Good morning, loves! We are revisiting coffee talk today — I have to admit, it has kind of become one of my favorite Sunday rituals. You ask me ANYTHING, and I answer honestly here over morning coffee — today it’s actually a matcha latte, but I digress.
True to usual form, you had a bunch of interesting, insightful and funny questions. So, let’s get rolling!
What made you want to start blogging and how did you develop your “brand”?
I love this question – and get it a lot – I fielded a very similar version in our last coffee talk here, so I’ll focus on the latter part of the question, developing my brand! I have to say, developing one’s brand isn’t easy – or, at least it wasn’t for me.
When I first started blogging I was laser focused on food but knew I wanted to also cover my other personal passions, like fashion, beauty and travel. I was pandering to the food angle mainly with only small forays into the other areas. My blog was literally looking like: steak night!, egg recipes!, quesadillas!, solutions for dry hair!, chocolate cake! LOL. The blog and its voice were so incohesive and the flow made no sense. I had to commit to being more consistent and ensuring all parts had an equal role to fill out more of an all-encompassing ‘lifestyle’ theme instead of food first, and everything else when I feel like it.
What is your favorite secret gem in Chicago?
Yes! Hidden gems are one of the many joys here in Chicago. We have so many great restaurants, but seeking out those little treasures (and finding them!) is awesome. Many years back, I was introduced to Croatian food and positively fell in love. The Balkan culture has some of the best comfort food and specialities and Beograd Chicago is my favorite café for these treats. Make sure to try any of the burek, and the house-made cevapcici (these are super addictive) — when you try them, you’ll know why!
You’re so good at putting outfits together. I recently had a baby and am 10lbs over where I was and none of my clothes fit! What do you suggest I do/wear to get through this odd body phase?! I have no jeans that fit! Do I buy them or just wear leggings until I fit into my old ones?
Congrats! Having a baby is so special, I want to just say enjoy and embrace this time, and fuck how the jeans fit, but I get it! Feeling good in your clothing is one of the most important things. It affects your day-to-day mood, your self confidence and can be incredibly depressing when you don’t have anything that makes you feel great about yourself. So, here’s my best advice: allow yourself a few new items that look AWESOME on your post-baby bod.
American Eagle has some amazing and forgivingly stretchy denim options at an incredible price point (like under $40 currently!) that will help you transition back into your old clothes while still feeling good NOW. Don’t go buying a whole new wardrobe… that will just give you the emotional permission to stay put and not motivated, if getting back to your old physique is what you want.
Best eyeliner for doing a cat eye (at different price points), please?
YES. YES. YES. A signature cat eye is every girl’s best friend. Or, at least it’s THIS girl’s best friend. I pretty much can not live without my liquid eyeliner. I have two favorites and alternate between both of them regularly. This Benefit Magic Ink is my #1 go-to. I’m obsessed with the small tip brush as it’s so versatile! I also love this E.L.F. Expert Liquid Liner, and at $2 for the tube, how can you go wrong with that?
What nail color do you suggest for Fall?
I’m such a neutrals girl. I pretty much alternate between white nails in the summer and something taupey or gray in the Fall/colder months. My favorite taupey-grays are Essie Merino Cool and Essie Chinchilly.
Any books you suggest?
I just finished reading Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS and think it’s such a great read for us entrepreneurial-minded gals out there. If you’re just looking for a little fun fiction, however, I loved the thriller Before the Fall by Noah Hawley and also, The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.
What are some tips on how to transition your fave summer pieces to Fall?
Layers, girl! The key to a fab fall look is always layers — taking that favorite tank trapeze dress you’ve been wearing all summer and adding tights, a fabulous leather jacket (this one is my favorite right now), booties and a hat is just what makes fall the best season EVER. But seriously, a hat is actually your key to a super successful fall transition. It might sound ridiculous, but a wide brim wool hat kicks up any look and screams FALL. A few great hat buys are this one, this one and this one.
How to look casual but smart while wearing formal clothes?
Mastering the art of looking casual and effortless while donning formal clothes isn’t easy. If you skew too casual, you just end up looking under-dressed and to me, there’s nothing worse than being under or inappropriately dressed for an occasion. That’s why for a formal occasion, I always stick to a formal ensemble (cocktail dress or gown) and opt to use my accessories to show-off my more playful, casual side.
Using your shoes, bag and jacket (when seasonly appropriate) to bring in a casual element can totally work. A leather jacket over a gown has been done in fashion for years. I also think choosing formalwear that looks a bit more chic as opposed to fussy is important. For example, something beautiful and flowy with a lot of motion will always look smarter than a beaded column dress, just sayin’. Bonus, I like this one, too. A LOT.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Chicago?
Kai Zan. Always and forever. With so many restaurants in this city – and more that debut seemingly almost everyday – it’s rare that I go back to a restaurant more than twice unless I’m absolutely obsessed with it. Kai Zan is that obsession. They keep me coming back month-after-month for years. With the most inventive Japanese cuisine and the most fabulous staff, it’s impossible not to.
That’s it for Coffee Talk, I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to leave any of your burning questions below and I’ll be sure to feature them next round.