what it is: Zara long pleated skirt

why I love it: I love maxi skirts, but the normal neutrals like black or white can be overwhelming in long skirt form. My first maxi skirt was a charcoal gray color, and I found that to be more versatile than black, because anything I'd pair it with is automatically less of a stark contrast. That's how I feel about this pretty blush color. It's surprisingly versatile, and the knife pleats and light fabric give the skirt an ultra-feminine feel that allows for more outfit options in a way. The styling in this photo doesn't really show off how flattering the skirt is, but with a white t-shirt and flat sandals the skirt is perfect for a day, and with strappy heels and a silky tank, it can be dressed up. Pair it with combat boots and/or an oversized cardigan or crew neck sweater in colder weather and you've given the skirt a new vibe altogether. Zara isn't the only place to offer a skirt in this style and color, but I love the fabric and perfect blush shade this one comes in, and the price isn't too bad for something that is, after all, a trend.

where to get it: Zara, $89.90
-E
 
 
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Doheny Tomato Multi
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Walden Cement Electric Blue
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Monti Charcoal Black Fluo
what (who) it is: Ruthie Davis

why I love it: I was fact checking something for work last week when I first found out about Ruthie Davis, and I instantly felt FOMO for not knowing about this amazing shoe collection before. The above are just three shoes from the fall collection, but each style comes in multiple colors/color combinations. I love how the styles and colors take traditional shoe styles and add a little excitement to them without making them too crazy. The color combinations are just right. Any one of these shoes adds instant interest to an outfit while still being very wearable. They can serve as both an outfit maker or a great complement to a great outfit, and that is a balance that is incredibly hard to strike.

where to get it: pre-fall and fall collection not yet available, but shop available shoes at Ruthie Davis
-E
 
 
I've always loved experimenting with grilled cheese. Whether it's with a different kind of bread, mixing cheeses or adding something new to the traditional recipe, I'm always up to try a twist on the comfort food. I saw this recipe and knew I'd have to try it. French onion is one of my favorites, and even though this isn't true french onion, it was good, easy and the perfect update to a tried and true classic.
french onion grilled cheese
makes 2 sandwiches


2 medium yellow onions, sliced thin, about 1/4"
3 tablespoons butter softened, plus additional for outsides of bread
3 tablespoons white wine
4.5 oz gruyere cheese, shredded...or more! (I felt it needed more than this)
4 slices bread (I used sandwich multigrain, the options are endless)
salt and freshly ground pepper

 
 
what it is: J.Crew Tippi sweater in polka dot

why I love it: When I was about 14, I went through a polka dot-loving phase. This was when my interpretation of matching included colors, as well as patterns. I had a white tank top with pink polka dots that I would always pair with a white scarf belt that also had different shades of pink polka dots in the same size as the tank top. Those were dark times. Anyway, this phase came and went (I think it lasted a little too long), and since it ended, that "outfit" I used to wear with pride is what usually comes to mind when I think about polka dotted clothing. This makes me cringe. That is, until I was at J.Crew the other day and I saw this sweater. I'm not sure what color combo I love the best, but I love the contrast in this pink and gray option, even though I'm not much of a pink person. The polka dots are just large enough to be sophisticated but not so big that they could be part of a circus costume. The sweater itself is perfectly classic and a great weight for both layering and standing on its own. The kind of random placement of the dots I think was what sold me in the end. They are populous (yeah, I used that word) enough to make this a polka dotted sweater, but not so systematic that I feel like I'm in 8th grade shopping at Delia's. Per usual, my mental outfit generator is going crazy, and per usual, I think I'll be staring at this from afar for a while. Though, an extra note, if I go back and they have only an XL on sale, this is a sweater that works just as well in an oversized look!

where to get it: J.Crew, $89.50
-E
 
 
what it is: Face Stockholm for J.Crew lipstick in Chili Flake

why I love it: I was doing a little browsing to escape from the NYC heat the other day, and obviously ducked into J.Crew to see what's up with pre-fall over there. I usually don't gravitate to the beauty products because of the backhaul I have at home, but at the sight of a shade called Chili Flake, one of my favorite seasonings of all time, I had to see what was inside. The picture above doesn't fully capture how amazing this shade is. It is a red, but with a touch of orange and the slightest hint of a coral that makes it more striking than almost any other red I've seen. I kept taking the top off of the lipstick and looking at its amazingness. At the time, I was just taking mental inventory of what's in store for the season, but this has been on my mind for almost a week now, so I think I might have to go pick one up, even if my lipstick collection is heaping over the tray where I store it.

where to get it: J.Crew, $20
-E
 
 
Brussels sprouts are the resident enemy vegetable, but I like including them in my vegetable side rotation every once in a while. I've braised them as a side and roasted them as an appetizer, but I like to find new tastes for them. I googled a recipe for sesame brussels sprouts and found this one, so I went with it. They turned out well and were really easy, though a little more of the sauce wouldn't have hurt.
sesame roasted brussels sprouts
serves 4

1 lb fresh brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed oil
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
fresh cracked black pepper
salt

 
 
what it is: Zara printed mini skirt

why i love it: This skirt has all of the elements I'm craving in a fall wardrobe: texture, an interesting tribal print and a monochromatic color scheme that balances out the other details perfectly. Paired with more casual layers or boots, it has the potential to work as a great transitional piece for in between the seasons. Plus, it's a prime example of what Zara does best: expensive-looking statement pieces for impressively affordable prices.

where to get it: zara.com, $59.90
-S
 
 
what it is: Estée Lauder Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator

why i love it: This lightweight illuminator is the one thing missing in your skin care routine, trust me. Here's the reason: whenever you see a photograph in a magazine where the model's skin looks amazing, the trick behind it (besides Photoshop) is always lighting. This product creates a similar effect on your skin, even if you don't have a professional photography team following you around at all times. It evens skin tone and fades dark marks while leaving behind a light scent and subtle shimmer.  I especially love what it does for skin's texture and overall luminous-ness; you really do end up needing to use less makeup, which is always a plus. 

where to get it: esteelauder.com, $145
-S
 
 
When I decide what to cook every week, I try to stay away from pastas because as a vegetarian, I could probably eat some form of pasta for every meal, and that could end badly health-wise. So when I was scouring Pinterest for this week's selections, I found this recipe from The Sprouted Kitchen which I had pinned a while ago. I loved the Mexican-inspired dish with slightly surprising flavors. I altered the recipe a bit for myself because I don't like goat cheese, but for the most part kept it the same. These were easy to make and on her recommendation of going with Trader Joe's enchilada sauce, made my life that much easier. It will definitely be added to my usual rotation!
black bean and zucchini enchiladas
serves 4

At her suggestion, I used the Trader Joe's enchilada sauce (it's a whole bottle), but she also recommended this one if you want to go homemade. I hope to try and make it eventually but having the pre-bottled stuff insures that you're going to get a good flavor and saves some time (for the full time employee like me!).

3 large zucchini/summer squash, 1/4'' dice (about 4 cups once chopped)
3 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/4 tsp. lemon pepper/garlic salt*
1/2 of a small red onion or 4 green onions, finely chopped
1 15 oz. can/ 2 cups black beans, rinsed and drained
5 oz. soft goat cheese (or other soft, melt-able cheese. I used feta)
10ish taco-sized corn tortillas (the amount will depend on how full you stuff them)
12 oz. red enchilada sauce, see note above

for topping
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped (parsley or nothing works, too, if you're cilantro-averse)
2 avocados
squeeze of lime

*I decided against investing in these seasonings because I wouldn't use them very often. Instead I just roasted them in olive oil, salt, pepper, Paula Deen seasoning and half of a lemon. The fun part about this is that it lets you improvise to your taste and what's in your kitchen.


 
 
As far as male accessories go, there aren't many options. As I've said before, a watch is a must, but beyond that, jewelry can be inappropriate or hard to pull off and cuff links require a specific type of shirt. And as the trend in menswear has become dressing up on a regular basis, the tie bar is the perfect way to accent an outfit. 

If  you're going to go for this revitalized trend, go with silver or gold (whichever you wear more) in a very plain design. If you're going to go all out and buy a few, you can get creative like the one in the picture, especially to wear for more informal tie-wearing occasions. Make sure the bar doesn't extend past the width of the tie, and don't use a super short one on a regular width tie, it looks disproportional. This is a really easy way to upgrade and outfit or add interest to a plain tie or suit if you get bored with it. The Tie Bar is a good place to start for both ties and tie bars. If it's not your style, it's not a big deal, but if you're looking for an easy upgrade or finishing touch, this is a great way to add a fashion forward accent to an outfit.
-E