My Kind of Town, Chicago

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The food. The sports. The art. The theater. There is a lot to love about the city of Chicago. And I have the good fortune to report on all things fabulous in the third coast for Travel + Leisure Magazine.

With the holidays upon us, everyone is talking about what to do over the vacation. So, herewith, I am spilling the cultural beans on some excellent activities guaranteed to keep siblings, best friends, parents and kids engaged and happy. Below is my segment on ABC’s Windy City Live. And beneath that is a link to my local expert’s guide to Chicago for Travel and Leisure.

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Check out my local expert’s guide to Chicago for Travel + Leisure here!

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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The Ka-Pow Brow

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When you are pregnant, most of the glammy holiday fashions are irrelevant. You have your LBD (wrap, shift or empire) and add drama by adding statement accessories. Not this year! Thanks to the return of the power brow, pregnant women have another weapon in their style arsenal.

Thanks to dozens of brow specific beauty products, anyone can groom caterpillar brows and craft a magnificent look that smacks of Kate Upton.

Here’s what you need:

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Anastasia Beverly Hills Stencils, Sephora, $20

Benefit Brow Zing Shaping Kit, Sephora, $32

Pixi by Petra 2-in-1 Natural Brow Duo, Target, $16

Smashbox Brow Tech To Go, Ulta, $27

Sephora Collection Transparent Brow Gel, Sephora, $7

Lorac Take A Brow Kit, Ulta, $22

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My Picks in Marsala: Pantone’s 2015 Color of the Year

It’s official: Pantone has named Marsala as the color of 2015. Think deep, juicy pomegranate fruit, warm Tuscan brick villas and the red wine that you can drink in a few months’ time. Here are a few of my favorite pieces that reflect this sartorial trend.

Pantone Colors

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Amy Tara Koch in “Style Influencer” Interview for Keungzai

In our final installment of Style Influencers for 2014, we interview style expert, journalist and author Amy Tara Koch. She is a style expert for People Magazine, USA Today, She Knows, The Bump, Vogue and Parents Magazine and has appeared on CNN, TODAY, Steve Harvey, Access Hollywood, Fox and the CBS EARLY SHOW. A contributor to Marie Claire,Huffington Post, People Moms & Babies, The New York Times and more, Amy Tara Koch is also the author behind “BUMP IT UP: Transform Your Pregnancy Into The Ultimate Style Statement“, touted as a must-read pregnancy style bible.

Read the rest of the interview here!

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HOLIDAY BEAUTY: THE POWER POUT

The moment that you hear Sinatra’s rollicking Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas taking over the airwaves, it is a sign to kick up your style for the season. Yes, you need the requisite statement earrings, embellished sweater and fur accent piece. But, another easy way to add drama to your December look is the power lip. A slash of deep, dark lipstick emits high voltage holiday style. From inexpensive Covergirl to designer brands like Chanel and YSL, colorful lipsticks abound. One of my current favorites is Laura Geller’s lip crayon for $16!

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How to Layer for the Holidays

layering guide pics Amy Tara Koch with Darlene Hill

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The Holidays are all about drama, yes. But does that mean women need to run out and invest in a new wardrobe? Good Day Chicago’s style expert Amy Tara Koch says NO WAY! You can create a big style statement by mixing and matching what you already own (or filling in your accessory blanks with some new holiday baubles). Translation? Toss the matchy-matchy mindset and pair your accessories in unconventional ways to create texture, add contrast and introduce color.

 

LAYERING TIPS

    1. Mix vintage + new
    2. Pair opposites for high drama
    3. High/low is a recipe for high style. Think: H&M and Hermes!

 

    Watch video here!

    FOX 32 News Chicago

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    COOL MATERNITY JEAN ALERT!

    ITEM:  DL 1961 Angel Maternity Ankle Jean, $168

    Denim Brand DL 1961 is known for its ability to magically shape and lift a woman’s most stubborn body parts. How? The jeans are infused with “4 way stretch” denim featuring a blend of supremely high quality pro modal fibers, lycra and American cotton. These “high performance” jeans are comfortable and easy to dress up or down. Yes, they are expensive. But, flattering jean are a maternity must-have.

    And, since you very well may wear them 5 days out of 7, they are a solid investment.

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    Egg Maternity App

    I love the idea of an App that allows you to test drive maternity looks.

    New Zealand’s EGG Maternity have invented the The Look at me Pregnant app that allows you, your partner-or your husband-to try on outfits in the desired setting. The images can be saved, instagrammed or sent to your style loving bff to help make critical pregnancy fashion decisions.

    The Look at me Pregnant app goes live at www.eggmaternity.com on the 5th September 2014

    EGG has a global website so products can be easily ordered.

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    On Trend, Not Trendy

    How Real Women Should Use Runway Trends

    I love fashion shows. And celeb gawking.  But, these directional, dramatic  looks can be sported by the rarefied few that do not dabble in real life scenarios often.

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    Runways shows are designed to inspire. They are barometers, not checklists. Stylists look at seasonal trends and dissect them. Then they incorporate thesee lements of style-midi skirts, animal print, pops of orange, graphic prints, pastels- into an existing wardrobe. An elegant minimalist wardrobe + trendy accents = polish.

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    Amsterdam with the Family

    hadn’t been to Amsterdam since my post college graduation Euro-railing days. I remember flea markets, cheese, canals and a youth hostel. But, I had to pick a European destination on the Air Iceland route and the flight dates and times worked seamlessly with my itinerary. Epiphany: Amsterdam is what Paris used to be pre-Euro nose dive/Francois Hollande econo-nightmare. Translation? Vibrant, artsy, fashion-forward and above all, happy!

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    A Gouda Paradise, A Canal in the Nine Streets

    We stayed in the Nine Streets neighborhood, a shopper’s paradise tucked into a maze of canals and super narrow bridges within walking distance to all of the museums. The Dutch have imposed a law in this district: no chain stores. The result is, again, what Paris used to be: a super local series of independent, shops, art galleries and boites that exude a singular Dutch style. Within moments, I fell in love with au courant designer Tony Cohen and profited from the end of summer sale. My kids only tolerated my shopping because they knew that there would be a reward. Amsterdam is known forPannekoek, fluffy mini pancakes dusted in powdered sugar. We used these light-as-air treats as bribery material every time I needed a fashion pick-me-up.

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    Nemo Science Center

    WHAT TO DO

    Amsterdam is made for wandering. I planned a cultural activity per day and we spent the rest of the time meandering through the canals and side streets enjoying the architecture. A canal cruise is the perfect way for families to get their fill of the city’s vast history. We took the blue boat tour which, at 75 minutes, is the perfect amount of time. Boats are small and pleasant equipped with headphones so guests can listen to the guided schpiel or tune out and enjoy the scenery. Art lovers are ecstatic over the re-opening of the famed Rijksmuseum. Hours can be spent exploring the furniture, decorative objects and bevy of Dutch and international masters. To perk up the kids, head outside to the Museum Gardens where fourteen massive Alexander Calder stabiles and mobiles are displayed surrounding an interactive fountain that invites kids (and adults) to run in and out of the water stream. The groovy Renzo Piano designed Nemo Museum is paradise for pint sized science lovers. While my kids enjoyed four floors of hands on science exhibits, I chilled out on the rooftop “beach” that proffered a killer view of the city.

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    Nemo Science Center,  Fountains at Rijksmuseum

    The Dutch are up front about the atrocities that befell the Jews in World War II. It is mentioned often on tours and numerous Holocaust memorials are peppered throughout the city. For a real feel of Nazi occupied Amsterdam, we visited the Resistance Museum. Exhibits document the political upheaval of 1940-1945 with authentic household artifacts, propaganda posters, documents and behind-the-wall hiding spots which echo the chilling feel of the period. There is a special exhibit for kids which showcases the painful reality inflicted upon Jewish children. We were all emotional. But, reality was reality and I felt this museum was important to visit.

    The food in Amsterdam was excellent; honest, innovative and fabulously fresh. Personally, I love fish for breakfast. Caffeine + pure protein =sightseeing energy. Of course, the coffee shops in Amsterdam are world famous. I avoided the ones with grassy offerings on this trip. But, we did indulge in the café culture. Like Paris. Amsterdam has outdoor cafes in the town squares and in front of the canals where people have a coffee or a beer and simply luxuriate in the moment. If you are in the mood for a trendy meal ( I always am), chic restos are plentiful. We loved the Lion Rouge and Café Daalder, an adventurous gastropub. After dinner each night, we strolled back to the hotel basking in the golden Dutch sunset. Sublime.

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