Style

Where I Love to Shop in London

WHERE TO SHOP IN LONDON

A common question I’m often asked is “Where are the best places to shop in London?” While I’ve already shared a few times now that I’m really not much of a shopper, when I moved to London back in August, I came with virtually no winter clothes in my suitcase and have been forced to acquire an entirely new wardrobe this season. Throughout this process, I’ve discovered a few stores that I can always count on to have high quality clothes that align with my “fewer, better things” mentality (and all of them offer online shopping even if you can’t make it to London in the near future). Furthermore, I support the ethical commitments they are making regarding important issues like climate change and fair labor. So if shopping online or in London is something you’re looking to do anytime soon, here are my four favorite places:


& Other Stories



& other stories

This is hands down my favorite (and most frequented) place to shop in London (although they have locations all over). They have beautiful pieces designed by creatives from around the world, creating a global aesthetic that I love. They believe that the manufacturing of clothes, shoes, accessories and beauty products should be done in a responsible way and their aim is to create collections, with well thought-out solutions, that give people the opportunity to express their personality.

While I love their designs, I equally love that they are aware that climate change is one of the major challenges of our time and are taking action to tackle this (they continually expand their environmental goals and want to find the most energy efficient and sustainable way for all stages of their business.) They want to reduce the environmental footprint in the fashion world, and believe recycling is a big part of that, so they established an in-store recycling program for all beauty packaging. They’ve extended this program to include textiles too (includes stores in Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States).

The items I’ve purchased this season and wear frequently can be found below.

sezane london

Sézane is a French label with pieces that are designed to last, to be passed on, and are created with integrity. They believe doing things well is both a choice and a duty, and they have never deviated from it. Every season they scour the world in search of the very best materials, take great care of their partners, and ensure every last metre of fabric is used. They believe in taking concrete actions in order to assume their social responsibilities and limit their environmental impact. Their pieces are beautiful and I’ve loved every item that I’ve purchased from them (the items I purchased are now sold out, but take a look at their site for plenty of new, beautiful options that are available).

jack willis London

Jack Wills is a British lifestyle brand known for its high-quality, heritage-inspired wardrobe classics. It’s a great place to find classic items (like my trench coat and cable skirt). I also support their company values like ensuring that all of our materials are sourced responsibly. They firmly believe it is not acceptable for animals to suffer in the name of fashion or cosmetics, and they also work with suppliers that make great clothes in a fair, equitable and environmentally conscious manner.

Hobbs London blouse

Hobbs offers modern cuts, feminine tailoring and heritage craftsmanship – inspired by London, designed here and brought to life by their in-house atelier. They don’t get swayed by trends that come and go and are smart enough to see beyond the throwaway, to seek out styles that will stay relevant. Current yet timeless, they make the pieces you’ll still be reaching for ten years from now. Furthermore, working conditions are safe and hygienic, child labor is forbidden, living wages are paid and no harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed.

I’ve loved finding timeless pieces here that I know will last (see some recent favorites below).

I hope you love these stores as much as I do and that this post helps you shop more consciously and sustainably. If you have other brands you love to support that are fighting fast fashion and making more ethical choices, tell me about them in the comments below.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

xx,

Whitney

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2018 Holiday Gift Guide: The Travel Lover

travel lover gift guide


Increasingly year over year, the internet is flooded with gift guides promoting what to buy your loved ones this holiday season. I too participate in the annual tradition of gifting and think the act of expressing generosity to those you love is a beautiful gesture. But as easily as I'll admit to that, I'll also confess that this very practice has made me a bit of a cynic. Society's even-more-extravagant-than-usual push toward consumerism is about as subtle as a sledge-hammer and often robs the attention from where focus should be this time of year. And in a season where I've found so much richness in living more simply, I've really struggled with all the waste and frivolity that accompanies this time of year (buying people things they don't want or need, forests full of unnecessary wrapping paper… the list goes on). I don't mean to sound like the Grinch. In fact, I absolutely love the Christmas season and all the festivities that it brings! But I also feel compelled to speak out against this purely acquistional mindset that perpetuates materialism or steals from the things that bring us more fullness.

While I hope there are more simple moments of togetherness than there are “things” in your holiday season, hear me when I say there is absolutely still space at the table for expressing generosity through the act of tangible giving. Again, I participate in gift exchanges as well! And while I (personally) won't be making multiple gift guides for various profiles you might be shopping for (my area of expertise is travel, so that's what I'm going to stick to) if you're a frequent traveler or you're shopping for one, I do have some helpful input that’s worth speaking to.

For starters, I would love to help you plan a trip! I believe travel and the memories we gain from experiences together is one of the sweetest gifts life has to offer. If you’re interested in booking time with me (for yourself or as a present for someone you love), visit my Travel Planning page.

And if you’re looking for some great travel-related products? I’ve compiled a list of things I own and genuinely love. All of these are great quality and won't be throwaway clutter you're tired of a few months after Christmas (in fact, a lot of them are repeat mentions from the years past when I've done this same drill, which is proof that I'm still using them). It's my hope that if you're in the market for any of these things, this will be a helpful way to steer you toward products that are worth your money and will actually add value to your life. But if not? Direct your funds and energy elsewhere… because at the end of the day, it’s just stuff :)


IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR:

A GREAT PURSE FOR TRAVEL:

A classic black leather bag can do no wrong, in my opinion. I pretty much always have these three in constant rotation, depending on the occasion. If I just need a small bag for the essentials, this FashionABLE Menbere cross-body bag (which also helps fight generational poverty through providing economic opportunity for women) is the perfect size and contains multiple compartments perfect for casual travel days. If you’re looking for something a bit more sophisticated, yet hoping to avoid seeming pretentious, this Lipault Paris bag is chic, high-quality and looks a bit more polished. And if you need a roomy tote to carry on a plane or train? This Cuyana structured carry-all tote (and tassel!) is one of my all-time favorites.

If you’re looking for a wider-range of travel bags, be sure to check out my “Best Bags for Travel” post.


A TRAVEL COSMETIC BAG:

I’ve carried this Cuyana leather travel case set for almost 3 years now and both bags are still as good as new. You can choose from a variety of chic colors and add a monogram if you’d like to add a sense of personalization.


A PASSPORT CASE:

I have had the same Aspinal of London passport case for two years now and I love it! Unfortunately they no longer carry my color, however they do have several other beautiful options. Similarly, I recently found The Daily Edited and think their passport cases are also beautiful (Cuyana has some lovely ones as well).




A LUGGAGE TAG:

I’ve had a variety of luggage tags over the years, but a few have really stood out among the rest. This classic pebbled-leather one by Cuyana will always be a favorite, along with this classic Leatherology one (which has an option for a beautiful hand-painted personalization). Again, The Daily Edited has some beautiful options (like this) and I also liked the chic simplicity of this one from Nordstrom. 



COZY CLOTHES FOR TRAVEL DAYS:

Wrapping up in cozy layers is the best way to travel (see this post for a more extensive list of suggestions). Some of my favorite pieces I’ve worn for years now, like this cozy cardigan or these adidas superstars. Recently, I’ve fallen completely in love with these Cuyana ponte pants (I am embarrassed to tell you how many days out of the week I wear these here in London…) I also finally got this beautiful Alpaca cape that I’ve wanted for so long now, and it feels so luxe and cozy to wrap up in.




A TRAVEL WALLET:

This Cuyana pebbled-leather travel wallet is honestly one of my favorite everyday items I own (I've pointed several friends to this piece and they're now advocates for it as well!) It's perfectly sized to fit in any purse or carry on bag without being too large and bulky. It neatly compartmentalizes your credit cards, travel documents, passport and spare change (plus there are plenty of other compartments where you can keep business cards, a lipstick or other essentials if that's all you want to carry out one night).






AN EXTERNAL CHARGER:

This external charger does NOT mess around. I can honestly charge this bad boy once and it will last me about an entire week of charging my phone and devices- whether I’m traveling or just roaming around London. After getting so annoyed by so many external chargers barely giving me any juice and just being an extra piece of junk I’m carrying around, I have recommended this gem to so many people because I love it so much.



A RE-USABLE WATER BOTTLE:

I’m more committed than ever to reducing my environmental footprint and eliminating unnecessary single-use plastic from my life. I’ve loved this travel-specific Swell re-usable water bottle because it’s easy to wash by hand while on-the-go and holds a good amount of water without being too bulky.

PACKING CUBES:

These have been a game-changer for the way I pack! Not only do they keep me significantly more organized, I find that they really do save me space in my suitcase because they can compress bulky items down into smaller sizes.



A TANGLE-FREE PLACE FOR YOUR CHARGING CORDS + HEADPHONES:

Cuyana gifted me this chic little leather pouch that’s the perfect place to keep your headphones. Even though I asked for air pods for Christmas, I can still easily store those (or any other charging cords) in here to keep them from getting lost or tangled in my bag.


A HYDRATING MASK POST-AIRPLANE:

I tried these La Mer hydrating sheet masks earlier this year and was blown away by the difference I felt in my skin. While I’ve certainly tried products before that seemed to work, nothing compares to this level of how impressed I’ve been (truly hydrating without feeling greasy or gross). They’re definitely more of a splurge for a sheet mask, but worth every penny for the difference you’ll notice in dehydrated skin.



A WEEKEND TRAVEL BAG:

I am still carrying two of my Cuyana overnight and weekender totes from years ago that are no longer in stock, because I haven’t needed to replace them (similar options here and here). Additionally, this Leatherology weekend tote has been an amazing addition to my repertoire and has the option to add a beautiful hand-painted personalization detail.


For more items that are my “go to” favorites, visit the “Shop Travel Gear” section of my site. I try to keep my travel recommendations for shopping quite succinct, as I’m a believer in fewer, better things. If you want to do some additional browsing for an item you need that perhaps I didn’t speak to, here is a list of retailers (including some having sales/promotions) who I think provide high-quality items that will last you a long time:

& OTHER STORIES (Currently 50% off select styles)

ANTHROPOLOGIE

ASPINAL OF LONDON (20% off)

ASOS (Currently 20% off everything)

CUYANA (Donating 10% of sales to California fire victims)

LEATHEROLOGY (15% off everything using code GIFTS at checkout)

NORDSTROM (Up to 60% off)

THE DAILY EDITED (20% off everything using code CYBERMONDAY20 at checkout)

Whoever you’re shopping for or however you choose to practice generosity this season, remember to not get too swept up in the things that don’t matter. Prioritize taking the time to write cards with meaningful words and share meals with people you love without looking at your phones. Focus on all the things you already have instead of making a list of the things you want to buy. Ask yourself how you can simplify your life to rid the unnecessary clutter and make make more room for the things you value most. Call me cliché, but I actually believe all the way to my bones that’s what will bring you the most joy this season.

Thanks for listening to my soap box and I hope you gained some helpful holiday inspiration in the process! As always, I so appreciate you stopping by.

xx

Whitney





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Summer in Chicago Bucket List

summer in chicago

 

While I've written about my love for Chicago many times over the years, it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I could truly say I've had the privilege of experiencing this city in it's prime. Simply put, summer in Chicago is other-worldly. With idyllic temperatures in the seventies and a buzzing energy that's been fought for all winter long, this city comes alive in the summer in a way you won't see any other time of year. I've spent the last couple of months polling trusted locals and food enthusiasts so I could try just about every recommended rooftop, patio or outdoor experience in the Windy City that I could first-hand. After working hard (or hardly working?) it's my pleasure to bring you this curated "bucket list" of favorites that you simply can't miss when you visit Chicago this time of year. 


CHICAGO HELICOPTER EXPERIENCE
CHICAGO HELICOPTER EXPERIENCE

Experiencing the ideal seasonality of Chicago wasn't the only way I saw this city with fresh eyes over the past several weeks. One of the most memorable moments of my summer was easily with Chicago Helicopter Experience. Departing from their downtown heliport just minutes from the “Loop", this tour took us over the most popular sights including Willis Tower, the Hancock building, Soldier Field, Navy Pier, Buckingham Fountain, Lake Shore Drive and the Magnificent Mile. The ride was incredibly smooth, and I was pleasantly surprised by how large and unobstructed the viewing windows were (also loved the Bose noise-cancelling headphones to make for a much more enjoyable flight). Even after flying into Chicago by plane dozens of times now, nothing compares to soaring so closely to the skyline like this (especially at sunset!) and taking in the spectacular aerial views of the city. It was one of the coolest things I've done in a long time (and not just in Chicago!) Learn more about booking with Chicago Helicopter Tours here

chicago helicopter experience

shore club chicago
shore club chicago

I spent several afternoons over the course of the summer parked at Shore Club: an elevated venue at North Avenue Beach inspired by Mediterranean cuisine and beautiful beaches around the world. Alcohol is strictly prohibited at the beach, with the exception of here and Castaways their neighboring beachside burger joint, so if you're craving a cocktail to go along with your beach views-- this is the place to find it.  Shore Club's restaurant features floor to ceiling glass windows in a temperature controlled space, along with an outdoor patio if you prefer to be outside. For guests seeking more of a semi-private VIP experience, you can also reserve a Cabana, Daybed or Sun Bed in The Oasis at Shore Club. I tried them all and can personally attest that there is no bad experience here, regardless of where you decide to spend your time! My only advice? Don't leave without trying their frozen cocktail flight or a large format specialty cocktail served in a copper pineapple-- both are novelties everyone will enjoy!

shore club chicago

JAZZIN' AT THE SHEDD

Every Wednesday evening in the summer, Chicago's Shedd Aquarium hosts  "Jazzin' at the Shedd": a paradise for people like me who thoroughly enjoy live jazz music, sweeping city views and a glass of wine (especially all at once!) Tickets are $25 and offer full aquarium access in addition to performances by some of Chicago's top jazz musicians - all paired with cocktails, the city skyline and Navy Pier fireworks for the cherry on top!


Chicago is known around the world for its architecture, and it would be a cardinal sin to visit this city (especially in the summer!) without doing the Chicago Architecture Foundation river cruise. There are actually a handful of companies offering these tours, but the Chicago Architecture Foundation is by far the most credible and educational. Order a beverage (available for sale on board) and sit on the upstairs deck while you expand your knowledge of some of Chicago's most iconic Art Deco, Gothic, Modern and Post-Modern buildings. Tours last 1.5 hours and tickets should be booked in advance here

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE FOUNDATION TOUR

kayak chicago

Back to the river we go! Another amazing way to get on the water and take in the architectural offerings of the city is with Kayak Chicago. They offer a variety of group tours, but we opted to take the kayaks out and explore on our own. You can also rent kayaks (or stand-up paddle boards!) with them on Lake Michigan, but I personally think it's a more unique opportunity to see the city from a different perspective by opting for the river. Rentals are $30 per hour for a single kayak ($80 for the day) and $40 per hour for a double kayak ($120 for the day). Whether you go for a tour or an on-your-own approach, kayaking the river starts just at the northern point of Goose Island, which equates to roughly 7 miles (and ~2 hours) round-trip to go to the heart of downtown and back. 


I developed a serious addiction to biking during my time in Chicago. The city's bike-sharing program, Divvy, makes it so easy (and cheap!) to take a bike to/from wherever you want to go. While I'd suggest taking this form of transportation as often as you can, be sure you do so along Chicago's Lakefront Trail. Almost daily, I'd start at Belmont Harbor and would ride until I hit North Ave. Beach (then would usually commute to wherever I was going in the city through Old Town). This particular stretch (while not very long!) is full of beautiful views, both of the lake and the city skyline. The pathways are easy to navigate, even if it's been a minute since you've been on two wheels...

CHICAGO BIKING TRAIL

CHICAGO CUBS GAME

Is there anything more all-American than going to a Cubs game?! I'll admit, I'm usually more of a sport enthusiast for the sake of experience and camaraderie than I am the actual sport itself,  but I find Cubs games to be such a great time. You can either buy standard tickets at Wrigley (only one of the most iconic ballparks of all time) or you can also purchase tickets from neighboring venues like Wrigley Rooftops, which also overlook the stadium. I love going to night games (if it's a warm day, you're less likely to be sweating if you don't have to factor the sun!) Wherever you sit and whenever you go, be sure to indulge in a Chicago dog + a few beers... and sing "Go, Cubs, Go" as loud as you can!


In the heart of Wicker Park, easily one of my favorite Chicago neighborhoods, is The Robey: a beautiful Art Deco building-turned-hotel on the corner of North Ave and Milwaukee. But before I send you upstairs to their rooftop (which we’ll get to in a minute) allow me to dote on Café Robey, their street level eatery. We came for dinner and fell in love with so many items from their menu (don’t leave without trying the tartar, the pork entree and most importantly, the gnocchi!) The cocktails were made wonderfully and the smart staff rounded it all out to make for the perfect meal before heading to…

CAFÉ ROBEY
THE ROBEY WICKER PARK THE UP ROOM

The Up Room is The Robey's 13th floor lounge boasting twinkling skyline views of Chicago. They maintain a (seemingly) lower capacity that doesn't feel over-crowded which I loved, however this means there's often a line to get in. If you're dining at Café Robey, you can request to be put on the list while you eat so that you can go straight up whenever you finish your meal. Either way, you don't want to miss this elevated (in more ways than one) space. 


If you're a visitor to Chicago, chances are you'll find yourself on the Magnificent Mile at some point during your trip. While the city is exploding with culinary delights, I've found this area to be particularly touristy and not usually my favorite place to come for food + drink. Luckily, when my friend Sarah came to town I found Upstairs at the Gwen - a standout among rooftop terraces in the area. They focus on the art of craft cocktails paired with shareable small plate fare, all while offering cityscape views from among the Art-Deco-infused architecture. In addition to being impressed by the food + drink (don't leave without trying the smoked cauliflower!), I had befriended all of the staff by the end of our meal-- they were all such lovely people!  Even if I didn't have a tourist in town, I'd easily go back to Upstairs at the Gwen anytime.  

upstairs at the gwen

TIED HOUSE CHICAGO

I came to Tied House a few times over the course of my Chicago summer and it never disappointed. The bar is set in a sleek and airy space that’s idyllic for cocktails on a nice day (as is their 3-season patio). Should you stay for dinner, their James Beard Award-Winning chef has an array of dishes worth trying (and don’t overlook the bread & smears). Cocktails and dinner menu items are both rotated seasonally, but the smart staff is fantastic about helping you navigate any questions you may have during your decision making. 


The rooftop at LondonHouse Chicago offers some of the best views in all of the city. But be warned- I'm not the only one with this popular opinion. Should you decide you want to see these views for yourself, I'd recommend arriving around 4 to avoid a long wait. The sun can be ruthless this time of day, so simply leave your ID with the hostess to take a paper umbrella out on loan and create your own shade. In all honesty, cocktails are a bit over-priced and there's usually a crowd so I often don't stay longer than one drink. But even with those drawbacks, the views are still absolutely worth paying this spot a visit-- especially on a perfect summer day. 

LONDONHOUSE CHICAGO

parsons Chicken and Fish Chicago

Parson’s Chicken & Fish is a low-key eatery in Logan Square with a patio that’s a favorite among locals in Chicago. While chicken and fish may get all the name-sake glory, Parson’s is also widely known for inventing their famous Negroni slushy (you simply can’t leave without trying one- they’re delicious!) 

 

 

parson's chicken and fish

TO MY NASHVILLE FRIENDS: Keep your eyes peeled, because this gem is making it’s way to the Wedgewood-Houston area this fall!


I’m a sucker for novelty, so I jumped at the chance to try the boozy snow cone cocktails from Noyane- an upscale Japanese restaurant perched atop the Conrad. Served in takeout boxes (complete with chopsticks) these are such a fun summer treat to enjoy on a nice day, along with the sweeping city views. To be honest, you probably won’t want more than one (they’re a bit on the sweet side for my taste) but nevertheless, worth indulging in for the sake of experience!

noyane snowcone cocktails

Aba is the hot new rooftop patio in Chicago’s historic Fulton Market District. This Mediterranean restaurant is Chef CJ Jacobson’s second restaurant and  incorporates a light style of cooking with a large emphasis on raw and cooked protein. Whether you’re inside or outside, the ambiance is stunning (although book far in advance or be willing to wait a while — they’re still in their honeymoon phase of new popularity!

aba chicago

lost lake tiki

Recently named the #1 cocktail bar in America, I couldn’t leave Chicago without going to Lost Lake for one of their beautiful (and delicious) elixirs. This unassuming facade in Logan Square wouldn’t speak to you if you were simply passing by on the street, but from the moment you walk into this topical oasis, you’ll be drinking the Kool-Aid (or as I would recommend, a “Heaven is a Place”). 


There are dozens of others I could include on this list (see more of my Chicago favorites here) but these were the ones I felt couldn't be looked over. Chicago will always be one of my favorite cities and I'm so glad I could experience it in all it's summer-time glory over these last couple of months! 

But for now? I have lots to do as I prepare to leave for Europe in a few days. Thanks as always for stopping by and be sure to come back soon--I have a lot of upcoming adventures to share!

xx,

Whitney

belmont harbor chicago
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