Polar Vortex Chic: Women’s Edition
Cool Finds to Keep You Warm this Winter

Winter 2014 is not playing around, that much is clear.  Between the seemingly endless snows and the dangerously cold weather sent Calypso St Barth Vestfrom the North Pole, Chicago is taking a beating.

That doesn’t mean, however, that your style has to suffer.

Whether you’re clearing heaps of snow off of your car or just hurrying down the street to the nearest Starbucks, you can still manage to be the picture of cold-weather chic with a few, hot additions to your winter wardrobe.

Rabbit Fur Yali, Calypso St. BartJil Sanders Sleeves

Looking cool while staying warm is all about layering – you can throw this gorgeous, rabbit fur vest over practically anything for added warmth and style.  Dress it down with jeans and chunky boots or go more formal by pairing it with an LBD and heels.  Either way, you’ll want to cuddle with yourself.

Sleeves, Jil Sander

Jimmy Choo BootsDon’t be limited by short-sleeved tops; just add these lux leather sleeves to any outfit to give a bit of extra coverage and insulation.  They’ll keep you warm while adding a subtle, avant-garde edge to your look.

Yule Boots, Jimmy Choo

These boots are not only beautiful, but practical.  When you’re trudging through a couple feet of snow and black ice, you’ll love the low heel and high shaft.  And, though your face might be freezing, your feet will be luxuriating in the rabbit-fur interior lining….mmmmm.Montcler Coat

Gamme Rouge Coat, Moncler

Moncler’s coats are insanely warm and insanely stylish.  This one is subtly striking with beautiful, understated details and textures.  It’s not over the top for dropping the kids off at school, but it’s elegant enough for a night out as well.

Armani CoatDown Jacket, Emporio Armani

Down jackets can sometimes leave you looking like the Michelin man – not so with this chic number from Armani.  The exaggerated cowl neck and perfectly-proportioned lines set this jacket far apart from the department store variety down coat.  And, the whisper-soft color will stand out from the ubiquitous drably-colored outwear on the street.

Gilly Forge Pia Hat, Barneys

This classic shape will never go out of style, and the lined, faux fur will never leave you out in the Barneys Hatcold.  This simple hat is reminiscent of Russian royalty and will look pretty great with just about any of your outerwear options.

Gloria, Agent Provacateur

Agent ProvacateurOK, admittedly, this stunning lingerie won’t do too much for your core body temperature, but it definitely will make you feel hot.  It’s a mental thing.  When your feet land in an icy puddle, you may just feel a little better knowing what’s underneath your puffy coat, wool sweater and long underwear.

Freezing temperatures do not mean that you have to sacrifice your usual, killer style.  On the contrary, winter gives you an opportunity to experiment with layering on new styles and luxurious pieces.

Splash out on some new winter styles and you’ll end up wishing for snow and below zero temps.  How else will you get to show off your new, Arctic-chic look?

Balsan introduces Shop & Lunch prix fixe menu

Balsan Bar

Balsan introduces Shop & Lunch, a delicious three-course prix fixe menu.  Available for $27 per person, weekdays 11am-4pm, the menu option includes:


Cumin Roasted Carrot Soup  -OR- Artisan Greens Salad


Club Sandwish -OR- Chicken Caesar Salad -OR- Tarte Flambee -OR- Wild Mushroom Bolognese -OR- Seared Faroe Island Salmon


Dark Chocolate Terrine

Balsan is located inside the Waldorf-Astoria at 11 E. Walton. Please call (312) 646-1400 for more information.

5 Ways to Stay Sane While Holiday Shopping
Make Last Minute Gift-Buying Fun & Efficient

Don’t freak out, but Christmas is even closer than just around the corner – it’s just up the block and it’s heading for you at a clip.  In an ideal world, all of your holiday gifts would already be purchased, wrapped and sitting pretty under the immaculately-decorated tree.

Downtown Chicago shopingIn the real world, however, things are probably a bit more chaotic and you still have a decent number of loved ones for whom you have to shop.

Though holiday shopping becomes a bit more frantic and stressful as we near the 25th, use these helpful tips to keep yourself sane while getting last-minute shopping done.

1.  Shop on Weekdays

It might be worth it to rearrange your schedule or play hooky from work one day to get your shopping done while the rest of the city is working away.  There are significantly fewer people out shopping during the week, which means more parking spots, shorter lines, and a lot less crowd-jostling.  You’ll save time, and probably a great many headaches when you’re not competing with the masses.  If you can make it out on a Tuesday, you’ll even get free valet parking on Oak Street.

2.  Make a Game Plan

Do not, I repeat do not, leave your house without a list and a game plan.  Shopping can be unproductive when you’re just wandering aimlessly looking for the perfect gifts to jump out at you.  It may feel overwhelming, and you could end up walking out of stores empty-handed.  Instead, make a list of everyone you have to shop for and jot down a couple of ideas for each one.  It’s ok if you don’t have a specific item in mind for each person, but try to have some idea.  “Jewelry” gives you much more direction than nothing.

Also, if you know where you’re going shopping, try to map out at which stores you’ll buy for each person.  That way, you can make sure that you don’t have to double-back to any store where you’ve already been that day.

3.  Video Input

For most people on our list, there’s another person with whom we’re secretly collaborating to make sure that we’re buying the right thing.  While shopping for your brother-in-law, you’re undoubtedly sending long, detailed text messages to your sister to ask her opinion on a potential gift.  Instead, why not make a quick video showing the gift and recording your questions about it – it’s a lot Chicago Shoppingquicker and more descriptive than a rambling text message.

4.  Think Outside the Gift Box

We all have people on our list who are impossible to shop for.  Instead of buying them one more thing that will sit in the back of their closet or end up being exchanged, try something out of the ordinary.  Give the gift of an experience and you can’t go wrong.  If you’re stumped, give a gift certificate for a cool hotel, a spa day or a dinner at a nice restaurant.

5.  Take Care of Yourself

Holiday shopping should not make you frazzled and miserable – ideally, it should be a fun, festive experience.  If you take the time to treat yourself a bit, it can be.  Build in time to take a pause for a relaxing, sit-down lunch at a delicious restaurant.  This will recharge your batteries so you’re ready to keep going with gusto.  If lunch is too much of a commitment, at least stop for a few moments to enjoy a coffee and some people-watching.  And, if you feel you’re on the edge, buy yourself a little something nice.  There’s no rules against putting yourself on your holiday shopping list.

Though the days before Christmas might be dwindling, there’s no reason to lose your cool over shopping.  If you do it right, it can actually be enjoyable and satisfying.  Have fun with it and remember the reason you’re out there battling crowds.  It’s all about bringing a smile to the faces of your favorite people.

The 2013 Oak Street Holiday Gift Guide:
Shop for Everyone on Your List on Just One Street

Hermes ScarfTrying to find gifts that will please your diverse set of family and friends can sometimes feel like an impossible scavenger hunt.  You have a list that’s been scribbled on, unfolded and refolded so many times that it’s become transparent; you’ve created a strategic shopping map that crisscrosses the city; and you’ve hidden gifts in so many places in your house that you’ve forgotten where they all are.

This year, instead, knock out your whole list without ever moving your car or sitting in traffic.  Find that perfect something for everyone on Oak Street.

The Discerning Mother-in-Law 

Can you really go wrong with a bold, timeless Hermès scarf?  That’s a rhetorical question – the answer is no.  There are such a wide variety of fabrics, colors and patterns, that you’re sure to find something that screams your mother-in-law’s name when you see it.  Check out this gorgeous silk twill just bursting with fall colors.

The Dad that Has Everything

Class up Dad’s living room lounging with a pair of elegant, Italian suede slippers.  If you know that your dad prefers his old, broken-in pair, go for these classic deerskin driving gloves– it’s a rare man who doesn’t appreciate something that makes him look cooler when he’s behind the wheel.

The BFFPrada Cufflinks

Your female bestie’s unique style is what makes her who she is – impress her with a cool, head-turning fur beanie from Sofia.  A male best friend may require a more understated approach; he’s fashionable but not flashy.  Industrial-style Prada cufflinks?  Perfect.  If he’s not a suit man, he’ll love a vibrantly-colored leather wallet from Tod’s.

The Trendy Teenage Niece

Be the hippest aunt or uncle on the block by giving her a monogrammed Juicy Couture track suit.  She’ll wear it around the house, to school, to the mall and anywhere she’ll be able to show off her personalized loungewear.  If your niece leans a bit more bohemian, headover to Kate Spade and Juicy Couture Bagpick up the quirky card catalog printed tote or a cutely deceptive hardcover book clutch.

The Sentimental Mom

Your mom would trade any material gift for a whole day spent with you.  This year, instead of getting her a cashmere shawl or glittery necklace, why not buy her a luxurious day out with you?  First, head to The Spa on Oak for any one of their relaxing and renewing facials.  Next, let the experts at Exhale Spa give her an indulging Four-Handed Massage that will surely ease all the residual holiday tensions.  End the day by putting Mom in the trusty hands of a Charles Ifergan stylist – she’ll walk out feeling relaxed and gorgeous.

The Stylish Significant Other David Yurman

Most women would rather receive a gift that they want rather than one they need (free tip:  don’t get her anything for the kitchen, unless she asked for it).  These white and yellow gold quatrefoil earrings from David Yurman shine with diamonds, but are subtle enough for frequent wear.  Instead of encasing them in wrapping paper, why not wrap them up in a buttery-soft leather Furla handbag?

Show the man in your life that he’s one-of-a-kind by giving him a gift certificate for custom suits and accessories at Tessuti, a sophisticated menswear shop that makes sure all guys walk out feeling James Bond cool.

This collection of great gifts is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Oak Street shopping options.  Your problem won’t be finding something for everyone; it will be choosing just one thing from all of your stunning options.