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Nine TIPS from the party PROFESSIONALS

How do I decode the dress code? What music should I play? Where can I find a good hostess gift for someone I don't know very well?

All very valid questions. Parties can be tricky, right? To find the answers, earlier in the year I interviewed nine professionals for their little-known soiree secrets. Quite a few of the answers were surprising (ditch the try-hard "hand on the hip" pose, and avoid makeup with SPF if you'll be taking a lot of photos), so even the most seasoned social butterflies should learn a few things.

Nine Tips from Top Party Pros from the April print edition of Make It Better magazine


photo credits: dress codes, props, wedding, DJ Madrid, blue steel, cultures, gifts, makeup, candles


TRENDS from CS Interiors 5th Anniversary HOME

Isn't it fun to oogle picture-perfect show houses? I always like to imagine my life in the space ("Let's adjourn to the living room. You know, the room with the hand-stitched leather walls. But first, grab a drink from the refrigerator. It's behind the faux ostrich skin panel.") and the CS Interiors Fifth Anniversary Home was an ideal occasion to do so. Better yet, it was hosted at the newly completed Ritz-Carlton Residences, which I have been dying to peek. Neither the building nor the decor disappointed. Have a look at the six rooms, outfitted by some of the city's top designers.

Foyer and Bathroom

by Anne Coyle



by Tracy Hickman



by James E. Ruud


Dining Room

by Jessica Lagrange



by Julia Buckingham Edelmen


Living Room

by Tom Stringer


Stylish HALLOWEEN inspiration at FASHION FOCUS Masquerade

Well, look at that... Halloween's almost here! Do you have a costume yet? If you're still hunting for inspiration, I think I found it Saturday night at the Fashion Focus event, Via del Corso Masquerade, held at Fiat of Chicago.

While I was there covering the evening's festivities as the eyes and ears for The Printed Blog, I couldn't help but pick up some costume tips. Forget the pre-packaged Sexy Nurse/Devil/Schoolgirl from your local pop-up shop. The most stylish models (and guests!) at Via del Corso were sporting three things:

1) A mask. The more unusual, the better
2) Memorable hair, ranging from simple streaks of color to poofy wigs made of colored cotton.
3) A killer outfit. This is the time for something glam and over-the-top, yet comfortable, since Halloween celebrations have a habit of morphing into multi-venue nights.

A few of my favorites:

GUESS WHO, on the right? ;)

Besides the juicy people watching, Rosemary Fanti was on site creating her beloved fashion illustrations, and Das Foods set up a delicious candy bar, including their "Man Bait" bacon/maple lollipops. I admit, I took one for the road and had it for breakfast this morning.

And the performers! Just look at these costumes! Their detailed corsets (like the one shown above, from Romantika) and elaborate masks were so eye-catching. The trick to making a costume look expensive are the little details, like luxe fabric and lace.

As fun as the performers were, the highlight of the evening were the three fashion shows, hosted by Whitney Reynolds of NBC 5.

No, that's not Whitney's dagger - just a model who's prepared for an emergency.


Ok, is everyone seated?


Enough waiting, on with the show! I hope this inspires you as much as it did me.

photos: Dean Paul

bottom row of photos: Dean Paul

photo: Dean Paul

Happy Halloween!



Some people always order "the usual", no matter what the weather. Others (i.e. me) throw ourselves headfirst into the sips of the season. Floral in the spring! Fruity in the summer! And fall brings boots, scarves, and heavier cocktails.

These recipes are from Benny's Chop House appropriately named "Pick Your Poison" cocktail menu. They're hosting a (free!) North Shore Distillery Party on November 2. Passed apps, cocktails, and the usual merriment will ensue.

Should you want to try your hand at being a Benny's mixologist, the recipes are below. Some of these ingredients are on the exotic side, and unless you're a serious liquor aficionado, I admit they might sit on your bar cart for quite a while afterwards. But maybe you should invite lots of people over for cocktails before heading out to any number of Halloween events in the city ...most of which are not actually on Halloween, leaving parents and single-house dwellers free to do door duty on the 31st.

At any rate, you have November 1st to recover. I'll see you at Benny's on the 2nd!

Corpse Reviver #444

Rinse glass with North Shore Absinthe
-1 oz. North Shore Gin #6
-1 oz. Fresh Lemon
-1 oz. Combier Orange Liquor
-1 oz. Lillet Blanc
Garnish with Cherry

Gotham and Gomorrah

-2 oz. Willet Rye Whiskey
-.5 oz. Vanilla-Pear Syrup
-Dash Fernet Branca
-Top with Peychaud's Bitters

Headless Horseman

-.75 oz. Falernum
-.75 oz Sailor Jerry Rum
Top with O'Fallon Pumpkin Ale

Photo Credit: Cheston Boque

More Halloween tipples:

Silly/Sophisticated Halloween Cocktails

Fruity Cocktails for Fall

Pumpkin Chai Cocktail


Five tips for trying a NEW LOOK, inspired by MasterCard "PRICELESS CHICAGO"

Neiman Marcus popovers and consommé. More, please!Recently, my friends at MasterCard invited me to enjoy one of their "Priceless Chicago" experiences. Would I like to spend the day at Neiman Marcus, eating lunch at The Zodiac, getting a facial, and playing with makeup and clothes? Why, yes. Yes, I would.

Priceless Chicago experiences cover every interest from concerts to cuisine, with the schedule continuously updated. As many of you know, I'm the editor of the fashion/pop culture site You Know You Love Fashion and I decided to turn my Neiman Marcus Day of Pampering into a mini style session, based on TV's hottest heroines of the season.

(Incidentally, I recently saw a funny quote: "I wish I were as proud of anything as when people who don't watch TV are when they proudly claim that they don't watch TV.")

The details of the looks I chose are over at You Know You Love Fashion, but if you're thinking of trying a new look this season, here are a few tips to remember:

1) Stick to colors that flatter you. I have recently come to terms with the fact that unless I have a tan, I just can't wear a black turtleneck. It's too much black too close to my fair face. So, no Audrey Hepburn fantasy for me. Speaking of color...
2) Experiment with color in unexpected places. Yes, I'm talking about colored pants, and yes, you can wear them even if you're past your twenties.
3) Look for interesting details outside your norm. For instance, leather trim - real or faux - is huge this fall.
4) Try a subtle change in your hair. I feel ten times sassier with my new bangs! (Uh-oh.)
5) Switch up your makeup routine. Stuck in a smokey eye and lip gloss rut? Try a sharp cat-eye liner with a matte lipstick in a similar color as your gloss. It's a different kind of drama.

Me, sporting a daring new Trish McEvoy lipstick (hmm...what do you think?) and surrounded by gorgeous clothes inspired by this season's fall TV line-up. See the details of this collection on YouKnowYouLoveFashion.com.

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