JET SET: Tips for Stress-free (& stylish) family travel

I am headed to Paris with my daughter on Friday. A serial traveler, I pack for every conceivable in-flight situation. And, I dress in way that is at once comfortable and chic.  Just in case Robert Pattinson or Karl Lagerfeld should sit near us on the flight.

On the fashion front, it is all about super soft leggings and long sleeved tee shirt. Layered over the shirt is a DKNY cashmere “cozy” and a extra wide cashmere scarf that can double as a blanket. Flexible ballet flats are a must.The entire outfit is, of course, black. Why? The ultimate neutral, black is flattering, urbane, sleek and chic. It also does not show the accumulated dirt and grime of an international flight. Flying will suck the moisture from your face and body. Throughout the flight, I pat my face with Sonya Dakar Omega Booster oil and lubricate my eyes with Refresh eye drops. I swab AYR nasal gel (germs can enter the bloodstream through cracked nasal passages!) inside my nostrils before the flight. Cooties are a huge issue. I wipe down the whole area and tray with anti-bacterial wipes. I always bring the Bug Off Chair Cover to cover the airplane seat. This washable fabric cover is a barrier between me and the filthy seat. Wipes are also used to open and close the bathroom door. And to flush the toilet. I always bring two changes of clothes and my toiletries kit on the flight. Whether you fly first class or coach, bags get lost all of the time and you don’t want to waste your precious vacation hunting down clothes. I pack them in Flight001 Space Paks, which keeps everything super organized. Also in my carry-on are a gold pendant necklace, some gold earrings, sunglasses and lip gloss. I pop them on upon arrival to Paris to create some je ne sais quoi drama for my all-black look. My daughter, of course is in a similar kid-ified get up. She has her own chair cover, wipes and Ayr.

For medical maladies that may crop up en route, always have kids and adult  Advil, Pepto Bismol, Imodium, Band Aids and antibiotic ointment on hand. For ascending and descending, I am a huge fan of Ear Planes, which regulates air pressure naturally within the ear.

Au revoir

1. Michael Stars cotton long sleeve shirt $55

2. Flight001 Space Pak $46

3. Topshop leggings $24

4. Drift Eyewear sunglasses, prices vary

5. Boutique 9 flexible ballet flats $69

6. Sonya Dakar Omega Booster $42

7. Make Up Forever Lip Gloss $19

8. Refresh Eye Drops $15

9. DKNY Cozy sweater $195

10. Black Pashmina scarf $24.98

11. Children’s Advil $6.99Children’s Pepto-Bismol $5.29

12. Ayr Nasal Gel $6.99

13. Wet Ones Antibacterial $3.99

14. Bug Off Chair Cover $29.99

15. Ear planes $12.99

16. Goldfish crackers

17. Kind Bars $1.49 each

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With the spate of maternity and new mom gear on the market, it is easy to get overwhelmed. So, I took a swan dive through the marketplace and selected a few must have products to help you-and your new baby-look and feel your best. Believe me, the smallest details make the world of difference.

1. SMART STASH: emergency diapers at the ready
Diaper Buds $5.99 for 8ct.

2. DROOL WORTHY: four chic bibs in one, perfect for busy parents and stylish kids
Bebe Au Lair Quib Bibs $14

3. MATERNITY MOXIE: Must-have pregnancy kit with luxe pampering essentials
Citrus Lane Pregnancy Pampering Kit curated by Amy Tara Koch $65

4. NEW RULES!: Dr. Laura Jana’s comprehensive guide for new parents
Heading Home With Your Newborn by Laura A. Jana & Jennifer Shu

5. SLEEP SAVVY: Guru Dr. Marc Weissbluth shows you how to get baby to stack Zs
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth

6. HEAVEN SCENT: The safest lavender-spiked cleanser for pregnancy
Belli Skincare Pregnancy Body Wash $15

7. BOOBY TRAP: Is it a bottle? A breast? Tough to tell and that’s a good thing
Mimijumi Not So Hungry bottle $13.99

8. AU COURANT CAR SEAT: The most adorable, safe, easy to carry  infant car seat
Britax Chaperone Carseat

9. GREAT CHOICE: Cord blood banking equals parental peace of mind
Viacord Cord Blood Banking

10. NURSING NIRVANA: Where (breastfeeding) fashion meets function
Leading Lady Nursing Lace Bra $31

11. PREGGO PANTIES: Sexy. Sexy. Sexy.
Belabumbum Maternity Lace Boyshorts $29

12. STROLL IN STYLE: Super stylish, lightweight stroller
Baby Cargo Stroller $150

13. HEDGE ON THE WEDGE: Get out of the preggo dumps in these sustainably sourced kitten heel wedges that come with seven ribbons to transform your look
Mohop Shoes Mid Cherry Peep toe $164

14. MOLTO MAXI: A smooth-as-silk maternity dress that can be dressed up or down in a snap
Ingrid & Isabel Athena Maxi Dress $148

15. FLIRTY & FABULOUS: The genius “Momshell” dress is perfect for pregnancy and beyond
More of Me Maternity Momshell Dress $170

16. SWELL STYLE: Jumpers are on trend. Hatch’s version accommodates a burgeoning bump and can be worn-belted-after baby
Hatch Maternity Jumper $258

17. SLEEK & CHIC: A black stretch camisole bodysuit perfectly flatters a pregnant body
Bashful Bump Maternity Camisole Bodysuit $44

18. SPACE SAVER: Rollable bibs are great for the on-the-go mom
Tommee Tipee Easy Roll Bibs $6.99 2pk

19. PURE RELEIF: Cootie free skin cream to naturally relieve baby’s eczema and assorted skin irritations
Episencial Soothing Cream $10.99

20. THE SKINNY: Destination Maternity translates the colored denim trend seamlessly into maternity with their secret fit belly.
Joe’s Jeans for Destination Maternity Chelsea Secret Belly Fit in Lollipop $185

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Stop the presses. I am officially a door buster.

I will go to great lengths for style. And, am often mortified (post acquisition) at what I will/would/will endure to hunt and gather the objects of my affection. Case in point? The activities surrounding the March 8th sale of uber expensive Marni for H&M.  Now, I have been bowing down to the temple of Marni since the early 90’s. Designer Consuelo Castiglione’s upbeat prints and signature slouchy fit are my version of wardrobe perfection. But, in order to score discount designer duds, one must wade through the degradation that punctuates a fast fashion shopping experience.

Having spent decades conquering sample sales in NYC and LA, I knew that my chances at nabbing my wish list would double if I had a partner. So, I enlisted my trusty assistant, Alaina, to coordinate an attack plan. In order to snap up fabulous fast fashion, one must physically go to the store. Very early. You see, these pieces are made in limited edition so they sell out within hours of their release into the wild. We planned for Alaina to get in line first so I could get my kids ready for school. But, after monitoring the sale on twitter, I could see the merch was already selling out across the country. So, I bribed my husband to stay home and get kids’ organized. Then-hair still in sleep ponytail-I hightailed by bus to Michigan Avenue by 8 am.

I was not alone. There were swarms of women drooling like Lionesses over fresh meat.


Humorless guard keeping shoppers at bay, Amy and Alaina caffeinating
and sea of Marni/H&M hopefuls

Though we were told on the phone that we could shop at 8am, this was not to be. Instead, we were given color coded wristbands with the stipulated shopping time. So, though I arrived at 8:15 am, I could not shop-or even browse-the collection until 10:05. Now, I am the type who can finagle an upgrade from at the Four Seasons from standard room to suite. I routinely wangle my way to First Class on American Airlines. I have sat in the front row at YSL couture in Paris (when issued a seat in the nosebleed section) and can essentially talk my way into almost any situation. But, I could not get H&M personnel (I even called the PR department) to budge on my designated shopping time. In fact, the dour security at H&M felt positively Storm Trooper-esque. Shoppers were herded up by bull horn & lined up behind stanchions. Rules of the sale were shouted out: 15 minute time limit to shop. No re-entering the sale area from dressing rooms. Limit of two of a single item could be purchased. Wrist bands were checked with military precision 3 times prior to entering the sale area. And, the final indignity, a DJ was on site to blast obnoxious dance music in what felt like an attempt to maximize frayed nerves. When I approached the gloriously accessorized mannequins to examine the designs, guards formed a human blockade and commanded me to retreat. Frustrated, I moved to the front of the store and watched as the hoarding commenced. Forget mesh shopping bags. Sly fashion fiends were scooping up multiples of everything and loading their goods onto garment racks. I watched with mounting anxiety as the fabulous floral chokers and cuffs were depleted before my eyes. Then the mound of sleek platform shoes began to dwindle. Style stress is a breeding ground for new BFFs. Friendships were forged. Shopping strategies were hatched. Coffees were inhaled. I actually found an adorable model for an upcoming tv segment I was producing.

We have to wait until 10.05?!

As 10:00 rolled around, we were all on high alert protecting our terrain in the 10:05 line.. A woman starting elbowing her way to the front. I alerted my newfound buddies and we headed her off and pelted her with evil eyes. At long last, our time was called. We were commanded to raise our left arms to display our wrist bands as we marched forth to the promised (fashion) land. I charged into the pit (to the lyrics of STAYING ALIVE, ironically) stockpiling my bags with anything that may work. The glam accessories were gone. But, we stuffed our bags with the color blocked dresses, sporty black nylon windbreakers and African themed tops. Next up? The moment of truth. The dressing room. After all of the waiting, everyone wanted their efforts to be endorsed with a prize purchase. Not everyone was rewarded. Size 10s were shimmying into size 6. Size 6 was swimming in size 12. And, some experienced the sad truth: what looks great on a mannequin does not work on every body type.

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Amy with her spoils and post-shopping elixirs to rebalance

Luckily, I scored. A lot of what I selected was parfait. But, I was pissed that some of my wish list had not been on the sales floor. So, I waited. Some of those polka dot ¾ coats and cardigans were most likely sequestered behind dressing room doors. My assistant kept her eyes trained on the “didn’t work” rack while I sat waiting to pounce on discarded merch left by my fellow shoppers. Some women were willing to barter. A jacquard top for a print Capri? A size 4 shirtdress for platform wedges? Finally, at 11 am, I had enough. With a pounding head and bulging shopping bags, I ambled out of the store. It was an experience, yes. But, not one that I am not likely to repeat again.

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