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Small Business Saturday: Shopping Small in Chicago

Shopping

Have you heard of Small Business Saturday? Started by American Express in 2010 the goal is to encourage us to shop at local, small businesses the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Kind of the antidote to big box stores and Black Friday fever.

shop-local-chicago

One of my goals this year is to do as much shopping as possible at local stores or from small business in Chicago. To attain that goal, here are three places I’ll be spending my money. Maybe not on Small Business Saturday, but definitely before Christmas.

1. Milk Handmade

Milk Handmade’s main store is at 5137 N Clark Street in Chicago but they recently won the Block 37 Pop-Up Shop contest and will have a shop in the Block 37 stores at 108 N State Street (second floor!) for two months.

milk-handmade-pop-up

Photos courtesy of Zapwater

I went to the Milk Handmade Pop-Up shop opening and saw at least 10 things I wanted either for myself or as gifts.

milk-handmade-items

Almost all of the items sold at Milk Handmade are made by Chicago artists as well so not only is the shop itself local but the items are local, too! And Hallie, the owner, puts up little signs telling you about the artist and where the items came from.

Milk Handmade is also doing a collaboration this season with Care for Real where you can bring gently used clothing donations to the store to get discounts and freebies! I’m really looking forward to doing our sibling name drawing at Thanksgiving so I know who I can start shopping for!

2. One of a Kind Show – December 4th – 7th

The One of a Kind show is a weekend long pop-up shop to end all pop-up shops. Did you ever go to craft fairs at the mall when you were a kid? Or maybe a street art fair? This is like that on steroids.  More than 600 vendors will have booths with items such as housewares, food, clothing, and jewelry.  You can see some of the items on their Instagram feed.

Last year was the first time I went and I was in awe. It takes place on one floor of the Merchandise Mart which itself takes up an entire city block. There is a $12 cost to attend but that ticket covers entry for all four days of the show.  Last year I knocked out over half of my gift shopping in one fell swoop so the ticket cost was totally worth it.

Not all of the vendors are Chicago-based but many of them are. And most of the items are handmade and you get to meet the creator in person.

3. The Fig Tree 

Located on Madison Street in Chicago’s West Loop (1037 W Madison, to be exact) The Fig Tree is an awesome place to find gifts. I wandered in there on my way home from work one day to find a bridal shower gift and wanted to buy one of everything for someone!

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I ended up buying the bridal shower gift and my first Christmas gift. The selection changes seasonally so if you see something you should get it right then because it might not be there if you wait!

The Fig Tree has accessories for both you and your home, kids clothes, toys and books, and a quirky assortment of cards and random items. And I personally thought everything was reasonably priced.

And since this store is in my neighborhood I’ll definitely be supporting them!

There are myriad other independent local stores in Chicago, though. Two others that come to mind are One Strange Bird (the owner and I go to the same dog park and she’s amazing) and Comfort Me Boutique.

So, this year don’t forget about shopping local whether you’re in Chicago or not.

What’s your favorite place to “shop small”? 

By the way, I was not asked by American Express or any of these stores to write anything. I just like to share the love. Although, I will say that Milk Handmade plied me to with drinks and cupcakes at their pop-up shop opening but that was just to attend, not to write anything nice about them. 

  

Magic Pants

Casual Friday · Office Appropriate Outfits - Fall

Do you ever buy something and are surprised at just how much you like it? No? Just me? Is that a sign of a shopping addiction?

Anyway, let’s move on. These jeans. I mentioned them when I wore them the first time. They’re soft and stretchy and comfy. I poo-pooed all the bloggers and Old Navy who swore that the Rockstar Skinny Jeans would look good on everyone. I said no way.

I take it back.

camel-sweater-green-jeans-plaid-blanket-scarf-1Jeans – Old Navy (same) | Sweater – Gap (similar) | Scarf – Target (same) | Boots – Sam Edelman c/o Shopbop (same)

I ordered these with an Old Navy gift card because I wanted some olive green jeans. They’re more hunter green than olive but I forgive them. I also forgive that they are a bit too tight in the calves to wear sans boots because they look amazing with my brown riding boots. I didn’t even try them on before ordering them and they ended up fitting perfectly.

So, yeah, maybe the Old Navy Rockstar jeans really are the magic pants everyone said they were. camel-sweater-green-jeans-plaid-blanket-scarf-2

  

The Arrow Points to Dinner

Casual Clothes · Casual Friday · Office Appropriate Outfits - Fall

For the past three years Jason and I have lived in a booming area of Chicago that is filled with awesome restaurants and new ones opening all the time. However, for most of those three years Jason was in school so we didn’t have the disposable income to go out to eat that often.

letote-arrow-blazer-2Jacket – Le Tote (same) | Jeans – The Limited (similar) | Shirt – Target (same) | Boots – Express (same)

But now that we’re both working we’re trying to take advantage of being able to try all these places so close to us. I wore this outfit to dinner on Saturday night when we went to Kaiser Tiger for sausage, bacon and beer. Seriously. That’s their motto.

letote-arrow-blazer-3I highly recommend Kaiser Tiger if you like any of those three things. I also recommend this jacket from Le Tote. It’s just structured enough to look dressy but comfortable enough to feel casual. I strangely had a tough time deciding what to wear with it, though, so in the end I went with plain white. I might try it one more time with black and white stripes, though. Just to mix it up. Or maybe a burgundy shirt instead.

letote-arrow-blazer-1Linking up with Fashionably Employed | More Pieces of Me | On the Daily Express

  

The Furry Ones

Casual Friday · Office Appropriate Outfits - Fall

On Tuesday I put this outfit on, went to work, and was at my desk less than two hours when my husband texted me to ask where the thermometer was.

Uh oh.

red-turtleneck-white-jeans-1Turtleneck – Express (similar) | Vest – Express via Poshmark (similar) | Necklace – clothing swap (similar) | Jeans – AG Adriano Goldschmied (similar) |Boots – Sam Edelman c/o Shopbop (same)

Yep, my husband caught a stomach bug. So, I left work and came home to take care of him (and Chewie). The white jeans went back in the closet and I put on regular ones. I did, however, put the white jeans back on to go to the Milk Handmade pop-up shop I mentioned yesterday.

I really liked this outfit, though, and I feel that it didn’t get the screen time that it should. So, I have a feeling I will be wearing it again closer to the holidays. I mean, it IS the perfect casual outfit to wear to work and still feel festive.

red-turtleneck-white-jeans-2

 

  

The Gray Zone

Casual Clothes · Office Appropriate Outfits - Fall

Last night I attended the opening of the Milk Handmade Pop-Up Shop which gave me SO MANY gift ideas for this year. Including hats. If you’ve always lusted after my gray winter hat I’m here to tell you that Milk Handmade has the hook-up on similar ones.

gray-moto-jacket-jeans-2Hat – Boutique in Sausalito | White shirt – Collide Boutique (similar) | Sweater – J. Crew Factory (same) | Jacket – Karen Kane via Macy’s (similar) | Necklace – JF&A Show (similar) | Jeans – American Eagle Outfitters (same) | Shoes – Liz Claiborne via DSW (similar)

Attending the launch gave me a great idea for a post about my favorite places to shop local in Chicago. I’ll admit, I see bloggers do gift guides all the time but in a way I feel like they are just a way for them to get clicks on their affiliate links in order to earn money. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like money. But it feels disingenuous to create an entire post of just links.

Perhaps that’s hypocritical since I do link to similar (and same!) items using affiliate links when I post an outfit and occasionally do posts where I link to additional similar items in case you want to shop. But for some reason the gift guide to department and chain stores irks me.

So, instead, next week I’ll be sharing at least three places I am looking forward to shopping in Chicago and why they are my picks. And if you’re not in Chicago? Small boutiques might not have the best online shopping experience but I know that the ones I’m picking will be more than happy to help you over the phone!

gray-moto-jacket-jeans-1P.S. Don’t forget there’s a giveaway going on right now!

  

Faux Leather and Faux Suede Plus a Spa Card Giveaway

Giveaways · Office Appropriate Outfits - Fall

As I mentioned yesterday, I had a busy weekend! Part of it included being part of a trivia team with fellow ChicagoNow bloggers at a fundraiser for the Asian American Journalist Association. I didn’t know the dress code but I did know I was meeting my husband for dinner so I wanted to wear something fun. Specifically I wanted to wear my faux leather pants but with the cold weather I wasn’t sure what to wear with them. Could one wear riding boots with leather pants?

red-shirt-leather-pants-1 (1)

Blazer – The Limited (similar) | Shirt – Express (same) | Pants – Vince Camuto (similar) | Boots – Express (same) | Necklace -c/o ONecklace (same)

I hope the answer is yes because I did. I think the key is that my boots are faux suede in the front which contrasts nicely with the leather.red-shirt-leather-pants-2 (1)

 

Anyway, in a room full of journalists from Reuters, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, UPI and two journalism schools (to name a few) guess who won? If you said the ChicagoNow bloggers you’d be right. Yes, my team won the entire thing! Our team was so well matched in terms of knowledge and we all contributed equally. Not bad for a group of strangers!

Would you like to win something for yourself? How about a $160 gift card to a spa of your choice? Well, you’re in luck because a group of us has gotten together to give away just that!

As the holidays approach, life always seems to get a little crazy. And many of us forget to take a moment or two for ourselves. So not only as a thank you from me to you as a token of appreciation for your readership, but also as encouragement for you to give yourself a little TLC this holiday season, I’ve collaborated with several other bloggers to bring you a great giveaway for a $160 gift card to Spafinder. Among many other wellness initiatives, Spafinder offers gift cards that can be used at a network of over 70,000 spas and wellness retailers around the world. If you’re interested in taking a few moments of time for yourself, check out their network and enter the giveaway below for your chance to win the gift card!







  

Green Pants and All That

Office Appropriate Outfits - Fall

First, congrats to Erica, Tanya and Katrina for winning the Flywheel giveaway! I’ll be in touch soon. Also, I have another group giveaway starting tomorrow so if you didn’t win this Flywheel one I hope you come back for that!

Anyway, I had one busy weekend! Trip to the dog park, Beaver’s Donuts, a trivia contest (more on that tomorrow as well), dinner with my husband, going for my first run in weeks, and doing the usual Sunday grocery run.

I had plans to take a bunch of outfit photos while there was light and Jason was available but snow and my laziness (sleeping in is such bliss) made it so that instead of having my husband take photos I was left to my own devices using the tripod and the timer.

Navy cardigan with hunter green pants and gold polka dot blouseCardigan – The Limited (similar) | Shirt – Forever 21 (similar) | Jeans – Old Navy (same) | Boots – Sam Edelman c/o Shopbop (same)

So, apologies for the slightly fuzzy photos. Also, I apologize for not being that inspired by this week’s Style Imitating Art pick.

“Lady Folding a Letter”, or “Comtesse de Cérès”, by Louise Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Yellow is one of my least favorite colors and I don’t own anything in that shade. Gold, though, I do own which is why I went with my gold polka dot top. The green pants echo the green of the desk, and the navy cardigan echoes the dark shawl and the bluish hat. navy-cardigan-green-pants-3The red eye is all courtesy of the flash I couldn’t figure out how to turn off

However, even if this outfit isn’t all that inspired it is comfy. These jeans are nice and soft and the thin blouse layers nicely under the cardigan. And just like in my fall uniform post, I’m digging the navy and dark green combo.

navy-cardigan-green-pants-1In other news, my hair seems to have decided it no longer wants to be curly. I’m kind of okay with this except for the fact that curly hair is actually easier to deal with after my lunchtime gym sessions. I’m getting a haircut on Wednesday with a new stylist so we’ll see what he has to say.

Linking up with Fashionably Employed | More Pieces of Me | On the Daily Express

  

The Gray Ankle Boot Holy Grail

Casual Clothes · Casual Friday · Office Appropriate Outfits - Fall

As I mentioned back when I wore floral and argyle together, I’ve been on the hunt for a great pair of gray booties. I fell in love with the Rag & Bone Harrow style but, alas, they were out of my price range. However! Thanks to my partnership with Shopbop I was able to save my gift certificates for this H by Hudson pair!

plaid-shirt-faux-fur-vest-1

Vest – Comfort Me Boutique (similar) | Shirt – Le Tote (same) | Necklace – Jeans and a Cute Top Shop (similar) | Jeans – The Limited (similar) | Booties – c/o Shopbop (same)

So these are now officially the second most expensive pair of shoes I own. And they are worth every penny. But, no worries if you can’t afford them yourself but want a pair of gray booties for yourself! I’ve put together a list of 9 pairs that range in price from under $30 to just under $300 with most being under $150.

Shopping for Gray Ankle Boots and Booties

1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9

 Ankle booties are very “in” right now. Second only to riding boots, I would say. Of course, they don’t keep your ankles as warm as riding boots so don’t forget to wear socks with them! And if you’re not sure how to wear your skinny jeans with ankle boots, try rolling them at the ankle like I did in today’s outfit.

gray-hudson-ankle-bootsSpeaking of today’s outfit, I’m not in love with the top half. Every time I wear this vest I feel like Spongebob Square Pants. Except square and black and furry instead of square and yellow and porous.

plaid-shirt-faux-fur-vest-2No, I do not have kids. Yes, I still know words to the theme song.

Anyway! I do love faux fur vests but maybe I should look for a more fitted one? Or just accept the fact that this one, while soft and fuzzy and pocket-having, just doesn’t work for me and own it regardless.

Linking up with Work Clothes, I Suppose for Third Thursday Threads

  

Fall Uniform

Casual Clothes · Office Appropriate Outfits - Fall

I wore this outfit to work last week (and again yesterday) and while I was in the bathroom washing my hands another woman said to me, “I love your sweater with that shirt and necklace!”

green-sweater-gingham-shirtSweater – Stitch Fix (similar) | Shirt – Gap (similar) |  Necklace – Express (similar) | Jeans – American Eagle Outfitters (same) | Boots – Sam Edelman c/o Shopbop (same)

I told her that I would dress like this every day if I could. I mean, I suppose I could but that might get a tad boring for you all. Still, I think this is my fall and winter “uniform”. I just love pairing a blingy necklace with the more traditional sweater and button up shirt.

The navy and the green are great fall colors and go well together without being overly matching. And, of course, the riding boots because I think it’s a rule that women in Chicago wear riding boots in the fall.

Okay, maybe not a rule, but it’s pretty standard. Especially when fall seems to have become winter overnight! I’m pretty sure that if we want to take Chewie to the dog park this week I’m going to have to bust out my snowsuit. Yes, I own a snowsuit. It’s for skiing.

Funny related story: growing up I couldn’t say snowsuit. I always said snowsnoot. To this day I have to think about the correct pronunciation before I say it out loud.

Thank goodness my daily uniform isn’t a snowsuit.

P.S. Due to some construction in our building our photo shoot was interrupted by an upstairs neighbor bringing his dog up the back stairwell. This is the only photo where neither Chewie nor I are making some weird face or pose. And even that is arguable.