Talk Derby To Me….

My favorite spring sporting event has to be the Kentucky Derby.  What stands out most during this historic horse race is difficult to decide…the sleek and athletic thoroughbreds, the diminutive yet wiry jockeys in their colorful silks, the thrill of the race itself or the chance for a long-shot filly to come from behind and win the garland of roses.

Honestly, I love the pageantry of the entire event, but who am I trying to fool?  For me it’s all about two things—the hat and the mint julep.  They call it the “fastest two minutes in sports.”  So much eye candy stimuli and so little time!  Fortunately for us the pageantry and parties last all day and into the night.  The Derby is as much about fashion as it is about horse racing.  Tune in and you’ll see.  Dresses rule—from fancy to frilly to floral to neutral—as do high heels and seersucker suits.   According to the official Kentucky Derby website, attendees spend as much time and money on their race-day threads as they do at the betting window—maybe even more!

Derby Hostess Michele King & KT

Derby Hostess Michele King & KT

Whether you’re headed to Churchill Downs or just down the street for a neighborhood soiree, I’ve got a few ideas to share.  Remember that hat I told you to dust off for the royal wedding?  Well here’s your chance to add some fresh flowers or trendy feathers and break it out yet again.  Guys, got any seersucker in the closet?  (Every man who lives in the south should.)  Too much of a stretch?  How about a Vineyard Vines tie, bowtie or belt?  Break it out.  (Vineyard Vines is the official style of the Derby according to the Kentucky Derby website.)

Kings Derby Party Foyer

Kings Derby Party Foyer

Want to be the hostess with the mostest or the guest who always gets asked back to the annual Derby Party?  Serve or bring some warm country ham and biscuits laced with brown sugar and butter—definite crowd pleaser.  Here’s a fancy themed appetizer idea.  Create a Derby Cheese Hat with a large brie round on a serving platter topped with a round of garlic and herb Boursin cheese (fancy cheese section at Harris Teeter).  Wrap a ribbon at the base of the Boursin and garnish with an herb bouquet of fresh lavender, thyme sprigs or mint.  (Serve with crackers and precut veggies.)  Fast and easy.  Now for my all-time favorite drink.  First make a simple syrup.  It’s easy.  If you can boil water you can make simple syrup.  Bring two cups sugar (I use Splenda in the big bag to cut calories) and two cups water to a boil in a small saucepan and stir until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat.  Add a package (1-oz.) of fresh torn mint and let stand for 10 minutes.  Pour liquid through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl or jar.  Now you’ve got your mint simple syrup.  Fill a julep cup or rocks glass with crushed ice and pour equal parts mint simple syrup and your favorite bourbon.  (Splash of club soda is optional.) Garnishing with mint is a must.  Enjoy!

Let the “Run for the Roses” begin and don’t forget—it’s all about the hat!

Those are my Derby thoughts.  What are yours?  Talk Derby to me with your comments .

Traveling in Style

Packing Perils

Summer vacation season is upon us.  By car, by plane, by boat, by train….you’re bound to be headed somewhere this summer.  That means you have the daunting task of packing ahead of you, which takes time, energy, planning and decision-making skills.  Oh, the agony of accessorizing every outfit!  And how will I know what I’m doing every minute of my trip?  When it comes to packing, it’s so easy to over-pack and procrastinate.  I know I’m not alone in either department; however I might be in contention for the all-time packing procrastination award.  I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve only had a couple hours sleep before a flight because I waited and deliberated.  However, preparation and packing light are the secrets to saving time, tips and those lovely luggage fees.  (Who knew your bag would have to pay too?!)  My advice—make a packing list and don’t wait until the eleventh hour to get started!

When it comes to air travel you have to think smart and be a minimalist.  Ideally, try not to check bags.  One incidence with lost luggage and you will swear never to check your bags again.  You can usually get away with a roller suitcase and a carry-on if your trip is under a week.  Fortunately, new ergonomically designed and lighter luggage options exist for the traveler who chooses to carry her bags on board.  While schlepping your bags down the terminal concourse, jet-bridge and airplane aisle sounds exhausting, think of it as your strength work out for the day.  You will also have peace of mind that your belongings all made it safely with you to your destination.  The key is to board early, so you secure that much coveted overhead bin space.  Traveling for more than a week or for a winter ski trip with bulky clothes?  Most likely you will need to check at least one bag, so don’t forget to ask your airline about baggage fees before you go.

Helpful Tips for Frequent Travelers

If you travel frequently – especially if you prefer to carry on all of your luggage – consider creating a go-to wardrobe capsule for specific destinations or business travel.  You might have the ultimate pinstripe power suit for presentations and interviews.  When I pack for a ski trip I have staple outfits for skiing and après ski.  My “Nanook of the North” boots come out of hiding along with my rock-star tee with the fur-trimmed sleeves.  Having favorite go-to outfits for different destinations will speed the packing process and provide confidence in any situation.

Just as with your everyday wardrobe, start by building the basics.  Determine a color palette.  You might begin with the best neutral for you – black, navy, brown or gray – and choose your accent pieces, shoes and other accessories around that color scheme.

Fold clothes together to avoid sharp creases.  For delicate items, use the plastic bags from your dry cleaner for added protection.

Line the inside of your suitcase with plastic bags (from stores or dry cleaners) to prevent moisture from getting to your clothes.  It could be raining when you land!

Keep trial size products stocked and travel-sized bottles filled, so that area of packing is already checked off your list when it comes trip time.

For a touch of home, pack a scented sachet or travel candle in your suitcase. The sachet keeps your clothes smelling fresh and the candle can be placed next to your bed at night to help you relax from a long day.

I have to be honest.  If I’m traveling by car, the “packing light” rules do not apply.  Ahhh, the beauty of car travel!  You can take as much as your vehicle will hold without the guilt or the extra luggage fees.  You might spend a few more bucks in gas with a heavy load, but it’s worth it to have everything you could possibly need when you arrive at your destination.

Now that you are packed, here are some common sense travel tips to keep you healthy no matter what your mode of transportation.

  • Hydrate! Drink lots of water, especially for air travel.  It’s a fact that you dry out at high altitudes.  Ask the flight attendant for an extra cup of water and try to avoid alcohol.  Instead have an Airborne cocktail.  Carry a roll of Airborne tablets or another product packed with antioxidants and plop one in that second glass.  Tired of water but want something low-cal?  Crystal Light and other companies now make one serving powder packets that you can add to a 16 ounce water bottle for instant sugar-free lemonade, peach tea or other flavors.
  • Sanitize! Every form of public transportation is a breeding ground for germs.  Carry hand sanitizer in the car and the trial size variety on the plane.  Clean your hands frequently, especially before touching your face.  Even wipe down the tray table and arm rests with hand sanitizer or an antibacterial wipe.  You risk looking like a germaphobe to your seat mate, but it’s worth it.
  • Ventilate! You’ve got a chatty seat mate who likes to spit when he talks.  Then he sneezes to boot.  Ugh!   All of these saliva droplets from sneezing, coughing and conversation are flying through the air in closed spaces like planes, cars, and buses.  Turn the vent above your seat to medium flow and position it so the air current moves slightly in front of your face.
  • Pack Snacks! The days of free food and snacks in coach air travel are over.  Feel like you’re in first class (use your imagination) and fill a few baggies with your favorite mixed nuts, crackers or baked chips and throw in a couple of cheese sticks or Laughing Cow spreadable cheese wedges.  You’ll satiate your hunger pangs with your packed picnic and save a few bucks, while your seatmates will wonder why they didn’t think of that.  Try to skip the fast food urge if you have a layover!  For car trips keep the essential munchies and beverages in a mini cooler within easy reach.
  • Layer! The days of free blankets in coach are also over!  (Never saw that one coming.)  Pack or wear a cardigan sweater or pashmina wrap that can double as a blanket in the event your plane, train or car is cooled to sub-zero temps.  Dressing in layers has its benefits when traveling, like allowing you to adjust to a wide variation of temperatures.  You can always shed your blazer or cardigan if you get too hot in transit or once you de-plane in a tropical destination.  Layers keep you prepared in any climate!

It pays to be pro-active when traveling.  A little preparation goes a long way on the road to paradise.  Happy Packing and Happy Trails!

These are my packing and healthy travel tips for any destination.  Feel free to share yours below!

What to Wear When Working from Home?

So you think all those telecommuters are working from home in coffee-stained PJs and bunny slippers? Think again.

Leonardo Rocha of IBM Finance recently posed these questions on

“For those that work from a Home Office, how do you dress up for work? I work from home 2-3 days a week and still haven’t made up my mind on what I should be wearing. Do you feel it’s important to put on your working clothes?”

Since I have experience working from a home office several times in my career I felt prepared to tackle this set of queries. This was my response:

“I just read an article that lists two reasons not to wear pajamas and slippers to the home office – productivity and efficiency. I’m sure you probably don’t wear your PJs to work at home! But you Can dress comfortably and remain Chic in your home office with a business casual outfit. If you ever worked in an office with business casual Fridays, then you know what I’m suggesting. Possibly chinos or dark washed denim with a polo-type shirt or a favorite button down. If you conduct or attend video meetings from your home office, then you want to appear presentable. When you look good you feel good and possibly accomplish more!”

Leonardo liked my response. Score one for The Fashion Plate!

“Kristin, I think your comparison between working from home and business casual Fridays was spot on. Thank you.”

Dressing for success isn’t just for corporate settings. Women and men working from home have something to gain from putting on real clothes.

A study from professors at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University found when research subjects wore a scientist’s or medical doctor’s white coat, they performed better.

The subjects wearing the lab coats – typically associated with care and attentiveness – made about half as many errors as their peers.

How to remain comfy and look chic while doing business at home?

I made some suggestions for men in my response to Leonardo above. Ladies, try colored jeans with a sleeveless blouse and lightweight printed scarf. Or a structured blazer paired with printed shorts or pants for another great fall look.

Maxi skirts paired with a fitted sleeveless top are also cute and comfy and can be easily dressed up with a short jacket.

Fashion and function can combine for a successful workday, every day!

Are you guilty of working from home in your pajamas? Share your home office work attire comments with Chapelboro Insiders.