills to me, I always thought that this would be more my speed, since they teach you as you go along. And of course because it's BYOB.

I unfortunately was unable to use the Halloween tickets because of work conflicts but the fabulous owners, Jamie and Nicole Orlando, allowed me to pick another class to join them. I, of course, choose the Smithfield Street bridge class, as I'm sure I've mentioned before, it's my favorite bridge in Pittsburgh. No, I don't think it's weird to have a favorite bridge, we have 446 to choose from after all! And of course, being that he lives near the location and he's one of my favorite humans, I took along MJ. I thought, what better way to celebrate our 4 year anniversary then to paint some pretty pictures and have dinner afterwards. MJ was not too thrilled at first, considering he doesn't have artist genes either, but that quickly changed when we got there.

After checking in and finding our awesome, and perfectly appropriate for us aprons, we settled in by snacking and meeting some new friends, and then the class started, and MJ began to feel right at home. Our awesome teacher/artist, Amie, was going through routine things, like how the class would go and such, then she came to naming the brushes we'd be using, so we would know which one she wanted us to use and when. So, there's this big brush that she named Big Daddy. She also decided to call MJ, Big Daddy, and being the natural people-person (aka flirt) that he is, by the end of the class, everyone there was calling him Big Daddy, and needless to say, we had the greatest time ever.

I highly suggest that you attend a class. There are locations all around the US (for those of you reading from somewhere that isn't Pittsburgh). Though I can only comment on how fabulous everyone is at this particular location, I'm sure you'll have a good time at any other Painting With A Twist as well.   I honestly, have never believed in Art Therapy until going to this class. (Sorry to my friends who majored in AT in college, but I do believe you now!) And although we still do not have painting skills, MJ and I did have a great night following along to an artist who is obviously very talented, but who could very easily teach and help everyone when needed. Thanks for your patience, Amie! Also, in other news, MJ won the November Tag & Brag that PWAT has on their Facebook each month, so we're very excited to be able to go to another class soon....you should join us!


Chels Wears: Houndstooth With Love

Sweater: Old Navy | Dress Shirt: Macy's | Skirt & Tights: WalMart | Boots : Payless | Purse: mark.
Necklace: Boutique la Passerelle | Ring: Old Navy

I have a confession. I hate houndstooth. I'll give you a minute to take that in. Okay, so I know that making that bold statement means that I should probably turn in my "fashion blogger" badge now, but I just cannot look at this print and not think grandma's skirt suit, which isn't what I'm really going for when getting dressed as a 24 year old. My friend Hannah (hey, girl!) and I have discussions about our different views on what is classic and fashionable...A LOT....and she has always been a stickler for the houndstooth, so I'm sure she's proud of this outfit.

To be honest, two things made me rethink this print. Project Runway and the Kardashians. Project Runway season 11 had a duct tape prom dress challenge and the duo of (winner) Michelle and Amanda made this awesome dress with an exaggerated houndstooth print, which made me rethink it because it looks bold and young in my mind. And the Kardashian Kollection at Sears has this cute little summer dress with the print super tiny, which I also think makes it look younger. As a side note, I would have worn houndstooth earlier in my life, had that Kardashian dress not been totally see-through, where there was no way to save yourself from flashing everyone without buying all kinds of other under garments that I wasn't really in the mood for looking for when I originally thought of getting it.

Left: Project Runway Season 11 duct tape prom dress challenge | Right: Kardashian Kollection dress
Moving on, when I saw this skirt at WalMart, I appreciated that it had the tiny houndstooth print and I could instantly envision this outfit. Winner. Also, these pictures were taken about a week ago during the "first real snow of the season" which I thought would make for pretty pictures, but I didn't think the whole process through, obviously. You should probably know that as a life-long Western Pa dweller, I hate snow. Yes, more than I hate houndstooth. I think it is pretty while falling and before it turns into slushy messes piled up in parking lots and along the roads, but otherwise, I can live without it. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of realizing that a giant pile of snow is covering the only should-be parking spot left in the lot, feel blessed.


The Times They Are A-Changin'

After taking a long break from blogging to reevaluate whether or not to stick with this or not, I've come to the conclusion that instead of giving up this space, it just needs a change. Since moving away from the city I love it has been rather hard to keep up with trying to be a "Pittsburgh-based" blogger. Which, more recently, has made me feel limited in the kind of content I should share. But today, that's changing.

At this point in my life, with the possibility of moving back to the city, but also possibly moving further away for a career opportunity, I can no longer make this blog simply about Pittsburgh. From here on out, Chels & the City will be a lifestyle or life and style or, what I like best, a "styled life" blog. What you will find here will still be adventures in the city (whatever city I may be in) but you can look forward to A LOT more fashion. Which, I don't think the bulk of my readers will be upset with hearing.

Now I understand that by making this change I open up my content areas, while also making me a small fish in a huge pond. There are millions of fashion blogs authored by twenty-something women. I get that, but there are not millions of fashion blogs by twenty-something women, who are considered plus-size. I know that there are plenty out there, trust me I follow a good bit of them, but I know that there is room for more. Especially in a world where women are still judged for being any size at all, let alone "plus" size.

And just so we have this all clear, I love my curves. I know I have "problem areas" but I honestly know very few women with more confidence than I have, across different sizes. Seriously, if you need some, just ask, I've got plenty to share. I'm hoping that this will become a space that allows women to see that having style has nothing to do with the size you're wearing. Just because you're above a certain size or not within your goal weight, that does not mean that you are unworthy of looking and feeling amazing. And while it might seem superficial, how you dress does make you feel a certain way, so why not always dress your best? I'm hoping this blog becomes a space to talk fashion, life, and still occasionally showcase fun things to do in the city, but mostly, I want this to be a place for inspiration. And while getting that inspiration through looking at outfits might seem weird, I hope you'll go on this new path with me and enjoy it. Style is not a luxury just for the rich and skinny - I'm hoping you agree with that, and if not, I hope this blog will prove it to you.

"Clothes aren't going to change the world, the women who wear them will." - Anne Klein


Fashion Forward Fridays: ShoeDiva Boutique & SIP SHOP SHOES

Honestly, where have I been with blogging recently? This is a serious promise that I'll be back with it and I just need you guys to hold tight while I get some of my plans in motion to make Chels & the City better. In the meantime, I could not pass up the opportunity to bring you a short interview from shoe designer, Janelle Cutler, the owner of ShoeDIVA Boutique. If you know me, you know shoes are my #1 obsession. Next Sunday, November 24th, Janelle, and the fabulousness that is the ShoeDIVA collection, will be hitting Pittsburgh in an event called SIP. SHOP. SHOES. that you do not want to miss. Details of the event are below, but here's your Fashion Forward Fridays inside peek at what to expect from this unique collection!

How would you describe the Shoe Diva collection?
I describe ShoeDIVA's shoe collection as stylish and flashy. They stand out and draw let's of attention to the feet of our divas!


Fashion Forward Fridays: ecoChic Resale Boutique

Hey everyone! Today I am really excited to bring you an interview from owner Terry Chesky and an inside look of her fabulous resale boutique, ecoChic. This wonderful boutique is located at 401 Home Drive, in front of the Best Buy and Home Depot in Robinson, and hopefully this post encourages you to take a trip there soon! In Terry's interview for Fashion Forward Fridays she explains how ecoChic came to be, how you can become a consignment partner, and how this store is helping transform the fashion scene in Pittsburgh! You guys know that I am all about saving money and still wearing great clothes, thrift shopping is my favorite hobby so you know that I am all about helping out a locally owned consignment shop. Plus, Terry is a great woman who seems really interested in meeting the needs of her shoppers, how could you not want that kind of loyalty to you as the customer while shopping? 

Outside ecoChic in Robinson - all photos provided by Terry.
How did ecoChic get started? My mom and I had been in the consignment business for almost 20 years when we opened ecoChic resale boutique in 2010. We loved second-hand ANYTHING.... antiques, thrift stores, flea markets, and consignment shops. Our first shop, Consignment Cottage, located in Moon Township, is a great store, but off the beaten path. We opened ecoChic with the idea of creating a smaller, boutique resale experience in the heart of the busy Robinson shopping area. We hoped that it would appeal to a greater audience by being in one of the busiest shopping communities.... and it has! 


Chels Wears: Owls

Beanie: Charlotte Russe | Colored Denim: Target | Glasses: Rue21
Owl Ring, Necklace & Sweater: Charlotte Russe
Shoes: Sperry's

Okay, friends, I know owls are "on trend" right now so you all think I'm stylish with all my owls, but I'll have you know, I've always been obsessed with those birdies. I recently found out that one of my aunts actually collects these little guys too, which just makes perfect sense. I got my looks from her, I might as well get my taste from her too! (Hi Aunt Karla!)

In other news, this week has been pretty rough. (As you may or may not have assumed based on my lack of posts.) If you've followed along here for a while, then you know of my love for Seton Hill University (where I went for my undergrad degrees) and this past weekend, our little community has suffered another tragic loss. The former President of the University passed away and while that might not seem too important, especially if you went to a big college, it really hit each of us pretty hard since our littler community is so small and close. She was involved in the University (from a student, to professor, to President) for the last 50 years, so it's hard to think of anyone who wouldn't know of her and how truly wonderful she was. I was able to make a trip to campus for her memorial service and am so thankful because she will always be one of my greatest influences. Her ability to be present and live in the moment by focusing on whoever she was talking to always amazed me. She actually cared about each student enough to get to know us and I'm sure she got to know each person in our community. I loved her wit and ability to just relate to anyone, her sense of humor and grace are unmatched and I hope to someday be half of the woman that she was.

Taking that trip to campus also made me remember how beautiful it is in the fall. There is no campus like Seton Hill and it is so breathtaking to actually be there when the trees are in a full range of colors. Which made me want to get these photos taken with some real fall colors - though these are taken in the woods by my house, you get the idea...I love fall, I love owls, I love Seton Hill.


Chels Wears: Remixed Hipster Grunge

Pants: WalMart | Chambray & Cardigan: JCPenney | T-Shirt: Mumford & Sons
Scarf: WalMart | Fork Ring: Festival | Telephone Necklace: Wet Seal | Leather Cuff Bracelet: Charlotte Russe
Shoes: Payless (Brash)

I'm not really sure if I'd consider this look to be really "hipster" or "grunge" but it's certainly remixed. If you look at previous Chels Wears posts, specifically, Double DIY and Breaking Fashion Rules, you can pretty much come up with this outfit and I thought this basically condemned building in town made for the perfect backdrop. Please excuse the pile of trash that I am clearly offended by in the first picture.

I wore this to see the War of the Worlds show at Bricolage (which by the way, you still have a chance to win tickets to: see how here) last Thursday and it was freeeeeezing. I had my trusty photographer (my dad) take these as I was on my way to the show and wished that I remembered to grab a coat before leaving, but alas, I froze instead. In case you were wondering, the later half of fall has certainly arrived here in Western Pennsylvania, which I am not a fan of since it leads to winter. The season I love to hate. Looks like it is time to stock up on some desperately needed new boots. Four Pittsburgh winters will certainly test the quality of your footwear and after last year, basically all of my boots have had more than enough.


Bricolage PGH Presents: War of the Worlds (...& A Giveaway!)

I'll admit that when I was first invited to go to Bricolage for their "midnight radio show" of War of the Worlds, I was a bit skeptical. Considering I had to attend in person for a radio show, I was confused from the get-go. And knowing the history of the original War of the Worlds scaring the pants off of people in 1938 because so many people thought it was a real news broadcast over the radio, not just a show, I was very concerned about what would be going on, but as this blog claims, I'm up for anything that promotes Pittsburgh and well, Bricolage is in the heart of downtown, so off to this interesting event it was.

If you follow me on Twitter, then you already know that I was also asked to live-tweet the event, which made the experience all the more exciting, because I very much love living in a world where everyone can read my sometimes witty comments as they come to me in 140 character increments. Sorry to anyone who was thoroughly confused about my reporting of a meteor hitting McConnell's Mill and martians invading Pittsburgh. 

Anyway, Bricolage put on a damn good show. All skepticism out the door and excitement for the next show is within me. Honestly, this was AMAZING. For those of you (much like myself) who think watching a live radio show would be boring, hold up, there are plenty of visual aspects to this performance. Not only can you quite obviously see the actors and the band, but there is also a large screen behind them for full visual effects of the story, and the commercials, which were hilarious and probably my favorite part. (I'm biased, I just finish two years of non-stop analysis of advertisements and now appreciate a little commercial parody more than the average person. Thanks, grad school.) I also very much enjoyed the ability to see exactly how the sound effects were made for this story and am always charmed by people having fantastic radio voices. 

More than anything the amount of humor and overall fun in this production is really what sold it for me, and the fact that Bricolage has adapted the script to be very much Pittsburgh-based. The original script, if you never heard it, would have been pretty terrifying if you tuned in to the middle of it didn't know that is was just a story. But hearing it set in and around the Pittsburgh area, while sitting in a little dark theater in Pittsburgh, was also slightly scary. Trust me, it's something you do not want to miss!

And here is your chance to win two tickets for yourself to Bricolage's War of the Worlds, with a Pittsburgh twist, on the night of your choice (Friday or Saturday, November 1st, 2nd, 8th or 9th.)

Here's how to enter:
  • Like Chels & the City on Facebook.
  • Like Bricolage PGH on Facebook
  • Email the correct answer to the following question to chelsandthecity{at}gmail{dot}com : In 2005, Steven Spielberg directed a film adaption of War of the Worlds, in which the fabulous, Dakota Fanning stared as Rachel Ferrier, daughter to Ray Ferrier, portrayed by Tom Cruise. The, then eleven year old, won what awards for her performance in this role? 

Simple enough in this age of technology, right? The winner will be selected at random from the participants who submit the correct answer and like both pages on Facebook but 10pm on Thursday, October 31st! The winner will be emailed back with details on how to claim their prize! Good Luck!

This is a sponsored post, I received tickets to attend this show 
and for the giveaway for this post, but, as always, all opinions are my own. 


Fashion Forward Fridays: Wearing Leather

So my most recent obsession is wearing leather in the most classy ways possible. For today's Fashion Forward Fridays, I wanted to demonstrate what that means to me and hopefully you'll like these looks too. I'm sure you will realize the common theme of mixing hard and soft elements into outfits, which is by far my favorite thing to do because I love mixing the super feminine with tough masculine pieces. My personal style of how to wear leather, clearly has that theme throughout.

You may not be the kind of person who dresses up to go everywhere, but you should know that I am. A decade worth of watching What Not To Wear during your formative fashion years will do that to you. So this look may be a bit too much for you to consider as an "everyday" kind of look. Personally, this outfit is perfect for running errands, going out to lunch, to a meeting. Whatever you've got going on, this outfit can handle it. The only thing to keep in mind is that leather pants tend to stretch out and wear as you move around in them, so 1) they get more comfortable throughout the day, and 2) you really shouldn't actually wear them everyday if you want them to remain as them should.

Usually I'm not a fan of matching pieces of your outfit, but I just thought the reds popped too perfectly not to keep them together. This outfit is so sweet to me. I can image a lovely date night at a nice restaurant and then walking arm in arm to a theater and to a late night dessert outing. Sigh. So cute. This look is the sappy stuff movies are made of. I'm such a sucker for a classic bomber jacket paired with lace, so this pairing is making me so proud of myself and my Polyvore skills....now all I need is to find a dress like this for myself so I can really make this outfit and then force MJ into taking a romantic stroll with me.

Again, I'm not a fan of matching pieces of your outfit, but if you are bold enough to wear a leather peplum skirt to the office, you should probably tone down your bag and shoes. (And this is coming from the girl who lets her heels do the talking for about 90% of her outfits.) This outfit screams power player to me so I hope you ladies work in an environment where a leather skirt and heels with some spikes on them would be acceptable, because there is no way that you'll walk out of the office without a raise if you ask for one while wearing a look like this.

What are your favorite kinds of pieces to wear right now? Which is your favorite leather style?


40-Foot Ducky, You're The One....

If you're from around Pittsburgh, then you know the crazy amounts of buzz surrounding The Rubber Duck Project. If you're not, to sum it up for you, about three weeks ago, a giant duck came floating down the Allegheny River and into the heart of downtown, and the hearts of Pittsburghers. How about that for a sappy line.

While I did not get a chance to see this guy up close, just another reason why I'm sad about moving out of downtown, I did get to see him while driving through multiple parts of the city. Here are some of my favorite pictures of him, captured by some of my favorite Pittsburghers. Enjoy!
Photo provided by Tina Richey.
Photo provided by Laura Greenawalt
Photo provided by Lindsay Nicholson
More than likely my favorite picture with the duck, fabulous job, Katie! Photo provided by Katie Funaki
Thanks to The Cultural Trust, this cutie has been in the city and gathering thousands of visitors for about a month, which all started with a huge kickoff party on the Clemente Bridge on September 27th to welcome him. He is part of an art installation by Dutch artist, Florentijn Hofman, and was created "to bring joy to the world and connect people." And I'm pretty certain he's done that here in Pittsburgh.

As of Sunday night, the duck has left The Point, but I'm sure the tons of people who visited him or even heard about him will not forget the joy of that experience. Pittsburgh, the fabulous city that it is, was the first in the United States to host this big guy and I'm sure will miss him the most. After all, he was here with us to celebrate the first Pittsburgh Pirates playoff experience in two decades. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...