The Ultimate Traveling Companion

The Ultimate Traveling Companion

The Ultimate Traveling Companion

The Ultimate Traveling Companion

The Ultimate Traveling Companion

The Ultimate Traveling Companion

The Ultimate Traveling Companion

The Ultimate Traveling Companion

The Ultimate Traveling Companion

What:

If I collected all of my special travel memories & awe-inspiring moments on the road and put them into one place, it would look and feel like a Boucle Bag.

Why:

When I caught my very first glimpse of a Boucle Bag, I was completely intoxicated by its originality. Yes, it actually made me HAPPY, something I talked a lot about in my first blog of the year: “A Fashionable Change”.

Purses don’t usually evoke emotion out of me; I mean, I’m a shoe girl, but this one? WOW. With its bold colors, yummy textures and individual styling, I could hardly ignore HOW it made me feel.

Boucle Bags aren’t just purses, they’re travel bags inspired by the Far East and one of the area’s creative customs: people write wishes on colorful tags and tie them around tree branches. Whether it’s love, health, success or happiness, those hopes and dreams are sent into the universe, leaving a kaleidoscope of fascination behind.

Not only does Boucle bring that beautiful tradition to life via fashion, it does it with exquisitely handcrafted quality. No two bags are alike and all that gobsmacking detail isn’t just reserved for the outside. Boucle Bags are roomy, sturdy and ready to help you chicly conquer your next destination: work, play, a long weekend getaway or how about that trip you’ve always dreamed of?

Speaking of…

I don’t think I’ve ever been able to truly express the impact traveling the world has had on my heart. My first golden sunset in Australia, the incredible visual impact of Hong Kong’s cityscape, the lush green rolling hills of Scotland and the rich architecture and opulence of Russia. I can’t wait for my next exciting adventure and you can bet my new Boucle Bag will be right there with me and that’s why “The Ultimate Traveling Companion” is one of my Favorite Things.

Shop the Gabriella Boucle Bag here: www.bouclebag.com

Be Social:
IG: @bouclebag

I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.Mary Anne Radmacher
James Woodley Photography
Outfit by @xobetseyjohnson
Shoes: @Forever21
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Completely Intoxicated” Auerbach

A Fashionable Change

A Fashionable Change

A Fashionable Change

A Fashionable Change

A Fashionable Change

A Fashionable Change

A Fashionable Change

A Fashionable Change

A Fashionable Change

A Fashionable Change

What:

A day at the beach with Solea Cangas and figuring out what I really want Shireen’s Favorite Things to be.

Why:

You may not know this, but when I first started the blog it was a way for me to express the pain and hurt of some devastating things that happened in my life: the loss of a baby, a major illness and the break-up of my marriage. It was some heavy stuff and I wasn’t exactly parading around South Florida in stylish trends. I was just trying to keep my head above water. Actually, if I’m being totally honest, I was a complete disaster. The writing/blogging helped with my grieving process and sharing my stories eventually healed me. At least to the point where I felt I was OKAY…

After the s*** storm hit. Because frankly, there’s no other to describe it…

The blog took on a more “stylish” turn. I felt guilty about it for awhile, mainly because my more serious storytelling had developed a strong online following. Taking a lighter, less “important” direction felt like a complete sell-out. It wasn’t, though; I promise you. Instead, it was a way of giving myself permission to leave my deep sadness and the morose introspection that always followed it behind.

When I first started the blog as it’s known now: “Shireen’s Favorite Things”…

I got A LOT of push back. Career-based fashion bloggers turned up their noses at me, my television co-horts didn’t understand it and key people around me (who pretended to care) just wanted to capitalize on it. What’s more, some readers didn’t want the “happy” me; perhaps the “sad” me was more relatable. In the meantime, all I wanted to do was write, tell stories, find creativity, inspiration and hopefully give birth to the new person I wanted, needed and hoped I could be.

The first year of ‘Favorite Things’ (everyone involved) worked like gangbusters. We gave up everything — especially our free time. It was hard at first, but we grew accustomed to it, then we got better at it and learned not to sacrifice what everyone needed: a break (even fashion has seasons for a reason.) As the years passed and the blog grew in popularity, Deco Drive got involved and WSVN supported my stylish storytelling like a proud mother, giving me creative liberties, cheering on my original content and awarding me an on-air fashion segment to run in tandem with the online blog.

Since then…

I’ve tackled almost every topic: movies, celebrities, famous and local fashion designers, seasonal, solo and eccentric trends, boutiques, interesting South Florida places and eventually, food (which happens to be an incredibly popular part of the blog now called: Shireen’s Spotlight.)

During the thick of it, I’d always ask myself: Do people care? Are they reading? Are they clicking onto something that’s enriching their lives? Is it enriching mine? And — what’s the ultimate outcome?” I didn’t know the answers beyond what the analytics were telling me. What I did know was…

When I pressed those closest to me (like my own mother,) most hadn’t even read the blog; including people who were working on it. “I haven’t read it, but I do love the pictures,” was the typical response I’d get. Still, I pushed on.

I’m not stupid. I mean, I get we’re living in a phone-driven, photo-taking, time-pressed society. Easy immediacy is the name of the game. Plus, I’m at THAT age — the one where you do things for yourself and not other people. Writing, blogging, exploring, reporting, traveling, working weekends, eating a lot of food. I did it for myself and it’s been enough — until now.

Over the holidays, I took a long break from blogging. I needed it because I felt tired and uninspired and it was gnawing at me. WHY? Why had something I loved so much changed? Most of us hate change and I’m one of those people. I like a good challenge, but when feelings and emotions start twisting and turning inside me, I panic because I know it’s time to re-evaluate and get real with myself.

At first, though, I ignore it for as long as humanly possible, but eventually, it spills over into everything I say and do, followed by long bouts of anxiety, crying jags and unhappiness. It’s almost as if my inside emotions are forcing me to change my outward path and begrudgingly, I HAVE to do it.

So, here we are — at the edge of the cliff of change — about to jump (and thank you if you’re actually reading this and not just looking at the pictures, especially Matty, because he has to and Jackie, because she’s my biggest cheerleader.)

From now on, I’ll be featuring things on the blog that evoke a special kind of emotion out of me: mainly, HAPPINESS. Like the very thing highlighted today — soleacangas.com — a company inspired by the ocean, uplifted by art and started by strong, entrepreneurial women. It’s a wrap-slash-beach blanket, with yummy lightweight material. The idea hails from the beaches of Rio, one of my favorite places on earth.

As I continue reinventing myself and Favorite Things…

I want more simplicity, as in less explaining. Yes, I’m caving, while a lot of people don’t have time to sit down and read, imagine what it’s like finding time to write pages upon pages of heartfelt fashion stories (especially with another full-time uber-demanding job.)

Not everything I focus on from here-on-out will be featured on TV. Not only can an aggressive deadline squash my creativity, but it takes away from the original “je ne sais quoi” of the blog.

I hope my new direction leaves you feeling good, inspired and yes, even happy after checking out the blog. It’s the least I can do for my faithful followers because YOU are one of my Favorite Things.

Be Social
IG: @soleacangas
FB: @soleacangas
soleacangas.com

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move into it, and join the dance.Alan W. Watts
James Woodley Photography
Outfit by @forever21
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “I Like This Job” Auerbach

Slay in Herve … because it’s the best way to end a fashionable year

Slay in Herve … because it’s the best way to end a fashionable year

Slay in Herve … because it’s the best way to end a fashionable year

Slay in Herve … because it’s the best way to end a fashionable year

Slay in Herve … because it’s the best way to end a fashionable year

Slay in Herve … because it’s the best way to end a fashionable year

Slay in Herve … because it’s the best way to end a fashionable year

Slay in Herve … because it’s the best way to end a fashionable year

Slay in Herve … because it’s the best way to end a fashionable year

What:

Wrapping up 2017 wearing one of my Favorite Things: HERVE LEGER. Plus, a little jibber-jabber about hopes, dreams and fancy things in 2018.

Why:

Ahh, romance & glamour…

Nothing used to say “New Year’s Eve” to me like a fabulous dress, a festive party and a fantastic man. Think the popular 80’s movie: “When Harry Met Sally”… More specifically, that famous last scene in the film when Harry & Sally realize they’re freaking nuts about each other.

It starts out with a hurried Harry pushing his way through a crowded New Year’s Eve party trying to find a heartbroken Sally. He’s in street clothes, she, of course, is in a gorgeous off-the-shoulder dark blue cocktail dress, looking every inch the fashion goddess.

Despite being broken up for months, the “meant to be” couple finally comes face-to-face on one of the most iconic nights of the year.

And, while their chemistry is ELECTRIC and their love PALPABLE, their happily-ever-after hangs delicately in the balance. (Get me a tissue!)

Then…

Harry proceeds to tell Sally she’s the person he wants to spend the rest of his life with. He adds sweetly: “I love you.” “What?” She says perplexed. “I love you,” he says emphatically.

Sally doesn’t believe Harry (because, well, most of the time men suck,) so she explains: “It doesn’t work that way! You can’t just barge back into my life expecting to pick up where we left off, because it’s New Year’s Eve and you feel lonely.”

Just as the traditional countdown begins, Harry tells Sally he doesn’t love her because he’s lonely, he loves her because of her special idiosyncrasies; like how she gets cold when it’s 71 degrees, how her face wrinkles up just above her nose when he says something annoying and how it takes Sally an hour or so just to order a simple sandwich.

“Auld Lang Syne” starts playing in the background and Sally cries: “I hate you, Harry,” but of course, she doesn’t really hate him, she LOVES him, they love one another. As they embrace and fall into a passionate kiss, the camera zooms out revealing the landscape of the party: the balloons, the confetti and dozens of couples dancing… Happy New Year!! 🎉

OMG! Be still, my besotted heart. 💝

Not only is that scene major movie magic, it’s something I’ve tried recreating for the better part of my adult life. The dress, the party, the man, the romance of it all and the trappings I assumed came along with it.

LUCKILY, somewhere along the way, life grabbed me by the shoulders and shook the hopeless romantic out of me. I know, I know, it sounds kind of morose, but actually, it was more like divine intervention.

Hollywood happiness isn’t just fleeting, it’s not even humanly possible. In fact, it’s a fool’s set-up for complete and utter disappointment. And while I’m at it, so is all the “politically correct” love rhetoric floating around in today’s society.

I don’t like ad campaigns, movies, social media, fairytales, religion, race or even my parents telling me how to love, who to love and what I should be wearing while I’m doing it.

You see, I tried all that on for size and it didn’t fit. In fact, it was suffocatingly small for what life really had in store for me. Two divorces and a lot of emotional baggage later…

I realized…

Life is ridiculously messy and heartbreaking and more often than not, it doesn’t come with witty Billy Crystal dialogue, good movie lighting and a perfect wardrobe (believe me, some of my early New Year’s Eve outfits were real doozies.)

Eventually, that dress, that man, that party, it all changes. The focus appropriately shifts to the woman you’re becoming, how the man treats you (with loving actions, not gilded words) and just as important, it’s about who you choose to surround yourself with (even when at a party.) We are, after all, the company we keep.

As New Years pass, I’ve had a lot of time to think about “When Harry Met Sally” and exactly what I was trying to extract from the last scene of the movie. And…

The answer is still somewhat elusive because it’s not necessarily tangible. Instead, it’s this incredible *feeling* that washes over me when I watch it. One of warmth, hope, dreams and desires…

Which is impossible to find during an hour and thirty six minutes of cinematic romance. It simply takes a lifetime of mistakes: highs, lows, self-tolerance, growth and trusting yourself to find out exactly WHAT it is that YOU need and what YOU want and no one else.

And while I still love a fabulous dress, a festive party and a fantastic man, I’ve learned to go about it the right way — MY WAY — because we all deserve our own #HappilyEverAfter even if it’s not something Hollywood would ever write about and that’s why “Slay in Herve” is one of my Favorite Things.

Where:

Herve Leger inside BCBG South Beach
Lincoln Road Mall
Miami, Florida 33139

(On the corner of Lincoln and Meridian.)

When:

Monday-Wednesday: 10am-10pm
Thursday-Saturday: 10am-12am
Sunday: 11am-11pm

Be Social:
IG:@bcbgsouthbeach
Twitter: @HerveLeger

www.herveleger.com & www.bcbg.com

Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different…C.S. Lewis

A special thank you to BCBG South Beach & Herve Leger for supporting my ambitious fashion writing and television career everyday of the year.

This blog is dedicated to Jackie Kay.

James Woodley Photography
Dresses by Herve Leger, South Beach
& Jewelry by BCBG South Beach
Styling: Marina, Shireen & Jackie Kay
Make-up: Tabitha Rey & Hair: Jess Stuver of www.zenzenorganicsalon.com
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “I’m Not Harry” Auerbach

Topping It Off for 2018!

Shireen Sandoval fashion blog, Miami FL. Old Hollywood glamour style fascinator. Photographed on location at The National Hotel, South Beach FL by James Woodley Photography. Also featured on Deco Drive TV. BCBG Miami Beach supplied the wardrobe from their Winter fashion collection.

Shireen Sandoval fashion blog, Miami FL. Old Hollywood glamour style fascinator. Photographed on location at The National Hotel's Piano Bar, South Beach FL by James Woodley Photography. Also featured on Deco Drive TV. BCBG Miami Beach supplied the wardrobe from their Winter fashion collection. The faux fur wrap is designed by Ann Taylor.

Shireen Sandoval fashion blog, Miami FL. New Year's Eve glamour style flower fascinator. Royal Fashions featured in modern society. Photographed on location at The National Hotel, South Beach FL by James Woodley Photography. Also featured on Deco Drive TV. BCBG Miami Beach supplied the wardrobe from their Winter fashion collection.

Shireen Sandoval fashion blog, Miami FL. Old Hollywood Oscar style for Shireen's Favorite Things. Photographed on location at The National Hotel, South Beach FL by James Woodley Photography. Also featured on Deco Drive TV. BCBG Miami Beach supplied the wardrobe from their Winter fashion collection.

Shireen Sandoval fashion blog, Miami FL. Old Hollywood glamour style fascinator. Photographed on location at The National Hotel, South Beach FL by James Woodley Photography. Also featured on Deco Drive TV. FeatherHeart Fascinators by Danielle. Hat hair fashions. Hair styles for headpieces on Shireen's Favorite Things.

Shireen Sandoval fashion blog, Miami FL. Old Hollywood glamour. Fascinator and hat hairstyles. L.A. Confidential theme. Photographed on location at The National Hotel, South Beach FL by James Woodley Photography. Also featured on Deco Drive TV. BCBG Miami Beach supplied the wardrobe from their Winter fashion collection.

Shireen Sandoval fashion blog, Miami FL. The Old Hollywood glamour and style of fashionable fascinators. Hat and hairstyles for New Year's Eve. Sparkling red dress with red velvet shoes. Photographed on location at The National Hotel, South Beach FL by James Woodley Photography. Also featured on Deco Drive TV. BCBG Miami Beach supplied the wardrobe from their Winter fashion collection.

Shireen Sandoval fashion blog, Miami FL. Old Hollywood glamour featuring hats & fascinator. Photographed on location at The National Hotel, South Beach FL by James Woodley Photography. Also featured on Deco Drive TV on WSVN, Channel 7 News. Sunbeam Television Corporation.

Shireen Sandoval fashion blog, Miami FL. Old Hollywood glamour style fascinator. Photographed on location at The National Hotel, South Beach FL by James Woodley Photography. Also featured on Deco Drive TV.  The backdrop is an amazing Miami Piano Bar with a 50's gangster feel. L.A. Confidential vibes. Wearing a pink flouncy ruffled outfit with pink sparkly shoes and testing with champagne to the New Year.

Shireen Sandoval fashion blog, Miami FL. Old Hollywood glamour style fascinator. Photographed on location at The National Hotel, South Beach FL by James Woodley Photography. Also featured on Deco Drive TV. Topping It Off for 2018 with fashionable hats and hairstyles. Holiday hair and make-up and glamorous cocktail jewelry.

What:

Making my New Year’s Eve outfit extra-special with some magnificent millinery AND trying to breath new life into my usual “Auld Lang Syne” traditions.

Why:

GANGBUSTERS!

That’s how I’d describe my typical New Year’s Eve. At least over the past decade, but it’s probably not what you’re thinking. Especially if you’re taking GANGBUSTERS positively. Sure, yes, it’s a success, but barely.

My night usually goes something like this…

After hosting Deco Drive, I jump OFF the set and INTO a Channel 7 live truck, where I’m whisked away to the biggest party in Miami. I know, I know, it sounds kind of glamorous, but it’s sooooo NOT. At some point during our hurried drive, we hit cra-cra traffic and that’s when the nail-biting nightmare begins.

My heart races, my palms sweat and my mind goes through a million trouble-shooting scenarios. Not because I’m nervous to be on TV; it’s about what goes along with it…

Getting timely interviews, writing a comprehensive story about the night’s revelries and dealing with the boozers — who love giving mom a shout-out or yelling obscenities at me — while I’m on live TV (don’t be THAT person 😂).

Even worse, the journalism part has to happen BEFORE 10 o’clock.

Okay, okay, so I know what you’re thinking: if I get off the set at 8pm (when Deco’s over) and head to the party, it seems do-able. Challenging, but do-able.

The problem? Traffic, crowd congestion, DUI checks, finding the other crew who are set up and waiting for me. Tick tock, tick tock…

One year, I landed in front of the camera ONE minute before I was supposed to be on. My story wasn’t done and I was panting from running a few blocks to get to my crew (obviously before my bad knee situation. Although, honestly, when it comes to live TV, you run despite a bad knee.)

It was a disaster, but it’s live television and the show must go on. In fact, it always goes on, with or without you. I had some props (squeaky toys and some confetti) so I made due and for my next live-shot was able to string together something resembling a story.

Then…

Around 11:30pm, the news ENDS and the crew packs up (we call it break down) and we’re left deciding exactly “what” to do.

If I’m working with a photographer who has a family or significant other, usually he or she is motivated to make it home before the New Year countdown, but more often than not, we find ourselves stuck in traffic or just not physically able to wiggle our way out of the situation we’re already in.

And just like that, sitting in a nondescript news vehicle somewhere alongside I-95 or Biscayne Boulevard, the clock unceremoniously turns midnight. Uh, Happy New Year?

Listen, I’m not belly-aching (okay, maybe I am just a little,) it’s what I signed up for. You know, the whole journalist thing. You move away from home, work on holiday’s, early in the morning, late at night, on weekends, you travel more than a 747 and sometimes, you spend New Years Eve at the last place in the world you wanna be. I’ve made my peace with it so don’t feel sorry for me.

The good news is…

As I get older and have more seniority, I get SOME holidays off, but man, I always have wicked bad luck with New Years Eve. Last year, I actually spent it on a plane. Don’t ask. I tried doing a silent NYE countdown in my head, but the guy next to me was so busy telling me about his new rap video and how I should put it on Deco Drive, I couldn’t concentrate. Uh, Happy New Year?

This year, though…

The holiday falls on the weekend AND I happen to be OFF or at least my bosses haven’t told me I’m working (yet) and I’m not about to ask (don’t worry, they don’t read my blog. Hi Tom! Hi Geoff!)

In celebration, I’ve been planning like a mad “hatter”.

Caviar for everyone! Send a case of champagne to the station and don’t forget that all-important outfit so you can “Party Like It’s 1999” or in this case, 2018.

Am I over-doing it? Well, maybe the Caviar and champagne part, but as far as what I’m wearing? I’ll be “Topping It Off for 2018” because…

I want more than just a dress, more than just sparkly earrings, I want pizzaz, originality and of course, a special night off! That’s why I enlisted the help of Featherheart Designs by Dannielle Kukar; a skilled milliner, who knows how to take fashion to the next level with her fancy fascinators and sophisticated hats.

When I ask her why a woman should “Top It Off for 2018,” she coyly says: “It gives an outfit that special oomph; besides, you never forget a person in a hat.” And, I totally agree and believe you me, I don’t like fuss. I like ease and elegance and that’s exactly what her creations are. They slip on just as easy as they slip off. (BTW, You place a fascinator and you wear a hat.)

Dannielle, who’s a trained graphic artist, understands shapes, lines and composition. She started making fascinators as an outlet to get away from her computer. Now, if you dream it, she custom makes it. “I just follow the muse,” she says and she does so with the highest quality silks and materials. She also has pieces “ready to wear.”

This New Year’s Eve, I’m also dreaming of a sultry atmosphere with an Art Deco flair like the National Hotel (pictured in the blog.) I’m reminiscing, laughing and singing a new kind of “Auld Lang Syne” — one that’s far away from the time crunch of live television.

Even, if, for just one night…

Don’t miss Deco Drive at 7:30 & 11:30 p.m. as we “Top It Off for 2018” with Featherheart Designs by Dannielle. From how to wear a fascinator to fabulous hat trends, we’re showing off gorgeously glamorous headgear, because a fashionable and Happy New Year is one of my Favorite Things. Cheers!

Where:

Shop Dannielle’s creations at www.etsy.com/shop/featherheartdesigns

Be Social:
FB: @featherheartmillinery
IG: @featherheartdesigns

Shot on location at the uber glamorous …
National Hotel
1677 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
www.nationalhotel.com

National Hotel Reservations: 305-532-2311

FB: @NationalHotel
IG: @nationalhotelmiami
Twitter: @NationalMiami

Hats are about emotion. It’s all about how it makes you feel. I like hats that make the heart beat faster.Philip Treacy

Topping It Off for 2018! Shireen Sandoval fashion blog, Miami FL. Old Hollywood glamour by FeatherHeart Designs by Danielle. Fascinator fashions featured on Shireen's Favorite Things. Photographed on location at The National Hotel, South Beach FL by James Woodley Photography. Also featured on Deco Drive TV.  Fashion photography by Shireen Sandoval.

Topping It Off for 2018!

Hat-titudes by me #annieSS

James Woodley Photography
All fascinators by Featherheart Designs by Dannielle
shot on location at National Hotel
Styled by Jackie Kay
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Hat’s All, Folks” Auerbach

A Christmas Clutch

A Christmas Clutch. Shireen Sandoval fashion blog, Miami FL. Wearing a peach ruffle dress by Vchic Boutique and holding a glamorous evening clutch by The Limelight Collection. Bedazzled purses, bags and clutches for the holidays. Also featured on Deco Drive Television and photographed by James Woodley Photography.

A Christmas Clutch. Shireen Sandoval fashion blog, Miami FL. Wearing a peach ruffle dress by Vchic Boutique and holding a glamorous evening clutch by The Limelight Collection. Bedazzled purses, bags and clutches for the holidays. Also featured on Deco Drive Television and photographed by James Woodley

A Christmas Clutch. Shireen Sandoval fashion blog, Miami FL. Wearing a purple velvet dress by BCBG on South Beach. Holding a glamorous beaded evening clutch by The Limelight Collection. Bedazzled purses, bags and clutches for the holidays. Also featured on Deco Drive Television and photographed by James Woodley Photography.

A Christmas Clutch. Shireen Sandoval fashion blog, Miami FL. Wearing a purple velvet dress by BCBG on South Beach. Holding a glamorous crystal beaded evening clutch by The Limelight Collection. Bedazzled purses, bags and clutches for the holidays. Also featured on Deco Drive Television and photographed by James Woodley Photography. Beaded bag with jewelry to match modeled by Shireen Sandoval.

A Christmas Clutch. Shireen Sandoval fashion blog, Miami FL. Wearing a green peacock dress with a matching peacock purse by The Limelight Collection. Bedazzled purses, bags and clutches for the holidays or a special party. Also featured on Deco Drive Television and photographed by James Woodley Photography.

A Christmas Clutch. Shireen Sandoval fashion blog, Miami FL. Wearing a green peacock dress with a matching peacock purse by The Limelight Collection. Bedazzled purses, bags and clutches for the holidays. Modeling a knuckle ring. Also featured on Deco Drive Television and photographed by James Woodley Photography. WSVN, Channel 7 News.

What:

The perfect holiday purse sure to add pizazz to any kind of party outfit and more importantly, you won’t have to sell a kidney to buy one.

Why:

I’ll never forget the first time I wrapped my stubby little fingers around a Judith Leiber handbag; I was absolutely mesmerized. The sparkles, detailing and quality — I was stunned. In fact, I don’t think I’d ever seen anything like it. I asked the woman behind the purse counter at Bergdorf Goodman: “How much?” She barked out a price so astronomical, I almost passed out. After a deep sigh…

I carefully placed the bedazzled clutch back into her already outstretched hand and fled the swanky department store like a fashion criminal. As I pushed through the heavy revolving doors, the brutal NYC winter wasn’t the only thing that slapped me in the face. My mother’s voice did, too..

Even though she lived in New Mexico, I could hear her like she was standing right next to me on 5th Avenue: “You know, Shireen, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” My mom used to do that a lot when I was young, give me what she called “tidbits of wisdom,” which were usually met with a dramatic eye-roll or better yet, an impressive lip sync. When I became a teenager, I’d memorized all the tricks in her bag, so when she droned on, I could silently mouth her advice verbatim.

After that humiliating Bergdorf Goodman moment…

I found myself in the same situation; albeit, a few years later. This time, a dazzling clutch called to me from the window of a chi-chi hair salon on the Upper East Side. It was so awe-inspiring, I stopped dead in my tracks, swung open the salon door and asked if I could see the pretty purse up-close. I was determined to buy this one.

“Is it a Leiber?” I asked quietly.

As the receptionist unearthed it from its glass case, she blurted out: “No, but it may as well be for the price!” Sweat beaded on my upper lip as she passed the purse off to me like a sloppy football play. “Isn’t it gorgeous?,” she purred in her thick Long Island accent. “How much?” I asked, like someone who was about to get hit. “For you? Two-thousand.”

I stared at her briefly, handed it back and finally realized my mother was on to something…

That day, I decided to bury my whimsically wonderful dream of owning a fashionable, high-quality, exquisitely beaded bag. Instead, I settled for clutches that were more like: “it’ll get by in the dark if no one inspects it.” I don’t wanna be a total naysayer; I mean, over the years I’ve had some pretty good ones (a few I’ve even worn in the light of day,) but that Leiber? Man, that thing haunts me like a “Ghost of Christmas Past”…

That is, until a few weeks ago.

Let me back up a little to tell you exactly how “A Christmas Clutch” came into my life. When I get blog submissions, I divide them into five categories: YEZZZZZ, yes, maybe, no and NEVER EVER (even if I lived on the left side of Mars.) If the topic falls somewhere in-between “yes & maybe,” I usually ask the person/designer to send me a sample of the product/ fashion, not as a gift, as a way for me to make a solid judgement..

Come on, we all know how it goes these days: a decent camera, a few filters and a beauty app later and anything or anyone can look like a million bucks, but that’s not the TRUTH and telling the truth is imperative if you’re a journalist, even an entertainment one. (Full disclosure: I do like a good beauty app.)

Unfortunately, I’ve learned the “buyer beware” lesson the hard way. Don’t get me started on the products and fashions that have missed the mark. It’s an on-line epidemic fed by social media and solidified by “product exchange” by social media “influencers.”(Fake followers, etc.) Sometimes it works, but a lot of the times, it just doesn’t. QUALITY IS KEY and buyers remorse sucks for all of us.

It was a rainy morning when I first opened the medium-sized box from “The LimeLight Collection.” I was skeptical, but curious. I had seen a few photos of their purses and they looked pretty legit, but the aforementioned paragraph kept me from becoming a true believer and there was that whole Bergdorf thing, too.

Then, it happened…

“A Christmas Clutch” — lit up my life like the noon day sun. First, though, I took it out of its sleek black container that gave way to a soft, velvety pouch and carefully slid out the most glamorous, eye-popping purse (move over, Judith Leiber, there’s a new fashion sheriff in town.) It felt good, it looked great and I was INCREDIBLY IMPRESSED.

Note to self: call the brainchild behind “The LimeLight Collection” ASAP.

I’ve never met Ebony Daniels Sanon in person, but when we talked over the phone the following day, she was warm, direct and affable.

Ebony described “The LimeLight Collection” as “daring, classy and unique.” What’s more, she told me they had more than just holiday flair. She insisted: “You can wear them anytime, anywhere and with anything.”

Then came the question I was dreading, but HAD to ask: “How much?” Without hesitation, Ebony happily shared: “Around two hundred dollars.” She didn’t know it, but on the other end of the line, I was smiling wide like a Cheshire Cat.

Ebony knows what women want and it’s not just an amazing clutch, it’s about the experience of it and how a trend can hold its maturity; eventually becoming a classic. When that happens, “A Christmas Clutch” can easily find a permanent place in your closet.

Handmade, inspected to perfection and one-of-a-kind, “The LimeLight Collection” definitely made one of my most elusive fashion dreams come true and that’s why it’s one of my Favorite Things. Happy Thanksgiving!

Where:

Shop the collection here: www.thelimelightcollection.net

Be Social:
FB: @TheLimeLightCollection
IG: @thelimelightcollection
Twitter: @LimeLightColl

Move like you move
Oh, dance for the night
Everyone’s turned to watch you
Hold the spotlight.Alex Parks
James Woodley Photography
All holiday clutches by “The LimeLight Collection”
Peach Dress @Vchicstore – Purple Velvet Dress @bcbgsouthbeach & Green Peacock Dress @laundrybyshelli
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Captain Clutch” Auerbach