Real People, Real Style: Someone’s in the Kitchen with Breanne Butler

By |August 25th, 2016|Guest Blogger, Real People Real Style|

breanne-butler-bybreanneNot sure how we went from someone in the kitchen with Dinah to making pies with our trap queens, but there’s never been a shortage of songs about cooking.  There has, however, been a shortage of friendships with creative culinary skills in my life.  You should consider yourself lucky if you can count your friends on one hand, even luckier if one of those friends happens to be an already distinguished pastry chef by the ripe ol’ age of 26!

I met Breanne at a party at Flat 128 in the village.  I’m not exactly sure how I got invited to said party or what the party was actually for, but there I was, standard socially awkward Kirsten.  Browsing the vintage jewelry and wondering how long was long enough to stay before creepily slipping out the door and slipping out of my stilettos and onto my couch.  Fortunately, this sweet little thing came right up and started chatting with me before offering me a cupcake from the collection on the table that had been so carefully arranged by color to create the British flag.  Ironic to describe this ray of sunshine (so very clearly new to New York) as sweet since within a few moments she disclosed that she was the resident pastry chef at Facebook.  I know, Facebook has a pastry chef.  Of course they do– and your job sucks even more with that newfound knowledge.  She also explained that she had made those cupcakes and had also been bought out for an incredible dairy free gluten free icebox cake, which I still have yet to convince her to make for me…

In the years since I’ve known Breanne, I’ve watched her acclimate to the city– feeling like a proud big sister– create her own brand, ByBreanne, score unbelievable vintage finds, host perfect dinner parties, and design cakes and cookies for fashion brands from Alice + Olivia to Victoria’s Secret.  One might say she’s taken a bite out of the Big Apple, but I kinda think the Big Apple has taken a bite outta Breanne.


Name: Breanne Butler

Wearing: top- H&M, pants: Zara, shoes: Bruno Magli

Occupation: Pastry Chef/Culinary Instructor/ CEO of ByBreanne

Hometown/Current Town: Detroit to UES!

1. I would describe my style as:  Vintage with a little bit of class, and a touch of edge

2.  I can’t leave the house without: My headphones.  Music keeps my energy up!

3. Based on wardrobe alone, if I could live in any time period, it would be: The 60s. I love a high waisted pant, but also love a good skirt suit with kitten heels.

4. Best/biggest splurge (worth every penny): My Louboutins.  I told myself when I was 16 that I would buy a pair as soon as I landed my first salary position! They instantly pull together any outfit!!!

5. Best advice I’ve ever received:  “Travel is the only thing money will buy that will make you richer.”

6. Biggest pet peeve:  Excessive arm swingers.  Like, seriously? You don’t need to use your arms to propel yourself to walk!

7. What I would tell my 13 year old self: Don’t dye your hair black when you’re 18!!!!!

8. Weirdest beauty trick that I swear by: I threw out my razors and use an epilator. Lasts just as long as a wax and saves me sooo much money! My old razor money is now my wine money!

9. Don’t care if it ever goes out of style, I’m going to keep wearing: Socks with heels. Been rocking them since 1999.

10.Something I wish people knew about me: I used to teach violin lessons to elementary school kids!

11. Favorite place in the world: Barcelona, hands down. It’s all my favorite things: Great food, great wine, amazing art and architecture (Gaudi!) and hot, Spanish men!

12. Something you’ve always dreamed of doing: Whale watching in each of the oceans. 2 down, 3 to go!

13. Greatest fear/phobia (that you’ll concur, of course): I absolutely *hate* the sound of silverware clinking together! That and clowns.

Fun fact: I have two titanium rods in my right knee! Sometimes I go off in metal detectors.

breanne-butler-must-haves1. Scissors. I cut a lot of stuff, I guess, 2.  A good, rubber spatula (Trudeau!). Seriously invaluable in the kitchen., 3. Coconut oil. I use it as body lotion and face lotion, right out of the shower. It also makes a great hair mask!, 4. Q-tips. I have to clean my ears twice a day! I also mess up my eyeliner a lot., 5. Passport–because I want to be able to travel at a moments notice!

Why Did You Wear That: Escape from New York City

By |August 15th, 2016|Personal Style, Why Did You Wear That?|

kirsten smith riot art walls coney island

Ah, summer in the city.  It wasn’t until just this past week that we were reminded exactly what it might feel like to wade through a crock pot of steamy, stewing, week old garbage.  This is that special time of year when we trade in bitching about blizzards for raising all hell over heatwaves.  Your weather app may say it’s a balmy 93 degrees but keep scrolling down to “real feel” and don’t forget to check the humidity while you’re at it.

The back of cabs transform into Slip N’ Slides of our own sweat.  Sidewalks double as hot plates.  The drips of overhead window air conditioners become welcome reprieves from the heat.  I’ve all but given up on a “good hair day” and relegated my wardrobe to basic black or any pattern that might disguise the sweat stains acquired merely walking the five blocks to the A train where I can’t decide whether the weather above or below ground is more oppressive.  Most of us look like human versions of Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory and for whatever reason- perhaps the overwhelming waft of “pheromones” or all around “wet” look- cat calling reaches its peak.  How E E Cummings couldn’t capture this in one single sonnet, I’ll never know.

The only way one might manage to survive a New York City summer is by getting out of town.  Having lived in Manhattan for a combined total of ten years and forgetting that West Coast blunder, I’ve sunned myself from Southampton to Montauk.  Slathered on sunscreen in the Rockaways and caught the Seastreak to Sandy Hook.  Yet, I had never made my way to one of the most exotic and the last stops on the F train.  You don’t need a passport, but may want to make sure your vaccinations are up to date.  A boardwalk by the beach complete with cotton candy, bumper cars, and locals who could be considered its carneys- there lies the coastal gem called Coney Island.

As it was my first time to this foreign land, I wasn’t sure what to wear.  Fortunately, TOBI was kind enough to send me some summer essentials perfect for those days when it’s so hot even your brain begins to fry and you need the guesswork taken out of dress work.  The Love Buzz Strappy Bodycon Set seemed like the obvious choice for perusing the Coney Art Walls.  While Coney Island, itself, is quite colorful, what better backdrop for a photoshoot than commissioned graffiti by prominent street artists?  This little two piece wonder looks good with just about anything from cartoon ice cream cones to causing a riot… something sure to happen had I spent one more sticky second in the city.

To be continued…

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kirsten smith ice cream coney art walls

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kirsten smith whydid blog

Kirsten smith tobi coney island

kirsten smith whydid tobi coney island

kirsten smith why did blog nycLove Buzz Strappy Bodycon Set, c/o TOBI

Photos by Michael Stiegler

Guest Post: Here Comes the Sun with Dr. Sejal Shah

By |August 4th, 2016|Beauty & Trends, Beauty Buzz, Guest Blogger|


Sure, we’re nearly two thirds of the way through summer, but there’s still plenty of sun to be shone and Vitamin D to be consumed.  We all know (or at least should) that overexposure to the sun can have some detrimental effects on the skin- think vintage leather handbag.  Aside from the aspects of vanity, playing too long in the sunshine without proper protection can result in skin cancer- and ain’t nobody got time for that.

This isn’t to say you need to lock yourself away in a basement or start toting around a parasol like a delicate debutante, on the contrary, getting a dose of Vitamin D in its native form rather than through a supplement is quite good for you.  As little as eight minutes a day in the sun can boost your Vitamin D intake– and probably your mood, no less.  However, you’ve got to be certain to take the right precautions when headed outdoors.  You don’t only need sunscreen for a day at the beach.  Even walking the dog or going for a run, eating your lunch outdoors or during your daily commute can expose you to harmful UVA and UVB rays.

Suncare and skin cancer hits much closer to home for me as I’ve watched my father chase it around his body for the past ten plus years and has up to this point undergone over thirty surgeries to remove cancerous spots, not counting topical chemotherapy (creams and ointments) and seemingly innumerable destruction by freezing (nitrogen).  I had to ask that he please stop sharing his post operative surgery photos with me that I may stop getting weak in the knees each time I receive a text from him. 

So, how does one choose the right sunscreen to keep them safe from the sun?  To help take out all of the confusion from the sunscreen scene, Dr. Sejal Shah was kind enough to break down the basics below:

Decoding the Sunscreen Label

Have you ever gone to buy a bottle of sunscreen only to leave the store more confused after reading the labels on the bottle?  If so, you are not alone; most people don’t understand exactly what the terms on the label mean.  Let’s break down the terminology so next time you go to buy your sunscreen you know exactly what you are getting.

It’s important to know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates sunscreens, and, therefore, the language used and the claims made on the packaging. Many of the terms on the packaging, such as “broad-spectrum”, “SPF, and “water-resistant”, have very specific meanings because they are based on standards created by the FDA for testing sunscreens.

“Broad-spectrum” indicates that the sunscreen protects against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and B (UVB) radiation.  You want to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen because both types of radiation are damaging to the skin and protecting against them reduces your risk of sunburn, premature skin aging (wrinkles, brown spots, and sagging skin), and skin cancer.

“SPF” stands for sun protection factor and indicates how well a sunscreen protects against UVB radiation.  The number that follows SPF tells you how much UVB radiation the sunscreen can filter out. SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays. SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. Keep in mind that no sunscreen can block a 100% of UVB radiation so other protective measure must be used, such as protective clothing, a hat, and seeking shade.  I recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, which is also what the American Academy of Dermatology recommends.

“Water resistant” indicates how long the sunscreen will stay effective on wet skin, for example while swimming or sweating. Typically the label will state the amount of time, either 40 or 80 minutes. A “water resistant” sunscreen stays effective for 40 minutes on wet skin at which time it needs to be reapplied, and a “very water resistant” sunscreen stays effective for 80 minutes on wet skin at which time it needs to be reapplied.  Besides reapplying when sweating and swimming, sunscreen also needs to be reapplied after toweling off.  Even if your skin stays dry while wearing sunscreen, you need to reapply every 2 hours because sunscreen loses its effectiveness while on your skin.  What about “waterproof” sunscreen?  There is actually no such thing as waterproof sunscreen because there isn’t any sunscreen that completely stays on the skin with sweat and water, so the FDA no longer allows this claim on the labels.

Other terms you might have seen on labels include “Sports”, “Baby”, and “Sensitive Skin”.  The FDA has not defined these.  Typically a sports sunscreen means that the sunscreen is water resistant or very water resistant-the label usually includes this designation as well.  A baby sunscreen generally means that the only active ingredients in the sunscreen are the physical, or mineral, sunscreens, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.  These ingredients are less likely to irritate a baby’s sensitive skin.  Like a baby sunscreen, the active ingredients in a sunscreen formulated for sensitive are usually zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.  They also tend to lack other potentially irritating ingredients, such as fragrance or parabens.

What’s the difference between a chemical and physical sunscreen?  A chemical sunscreen protects your skin by absorbing ultraviolet rays and must be absorbed by the skin to be effective; whereas a physical sunscreen protects your skin by deflecting ultraviolet rays by acting as protective layer on the surface of the skin.  Physical sunscreens contain the active ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.  There are many chemical sunscreen ingredients including avobenzone and oxybenzone.  Some sunscreens contain both chemical and physical ingredients.  All the ingredients approved by the FDA, whether they are chemical or physical, are safe and effective.  However, if you are concerned about using a chemical sunscreen choose a physical sunscreen.

Now that you understand how to read the label, what sunscreen do you need?  After deciding if you want to use a physical or chemical sunscreen, choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Ideally, it’s best to choose one that is water-resistant, but if you are not going to be very active or in water this is not as crucial.

Great, you’ve got your sunscreen, now what?  Sunscreen should be applied everyday-even in the winter, even if it’s cloudy, even if it’s raining or snowing.  Bottom line: if you are outdoors during the day, you need to put sunscreen on.  What about for a regular day at the office when you’re not really outside? A daily moisturizer that contains a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is generally sufficient for a day at the office, but keep in mind UVA can penetrate window glass. Also, anytime you go outside, let’s say to grab lunch or coffee, you are exposing your skin to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) so don’t completely skip the sunscreen. When should you apply sunscreen? Apply sunscreen BEFORE you go outside; it takes approximately 20 minutes for sunscreen to be absorbed by your skin and protect it. If you wait to apply it after you are already outside, your skin is at risk for damage from harmful UVR. Of note, because physical sunscreens do not have to be absorbed by the skin and provide protection immediately, they don’t need to applied so much in advance but should still be applied before going out.  How much should you apply? Apply a generous amount of sunscreen; most adults need at least one ounce (approximately a shot glass size) to fully cover the whole body. Rub sunscreen thoroughly into the skin. What about sprays and sticks? When it comes to sprays, I tend to recommend non-aerosolized sprays or spraying an aerosolized sunscreen into your hand and then rubbing it into your skin. However, if you love the convenience of misting a spray might directly onto your skin, it takes a little more than a gentle spritz to be effective. Spray enough to make the skin glisten or, if the spray is not clear, make sure the skin thoroughly coated then rub it in just as you would a lotion or cream. For sticks, coat every area with four passes back and forth.

Now that you know how to read the labels and use your sunscreen, you can rest assured that your skin is protected!

Why Did You Wear That: Blurring Lines in Gempicket

By |November 30th, 2015|Personal Style, Why Did You Wear That?|

gempicket whydid kirsten smith2Upon entering my apartment, one of the first things people notice, besides the fact that it took them twenty minutes to navigate the maze like hallway to get there, is the collection of nightgowns hanging on the handles of my closet doors on the left side of the hallway.  Some of them are vintage, some of them I’ve never worn, others I wear all the time.  You could say that my obsession with nightwear began while watching Golden Girls as a little girl.  That’s right, instead of Big Bird and Mister Rogers it was Murphy Brown, Sam Malone, and Blanche Devereaux.  I still fall asleep to the sounds of Nick at Nite and all of this ties back nicely to the potential narcolepsy I suffer from.  Another hypothesis as to my penchant for boudoir attire is the time I spent buying lingerie for Henri Bendel.  One never knew she was missing a waspie or the imperative need for an embroidered kimono until she spent time in a showroom full of silk, chiffon, and lace.  I only have one dresser in my apartment and its sole purpose is to house my bras, panties, and bathing suits.  You may be wondering why I ever even bother getting dressed.  Spoiler alert, I rarely do.

Working from home most days doesn’t require putting on much more than a whisper of clothing.  Other than slipping into something spandex to catch a yoga or pilates class, I’ve become quite comfortable in the very basics– as have all of my deliverymen.  My freedom in dresscode and days of solidarity have taken some of the stress out of my normal work day, but it has also left me somewhat socially awkward and also in a panic when it comes time to piece together an outfit fit for public consumption.  And this is when the beauty of blurring the lines between “your eyes only” and “all eyes on me “comes into play.  When you can pair a Gempicket silk cotton batiste cami with your favorite skinny jeans or throw a vintage t-shirt on with your delicately demure tap pants, you’ve perfectly bridged the gap between wallflower and woman of interest.  Or you could just call the whole thing off and stay home in your skivvies.

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gempicket loungewear whydid

gempicket new york whydidGempicket Elodie Cami, Grace Tap Pants, and Suki Socks

Photos by Michael Stiegler

Why Did You Wear That: Time Will Tell with Louis Moinet

By |October 18th, 2015|Sponsored Post, Why Did You Wear That?|

“Shoot!” I exclaim as I peer at the clock above my stove.  “I’m late… Again.”

I inspect my reflection in the mirror for the fourth time and reassure myself that my hair alone is well worth the wait.  Thirty minutes worth the wait though?  Should I just cancel?  What excuse can I use this time?  Faulty plumbing?  Natural disaster?  Personality defect?  It is in my Aquarian nature, after all.

I pick up my phone to make the call (text), and realize that even if I leave right now, I’ll be forty-five minutes late, pending traffic.  Please don’t take Bleecker.  Before pressing send, I recall how his dark brown eyes had made me melt and how the conversation during our first encounter had made me forget about time altogether.  Maybe I won’t cancel.  Besides, I’m already dressed, and this dress deserves to be seen.  I delete my message, grab my bag and give one last glance in the mirror before heading down the hall to the elevator.

I let him know I’m on my way, without being too apologetic.  I don’t want to tip the scales too far in his favor.  As the taxi pulls up to the curb in front of the restaurant, I take a deep breath and decide that no excuse will be my best excuse.  Everyone knows that anything worth having is also worth waiting for.  It’s basic economics.  All good things always take time. And I’m certainly worth the wait.

As I walk into the already crowded restaurant, I spot him.  And as I spot him, he spots me and peers down at his wrist, presumably to check just how late I actually am.  I give a half hearted wave hoping to offset any animosity with a shy smile.  I make my way to him, avoiding a waitress with an overloaded drink tray and dodging an over served patron and I see him start to soften.  It must be my hair.  He greets me with a warm enveloping hug and despite my tardiness, all seems to be forgiven.  Just as I start to relax, he looks down at his wrist again and for the first time, I notice that he’s not wearing just any watch, a Tag or a Rolex, it’s a Louis Moinet.  I don’t know much about stocks or bonds, cars or sports, but I do know you can tell a lot about a man by his watch– and his shoes.louis moinet memorisNow, if you’ve never heard of Louis Moinet, you’re not a watch enthusiast or you’ve been tricked into believing there are only a few watches worth wearing.  Someone with discerning taste knows the difference.  This particular model is the Louis Moinet Memoris tenth anniversary timepiece- the first chronograph watch in watchmaking history.  Certainly not for novices.  Seeing this watch on my date’s wrist tells me that he is someone who is more interested in the craft of watchmaking than the culture of watch wearing.  This purchase wasn’t made after listening to one too many Drake songs or catching an ad in between episodes of Scandal.  This is a man who values the art over the adage, the heritage more than the hearsay.  With the chronograph existing two hundred years and the watchmaker celebrating its tenth anniversary, Louis Moinet reinvented things by focusing on the chronograph as a centerpiece rather than simply a design component.  There is a reason this watch has been nominated for the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie of Geneva.  Incorporating the “Energie Plus“, an automatic pawl self winding system, the Memoris can be wound in both directions optimizing every movement.  I know I’ve done the right thing by not canceling.  This is a man who values his time.  It’s written all over his wrist.  I feel a pang of guilt for not having valued it myself.

He asks if I’d care for a drink and I order rosé because it would look nice with the rose gold of his watch.  He smiles as if in cahoots.  I smile back and think that perhaps if I had a watch half as lovely, I’d never be late either.  Will this romance last longer than the dessert course?  Who knows?  Only time will tell.