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5 Tips from the "Queen of Caftans"

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As Hillary Clinton proved at Chelsea’s rehearsal dinner, caftans aren’t just for beaches and pregnant starlets anymore. The long, flowing robes gained a serious following this summer and have even been spotted wafting down the Chanel runway.

Frédérique Birkemeyer, Marrakesh’s “queen of caftans” and owner of the Intensité Nomade boutique, offers a few tips on finding and wearing the right tunic anywhere, from a souk to Saks.

Size up the shoulders and examine the embroidery.

Like a dress, Birkemeyer explains, “a beautiful caftan is shown by its cut and its finishing.” The fabric should drape well from the shoulders. The embroidery, preferably done by hand, should be smooth and even. Take a close look at the sfifa (a band of needlework) and any rows of silk knots used as trimming.

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Haute Hotel Deal: Elysian Partners with Marc Jacobs

This summer, The Elysian hotel in Chicago is celebrating America—and great American designer, Marc Jacobs—with a complimentary limited edition towel and tote:201007-b-usatotejpg

From now through Labor Day, book a room at the Elysian and receive a super-cute USA totebag and American Flag beach towel from Marc Jacobs. They're the perfect accessories to bring to North Avenue Beach.

The bag (just $18) is also available at Marc Jacobs stores (the only one in Chicago is at the Elysian Hotel). Book at ElysianHotels.com. Rates start at $495 and include breakfast in bed.

Courtesy of Elysian Hotels/Marc Jacobs

Time To Reapply Your Sunscreen?

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Growing up in Southern California in the 1960s, my friends and I would start off each summer’s quest for a tan by heading to the beach to lay down a good “base coat”—or what doctors like to call a second-degree burn. I had so many sunburns by the time I graduated high school I can’t even count them. We didn’t use high-factor SPF sun protectants; we used cocoa butter and tanning oil to really soak up those UV rays. Then someone went and discovered that, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, having even one severe sunburn as a child doubles your risk of developing melanoma as an adult.

Now you tell me.

I travel frequently and like to explore the outdoors wherever I go—swimming in Phuket, scuba in the Great Barrier Reef, early morning walks beside the Huangpu River on the Bund in Shanghai. At home in the States I dig biking and body surfing. I love doing the morning crossword puzzle sitting by my backyard pond. I even enjoy weeding my lawn. The point is, I’m outside a lot, and I can’t afford to get sunburned again. That’s why I was especially glad about a recent unplanned meeting with an acquaintance in the green room at CNN.

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Street Smart Sunglasses

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Nothing says summer like a good pair of shades. And nothing says summer in the city like these two pairs, which literally take their inspiration from the streets of New York and Los Angeles:

As part of its new Rare Prints collection, Ray-Ban just put out a colorful line of wayfarers embossed with the N.Y.C. subway map (from $140, available at sunglasshut.com).

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And from the left coast, there’s the brand new Freeway Eyewear, with five styles named and designed after  iconic L.A. highways, from Route 1 to Interstate 405 ($100 each, available at select Barneys New York stores).

Christine Ajudua is an assistant editor at Travel + Leisure.

Images courtesy of Ray-Ban and Freeway Eyewear

Review: T-Mobile's Travel-centric Garminfone

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Sometimes it's really hard to believe that just a few years ago, in order to get where you had to go—especially on road trips, you needed to bring along one or more large, folding paper maps. Then there came websites like MapQuest, which alleviated people the hassle of having to actually figure out how to get from point A to point B. And now with GPS devices built into cell phones, navigating strange places is a breeze, and there's no need to bring anything you wouldn't have with you anyway.

T-Mobile recently released a new smartphone, the Garminfone (Garmin is one of the leading GPS makers in the world), which was specifically designed for travelers constantly on the go. It looks like any other touch screen smartphone (wait until you see just how smart it is), but as soon as you turn the phone on, you know it's made for travelers: there are three large icons on the homepage; one is labeled "Where To?" and the other, "View Map." (The third is for making phone calls.)

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Barbie Arrives at Ellis Island

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You won't find Barbie lounging around her Dream House this summer. Instead, the famous blonde will be making her debut at Ellis Island, a far cry from Malibu. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Barbie Dolls of the World collection, Barbie gathered a group of the collection's most iconic dolls, representing more than 40 nations, in a special exhibit at the former immigration station in New York Harbor, which begins June 16.

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Cute Overload: Hello Kitty Airport Gate

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On my way home from a recent trip to Taiwan, I found myself with a little bit of time to kill before boarding my plane at Taipei’s Taoyuan Airport. Knowing I had more than 14 hours to sit in a cramped airplane seat ahead of me, I did some exploring.

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Iconic NYC Nightclub Refashioned as Mini-Mall

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I stopped by last week’s opening of Manhattan’s Limelight Marketplace—a church reincarnated as a notorious '80s nightclub most recently made over as a shopping mall—with an almost irreverent sense of curiosity. With a past so checkered, I expected a mixed crowd, and sure enough, the three-level, multi-wing retail space was brimming with journalists (both skeptical and adoring), local reality stars (think Real Housewives posing with Hunter boots for the press), and the occasional camera-toting wanderer shaking his head in disbelief while reminiscing about parties fueled by pills, music, and illicit behavior.

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The go-go girls, devilish red lighting, and shady corners are all long gone—they disappeared in the '90s—and the church stood vacant until last winter, when retail developer Jack Menashe saw an opportunity to create his own version of nearby Chelsea Market.

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Titanic Awards: Celebrating the Worst in Travel

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I’ve long thought the best travel stories are the ones, well, where things don’t go according to plan. The most memorable tales from the road, it seems, often involve weird characters, bungled reservations, and near misses of all kinds. For this reason, I’ve become a big fan of the TitanicAwards.com, a survey site that celebrates “the dubious achievements in travel” (from Worst Toilet to Most Annoying Tourist Attraction) and can always be counted on for a good laugh. (If you like the LOLcats of Icanhascheezeburger, you’ll love the absurd-but-true findings of TitanicAwards.com.)

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Charmed By a Locale? CHART It!

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I recently returned from a ten-day sailing trip around the Secret Island of Culebra, off the coast of Puerto Rico. Living aboard a sailboat reminded me of my love for nautical charts—the fluid lines, soft, sea-foamy color palette, and wiry, spare typeface lend an on-trend heritage feel to the handsome utilitarian scrolls. How smart was it, then, that Portland, Maine–based jeweler Charlotte Leavitt dreamed up the idea of custom-crafting various pieces (pendants, earrings, cufflinks, even belt buckles) making use of nautical charts? Childhood summers spent aboard her family’s daysailer in coastal Castine instilled in the formerly desk-bound jewelry hobbyist a similar appreciation for the art of the chart.

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