Monday, September 29, 2014

"10 No-Fail Cocktail Party Conversation Starters" from Town and Country Magazine

1.  "I will first ask them to explain to me their work. People usually have a way they explain their job, or how they spend their day, so they can feel comfortable." - Alexa Hampton, interior designer and author

2.  "My favorite icebreaker is to find something to compliment them on – their outfit, hairstyle, handbag, shoes…something. I ask them to tell me about it, so the person can’t just respond with a simple thank you. Then I jump in with follow-up questions and that usually gets them going." - Teri Agins, Fashion Writer and Wall Street Journal columnist

3.  "If the person is attending with his or her significant other, I like to ask, “How did you two meet?” This always puts the person at ease since it’s a happy story and they’ve told it many times before. Also, it usually reveals enough common ground to keep the conversation rolling along." Carla McDonald, founder, The Salonniere

4. "I like to ask, “When and where were you happiest in your life?” Ashley McDermott, Writer and Philanthropist

5. "I find everyone loves to eat and talk about eating and share what and where they’ve been eating! So I ask, “Have you been to any great new restaurants lately?” Debi Lilly, event designer and author of A Perfect Event: Inspired, Easy Elegance for Every Occasion
6. "I ask, “If you had the opportunity to meet one person you haven’t met who would it be, why and what would you talk about?” Fred Anderson, president of soon to be launched lifestyle brand Hanley Mellon

7.  "My favorites are, “If you could have an alternate career, what would it be?” and “What was your most embarrassing moment?” The answers always spark a lively conversation." Angella Nazaria, best-selling author and philanthropist

8.  "I can’t stand small talk, so I’ll turn to the table and say, “Let’s talk about something that we can all learn about from one another. What do you think is the driving force in your life?” Kathy Freston,  New York Times best-selling author
9. "Compliments are nice as are open-ended questions like, “How do you spend your day?” or “What’s new in your world?” Daniel Menaker, author of A Good Talk: The Story and Skill of Conversation
10. " I always lean on books or travel. They are my go-to topics. So I’ll say, “I’m looking for a good summer read. Have you read anything good lately?” Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, Lifestyle and Entertaining expert

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Tips for Buying Vintage Clothing

By Lauren Conrad
I’m a firm believer that most trends never really go out of style; they just go into hibernation. Some trends lay dormant for a few seasons and some for decades. But sure enough, everything comes back around again. Take this season’s “It” shoe, the mule, for example. It’s true that the mule is having a major moment, but this isn’t the first time. The mule was wildly popular back in the ‘90s, and in the ‘70s and ‘50s before that. And that is just what makes shopping vintage so fun…
But before you go digging through racks of ‘70s slip dresses and Mad Men-esque frocks, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Generally speaking, the term “vintage” refers to an item of clothing that is between 20 and 100 years old (anything more than 100 years old is considered antique). So as you can imagine, there is a whole new set of concerns that go along with shopping for a garment older than you are. While a vintage item doesn’t need to be in mint condition to be wearable, you’ll want to make sure it is still worth your hard-earned dollar. Especially since a designer vintage item can cost just as much as couture! Here are a few things to keep in mind…

Check for Stains, Odors, and Rips

If a vintage piece has a noticeable stain or an offensive odor, chances are that it’s been there for years. And once stains and odors are set, your dry cleaner probably won’t be able to remove them. Also watch for rips that aren’t along the fabric’s seam or edge. These are much harder to mend and might not be worth the effort. Plus, vintage fabric is often more delicate, which makes it harder to wash or repair.

Know What Can Be Fixed

Broken zippers, rips along the seam, and damaged clasps on jewelry can all be fixed. But beware of damaged signature hardware, or missing stones or beads. And if a unique looking button is gone, keep in mind that you’ll have to replace them all with another style.

Try it On for Size

Sizing standards were very different 30 and 40 years ago, so never assume a vintage piece will fit without trying it on. Pieces older than 50 or 60 years might not even have a size label at all. But also keep in mind that the right vintage piece might be worth tailoring. With something one-of-a-kind you can expect to need at least a few alterations.

Decorate and Display

In my opinion, a truly beautiful vintage piece is like a work of art. So think outside of the “clothing” box when shopping vintage. If you find a beautiful piece that’s not your size or is too delicate to wear, consider putting it on display in your bedroom or workspace. Lauren always has several vintage items hanging around the Paper Crown offices as decor—from a vintage mannequin dressed up in tulle to a collection of lace slips hanging in the window. You’ve never seen anything so pretty!

Ask Questions

Unless you’re a seasoned vintage shopper, you’ll probably have a few questions about when and where the piece came from. Don’t be afraid to ask the sales associate for the whole story. That’s just what makes vintage so special!

If You’re Buying Online…

Sites like Ebay and Etsy have a wealth of pretty vintage pieces, but buying vintage online is tricky. Make sure that the images are clear, all measurements are included, and that the return policy is clearly stated. You don’t want to be stuck with an item that looks much different in person than you imagined.