Wear the Cape


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Let’s face it, the weather here in the Midwest is crazy (it’s 70 today but might snow tomorrow, soak that in). Stocking your wardrobe with layers is key, and I’ve discovered that a cape is an easy alternative to figuring out which jacket fits best.

I never would’ve thought to seek out a cape while shopping, but it was included in my first Trunk Club order and I fell in love. You can throw it over whatever outfit you’ve already picked out for the day, and the black-and-camel color combo makes it easy to match a range of outfits. And the most important part? It feels as cozy as wearing a blanket!

I chose to wrap it over a simple black top, leather-coated leggings and my over-the-knee boots. But the cape works with jeans and dresses, casual clothes and fancier attire. I like to think of it as model-off-duty, because it’s so easy and versatile.

Shop the look below. Want to learn more about Trunk Club or sign up? Click here! A stylist will ask you questions about your style, hand-select items for your trunk, and then you have the convenience of trying it all on at home. (And no, this isn’t even a sponsored post haha!)


Capelet: Nordstrom | Leggings: Express (similar on sale) | Boots: Charles David via Nordstrom | Rings: Aldo (similar on sale)

Photos by Michael Ciuni

Wednesday Wisdom: Like a Sunflower


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“Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you.” —Walt Whitman

Whenever I think of sunflowers, this quote comes to mind. Yes, I love how the cheery blooms brighten up a room. But there’s something so magical and awe-inspiring about seeing them in a field, angled in unison with one common goal: grow, live, thrive.

Like this quote suggests, sunflowers face the rising sun, soaking in as much light and energy as possible. (Sunflower in French is tournesol, derived from to turn/tourner and sun/soleil!) And like flowers, we also have to let our shadows — our burdens, fears, anxieties — fall behind us from time to time in order to thrive.

I’ve seen it written like this and credited to Whitman, and I’ve also seen a version said to be a Maori proverb. Either way, it’s a beautiful quote that reminds me to be strong, take challenges head on, strive toward optimism and focus on the light instead of the sometimes-persistent shadows of everyday life.

Photo taken at Maria’s Field of Hope in Avon, Ohio, by Michael Ciuni

The Birth of Light: Elie Saab Haute Couture S/S 2017


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Look closer at the shimmering, sheer gowns gliding down the runway, and you’ll spot a glistening palm tree that you almost mistook as a simple texture, or boats dancing on the blue waves of the Nile River.

The Elie Saab Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2017 collection is “inspired by an Arab epoch that left us with a priceless cultural and artistic heritage,” according to the designer’s Instagram account, @eliesaabworld. “Enjoying an atmosphere of stability and freedom in the beginning of the 20th century, Egypt turned into a hub of creative talent allowing Arabic culture to flourish.”

The colors range from a warm beige to sky blue to navy, with accents of crystal and gold, keeping in line with the majestic theme. Think sand, sky, water, warmth, royalty. And like the scenes the collection is inspired by, each look is perfectly cohesive, and the colors blend from one design to the next as the models take their turn on the catwalk.

Elegance is a word that can’t be avoided when describing Elie Saab’s haute couture. Delicate fabrics, princess-like silhouettes, old-Hollywood glamour. It’s no secret Saab loves to celebrate the beauty of women, but not without also expressing their power. Despite the softness and femininity of this collection, there is not a lack of strength. The patterns are bold, the slits are high, the styles accentuate and empower.

With feathered cuffs at the wrist and a belt synching the waist (in signature Elie Saab style), one dress is elaborately embroidered with crystals inspired by the popular Arabic cinemas. Nearly all of the 57 looks in this collection sparkle, a touch that will surely make a fabulous effect at the galas and red carpets where these dresses will be worn.

But Saab is making a point: he’s evoking an era that shines in his, and many of our, memories. And don’t our fondest memories have a warm glow and magical sparkle, too?


See the full collection here.

Photos by Marcus Tondo / Indigital.tv via Vogue.com 

Layered Up


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One of my favorite things about fall style is the ability — and necessity — to layer up. I love how throwing on a jacket can completely change an outfit you’ve already worn, giving a fresh look to your go-to staples.

In the winter, my energy levels are low and my desire to throw together a cohesive outfit is usually overshadowed by whichever giant sweater is already draped over my dresser. But a look back at these pictures taken in October gave me a boost of sartorial inspiration: bling out your casual crew neck sweater with a statement necklace; step into a boot with a little bit of a heel; choose a pop of color instead of your go-to blacks and grays.

Winter doesn’t have to take all the fun and glam out of fashion! Plus, wearing an extra layer on a chilly day can’t hurt. Let this fall throwback inspire you, and shop the look below!


Faux Leather Jacket: Steve Madden via Avalon Exchange Lakewood (love this one!) | Sweater: an oldie via Nordstrom (similar here, on sale!) | Jeans: Express via Avalon Exchange Lakewood (similar here) | Booties: Dolce Vita (love these) | Necklace: Francesca’s | Purse: vintage Coach (Avalon Exchange in Lakewood and Coventry often has vintage Coach purses come in, so check them out!)

Photos by Michael Ciuni

Best Dressed: Golden Globes 2017


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My couture-loving soul thrives on red carpet events, especially when these glamorous awards shows fall during the winter, a season filled with nothing but oversize sweaters and cozy leggings.

The first look I saw last night at the 74th Golden Globes was Mandy Moore, who was absolutely glowing in a Naeem Khan gown featuring a gentle shade of midnight blue. She was just one of many ladies rocking a plunging neckline. Priyanka Chopra looked like a golden goddess in a gilded Ralph Lauren design, and Kristin Cavallari sparkled in Idan Cohen.

Naturally, my best dressed lists lean toward my personal style, but last night I really tried to think about fit — both physically and fitting the star’s personality. Janelle Monae’s Armani Prive dress isn’t usually my taste, but the adorable high-low gown was perfectly suited to her style. And Drew Barrymore looked like the ethereal flower girl she’s known as in Monique L’huillier.

I loved the whimsy of Hailee Steinfeld in Vera Wang, and I adored the delicate and feminine dress worn by Chrishell Stause. Naomie Harris’s Armani Prive look reminded me of tree bark glowing in the moonlight (a compliment, I promise), as it was a perfect fit for her rocking body and skin tone. And have you seen the amazing details on Olivia Culpo’s Zuhair Murad design?!

Lastly, Evan Rachel Wood joined Octavia Spencer in proving girls can wear the pants, too. Wood killed it in her tuxedo-inspired Altuzarra outfit, possibly my favorite look of the night.

Take a peek at my best dressed below. What were your favorites from the 2017 Golden Globes?


Mandy Moore wearing Naeem Khan


Evan Rachel Wood in Altuzarra


Hailee Steinfeld in Vera Wang


Priyanka Chopra in Ralph Lauren


Chrishell Stause with Justin Hartley


Janelle Monae in Armani Prive


Naomie Harris in Armani Prive


Olivia Culpo in Zuhair Murad // Photo via REX/Shutterstock


Drew Barrymore in Monique L’huillier


Kristin Cavallari in Idan Cohen


The “Stranger Things” cast looked fab! Pictured above: Millie Bobbie Brown in Jenny Packham, Caleb McLaughlin, Finn Wolfhard, Noah Schnapp and Gaten Matarazzo


All photos Frazer Harrison/Getty Images (via Buzzfeed) unless otherwise noted.

A Year to Remember


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Another year down! As I was looking back at the last 12 months trying to recall key moments, it hit me. This wasn’t just a good year for Cleveland and, by association, me — 2016 was the year of the 216.

I traveled to two new states (hey Georgia and Texas!), connected with old and new friends, chased after countless sunsets, dined (brunched) my way through Cleveland’s fantastic food scene and got promoted.

I sat in the stands as the Lake Erie Monsters brought home the Calder Cup. I celebrated with my entire city when the Cavaliers broke our 52-year championship drought. Visitors from across the country chimed in about what a gem this city really is (thank you, RNC). And the Indians won the pennant, taking us back to the World Series for the first time since 1997.

As for Midwest Perspective, I got artsy at the Cleveland Museum of Art, prayed in Maria’s Field of Hope, explored Cuyahoga Valley National Park and tested out some fun style trends (Crop tops! Faux fur!).

Here’s looking at you, 2017. I hope it’s everything and more!


National Treasure


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From sprawling fields of corn to the foothills of Appalachia to the Lake Erie shore, Ohio boasts a magnificent range of terrain. It’s also home to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and since our country is currently celebrating 100 years of the National Park Service, I made it a point to finally make a visit. I was long past due.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is criss-crossed with trails, roads and even the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. The 33,000-acre treasure also features farmland and marshes, waterfalls and dense, boulder-strewn forests. That’s where I went: to the Ledges at Virginia Kendall Park, where I hiked beneath a thick canopy of just-changing foliage to explore the caves and Ledges Overlook.

The forest is a magical place. I fell in love with the whimsy of the oversize rocks and the green glow of light passing through leaves. Right now (three weeks since I’ve gone), the park is most certainly an autumn wonderland — so it’s not too late for you to lace up and hit the trails, too!


Photos by Michael Ciuni

Rally Together


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2016 is proving more and more to be the year of the 216 — from the Cavaliers ending the championship drought to hosting a successful Republican National Convention to the Lake Erie Monsters winning the Calder Cup. And now, the Indians are making their run.

The Cubs are long overdue (longer even than the Indians, who last won the World Series in 1948), but as the “Cleveland till I die” fan that I am, I can’t help but think this is our year. Baseball is the great American pastime, and it holds a special place in my heart, too. I’ll always remember my grandparent’s season tickets, the foul balls we’ve caught (or didn’t), ringing a cowbell for Albert Belle and watching as the sky faded from one color to the next during the long summer evenings. Some traditions change, players come and go, parties move to Napoli’s — but John Adams continues beating the drum. (A local legend!)

There’s been so much excitement in the City of Champions all summer long, and I can’t even wait to kick off the World Series right here in my favorite city in the whole world. And let’s not forget, just next door to the stadium, the Cavaliers will be getting their championship rings and defending the title.

I couldn’t be happier to call Cleveland home. Roll Tribe!

Photos by Michael Ciuni

Savannah Stumble


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Some vacations are relaxing. But the kind that reunites five amazing friends that you’ve known for more than half your life, well… relaxing isn’t a word I’d use. I’m still recuperating from a long weekend in Savannah packed with great food, lots of champagne and so much laughter my abs were sore for days.

I loved exploring the all the little squares Savannah is known for: our Airbnb was right near Telfair Square, and the fountain at Johnson Square (pictured) made a shady place to sit. Of course, we took full advantage of the open-container laws!

We learned a ton about the city and its history on the Savannah Slow Ride “Boos Cruise” ghost tour, like the namesake of Telfair Square, why moss supposedly doesn’t grow on the old hanging trees (yikes), and other Civil War-era facts. Did you know Savannah is the second-largest port on the East Coast?

City Market is an 18th-century open-air marketplace that’s packed for shopping and dining during the day and bar hopping at night. (It has a much better purpose today than back during slavery times. Again, yikes!) Along the river, the treacherous-but-adorable cobblestone River Street is home to pubs, restaurants, Savannah Smiles Dueling Pianos and Saddle Bags, a country-music hotspot.

The highlight of our trip was the Dolphin Magic Tour. Dolphin sighting is guaranteed (I think we saw an entire pod, um, mating) and it’s a great chance to bring a mimosa on a boat and let the wind whip through your hair. Plus, we learned some Savannah facts and history along the way.

On the food front, there’s a huge range offered in Savannah. Here are some of the places we ate, and I give a shining recommendation to them all:

  • Green Truck Pub: I opted to eat the delicious grass-fed beef burger open-face because the toppings were overflowing (pictured). This place is known for great vegetarian options, and my friends enjoyed the giant salads and the option to swap out beef for humane-certified chicken breast or a homemade veggie patty.
  • Sweet Melissa’s: When late night cravings hit, we grabbed a pizza almost too big to fit through the door with slices big enough to be a bib… seriously.
  • Jazz’d Tapas Bar: We just wanted a quick and easy dinner, and we found it here by selecting a range of tapas and splitting them between us. Live music is a plus!
  • Clary’s Cafe: Finding biscuits was possibly the most important point of our trip, and we finally found them here with good ol’ diner food. Every egg-meat-potato-carb combo you could imagine is available.
  • Cotton & Rye: All I can say is when in the South, go ahead and order that shrimp and grits with a side of mac and cheese. Great restaurant on the upscale-yet-cozy side.
  • Goose Feathers Cafe: The line fluctuates at this express cafe and bakery (we were out the door waiting!) and you order at a counter, then they deliver to your table. Hello, bagel sandwiches and chocolate croissants to go!
  • The Collins Quarter: We just stopped here for a drink, but it quickly became a favorite spot. I ordered a Spiced Lavender Mocha, but the cocktails were just as tempting. The brunch menu looks killer, and judging by the group next to us, the avocado toast is next-level.

I would love to return to Savannah someday soon. But there’s a more important question: Where should we visit next?!


All photos mine unless otherwise noted.

Here Comes the Sun


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With the morning sun slowly rising higher in a cloudless sky, I stood in the middle of a sunflower field, its yellow petals glowing softly in the dim light. I was scared to open my mouth — not for fear of disturbing the peaceful scene, but because I knew with just one word I might burst into tears.

I was weaving my way through Maria’s Field of Hope, 50-acres of sunflowers stretching along I-90 in Avon. Inspired by the memory of 7-year-old Maria, the blooms were planted in 2014 to honor children battling cancer and to remember those we’ve lost. Maria’s parents created Prayers from Maria Children’s Glioma Cancer Foundation, which is dedicated to funding global research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for childhood brain tumors, known as gliomas.

Just an hour after sunrise and already the field was ablaze in light and filled with happy chatter. Couples were strolling the pathways hand in hand, and parents were holding their babies next to giant flowers to capture the perfect photo. Any sadness I had was replaced with hope and inspiration.

In French, the word for sunflower is tournesol, literally to turn toward the sun. Standing there, I was reminded of a metaphor I love about living like a sunflower: If you turn your face to the sun, the shadows will always fall behind you.


Photos by Michael Ciuni