Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mapel's Top Model's Spring Break Adventure

This week's "guest blogger" is Mapel's top model, Angela Kerwin (yes, the beautiful face of Mapel's landing page) who recently returned from a spring break adventure in Southeast Asia.

Day 1 - Flew into Hanoi, the Northern part of Vietnam and it was a culture shock. This was our first introduction to SE Asia and it was indeed eye-opening. Most of the population ride motorbikes, which makes for many interesting photos but can get a little taxing on the lungs. We stayed at the Golden Lotus Hotel II and walked around the markets. After about 40 hours of being awake and absorbing as much of Hanoi as we could handle, we headed back to the hotel to crash.
Day 2-3 - We took a beautiful tour of Halong Bay. This is a must if you are considering visiting Vietnam. Definitely a highlight. We stayed in a beautiful Junk boat and enjoyed delicious seafood, kayaking, and tours on the various islands. We were the only other couple on the boat and it was absolutely perfect.Evening (3) - Upon returning to Hanoi, we went for a bite to eat at Bar 69 and then headed to the Water Puppet show. We liked this but it was very touristy. Nonetheless, it is worth going to enjoy the artistry of the puppets and the skills of the puppeteers.

Day 4 - Flew to Nha Trang, the beach baby. The northern part of Vietnam tends to be cooler than the south and so we were itching for some sunny beaches. On our way from the Da Nang airport into Nha Trang, we passed the Diamond Bay Resort and saw that last year they hosted the Miss Universe pageant. Of course, we took a photo because it was just too funny. We enjoyed the beach all day, got massages, and found a fantastic pool right on the beach where we rented a cabana for $2 and ordered drinks all day (Louisiane Cafe - order the Thai Mussels).

Day 5 - After waking up to the sunset, we rented a scooter and drove about 45 miles South to Doc Let (Yoc-Let) beach. If you are looking for seclusion, this is a great place. We swam a bit and walked the beach and then headed back to town for some dinner. Russ ordered a drink called "the bucket" and you can just imagine what is in this...lots of red bull and lots of alcohol - yuk but he liked it.

Day 6 - Hoi An. Truly one of the most picturesque towns we have ever visited. The French influence and architecture are stunning as are the hundreds of silk lanterns that line the river and are lit throughout town. We spent a good part of our day getting fitted for various clothes - -dresses, shirts and Russ got a nice suit. We were a little surprised that the prices were more than we thought but still, a custom made dress for $25 isn't bad at all. I am most excited about my Asian inspired dress and Russ' fancy suit. We stayed in the An Tuy Hotel in Old Town,which was great and near the action. But, if you have more time, we'd recommend also staying at the gorgeous Victoria Beach Resort.

Day 7 - Hoi An. Again, lots of final fittings for our clothes and we did some more shopping, ate delicious pineapple and got a drink at Brothers Cafe, a beautiful restuarant situated along the river - - it's something right out of the movies. Speaking of movies, The Quiet American was filmed in Hoi An.

Day 8-11 - Hoi An to Phu Quoc Island. This was the most random and unplanned part of our trip but was definitely a highlight! We stayed at the beautiful La Veranda Resort for our first night and it felt like a honeymoon. Truly one of the most beautiful hotels I've ever stayed in. They were booked after the first day so we satyed at a little villa on the beach at the Saigon Phu Quoc Resort. We rented bikes, swam, laid out, hit golf balls, and went on an amazing snorkeling tour off of a couple different islands. We think it would be fun to get scuba certified but we'll see. We depart tomorrow for Ho Chi Minh City and we'll see if we feel up to traveling over to Cambodia once we have a day under our belts in HCMC.

Day 12 - We landed in Ho Chi Minh City and were at our hotel by 10:30 am. We spent the day at the Ho Chi Minh City Museum, ate lunch and then visited the War Remnants Museum. This museum was compelling and contained many extremely graphic photos about the attrocities of war. We were both moved and walked away with a sick feeling in our stomachs and greater sense of compassion for the innocent victims of the war (on both sides). After walking shopping and exploring more, we decided that we definitely had time to make it to Cambodia. We purchased our plane tix and headed back to the hotel to get some rest.

Day 13 - We arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia around noon and checked into our hotel, the beautiful Prince d'Angkor Hotel and then it was off to town o check out the Central Market and grab some gelato in the VERY hot and humid heat. We were most excited though to hire a tuk tuk driver and make it to Angkor Wat to watch the sunset. It was miraculous and is one of the seven man made wonders of the world. We then headed back to town to Pub Street to enjoy a couple of drinks and then ended our day getting massages.

Day 14 - Morning came too soon. The sunset over Angkor Wat was beautiful but we had heard that to truly experience all the Temples had to offer, we needed to arrive by sunrise. That's right, we woke up at 4:15 am and were en route by 4:45 am. We saw the sunrise and spent the next couple of hours walking around Angkor Wat. Then, it was back to our hotel to catch a couple hours of sleep and then more shopping! Around 3:00 we hired a guide named Sothea to take us back to the temples and he took us to Taparom Trees, Angkor Thom and Bayon Temple, Terrace of the Elephants and Leper Kings, Heavenly Jail, and ended with a hike to the top of Bakheng Temple/Moutain to watch the sunset. We then headed into town and watched some beautiful Apsara dancing and enjoyed some Amok, a Cambodian fish dish, and a couple drinks before heading back to the hotel.

Day 15 -We finally had a chance to catch up on our rest and spent the majority of the morning in the hotel and then headed out for a cappuccino and to finish up some shopping. We flew back to Ho Chi Minh City and had a great meal at the night market and headed back to catch some much needed rest.

Day 16 - We made it to the airport and took off for home! An awesome adventure and we are already looking forward to the next one. Maybe...Greece, New Zealand or Spain? - - let us know where we should go, we'd love to hear from you.
xoxoxoAng n Russ

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Statement Potential

The handbag is a fundamental element of every woman's look and
directly contributes to how she feels.
Woman have become increasingly obsessed with handbags within the last decade. Who could blame us... there is so much statement potential in one little (or over sized) handbag. Trend analysts have spotted extra handbag emphasis from designers this spring season. Likely due to economic conditions designers think it might be easier for consumers to pick up a new handbag rather than a new ensemble.

This week Mapel got our spring handbag booty.... and we could not be more excited. In addition to our fav'sies handbag vendor Compose we picked up Chocolate. We fell in love with their designs, construction and quality- and we know you will too.

During this week's Happy Hour Menu Mapel offers 25% off a new handbag each day.

Thursday Happy Hour
to dye for Lace Tote $51 (regularly $68)

This spring designers played up the theme of sheer madness. Using various gossamer materials like chiffon, lace, fishnet and fringe designers lent a subtly "telling" and sexy aesthetic to dressing. These ensembles are not for the faint of heart - be you wearer or viewer. You don't have to break the "office appropriate" dress code to get this same sheer madness look. Something tells me this purse won't get you fired- but I don't think you'll get a promotion either.

Friday Happy Hour
decidedly forward Purple Braided Clutch $51 (regularly $68)

You probably think we are obsessed with purple- and we are. But it's not just us... designers keep working purple into their collections. This season purple gets a makeover when worn with electric almost contrast colors. We see vivid purple with hot red or violet with burnt orange. This season purple is for the decided woman who respects herself, pays attention to detail (like braided trim) isn't afraid to pair purple with unexpected colors.

Saturday & Sunday Happy Hour
conveniently handy Large Zebra Shopper $37.50 (regularly $50)

Most weekends involve at least one trip to the grocery store or Saturday market. What better way maintain your uber chic look while saving the enviro' than with a Large Zebra Shopper.

Actually- if you don't already have an over sized handbag you betta' get on the handbag wagon- cause this spring bags get super-sized. Think Ashley Olson proportions for the masses.

Monday Happy Hour
softly versatile Quilted Bone Tote $73.50 (regularly $98)

Find inspiration in Coco Chanel's signature classic quilted tote. This spring bone, beige and other subtle pastels painted the runway. Softer palette's of color are easily mixed with any ensemble and can be worn at any event. Bone is your best choice for elegance and versatility.

Tuesday Happy Hour
playful Gathered Grey Tote $58.50 (regularly $78)

I won't bother stating that "grey is the new black"- because I believe black IS black and grey IS grey. We can however take inspiration from all the grey, silver and metallic that covered the spring runways. Grey is a color of charm and refinement. We can also note that handbags are becoming just that- Hand Bags. Instead of throwing it over your shoulder carry your bag in your hand for a feminine and fresh approach to accessorizing.

Wednesday Happy Hour
ferocious Animal Print Shoulder Bag $43.50 (regularly $58)

Last- but certainly not least is the massive trend of animal or python print. We see it in shoes, jewelry and of course handbags. Mapel's Animal Print bag is trend right yet subtle. The bone color (see Monday's write up) is versatile.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

by Cleary O'Farrell

Having a name like “Cleary O’Farrell” certainly denotes an Irish heritage. So, all you lasses, I now get a guest spot on Mapel’s blog, and I am going to tell you about the history of St. Patrick’s Day.

I was never too good at sitting and learning/listening in school, so I’ll try to keep this short and concise. The way I have heard it from my grandmother, Kathleen Browne (as well as the History channel), St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is believed to have lived wayyyyy back in the days when function ruled over fashion, and socks with sandals was accepted. He died on March 17, 460 A.D.

Patrick had a tough go of it. At 16, he was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who attacked his family's estate in Britain. They transported him to Ireland where he spent SIX YEARS in captivity. During this time he worked as a shepherd; outdoors and away from people. After finally deciding that sheep were not so good for companions, Patrick escaped.

Patrick walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo where he was held, to the Irish coast. He began religious training (and hopefully some socialization classes), which lasted more than fifteen years. After his ordination as a priest, St. Patrick was sent to Ireland with a dual mission = to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish. The fable about him chasing some snakes out of Ireland is funny, but it is actually a symbolic story about Patrick converting non-Christians and making Ireland Christian (get it = snakes/Eve’s serpent/pagans).

My family’s story in America began around 1845 when the “Great Potato Famine” occurred. The crop for the Irish people’s main food staple, the potato, was dying because of a rapidly spreading disease. This is when my family came over here to escape starvation, and to discover a new world without carbs. The Irish were at first despised for their lack of education and weird accents and had trouble finding even menial jobs. When these Irish partied like we are known to on St. Patrick's Day, newspapers portrayed them in cartoons as drunken, violent monkeys. They were frequently called very non-PC names, banned from restaurants, apartment homes, etc.

However, the Irish soon began to realize that their large numbers brought them power. They started to organize, and their voting block known as the "green machine," became an important swing vote for political hopefuls. Suddenly, annual St. Patrick's Day parades became a must-attend event for political candidates. In 1948, President Truman attended New York City 's St. Patrick's Day parade, a proud moment for the many Irish whose ancestors had to fight stereotypes and racial prejudice to find acceptance in America.

Today I am wearing green beads (because I do not look so great in green clothing) and having one of the Irish “car bomb” cupcakes I shared with the office. Tonight I will drink a green beer or two and be thankful that I live in the present day, where it’s hip to be Irish, and haters are so last millennium.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Traditional is the new Modernism

I have always admired Kate Spade's ability to mix multiple design elements into one stellar piece. She blends sophistication, originality, tradition and keeps it modern. She is my inspiration for this weeks blog and online Happy Hour offerings.

I want to touch on the world of black and white dressing. It's about finding the finesse to lend a modern look to very traditional colors.

"Even if you're traditional, you shouldn't be afraid of being modern. What's interesting is combining the two sensibilities. When fused, a third, unique aesthetic is expressed" kate spade

Think vintage solid black typewriter meets vivid white iMac

Think of the style endurance in a little black dress perfectly
complimented by double strand pearls
Think classic beach white jeans "kicked up a notch" with black gladiator sandals

White flowing satin gown and starched black tux

Traditional saddle shoes paired with pointelle cotton summer dress

"I think women in black communicate greater sophistication than men in black- with the exception of Johnny Cash, who looked great in black." kate spade

"Wear white with caution and wear it interestingly. I always like white to break up the color. So my thinking is that with primary or secondary colors, white is used to clarify." kate spade

This week we are featuring a variety of traditional yet modern black and white pieces to enhance your wardrobe.

Thursday: Ella Moss Rhianna Dress 50% off = $82

Friday: Ben Sherman Pencil Skirt 40% off = $59.40

Saturday & Sunday: Mac & Jac Drop Neck Sweater 40% off = $58.80

Tuesday: Croc Handbag Shopper 40% off = $30

Wednesday: Ben Sherman Rohe Button Down $10 off = $39.50

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pieces of Flair

Like clock-work I wake up Thursday morning and ponder what morsels to share in my web log. Amidst tossing ideas in me' (pronounced with an Irish accent) head my sister called and sparked a much needed creative fire under my seat.

Finances are tight and it's likely that won't change before spring sprungs. Regardless of your tight budget you desire (make that yearn) to look fabu'. Essentially we all just need a few key items to spruce our current wardrobe.

I believe the key to spring dressing will be pieces of "flare". Finding a few killer items that lend an updated look without breaking the bank. Here follows Mapel's suggestions for "flair" and out of courtesy for yo' (pronounced kinda gangster'ish) budget Mapel will feature these items on Happy Hour this week.

Thursday: Westbourne Elongated Cardigan 40% off = $77.40

I rocked this sweater on my trip to Palm Springs with a white ribbed tank,
blue jeans, sandals and long scarf.
Keep it unbuttoned for a "What? Oh.... this old thing?" look.
I would recommend wearing it casually unbuttoned or wrap and secure with a skinny belt. Guaranteed you will continue wearing this May 25th forward with white bermuda's and sandals.

Friday: Tux Style Vest 40% off = $59.40

There's that darn dress you haven't worn in months.
It's so cute- and you fell in love with it upon purchase- but once you
got it home you just could not get it to work.
Or.... it did work- but is kinda tired and boring now.
Layer this vest over your tired dress and Voila', you have lent
shape and interest to that old dress.
Moving into summer pair this vest with your favorite Friday night tank and you
won't cringe every time you see a picture of you wearing that same party top.

Saturday & Sunday: Striped Tote $15 off = $29

Simply said: It's in the bag baby.
Pair this purse with an easy black top and your favorite jeans for a
colorful and tasteful touch.
Summer wedding? Keep the dress simple and lend color and interest with your hand candy.
Use the shoulder straps or grasp clutch style like your strutting the red carpet.

Monday: Colorblock Silk Skirt $25 off = $43
Embrace the "ballerina skirt" trend with this colorful and sophisticated silk skirt.
If your legs are a little too "casper" to bring into the light of day dress this skirt with leggings or tights and your flats for a "mod" look. Pair with your V neck sweater this month and update the look with a cami in the warmer weather months.

Tuesday: Side Zip Sweater Jacket 40% off = $95.40
Admit it! You were Obsessed with your denim jacket a few years ago.
Well.... it's time to get obsessed with the sweater jacket. Think... Sweater meets Jacket.
You already have the skinny jeans so update your "tough girl" look with this jacket.
Lend an edgy vibe to your work wardrobe and dress this jacket with your wide leg trousers.
When it Finally gets warmer bundle this jacket up in a ball and throw into your purse.

Wednesday: Daphne Dress 50% off = $88.50

4 Stars for this dress.
Perfect for work when paired with your drapy cardigan and flats.
Transition to Happy Hour with friends by changing it up with your stilettos.
Wear this summer to a wedding with statement jewelry.
Casual warm weather attire when paired with gladiator sandals.