Rhode Island: A State Filled with Gems

Around this time last week, I was giddy with excitement because I was en route to Rhode Island.

While you’re probably thinking, “what’s so special about Rhode Island?” Well, when you’re a working, married mom of two, the thought of traveling solo on a 3-hour train ride alone is enough to make you shriek with thrill. Plus, they do say the fun is in the journey, right? Admittedly, the peace and tranquility on the train was a welcomed retreat, but the destination exceeded my already high expectations.

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The view from my window seat on the train. 

On behalf of the Rhode Island’s Department of Tourism, I was given the opportunity to discover the state’s rich jewelry history through a blogger tour. Getting out of the city for a day to learn about and play with jewelry? Yes please! However, if you’re like me, chances are you had no idea that Rhode Island has a significant association with jewelry in America. In fact, it’s the fashion jewelry capital of the world! Why had I never heard this before? I’m not sure, but it was very interesting to learn how that came to be.

From the 1920s through the 1980s, most of the country’s costume jewelry was manufactured in the heart of Rhode Island. Unfortunately, like many industries, the jobs dried up leaving behind a legacy of awesome craftsmanship and heritage. But, things are looking up! I had the pleasure of meeting some of the super talented jewelry designers who are ready to reignite that legacy.

The tour kicked off with a breakfast meet-and-greet with Rhode Island-based jewelry designers Nicole Romano, Loren Hope and Duo Duet. All of their offerings were standouts with undeniably unique  designs. Each had eye-catching styles that were versatile enough for a variety of jewelry lovers.

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Nicole Romano’s hand-crafted jewelry has a modern, whimsical vibe that would amp up your accessory game instantly. 

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Chic and sassy is the best way to describe Loren Hope’s contemporary collection of jewels.

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Duo Duet’s innovative necklaces and bracelets are so lightweight that you might forget you’re wearing them, but the constant compliments you’ll get will remind you!

The next stop on the tour was in Pawtucket with all-American designer Kiel James Patrick, better known as KJP. I had never heard of this brand, but apparently I’ve been living under a rock! This self-made millionaire has a huge social media following, with over 300K followers on Instagram alone. His hand-crafted nautical, New England-inspired bracelets caught the eye kids in his hometown and spread like wildfire.

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Kiel James Patrick’s (KJP) All-American style has a throwback feel, but with a fresh twist.  Pictured here are a few knick-knacks that create classic belts and bracelets.

The thirty-something entrepreneur even racked up profiles in the New York Times and Town and Country magazine. We bloggers were able to tour the KJP headquarters to get a glimpse into how he makes his magic. The space was a cross between a chotki paradise and a modern day factory. With inspirations like John F. Kennedy and the iconic Ralph Lauren, he’s well on his way to becoming a household name.

Next up was a visit to Jessica Ricci. All of her ultra-feminine handcrafted jewelry goes through an extensive process of mold waxing, which then gets transformed into treasured pieces.

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Jessica Ricci’s lace-inspired necklaces are delicate and feminine. 

After leaving Jessica’s, we’d worked up an appetite and were whisked away to a lovely restaurant for lunch in Cranston. We landed at Bistro 22 where we relaxed, indulged and talked about our experience up to that point, blogging and more. Oh and did I mention, the food? It was outstanding! I ordered my go-to meal of choice—salmon, which was cooked to perfection!

salmon

While this maple-glazed salmon from Bistro 22 was scrumptious, I was still a bit hungry and ordered a side of fries to fill me up!

To my surprise, there was a candy store across the street from the bistro so of course I couldn’t resist and made my way to the gummy bears!

candy

Unlike most confectionary shops, the sweets at Sweenor’s Chocolates were surprisingly reasonably priced. One bag of those gummy bears were only $2!  

After filling our bellies, it was time to make one final stop: to the Providence Jewelry Museum. Our tour guide got us excited about what was in store from the moment we stepped inside. The unassuming building was filled with incredible finds. From a 19th century workbench from the quintessential jeweler, Tiffany’s to 1950’s jewel-encrusted murals, the museum was a true highlight on our tour.

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A group shot of us bloggers and the Providence Jewelry Museum’s tour guide (center) and Born Republic Co. founder (far left). 

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Being a history buff, seeing this 19th century chain maker machine was a real treat!

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This 1950’s jewel-encrusted mural was dumpster bound before being salvaged and donated to the museum. 

Tiffany-Workbench

Our tour guide informed us that this was a discarded Tiffany & Co. 19th century work bench. Can you imagine all of the precious jewels that have graced this workspace?

In addition, we were all able to make our own earrings using a machine from the early 20th century. To top off our tour, we were introduced to one more jeweler, Juan the founder of the up and coming urban line, Born Republic. His enthusiasm and passion was palpable. His designs were masculine with a sexy twist. His use of 3D technology helps bring his accessories to life.

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Juan of Born Republic Co., showed us bloggers how he uses 3D technology to add dimension and shape to his pieces. 

Overall, it was a marvelous mini-getaway packed with fascinating history. Plus, who wouldn’t love looking at gorgeous jewelry all day?

Have you ever visited Rhode Island? Did you know about the connection between costume jewelry and the state?  

5 Tank Dresses to Take You from Summer to Fall

Is it me or is the summer zooming by?

Since it’s already August, it’s time to stock up on transitional summer staples. The end of season is the perfect opportunity to score sales on pieces that can take you from balmy nights to brisk evenings in a flash. One of my favorite items to rock in the summer straight into the fall is a versatile tank dress.

Whether you want to go for a casual laid-back look or a dressy style for a fun night on the town, a tank dress is a good bet. It’s no secret that accessories can transform this wardrobe staple in an instant! During the summer,  pair with sandals or sneakers for a cool, carefree getup. Once the days shorten and the temp starts to dip, opt for a oversize jean jacket and boots for a pulled-together fall ensemble.

american-apparel-ponte-tank-dress

American Apparel Ponte Tank Dress available here, $58

topshop-tank-dressTopshop Ribbed Bodycon Midi Tank Dress available here, $38

nasty-gal-tank-dress

Nasty Gal Ribbed Tank Dress available here, $24

shopbop-tank-dress

Sundry Tank Dress available here, $108

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Enza Costa Ribbed Tank Dress available here, $132

What are your favorite go-to transitional pieces?

GIVEAWAY: Warner’s Bra & Panties Set

Since my boobs are no longer going up and down in size due to breastfeeding, it’s time to get a bra fitting and go shopping!

Warner’s has a line of bra and panties that won’t pinch or tug in all the wrong places. Launching this month, the No Pinching. No Problem. collection promises to provide smooth silhouettes. For me, comfort trumps style—luckily, these bra and panties don’t lack in either department. The seamless underwire or front-closure wire-free bra designs contours to the body creating a functional, yet sexy look. Plus, the hipster and hi-cut panties are soft and practical. Gone are the unflattering creases and painful digs that tight elastic panty bands and ill-fitting bras can cause. Who wants to be tugging and adjusting their unmentionables all day?

Not only can some bras and panties be uncomfortable, but wearing the wrong undergarments can wreak havoc on outfits too! That’s why it’s just as important to put thought into what you’re putting on underneath as what you put on top.

 

warner-bra-panties Warner’s No Pinching. No Problems. collection available here, starting at $12

**GIVEAWAY: If you’re looking to add to your intimate apparel wardrobe, you’re in luck. I’ve partnered with Warner’s to give two readers a bra and panties set valued at approximately $55. Simply leave a comment below or Tweet me (@BrownGirlGumbo) telling me what’s more important to you when it comes to intimate apparel: comfort or style? The giveaway is only open to U.S residents. The winners will be randomly selected and notified via email on Tuesday July 21, 2015 (contest ends 11:59 pm July 20, 2015).

Get the Look: Brandy’s Hair at the 2015 BET Awards

Last night’s BET’s Awards was one to remember. From the Bad Boy to the Janet Jackson dance tribute, the night was filled with moving speeches and memorable performances.

But, being the hair and beauty buff that I am, I couldn’t help but notice Brandy’s gorgeous blow-out! Since joining the cast of “The Game,” it seems like the former teen pop star/actress has been more daring with her hairstyles. Perhaps her character, Chardonnay, has inspired her to step outside the box and rock looks beyond the braids that she made famous in the ’90s.

Hair stylist Tymothe Wallace for Motions Hair Care created her eye-catching ‘do. Inspired by Barbie, Wallace put a natural spin on the typically long and straight look. “Brandy is an icon—she can do no wrong! Tonight she wanted to look like Barbie in her metallic party dress so we went for the natural version,” he said. Plus, Wallace gave it an ultra-modern edge so it didn’t look too retro.

I’m a huge fan of celebrities and fashionistas wearing natural and textured hairstyles on the red carpet. Just a few years ago (in the era of relaxers) this would not have been as acceptable or deemed as beautiful as it is today. Kudos to Brandy for embracing this statement-making style!

brandy-betPhoto via Brandy’s Instagram

To get her lovely look, check out the following steps:

How to:

Prep hair with Motions Natural Textures Pre-Wash Detangling Butter to tame hair and reduce breakage. Next, wash hair with Motions Natural Textures Moisturizing Cleanser and Smoothing Conditioner to add moisture and improve manageability. Lock in moisture with Motions Active Moisture Leave-In Detangler to enhance natural texture. Finish with Motions Light Hold Working Spritz for hold and Motions Indulgent Oil Spray for shine

Products Used:

*Motions Natural Textures Pre-Wash Detangling Butter

*Motions Natural Textures Moisturizing Cleanser

*Motions Natural Textures Smoothing Conditioner

*Motions Active Moisture Leave-in Detangler

*Motions Light Hold Working Spritz

*Motions Indulgent Oil Spray

Did you like Brandy’s hair? Whose style did you like the most last night? 

Must-See TV: TLC’s ‘Dare to Wear’ Hosted by Tai Beauchamp Premieres TONIGHT!

If you’re into beauty and fashion, chances are you’re very familiar with Tai Beauchamp.

The super savvy former editor and style influencer is now the host of TLC’s brand new series, “Dare to Wear.” The makeover show premieres tonight and won’t be your typical transformative style series. Each show will feature two participants with opposite fashion tastes who will be forced to swap wardrobes. Once they realize that they have to wear the other person’s “out there” clothes, they’ll discover a sense of self-worth and learn to embrace change…in a good way.

Tai Beauchamp Photo Credit: Courtesy of TLC

Tai Beauchamp Photo Credit: Courtesy of TLC

Tai has most recently been a regular on “The View’s” “Must-Have Mondays” segment, but I’ve been following her work since I was in college. She’s worked as a writer/editor at some of the most prominent magazines in the industry, including Seventeen, O, The Oprah Magazine and Vibe Vixen. In fact, when I first moved to NYC over 12 years ago, I reached out to Tai in hopes of getting some insight into the magazine publishing industry. She graciously obliged and treated me to a lovely lunch at the now closed, posh brunch hotspot—Mayrose. I valued her sage advice about the business and have admired and rooted for her success ever since!

So, please tune in tonight to catch Tai doing what she does best, helping individuals realize their beauty (and style) from the inside out.

Check a clip from the show below:

Style Expert Tai Beauchamp’s “Dare to Wear” airs on TLC, Fridays at 10Pm, EST

Are you a fan of makeover shows? Will you be tuning in tonight?

The Perfect Slip Shorts for Summer

Now that the weather calls for sundresses and short skirts, it’s time to shop for undergarments that will keep us cool and secure.

No Nonsense has a pair of slip shorts that are short enough so they won’t peek from under our summer ensembles, but still provide a sense of security while creating a smooth silhouette.  But, don’t mistake these incredibly breathable underpants with a brand that rhymes with “thanks”—these lightweight shorts aren’t constricting.

Made with nylon and spandex, these seamless slip shorts aren’t designed to suck in, tuck, hide or redefine. Instead, they’re made to complement our natural shapes. Plus, you won’t have to worry about them rolling down at the top because the large band isn’t unbearably tight unlike most brands.

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If you’re like me and live in flowy dresses and leg-baring outfits during the summer, be sure to stock up on a couple pairs of these super comfortable  undershorts—you won’t be sorry.

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NO™ Seamless Slip Short available here, $10

Do you wear undershorts during the summer? If so, what’s your go-to brand?

Celebrate Earth Day: Recycle Old Pantyhose with No Nonsense

Since spring has sprung, it’s almost time to toss or store your tights and stockings for the season.

If you’re like me and have loads of hosiery that are holey, uncomfortable or just plain unsightly, you’re in luck. Our friends at No nonsense has developed a recycling program that will take those unwanted pantyhose off your hands!

The first of its kind, this eco-conscious program is the only recycling initiative dedicated to repurposing nylon/Spandex and other materials used in pantyhose and transforming them into various things. From park benches to playgrounds, your old pantyhose can now live beyond your legs and not in a stagnant landfill!

So, in celebration of Earth Day, do your part in preserving and honoring our planet by gathering your old pantyhose and sending them to No nonsense. Don’t worry, it’s super easy. Simply download a mailing label, round up your nylons, ship them off and you’re all set! Plus, this campaign isn’t just for Earth Day—we’re pretty stoked that the program is ongoing.

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Fast Fact: It takes 30-40 years for tights, pantyhose and knee-high nylons to decompose!

Click here for more information.

How are you celebrating Earth Day? Do you have old tights or stockings? If so, would you participate in this innovative recycling program?