For today’s post on Sarasota Magazine, I’m sharing some outfit inspiration for the upcoming Van Wezel Foundation Gala. The gala is on Saturday, Feb. 16 and if you have never been, you’re in for a treat.
It’s a stunning party on Sarasota Bay, followed by a performance in the Van Wezel and this year’s performance — Grammy award winning artist, Seal!
The invitation states ‘black tie suggested’ attire, so I shopped around to find the best cocktail + black tie gowns out there, plus, I styled a 90s inspired look that I would wear to this swanky soiree.
For this week’s post on Sarasota Magazine, I’m talking all about how I get organized this time of year — specifically with my fashion and beauty products. I’m sharing all the organizers I have been using… and some new ones I’ve found this year in my quest for optimal organization. Click here to read the post on Sarasota Magazine.
I have more items featured on that post, but you can shop a few of them here, by clicking on the image of the product you’re interested in : )
What are you favorite ways to get and stay organized??
For today’s post on Sarasota Magazine… I’m styling outfits for a holiday that I’ve admittedly never dressed for myself — Hanukkah.
Hanukkah starts early this year (Sunday, Dec. 2) and I have to say… I live for seeing my Jewish friend’s posts during Hanukkah because it looks like the best time. And as with any holiday or occasion, my first thought is always… “what to wear?”
With eight nights of festivities, Jewish women have a lot of outfit planning to manage. Even those without a calendar full of parties and celebrations, you’ve got eight days to don pieces showing your “Challa-day” spirit.
So in light of the festival of lights, I decided to give it a go at styling some outfits that I think are perfect for the holiday —whether you are keeping it causal or headed to a more formal party or dinner. But that’s not all — the best part about this post… some of the most fashionable Jewish women in town have joined me on my post for Sarasota Magazine to share their favorite Hanukkah fashions and traditions.
I’ve linked all the outfits I styled in this post, so you can shop directly (just click on the item you want to shop in the image and you will be directed to that exact product)!
To read the full post with my guest bloggers Kyla Weiner, Wendy Feinstein and Sepi Ackerman… head to my post on Sarasota Magazine (click here)!
SHOP THE OUTFITS I STYLED FOR HANUKKAH
I have to say… dipping my toes back into the world of journalism has me so excited. I absolutely LOVE writing about other people — interviewing them, seeing their work, hearing their stories. So when I found out my friend and Sarasota’s own local designer, Camilyn Leavitt, started designing bridal gowns… I knew I had to interview her for Sarasota Magazine.
It was so special for me to interview Cami for a feature because she was my first ever fashion-related interview, fresh out of Alabama. She had launched Camilyn Beth in 2012 and this particular interview was around October 2013. She had just hosted her first runway show in New Orleans Fashion Week, featuring her SS14 collection — that was the first I’d heard of her brand and I fell instantly in love with not only the feminine, classic, yet so chic and modern designs, but the overall aesthetic of Camilyn Beth. Her warehouse runway show, her signature cocktail, the photography… everything exemplified cool and I knew she was going to do amazing things.
I interviewed her again when she moved into her studio on Palm Avenue (which is so amazing by the way, if you haven’t been). And I’ll never forget when I was pregnant with Olivia, I decided last minute that I wanted professional announcement photos, so I scheduled a shoot and needed to get the perfect dress. I had this particular Camilyn Beth dress in mind when I was shopping, but I wasn’t sure if I’d fit in it because of the seemingly fitted design. I shopped around and couldn’t find anything that I loved more than that dress, so I decided to just go for it. I messaged Cami to see if she had the dress in stock at the studio and told me to come on in.
She had the dress and it actually fit! Not only did it fit… she went above and beyond and right then and there took out the inseam so that I could ‘grow’ with the dress and be able to wear it throughout most of my pregnancy. Y’all… she literally sat down at her sewing machine and personally modified the dress for me so I would have a beautiful dress to wear with my growing belly. Mind you, this is at her studio and I just randomly called and stopped in. That care and passion is reflected in the quality and impeccable design of her dresses… and that is exactly what you get when you shop Camilyn Beth.
But the reason I’m writing this post is because I obviously interviewed Cami about Camilyn Beth… and why you ask (now what you know my entire history with then brand)? Because she is now designing bridal gowns! And I had to get the scoop on this exciting expansion of her brand.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Camilyn Beth, the brand evolved from Cami’s background and knowledge in fashion mixed with her experience in 2011 — when she had to attend 16 weddings in ONE year. She designed and made all of the dresses that she wore to those 16 weddings that year and then in 2012, she launched Camilyn Beth. Those perfect ‘wedding guest’ dresses then turned into a household name for options for bridesmaids dresses. She expanded her line to include bridesmaids dresses, both gowns and cocktail options, and she even designed a line of ‘Little White Dresses’… white dresses perfect for all the ‘occasions’ that brides-to-be need white dresses for.
*Sorry…time for another story*
When I launched Chic in Sarasota back in July 2016, I wanted to celebrate my launch with a giveaway. A lot of bloggers give away gift cards to Nordstrom, but I wanted something tangible and cool… something that reflected me and Sarasota, since, you know… Chic in Sarasota. So I thought what better way than to host a giveaway with the gift being a Camilyn Beth dress of the winner’s choice? It was so special to have such a personal giveaway and the best part… the winner ended up being a friend of mine who was engaged… and she chose a stunning ‘Little White Dress.’
Okay that was the last story, I promise. Now back to talking about the brand.
So, from the beginning, her designs became a favorite among brides looking for the perfect bridesmaid dresses and now, she’s designing dresses for the brides themselves. And the best part about the dresses? They are a classic Camilyn Beth dress with a removable skirt. You can remove the skirt to create the perfect getaway dress or… you have the option of wearing the cocktail dress again for your anniversary or other special occasions. Same goes for the skirt… you can pair the skirt with another dress or top, to create another gorgeous gown. So many possibilities for the most sentimental gown you’ll ever wear.
She shared a sneak peek & a try-on session on the Camilyn Beth Instagram, but I needed to know more and to see those gorgeous gowns in person, so I stopped in Cami’s studio on Palm Avenue last week to get a first look and to hear all about the new Camilyn Beth wedding gown collection (and even got to try one on)!
I’m so excited to be partnering with Magnolia Boutique today and sharing with you this adorable ruffle sleeve pullover. I’m obsessed with pullovers and the added ruffle detail on the sleeves makes this piece a must-have this time of year. You can throw it on during the day with a pair of leggings or jeans when you’re running errands or out with the kids, but you can wear it straight through to date night, by adding a heel if you’re wearing jeans, or even pairing it with a cute skirt. The ruffle makes this piece completely versatile and most importantly… it’s SO comfortable.
I’ve been gearing up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales already and Magnolia Boutique is obviously on my list of stores to shop… so I went through and picked a few of my favorite items they have out for fall/winter right now on the site to share with y’all — so take a look!
Colorblock Cardigan – in Camel
Magnolia Boutique has the best selection of cardigans… so it’s hard to narrow down my favorites, but I’m loving camel right now and this colorblock cardigan is a must for this season.
BB Dakota Printed Dress – in Ivory/Rust
I’m not huge on patterns, but this pattern is SO pretty. I love that it’s a neutral paired with one of my favorite colors this fall, rust. It’s such a gorgeous dress and I think it would be perfect for the holidays.
A few weeks ago, before heading to the Wine, Women & Shoes ‘Fashion Night Out’ Sponsor Event at The Met, I ran a poll on Instagram to see if anyone would be interested in reading a preview of the WWS Signature Luncheon and I had an overwhelming amount of interest… with 91% of you saying ‘yes, please’!
First of all, thank you for your engagement and interest about Wine, Women & Shoes because besides this event being so spectacular… the mission behind it and the organization that it benefits is even more incredible and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.
So, let’s get to it. This Friday, Nov. 9, is the main event — The Signature Luncheon. It takes place at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota and the proceeds benefit Forty Carrots Family Center.
What is this event?
Wine, Women & Shoes is a national, fashion fundraising event. It’s a two-part signature event series that creates an “enhanced atmosphere of giving” where community-minded, philanthropic women (and the ‘solemen’, of course) sip, shop, savor and support a worthy cause.
There are two portions of the event — the marketplace, where you sip, shop and support and then there’s the seated program… where the luncheon is centered around a stage. The stage is home to many performances, a runaway show (by The Met Fashion House), a live auction, important information about Forty Carrots Family Center and a special announcement about the upcoming Firefly Gala.
It really is hard to put into words how incredible this event is… but I’ll try my best and give you a brief overview of what to expect : )
Let’s start with the ‘marketplace’ portion of the day. Nothing says “exciting, chic and innovative fundraising” like champagne and shopping at 10 a.m. If you haven’t attended an event at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota… the ballroom foyer (the ‘pre-function’ area) opens up to the outdoor terrace and this is where the fun begins. You’ve got wine tastings, culinary delights, designer pop-up boutiques and multiple revenue-generating opportunities… because that’s the main goal — raising money, while having a great time.
A few things I’m really looking forward to this year during this portion of the event are the perfectly styled photo opportunities (I can’t spill too many of the secrets, but there are so many ‘Instaworthy’ spots that I will obviously be using) and the red carpet! The red carpet is going to be so interactive, so fun and there are a few special guests you must stop to talk to on your way in. Another reason not to miss the red carpet if you’re attending… that’s where you will get spotted by the official shoe judges and considered for winning ‘Best Shoe.’
The ‘Best Shoe’ winners at the 2014 Wine, Women & Shoes Signature Luncheon. Photo by me…via Observer Media Group.
Following all of that excitement, you then enter the seated program portion of the event… and I know it’s hard to believe… but it gets even better.
You enjoy an amazing meal while learning about Forty Carrots and the importance of your support. There is a live action that is featured on stage at luncheon (you can contact email@example.com for proxy bidding) and there is an online auction that is open to the public. Which is so cool. For those of you who aren’t going or don’t live here in Sarasota, but you want access to some of the most amazing auction items around… you can look at and bid on those items here. There are countless amazing vacations, experiences, spa packages… I mean the list goes on.
My personal favorite auction items… the U-Line 24” Fridge filled with 48 bottles of Veuve, the TubeDude 9ft tall Champagne Bottle Structure, Super Bowl 2019 tickets AND… lunch at Selva with Brian Cornell, the CEO of Target. Can you say coolest auction items ever? The auction closes Friday, Nov. 9 at 2:30 p.m. (EST). Again, to access those items, click here.
Then there is the fashion show. The fashion show is presented by The Met Fashion House and it is going to be fabulous. I got a sneak peek of some of the looks today while I was there finding my outfit(s) for the big day and let me tell you… it’s going to blow you away. I’ll be sharing video & pics on my IG story, so if you can’t be there, make sure you’re following me because you don’t want to miss this (@h_merriman)!
Oh, and if you didn’t already know… Christie Brinkley is making a special guest appearance and is being recognized as the Honorary Co-Chair! How amazing to have such an iconic super model on stage at our local event.
And to top it all off, the studly ‘Solemen’ dazzle you with a choreographed dance… it really is a can’t miss moment.
Photo by Peter Acker
Speaking of the Solemen! I can’t believe I haven’t talked about them yet. The Solemen represent the highest-level sponsors — sixty top professional men who donate their time at WWS events. Placed on teams, these gentlemen serve as ambassadors escorting and serving wine to the ladies at the luncheon and they compete to sell the most wine. A portion of those sales goes right back to Forty Carrots, so if you’re there, take home a bottle (or 4)! You know you can never have enough… and this is for a great cause : )
To conclude… every luncheon ticket includes access to the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Lounge, immediately following the luncheon. So basically, the fun never stops.
Wine, Women & Shoes really is the BEST day ever and most importantly, it’s all for raising money for an incredible cause — Forty Carrots Family Center. If you aren’t familiar with Forty Carrots, for 25 years they have provided quality Parenting Education, Early Childhood Education and Child & Family Therapy. Over 93% of their 4000+ clients each year receive free services at 27 locations… reaching children at the highest risk of abuse and neglect. Forty Carrots Family Center is such an incredible asset to our community and Wine, Women & Shoes makes their efforts all the more possible.
Parties with a purpose really are the best kind. So if you want to keep up with the event on Friday, there are plenty of ways to follow along on social media. Between my Instagram and the Wine Women & Shoes social media pages (Facebook + Instagram)… you’ll have plenty to see.
Hope you enjoyed reading this post! If you’re going to WWS, I’ll see you there! And if you’re not, I’d love if you followed along!
I have been living in this camo sweatshirt. I’ve been wearing it cute, wearing it casual… I even slept in it the other night. IT’S THAT GOOD. You tell me where you can find a sweatshirt that’s so wearable, yet also lightweight and soft enough to sleep in? I’ll wait.
Anyways, that’s this sweatshirt and I’m not lying to you when I say I’ll be living in it for the next few months, because clearly, that’s what I’ve already been doing. Plus, it’s camo. It’s like a win, win, win type of clothing item that absolutely needs to be in your closet.
Obviously, you can wear a sweatshirt like this one hundred ways, but this day or wore it with my favorite pair of AGOLDE denim shorts + these wedge sneakers that I’m obsessing over lately. They are so (surprisingly?) comfortable and look so cool with almost any outfit. I’ve worn them with shorts, leggings, jeans, a dress… you name it, they somehow go with everything.
Okay. So now we have to shout out the cutest toddler romper I’ve ever seen. This was not a ‘costume,’ I found this in the regular clothing section at Target and I had to have it for Lyla. I dressed her in it for the Halloween dance day that I got wrong for our Mommy & Me dance class that we do (you know what I’m talking about if you watch my stories on Instagram) and that was the same day I got a nail in my tire, so Lyla ran around Mercedes wearing this cat outfit for 2 hours LOL. But anyways, it’s the cutest little jumpsuit/romper thing and I don’t need Halloween as an excuse to dress my baby up in an adorable critter suit.
You can shop her outfit here (dance slippers included):
Thank you ZSUPPLY for partnering on this post!
Photography: Amy McKinlay Photography