Fashion Forward Fridays: eShakti Custom Dress Review

Dress: eShakti | Shoes: Brash | Jewelry: Charlotte Russe | Purse: Vintage

A while back, I was contacted by eShakti to do a review. Since I heard of them through other bloggers, I jumped at the opportunity. A custom, designer dress made just for me? Uh, yes please! After going through a ridiculous process of narrowing down my favorite dresses and then asking my friend's opinions, I found the one that I wanted. Unfortunately, when I went to order it, they were sold out.

So I picked the dress that seemed the most like that one, which was a fitted bodice light chambray dress. Obviously the dress I have on in the pictures above have similar features, but it's not quite the same and while I do like this dress, something about it just doesn't make it "me." I chose the length of the skirt, sleeve, and added the keyhole back and the pockets, to make this dress the most customized one I could order - but I think the length of the skirt is what bothers me. I'm always nervous about ordering dresses online because I think they'll be too short. Knowing that, I ordered this as "below the knee" so that my big booty would have enough room, but this skirt gives it A LOT of room, and makes it a little too long for my style. Also, something about the length of the torso just isn't right. It might be my fault for guessing my height wrong but something about the shortened torso of this dress just isn't the most flattering for me. "Next time" I will do better looking at alllll the details before ordering and making sure all my measurements are exact.

Although I love all the customization options and love a lot of the pieces eShakti has to offer, since receiving my dress, it's been hard to get back in contact with the woman who started this correspondence, so if you order something, keep that in mind. However, I love the company overall. They are making clothes for women of all sizes and making them fit the size and personality of each customer by the changes you can make to their clothes. I suggest you check them out! For custom clothing, they are very reasonably priced.

P.S. I made my brother take these photos of me, he did a good job taking a bunch and letting me pick out which ones to use, he was a good sport. Oh. And these were taken at a new "urban park" in "downtown" Ellwood City. Our little hometown is getting so pretty....but that's about all it's doing.

Never ordered from eShakti before? Go here to receive a $25 coupon.
This is a sponsored post, I received this dress for free, but all opinions are my own.


Who's That Girl?

Being tender and open is beautiful. 
As a woman, I feel continually shhh’ed. Too sensitive. 
Too mushy. Too wishy washy. Blah blah. 
Don’t let someone steal your tenderness. 
Don’t allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart. 
Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things. 
 Whether it’s a song, a stranger, a mountain, a rain drop, a tea kettle, an article, a sentence, a footstep, feel it all 
– look around you. All of this is for you. 
Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love.
— Zooey Deschanel
Just kinda feeling these words today. Zooey is one of my all time favorite women, especially in TV world. She just seems so real and someone you'd actually be able to hold a conversation with, unlike some celebrities who seem very much about themselves and about the fame. I appreciate these words from her because I feel like women are "getting shhh'ed" a lot in today's society. Like we're not allowed to be emotional now that we're playing in "a man's world." Suck it, to that. Clearly, Zooey is putting things in better sentence structure today. Hope you all are having an inspiring day and enjoying every minute. I'm heading to the 'burgh to work my last two shows of the season at the Public, today. What's on your agenda for this Thursday?


We Had A Party!

Welcome sign outside - I was going for an owls and chalkboard theme.
Our card and gift table before the party.
Our "memories" area - table with our diplomas and scrapbooks and room divider behind with pictures.
Natalie, Me & Lindsay - my far-away friends who surprised me by coming to our party!
Me & MJ - showing off our outfits!
Eric & me cutting the cake!
As I mentioned on Saturday, Eric and I had a party to celebrate us both earning our Masters degree this year. It was a fantastic time, full of family and friends, surprise guests, and of course foooood. We decorated in purple in green because those were the colors of PTS and Point Park. The party was held in the fellowship hall of our church and we thank everyone who made it out to celebrate with us! 


Back to Back Masters

As previously mentioned, my brother Eric and I both earned our masters degree this year.
Above are the front of the invitations I designed for our party.
Today, we celebrate our awesomeness.
With family, friends and fried chicken of course!
Happy Weekend!


Fashion Forward Fridays Reader Submitted: Meet Rachel!

Happy Friday, everyone! I have to say that I am really loving being able to feature so many readers during my time outside of city life. You guys are so awesome, thanks for helping me to carry on with Fashion Forward Fridays. Today's fashionista is Rachel, who you all should still be jealous of because she was the winner of the ModCloth and Heinz History Center giveaway back in April when Fashion Forward Fridays had it's one year anniversary and Fashion Week. I'm excited to bring you her look because I think it's so unique and I love all of the vintage and upcycled pieces. So without further ado...here's Rachel!

Close up of Rachel's bracelet and ring, from two different family members.

How would you define your style? 
My style is eclectic--- pairing classic pieces with unique, one of a kind finds. Looking like everyone else is boring! You're most likely to find me in a skirt paired with some type of fabulous accessory. Fashion should always be fun.

Where are your favorite places to shop? 

I have been patronizing flea markets, thrift stores and consignment stores with my mom forever. These are the best places to score one of a kind items at affordable prices. That being said, my favorite places in Pittsburgh are Avalon, Designer Days Boutique & Ambiance. You can even score some pretty awesome deals at Plato's Closet and Goodwill. T.J. Maxx and Marshall's are also staples.


The Highballers: Soft Music & Hard Liquor

Recently, I was contacted by the bassist of a Washington, DC area band to do a review of their new CD. This is not an odd occurrence, if you've read Chels & the City for any period of time, you've probably realized that I am a huge supporter of local music and up-and-coming artists, the only thing that I found a little off was that I probably wouldn't have thought to listen to The Highballers had they not contacted me, which would have been a totally poor decision on my part.

Although The Highballers consider themselves a DC band, their lead guitarist, Sean Lally, is a Pittsburgher. They recently headlined a show at the 31st Street Pub in Pittsburgh and are now currently touring with their new CD, Soft Music and Hard Liquor, which was released in January. And while I would not have thought I would be saying this, I seriously like this band.

Their CD is something that you can listen to straight through and more than likely on repeat. It's what I would consider country and folky, with a quality mix of humor, wit and heartbreak and the perfect blend of smooth male and sultry female vocals. Which I don't comment on lightly, since I am usually a harder critic for female singers. But if you were creating a band and wanted a female who would complement your rough and tough male band vibe, Victoria Patchen is probably the only woman you would want. She blended flawlessly doing back-up for lead singer, Kendall Jackson, and has a strong enough voice to become the lead in some songs as well. The mix of these two singers and the strong, obvious talent, of guitars (Jackson and Lally), bass (Michael Barrientos), and drums (Drake Sorey), have totally sold me on giving this CD more credit than I originally thought I would.

To put it simply, Soft Music and Hard Liquor is really an album with a toe-tapping vibe that you just want to get shit done to. It's upbeat enough to keep you moving and yet mellow enough to be able to concentrate on any work you might need to get done at the same time. My favorites from this CD are; Live to Let You Down, Virginia, Better Man, and Doing Time in Pennsylvania. I highly suggest that you check out this band, at least on YouTube, and if you are able to, make it out to one of their shows.

This is a partnered post, but all opinions are my own.


How To Not Look Like a Tourist While Being a Tourist in Pittsburgh

I have wanted to write this post for a while but just didn't know how to present it without sounding like a jerk. I personally like lists and simple tips so here you have it folks - if you're planning a trip to Pittsburgh, here's the top five things to keep in mind to avoid looking like a tourist this summer, or during your next trip to the 'burgh.


#5. Stop pointing at everything. 
Yes, I see that building. Yes, we are on Liberty Ave. You don't have to point everything out to the other people with you, just tell them. They can see it. The number one thing that gives you away is pointing. Don't do it, it drives the locals crazy. And if your arm is stretched out for no reason except to point to a lamp post, I reserve the right to run into it if it's in the way of me walking.

#4. Don't hold your mace out in the open. 
First of all, this isn't Detroit or some big bad city where you need to be concerned for your safety 24/7. Granted there is crime everywhere, but more than likely, you are fine in Pittsburgh and holding your pepper spray in your hand, ready to fire at any moment, while walking across the Clemente Bridge on a Sunday afternoon is scaring people. Stop that.

#3. Figure out public transit before using public transit. 
If you are one of those people who want to do like the locals do and ride the buses, inclines or the T, good for you and thank you for supporting Port Authority and not clogging up the roads as much. But please, please, please, please, know where you're going. Know how much you need to pay and where you need to pay before you become that person who is holding up the whole line and in turn holding up the times of when the bus, incline or T is supposed to get to the next stop. You can find out how much you have to pay here. And if you are smart, you will not try to figure out how to read a bus schedule, as a tip, just go on Google Maps and put in your start and ending locations and hit the "by public transit" button and it will tell you exactly where and when to catch the bus you need and the number that you should get on. Trust me, it's the only sane way to go.

#2. Enjoy the moment. 
This means, stop updating your Twitter and Facebook every five seconds and stop taking a picture of absolutely everything you see. Live in the moment. If you're going to do check-ins or take pictures of something that you really could not see anywhere else, then by all means. But if you are checking-in online every time you come to a new intersection, how much of your time in Pittsburgh are you really enjoying? Put the phone and camera away for a minute and experience the city through your own eyes. Seriously, if I see one more person take a picture of a downtown garbage can, I don't know what I'll do.

#1. Drive like a yinzer. 
If you are not going to use public transit or when you are coming into or heading out of the city, know how to drive. Nothing bothers a Pittsburgher more than some "jag-off" not knowing where to go or how to get there. Your GPS will be confused, know that ahead of time, it will probably point you in the wrong direction and recalculate more times than you care to count. Take a breather. Regroup. And drive. If there is one thing that defines a Pittsburgher, it's how they drive. Our roads are crazy, there are a lot of one ways and at almost every turn there is a bridge that will take you to the other side of town. Either know before your trip where you need to go to get to your destination, or at the very least, remain calm yet aggressive, because if you hesitate for a second, I and every other Pittsburgh driver, will "Pittsburgh left" you at a red light. And no one who bleeds black and gold will ever apologize or think twice about cutting you off. 

Welcome to the city of champions, try to keep up :)


Nothing Says Holiday Cheer Like A Family Feud

Alright. I feel like this happened last year at the Pittsburgh Public Theater as well. A booming season with so of the most inspired works I've ever seen and then a let down with the last show. I feel bad saying this, because Good People, 1776 and Clybourne Park were SO GOOD, but I'm kind of ambivalent about Other Desert Cities, which is going on now until June 30th. But, as always, make your own decisions about whether or not you want to go, and once there, make your own review of it. This is the kind of show that will resonate deeply with some people but will totally flop with others. And I'm that weirdo in the middle.

Other Desert Cities at the Public Theater until June 30
Other Desert Cities takes place during "the most wonderful time of the year" in the home of Lyman (James DeMarse) and Polly Wyeth (Helena Ruoti) in Palm Springs. Lyman a former actor-politician and Polly are high in their class ranking, rubbing elbows with the Reagan's is one of their favorite hobbies, along with playing tennis at the country club and attending and hosting various fundraiser benefits. All fine and well, except for the deep secrets of this family including Polly's alcoholic sister, Silda (Susan Cella), their adult children, Trip (John Patrick Hayden), a reality TV producer, and Brooke (Pilar Witherspoon), a New York author, and the death of their eldest son, Henry.

While Lyman and Polly are strong Republicans, relying on traditions and expected manners, Silda and Brooke are the "crazy liberal type" meaning that they have a different opinion then Lyman and Polly on just about everything, while Trip tries his best to maintain a sense neutral. The family is brought together, for no other reason than to celebrate the holidays, and fret about what Brooke's new book is about. Brooke has been battling depression for the last few years after the death of Henry, even staying for extended periods of time in the hospital, has finally come out with a long awaited second novel. Only, it's not until now that the family finds out the book is not actually a novel, but a memoir, detailing the truth, as Brooke remembers, of all the family secrets, specifically, Henry's death.

The audience easily finds out that the villains in Brooke's story are her parents, the hero is her big brother, Henry and Trip, who was just a little kid at the time, cannot pick a side considering he doesn't know what happened back then. This plot is thick and rich, it's got juicy inside family secrets and details and it really does leave you hanging until the end with what really happened during the that time and how the family sorts it all out. My problem with the show, is that I feel it's over acted. Everyone in this cast is clearly talented and they know what kind of directions their characters would take in certain situations, but the over emphasis of minor lines and then of course the way over dramatic display of emotion is just too much for me. I understand the need to be big on stage, but yes, there is a such thing as too big. And in this particular production, a couple characters are just too big, which makes me not like them or connect to them and in the end made me only care for the character of Trip. Because he was neutral in the fights, had some fantastic one-liners and reminded me of one of my guy friends who always seems to have the best grasp of any situation.

The set design, as always, was amazing!
I'll admit that at one point during the first act, I thought 'am I really going to sit through the rest of this' because I just couldn't stand the inappropriate emphasis of characters and the annoying accent of another, but I knew if I walked out I wouldn't be giving the play the chance it deserved and it would just be plain rude, so I sat through to the end, and I will be the first to say, I did not see the ending coming the way it did. The writing of this show was planned out much better than I gave it credit for (shout out to Jon Robin Baitz) and I have to say that the final scene truly makes up for anything I didn't like. When you see it for yourself, I'm sure you'll understand what I mean.


Fashion Forward Fridays Reader Submitted: Meet Tara!

So, you know what a great feeling is as a blogger? Getting your stuff read and liked. Even if it's just by one person, it's fabulous. Since I moved, I guess word got out that I would probably be doing "reader submitted" Fashion Forward Fridays until further notice. Which is basically true and thanks to friends and friends of friends and genuine readers, I think I'm pretty set with this little segment of the blog for awhile and I so appreciate that. I love that you guys love this section of my blog so much that you're willing to get someone to take pictures of you of cute outfits and be featured. 

Admittedly, I do miss the little rush of nerves that race through my veins as I'm about to ask someone randomly on the street to be on my blog and I miss making that in-person connection through those little interviews, I do very much appreciate the emails and Facebook messages asking to be featured. Today is no different. Tara, today's fashionista, is actually a close friend to Jodi, whom I met at Jodi's birthday party. And once Jodi let her know I was accepting reader submissions for Fashion Forward Fridays, it was on. We were supposed to meet up in downtown once, but when that didn't work out, Tara still found a way to get pictures taken and email them to me, along with her interview. (Thanks, Tara!) And below, in her own words and showing off a cute and simple summer outfit, here she is...

Love these sandals!
How would you define your style? 
My style is very comfortable and affordable. I won't wear anything that I am not comfortable in. Being a post college grad, affordability is essential. I am also pretty versatile. I wear big, sparkly, studded earrings one day and then skulls the next. I try not to limit myself to one particular style or trend. 

Where are your favorite places to shop? 
I work at Target, therefore I shop a lot at Target. They have some really great affordable basics. I get my jeans from Old Navy. I love that they fit me perfectly. 

Left: Closeup of Forever 21 earrings | Right: Closeup of Tara's, Charming Charlie's necklace.
Where are the pieces of your outfit from? 
My dress and shoes are from Target. I bought them both for the summer and can't wait to wear them constantly! My necklace is from Charming Charlie's. That store is an accessory heaven and I highly recommend it. My earrings are from Forever 21, which is my favorite place to go for super cheap earrings.

What advice would you give to someone trying to amp up their style? 
Accessories. Fun earrings can do a lot for an outfit. I always try to wear a great pair of earrings every day, even if I am only going to work. Also, make sure that whatever you choose to wear, you are comfortable. There is nothing worse then getting an outfit to keep up with style trends to realize how uncomfortable it makes you feel. 

Who doesn't love a great maxi for summer?
GQ named Pittsburgh the third worst dressed city - do you agree/disagree and why/why not? 
I think that Pittsburgh gets a bad fashion rep because of our love to wear sport jerseys. For some reason people in Pittsburgh think it is okay and reasonable to wear their favorite jersey everywhere. 
True, people do think it's okay to wear jerseys everywhere. Let's try to settle down on that, shall we?
At least to nice places...and church. Anyway, Happy Friday, everyone and since the word is 
officially out now, by all means, if you'd like to be featured on Fashion Forward Fridays, or 
know of a designer, boutique or fellow Pittsburgher who should be featured, 
email me at chelsandthecity[at]gmail[dot]com and I'll get back to you asap!


Craving Burgers & Beer?

Sometimes (not often) I just have a craving for Fat Head's. Thankfully, it was like my brother knew this and when he was making lunch, made me a hamburger and although not as good as Fat Head's, it was good enough to fill the void of red meat in my life. Fat Head's in South Side is, surprisingly, one of my favorite places to go in the city. I'm not a big fan of red meat, but when I'm craving it, look out. They also have a huge selection of beers, being a brewery and all, and while I'm not usually a beer fan, they have a big enough variety for me to find one that's good enough for me. (Read: girly enough for me.)

While the brewery is actually located in Cleveland, I'll admit in this case, that city is good for one thing. The last time I went was during my "last" week in Pittsburgh with a couple of friends before heading to the AcoutstiCafe at Club Cafe with my brother and I found my perfect meal combination of the Kelsey Burger (topped with a pierogie), fries and an Rivertowne Babbling Blonde, this meal in general screams Pittsburgh and girly, it should be called the Chelsea Combo, but I'm not too sure how Kelsey would feel about that.

What I love most about this place is the atmosphere though, especially the outside porch space. If it wasn't so rainy in Pittsburgh these days, I'd suggest going and requesting the "Chelsea Combo" and a seat outside, but instead, just order it inside and then later in the summer when it's beautiful out you can crave this combo and head outdoors.


Rain, Rain Go Away - We Wanna Go To Arts Fest!

As I mentioned in my last post, the Three Rivers Arts Festival, hosted by Dollar Bank and the Cultural Trust, is a go! With the big opening night on Friday filled with the new Point State Park fountain and headlining band, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, I'm thinking this year will be the best yet.

Although when Eric and I were down there on Friday we were not able to make it in time to be able to walk around to explore the art booths (I had us on a strict schedule of fountain, food, music) we do plan to go back on Wednesday for our mama's birthday. She's never been to the Arts Fest and is an avid fair goer and visual artist herself, so we're taking her and letting her pick her own present. She's stoked. :)

If you are unfamiliar with the Arts Fest, let me help you. I talked about it briefly last year but basically it is ten straight days of music, food and various kinds of art from mostly local artists. You can check out their daily schedules to help you plan your day, but to be honest, unless you see a specific performer, musician or artist at a certain time then the best you can do is just go down and soak it all in at once. Seriously, this is certainly the kind of thing you can just show up to without any kind of plan and have a fantastic time. See the map below for an idea of where everything is set up.

How could you go wrong with strolling through Point State Park and the Gateway Center grounds looking at (and possibly buying) art, making some art of your own in the Giant Eagle Creativity Zone, listing and watching performances on the three stages and/or eating some fair food? Sound like a great time to me, and judging by the popularity of this event, year after year, the rest of Pittsburgh too! Check it out, especially if you haven't before and be sure to walk to the very end of the Park to see the newly renovated fountain as well. Enjoy!

The main stage - Dollar Bank Stage - at the far end of the first lawn in Point State Park.
Hey guys - I finallllllllly saw Donora!!!!!! If you remember me wishing for this in a previous post.
Alex and Jade of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, this year's headlining band.
They invited this lucky kid, Nelson, up on stage with them for a song during Friday's show.
What I think of first when I think of Arts Fest - street performers everywhere!
Map from the Arts Fest website so you know where everything is located :)


Welcome Back, Point State Park fountain!

Invitation to the reopening ceremony on Friday night. 
I think it's fair to say that all of Pittsburgh is rejoicing now that the Point State Park fountain is finally complete! After a project that went into the planning stages in 2001, yesterday brought to close a highly anticipated and historical event. The fountain is not only fully renovated, but it's bigger and better than ever. The water from the fountain rises in a column up to 150-feet with smaller columns on the sides. A ceremony, dedication and the first 'official' flip of the switch happened last night to mark the beginning of the Three Rivers Arts Festival and the beginning of a new Pittsburgh.

Although the ceremony started about a half hour late and then at least seven people were asked to speak on behalf of the organizations who made this restoration happen, the fountain went off without any difficulty and made quite the splash on said speakers and other dignitaries thanks to a big gust of wind. Clearly the fountain was just showing them all who everyone really came to see. Good show, fountain.

Entrance way to the Point.
Brass band playing during the beginning of the ceremony.
Color guard during the National Anthem, sung by the CLO Mini-Stars.
In case you wondered what 150 feet of water looks like.
After the ceremony, the Arts Fest, also being held through the rest of the week at Point State Park, officially started. More to come about that on Tuesday. And as the sun went down over the city, a light show on the fountain began.

The Pittsburgh-based company, Lightwave International, debuted "Pittsburgh: Spectral Ascending" a collaboration with artist, Yvette Mattern. The light installation consists of six laser projectors on the top of PPG Place, aimed right to the center column of the fountain. The light installation will be show again tonight and Sunday night, so you still have a chance to make it out and see the new plaza area around the fountain, as well as the fountain itself and the light show, all while enjoying all of the fun that comes with the Arts Fest as well.

Photo by my beautiful friend, Breanna Elison.
Waiting for the light show to begin. Photo by Breanna Elison.
Isn't this such a fantastic photo? Lights on top of PPG Place beaming down to the fountain. Photo by Breanna Elison.
Lights on the fountain. Perfect ending to a beautiful night. Photo by Breanna Elison.
For my out of town readers, you may be asking why a fountain is so important. But it's not just any old fountain. Point State Park, and this fountain specifically, are the point were the three iconic rivers of Pittsburgh meet. Basically, where all the rivers merge into each other is the spot where the fountain is placed. The layout of Pittsburgh is obvious because of this point and the scenery of the city just didn't look complete for the past few years without the fountain adding to the view. It's a tourist attraction and a local favorite.

And as one of the speakers said, Pittsburgh is no longer a city in transformation, it is a city transformed. Or something close to that. The rebuilding and unveiling of the Point fountain just brings that idea home. We've waited for this to be back and now we can enjoy it for many years to come. It is as iconic as our bridges and adds that missing element to our landscape. Welcome back, fountain!

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