Insider Tips: Pregnancy Skincare Essentials

Apologies for our brief blogging hiatus… it's summer, what can we say?!

In other news, while we don't generally do dedicated beauty posts, I have been asked recently about the products I use during pregnancy. For those who know me, I am a strong believer in all-natural childbirth; so naturally, I do an overhaul of my skincare regimen to include safer products during pregnancy. It is recommended to avoid retinoids, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, aluminum chloride, and parabens during pregnancy because they soak into your skin (and enter your bloodstream) and could be harmful to the baby. Not surprisingly, it can be difficult to find products that actually work without all of those active ingredients! Here are some of my must-haves from my first pregnancy that I loved so much I have continued to use in my normal routine and throughout this pregnancy as well. I would love to hear if some of you have favorites as well! xo, Courtney

Pregnancy Skincare Essentials

Pregnancy Skincare Essentials

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1. Normally, I am a big salicylic acid / glycolic acid cleanser fan, so I was worried about finding a suitable alternative. After some trial and error I stumbled upon this Avene Cleanance Gel Cleanser - it lathers nicely and makes my skin feel so clean and fresh.

2. Unable to get chemical peels during pregnancy, I feel like my skin needs a little extra TLC. I love the Clarisonic because I know I'm getting a deep clean and exfoliation; needless to say, this has become a year-round staple.

3. A Parisian pharmacy find (my favorite!), I discovered the Avene Thermal Spring Water several years ago and have been using it ever since. I use this as my toner after cleansing and also to set my makeup.

4. I've been using this lightweight La Mer Gel Moisturizing Creme for nearly ten years and was so happy to find out that it is indeed paraben-free.

5. Love this rich, but lightweight La Mer Eye Concentrate, another favorite which I was thrilled fit the bill for pregnancy-safe beauty.

6. I used this inexpensive Palmer's Cocoa Butter Massage Cream during my last pregnancy and am happy to report stretch-mark free! I applied this every morning and used a more intense oil at night.

7. Another success during my last pregnancy, so I've continued using the Weleda Stretch Mark Massage Oil at night.

8. I discovered this Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Dry Oil about five years ago in Monaco - it smells absolutely heavenly! A blend of sweet almond oil, macadamia oil, etc. - I use it as a light body moisturizer year-round and during the first few months of pregnancy before diving into the stretch mark creams.

9. It was a bit harder to find an effective aluminum-free deodorant... the Weleda Wild Rose Deodorant is the best one I've found so far and I love the rose scent.

 

Insider Tips: Cashmere Care Guide

As winter is winding down, many of us are contemplating the best way to clean and pack away our cashmere for the season. A common misconception is to send wool and cashmere to the dry cleaner; however, washing by hand or by gentle machine cycle actually helps preserve the delicate fibers. We consulted with the unrivaled fabric care gurus at The Laundress for their expertise on the subject. On a side note, if you've never used their products, you must try them. They leave your sweaters feeling so soft and the cedar scent smells amazing! Below, The Laundress details how to wash and store your cashmere and also shares some helpful tips for year-round care.

Cashmere care essentials from The Laundress

Cashmere care essentials from The Laundress

Handwash

The best and safest way to care for wool and cashmere, and the only way to wash items with any type of embellishment/beading. The Laundress says, when in doubt - handwash!

-Fill a wash basin or sink with cool water, then mix in Wool & Cashmere Shampoo. Turn the item inside out and submerge in the water, using your hands to gently move the item around. Soak for up to 30 minutes.

- Rinse under cool water until the water is no longer soapy. If there is color in the water; this is normal, it is simply the yarn dye releasing color. 

- Do not wring to dry. Press the item against the sink or basin to remove water. Do not put in dryer.

Machine Wash

You may also machine wash most woolens using a delicate, woolens or hand wash cycle. Do not machine wash items with embellishment.

- Turn the item inside out and insert into a mesh washing bag. Select the woolens, delicate or handwash cycle on the machine and set the temperature to cold and spin to low. Add the appropriate amount of Wool & Cashmere Shampoo.

-Remove clothes promptly to reduce wrinkles. Do not put in dryer.

Dry & Finish

- Lay flat to dry: woolens are best dried when lying flat in their natural shape. Lay the item on top of a flat towel or drying rack and arrange in its original shape. To expedite drying: place item on top of a towel, making sure it is flat and in its original shape. Then roll it up in the towel (like a sleeping bag) to remove excess water.

-Steam to remove wrinkles. Pressing an iron on wool will crush or flatten their sensitive fibers.

General Care & Storage

-Refresh between wears using the Wool & Cashmere Spray, which helps protect against moths and keeps items smelling fresh. Brush between wears with a cashmere brush to remove lint, fuzz and hair and release natural oils and rejuvenate yarns.

- De-pill: When wool fibers become loose, they form little balls, or pills. Pilling is a direct result of wearing and they tend to form in areas of friction, such as under the arms. For knits and fine-gauge woolens (lightweight sweaters and scarves): gently glide a sweater comb in one direction across the pilled area. For heavier woolens (heavy sweaters, blankets, upholstery): drag a sweater stone or pumice stone in one direction across the pilled area. 

- Storing: always store knits folded to prevent stretching and distorting. Make sure items are clean before storing them for long-term and packed away with a natural bug repellent - lavender pouches or cedar blocks. Wool and cashmere store best in a breathable cotton bag - do not store in plastic (dry cleaning bags or plastic storage bins).

 

 

Shopping Guide: Vail

I just returned from a lovely weekend in Vail with friends. Although most of our days were filled with skiing, après ski drinks and amazing dinners, we were able to squeeze in a bit of shopping time. Having grown up spending Christmases in Vail, I have become well-acquainted with the local shopping scene over the years. Gorsuch, The Golden Bear and Axel's are not only personal favorites, but are very much a part of Vail's identity. If you plan on visiting soon, be sure to keep these three on your radar!

Gorsuch

Gorsuch

Brunello Cucinelli ready-to-wear at Gorsuch

Brunello Cucinelli ready-to-wear at Gorsuch

Moncler ski coats at Gorsuch

Moncler ski coats at Gorsuch

1. Gorsuch - Truly a Vail landmark, Gorsuch was founded by Renie and David Gorsuch, former skiers on the 1960 U.S. Olympic Ski Team. They opened their Alpine-inspired lifestyle flagship in Vail Village in 1966 and now have eight locations, including stores in Aspen, Beaver Creek and Park City.

Brimming with luxurious European ready-to-wear suitable for the Alps or the Rockies, look for outstanding selections of Brunello Cucinelli and Etro for both men and women.  They are also known for stocking traditional Austrian jackets and beautiful ruffled blouses that are nearly impossible to find elsewhere. Complete your look with a handbag from Bottega Veneta or Nancy Gonzalez and be sure to check out the unrivaled array of fur boots.

Their ski gear selection will have you hitting the slopes in style with the likes of Moncler, Bogner, Frauenschuh, Emilio Pucci and Canada Goose. From sleek neutrals with fur trim to shiny metallics and vibrant colors and prints, there is something to suit every skier's style.

We must not forget their fabulous home selection - take a walk downstairs and you'll be dreaming for a mountain home adorned in sumptuous furs, cashmere throws and rustic antlers.

The Golden Bear

The Golden Bear

The iconic Golden Bear necklaces

The iconic Golden Bear necklaces

The Golden Bear - The symbol of Vail Valley and a long-standing tradition, The Golden Bear opened in 1975 in Vail Village. The pièces de résistance are the Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear necklaces (pictured above). In addition to the beloved golden bears, they are known for beautiful pave diamond, hand-hammered gold and sterling silver jewelry.

The store has since expanded to include an abundant selection of home accessories and giftware including signature bear-embossed wine glasses, pewter trays and leather frames.

Axel's

Axel's

Cowboy boot wall at Axel's

Cowboy boot wall at Axel's

Women's clothing at Axel's

Women's clothing at Axel's

Axel's - Another family-owned gem, Axel's has been the standard of classic European elegance in the Vail Valley since 1990. Axel Wilhelmsen, who grew up in Norway, and his wife and children still travel to Italy to hand-select the finest merchandise for their shop.  

Axel's is known for its exquisite selection of cashmere, sheepskin coats, hand-made European riding boots and cowboy boots and hand-engraved silver jewelry and belt buckles. Look for Italian designers such as Kiton and Boglioli and English John Lobb shoes, but note that the majority of clothing and accessories are actually designed in-house to better represent the unique Axel aesthetic. The fine craftsmanship, attention to detail and art of layering portrayed in this shop is truly unmatched.

Inspiration: Styling Outerwear

We will be the first to admit to constantly perusing the Resort and Spring 2015 collections, but let's face it - we will still be cocooned in coats for the next two months. Thankfully, there is a strong emphasis on outerwear this season that we are totally on board with. From oversized "borrowed from the boys" coats to ultra-feminine styles in blush and magenta, to fabulous furs and dramatic capes, there are countless ways to switch up your look through the end of winter.

Get creative with the way you style your outerwear and make it a deliberate part of your complete look. A classic camel coat looks so chic over all black or neutrals (whites and greys, especially). Make a statement in a bold colored or printed coat by wearing an otherwise solid, tonal outfit underneath.  Cinch the waist with a belt. Wear over your shoulders for a nonchalant, editorial look. Lastly, don't forget to accessorize! Channel the chic 70's vibe that's happening and top your look with a structured felt hat. Slip on an elegant pair of leather gloves. Or, layer on a oversized fur collar for a dramatic effect.  Check out our Pinterest board for more inspiration from our favorite street style cognoscenti.

Styling Outerwear

Styling Outerwear

Our New Year's Style Resolutions

As 2014 is coming to a close, we ponder our big-picture life resolutions for the upcoming new year, but we also thought it would be fun to share some of our style resolutions for 2015. Stay tuned this week for a more in-depth highlight on resolutions 1, 2 and 3!

1.  Invest in quality, timeless pieces. It is amazing how a great pair of well-made shoes or luxurious handbag can elevate an everyday look. If you're looking to splurge on any one item, make it something that you will get excited about every time you put it on and will wear for years to come.

2.  Wear more color!  Lately, we've been in full-on neutral territory where it seems like all we have been buying (and wearing) is black, camel and grey. While these classic neutrals are a great foundation for any wardrobe, the resort collections in vibrant orange, magenta and cerulean are beckoning!

3.  Dress more polished for daytime.  If you work from home or stay home with your kids, it is so easy to get into the suburban rut of post-workout Lululemon turns into an all-day uniform. Yes, we have those days, too! However, there is something about getting dressed for the day that triggers your brain to be more productive. Vince, Theory and J. Crew are some of our go-to brands for casual, yet chic separates perfect for everyday.

4. Do a seasonal wardrobe sweep.  This may take awhile, but try to go through every item in your closet and evaluate whether to toss, donate, consign (we send our gently-used designer items to  therealreal) or tailor/repair items accordingly.

5. Incorporate a strict one-in, one-out policy!  (My husband inspired this one.) Once the wardrobe sweep is complete, to prevent closet clutter from building up again, we vow to get rid of one item for every new item that we buy. 

What are some of your new year's style resolutions?

What to Wear: Family Photos

This was the first year our family had professional portraits taken because last year, as a new mother, I was not organized enough to schedule a date before our Christmas cards went out!  This year, with plenty of notice, I planned our outfits in advance so when the photoshoot day arrived, we were all ready to go! Here are a few pieces of advice I have for family portrait styling:

1. Once you have decided on a venue, plan your outfits accordingly. The goal is to look natural and fit in with your surroundings. Connecticut has the most beautiful fall foliage, so we wanted to take advantage of that. Our photographer, Erin Bell, who we absolutely adore, suggested we have them taken at Ambler Farm in Wilton, CT. I tend to overdress for most occasions, so it was a bit difficult for me to find an outfit that would not only look appropriate on the farm, but feel a little more special than a basic sweater and jeans. 

2. Decide on a look or color scheme for your family. We went with a soft neutral palette of ivory, grey and navy. If somebody in your family has a signature look, go with it. My husband is rarely seen without a navy blazer and my son happens to have a matching one, so we thought that would be a key piece to work with. They both wore dark denim, crisp white shirts and different styles of grey sweaters and brown leather loafers so they weren't completely matching from head-to-toe. I wanted to complement them, but needed a feminine look to balance the masculinity of the navy blazers. I ended up going with a full-length ivory wrap dress and threw a fox fur vest over it to add a little interest and texture.

3. Try to keep the look timeless and steer clear of overt trends. It is important to keep in mind that you will most likely have these pictures gracing your walls for years to come. Can you imagine your family in these outfits in five, ten years?

4. Consider adding layering pieces. If you aren't doing full-on outfit changes, I think it's a good idea to add a layering component. It keeps the shots interesting and varied and also gives you options when ordering prints. My son wore his jacket for half the pictures and then did the rest with just his sweater. I liked that because he and my husband aren't so matchy in every picture. I was afraid my vest might look bulky, so I took it off halfway through.

5. Choose colors and silhouettes that are flattering on you. This is not the time to experiment with new colors or styles - you want to look like yourself and feel comfortable. If you stick to tried-and-true styles that you know look good on you, you will look and feel natural and confident.

What to Wear for Family Photos

What to Wear for Family Photos

What to Wear for Family Photos

What to Wear for Family Photos

What to Wear for Family Photos

What to Wear for Family Photos

What to Wear for Family Photos

Me: Dress: Ralph Lauren, similarFur vest: old, similar & similar.  //  Husband: Jacket: Ralph Lauren. Sweater: Ralph Lauren. Shirt: Ralph Lauren. Jeans: Baldwin.  //  Son: Jacket: Ralph Lauren. Sweater: Ralph Lauren. Shirt: Ralph Lauren. Jeans: Baby Gap. Shoes: Janie & Jack.