YOU'RE MY FAVORITE... nighttime edition

Here's the second half of our local favorites:

FRENCH QUARTER EVENING:

The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone

The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone

Restaurant R'Evolution

Restaurant R'Evolution

The exterior of fan favorite Pat O'Brien's

The exterior of fan favorite Pat O'Brien's

UPTOWN EVENING:

the historic Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue

the historic Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue

The traditional menu at Clancy's uptown

The traditional menu at Clancy's uptown

Dressy Dinner:

Nightlife + Music:

The Maple Leaf Bar

The Maple Leaf Bar

Snake and Jake's Christmas Club Lounge

Snake and Jake's Christmas Club Lounge

YOU'RE MY FAVORITE... daytime edition

During what turned out to be a month-long hiatus from journaling, Spring sprung, flowers bloomed, it's 10,000 degrees in the shade and Jazzfest time is here in New Orleans.  Thousands of tourists and visitors flock to New Orleans for the Jazz Festival each year, and we get a lot of requests for restaurant referrals and suggestions for shopping.  This year we were already in the process of compiling a list of our favorites when Jazzfest hit.  Here is the first half of our list :

START YOUR DAY:

Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter

Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter

The Parkway Bakery near City Park

The Parkway Bakery near City Park

Commander's Palace in the Garden District

Commander's Palace in the Garden District

SHOPPING

ANTIQUES + INTERIORS

Julie Neill's beautiful shop on Magazine Street 

Julie Neill's beautiful shop on Magazine Street 

Weinstein's

Weinstein's

Pied Nu, located uptown near Audubon Park and Zoo

Pied Nu, located uptown near Audubon Park and Zoo

Do you Athleisure?

What are you wearing right now?  

If you're an American woman between the ages of 25-50, there is a good chance it's something that falls into the newest fashion category: athleisure.  Whether it's a pair of technical yoga leggings from cult brand Lululemon or a styled nylon jacket from APC + Outdoor Voices, wearing clothing that references outdoor adventures has become an everyday option for anyone who's work doesn't demand strict professional attire or a uniform.  In fact, it has been argued that yoga pants are the uniform of the millennial.

Wikipedia defines athleisure as a trend in fashion in which clothing designed for workouts and other athletic activities is worn in other settings, such as during work, trips to school, or other casual or social occasions. Athleisure outfits "look like athletic wear" and are characterized as "fashionable, dressed up sweats and exercise clothing" The idea is that gym clothes are supposedly making their way out of the gym and becoming a larger part of people's everyday wardrobes.

Much of the trend has been attributed to culture's growing interest in health and well-being.  According to an article published by Morgan Stanley, sports participation is growing among high school age athletes, and an overall interest in "athletic lifestyles" amongst all ages is a huge draw for sportswear that can "go both ways."

Lululemon's signature look, featuring a $58.00 wrap scarf, $98 yoga pants, with coordinating  bag and shirt.

Lululemon's signature look, featuring a $58.00 wrap scarf, $98 yoga pants, with coordinating  bag and shirt.

Cara Delivigne modeling Chanel's luxe take on the athleisure trend -- I found no pricing information, so you'll have to use your imagination.

Cara Delivigne modeling Chanel's luxe take on the athleisure trend -- I found no pricing information, so you'll have to use your imagination.

A set from Stella McCartney's popular Adidas collaboration.  Technical skirt and top, approximately $70 apiece.

A set from Stella McCartney's popular Adidas collaboration.  Technical skirt and top, approximately $70 apiece.

A simple look form Target, available both in-store and online for less than $100, total.

A simple look form Target, available both in-store and online for less than $100, total.

Part of the appeal of this apparel trend is that it is accessible at a variety of prices, ranging from the reasonable pieces you'll find at places like Target, Old Navy,  and H & M to indulgently upscale designs from historic fashion houses like Chanel.  Additionally, if you are in need of athleisure that can pass the boardroom test...well, we've got that, too.

A personal favorite of mine is Kit and Ace, a concept store born from the industry giant Lululemon's success.  They specialize in "technical cashmere" pieces that can be thrown in the washing machine for easy care, but have high-style silhouettes that can work in a professional environment.  Here is a link to a great piece on the brand by the New Yorker .

Kit and Ace's technical cashmere pieces combine fashion and comfort in a wearable way.

Kit and Ace's technical cashmere pieces combine fashion and comfort in a wearable way.

Other brands that fall into the more-formal-than-yoga-pants-but-oh-so-comfortable category include Anne Fontaine , Carbon 38 , and Lisa Marie Fernandez .  Read more about how to integrate performance technology into your 9 - 5 in articles from The Fashion Law and Vogue .

Ann Fontaine's immaculate white separates are amazing with leggings or a tailored skirt.

Ann Fontaine's immaculate white separates are amazing with leggings or a tailored skirt.

For local readers here in New Orleans, check out the new TASC location on Magazine Street --not coincidentally located in the spot formerly occupied by Kit and Ace.  My personal favorite for impulsive purchases is Azby's , owned by Kerry Bruno, who is my hero as a business woman + mother + athlete, and has a great eye for current trends and classic staples.  Every year I treat myself to one Azby's total impulse purchase.  Last year's was made literally on the way to Jazzfest, and was a fun Rebecca Taylor top that I have worn with equal success at the fairgrounds and also at a very fancy baby shower -- granted, I changed bottoms.  (I don't think any trend will ever meld Jazzfest shorts and luncheon-appropriate skirts.)  

Tunic styling by TASC Performance -- simple and chic and LOCAL

Tunic styling by TASC Performance -- simple and chic and LOCAL

My versatile Rebecca Taylor top from Azby's -- a chameleon that goes casual or semi-dressy with a quick change of pants.

My versatile Rebecca Taylor top from Azby's -- a chameleon that goes casual or semi-dressy with a quick change of pants.

Our personal tie in here at Studio Amanda Talley is our burgeoning collection of tennis and golf-wear.  Our tailors have diligently been deconstructing our own favorite pieces and rebuilding them to our fabric specifications.  Although we can't provide you with a work-appropriate lycra blazer (yet), we do have some cute options to sport after a match. (Pardon my iPhone photography.  Professional images coming soon! -- in the meantime you can read up on Azby's, TASC, AND Studio Amanda Talley and enjoy professional shots at The Scout Guide New Orleans blog!)

Little Lucy skirt, $165

Little Lucy skirt, $165

Game, Set, Match dress, $185

Game, Set, Match dress, $185

Emily skirt, $165

Emily skirt, $165

If you're still not onboard, check out these articles from Forbes and  Business Insider -- both provide an in-depth look at the movement and why it's here to stay.  

Still skeptical?  Visit your local Lululemon, plunk down your Am/Ex and try it out on your next casual Friday.  If the experience of having your entire body snugly held in place by incredibly soft and durable synthetics whilst looking au courant doesn't sway you, nothing will.

Treat yourself -- BUY THE FABRIC!

I've been carrying around a crumpled magazine page featuring Fortuny Caravaggio fabric in avio & red for at least two years.  The minute I saw it, I knew I had to have it.   I have two framed drawings that I love, and they need an echo in my home space. 

Fortuny Caravaggio fabric

Fortuny Caravaggio fabric

One framed drawing, and one child.

One framed drawing, and one child.

About a year ago I asked my friend Patricia, who owns a designer fabric shop, if she could order the fabric for me.  "Sure," she replied "It's $496 a yard, with a minimum two yard order."

Well.

Y'all, I work in fabric.  I was practically raised in a linen store.  I had been considering curtains, and if not curtains, at least curtain trim.  At that price, trimming out curtains would run me upwards of $4000.00.   For just the trim.  I was sad.  Then I was determined to find something that would make me equally happy, but within my budget.  So I've spent twelve months looking at trim, at ribbons, at fabric, at curtains, and oftentimes at my crumpled magazine page.

When you're choosing fabrics for your home, the most important factor is obviously going to be whether or not you like the look of the fabric.  After that,  there are still a lot of things that need to be considered.  If it's fabric for seating or any area that will see a lot of wear and tear, you'll need a fabric that can withstand a lot of friction.  If it's going to be exposed to sunlight, you need something colorfast.  (Nowadays you can find beautiful outdoor fabric from Sunbrella, which is perfect for porch life or outdoor entertaining.)  If you choose a light weight fabric for curtains, you'll need to line and interline them.  If you want to pleat your fabric, you'll need to choose something that isn't too stiff.  I could go on and on, but the easiest way to make sure you're buying something that will work for what you have in mind is to ask either an expert at a fabric store or an interior designer.  They will have consulted on many projects and have a wealth of practical experience that can save you time and money, and are well worth the splurge.

My local favorites are Fairfax Fabric Company for interiors, and Promenade Fine Fabrics for clothing and accessories.  If you don't have a design professional assisting you, Spruce  is a great resource, as owner Nomita Joshi-Gupta is accredited in architecture and interior design.  All three of these shops are a treasure trove of pattern, color and texture.  

Of course, I also include our own Amanda Talley fabrics in my decor, and I'm always pushing to see what our fabric printer can come up with to help with creative interiors. Currently, the linen/cotton blend is the most popular fabric we sell, but our Eco canvas is starting to challenge, as it is a more weatherproof and colorfast fabric due to some polyester content.  (Polyester is your friend.  Not in your bedding and sleep wear, but on a hall bench or porch chair, a synthetic will last longer and stay brighter than a full cotton or linen.)  I'm hopeful that soon we will be able to offer fully weatherproof fabric, too.

For the record, I haven't given up on my Fortuny fabric.  I  bought flax linen curtains and left them untrimmed for now.  In the meantime I'm planning to have a bench cushion cover made in the Caravaggio, which suits my budget.  For now...