48 Hours in Boca Grande

Tucked away on a small island in Southwest Florida, where palm trees, bicycles and golf carts are aplenty, darling Boca Grande appears to my foreign eyes like a blissful retreat into paradise. All things considered, I’ve journeyed here from cold and rainy Philadelphia, where sunshine is a resource that only ever comes in short supply.

The crowd that flocks to these parts, when the season is in full swing, is familiar. They’ve discovered this treasured little island many years ago, and it’s their best kept secret. They’re the seasonal residents, the ‘sun chasers’ as I fondly like to call them, who have property on the island, and put it to good use when the weather here is at its absolute best, from fall through late spring. As for the rest of the friendly, familiar faces, they vacation at the historic 103-year-old Gasparilla Inn & Club, which captivates with its old world charm and a caliber of hospitality I have rarely experienced, though I have lived a very well-traveled life.

Stay on the island a while, and come to discover that The Inn’s presence is much like the sun, a magnetizing force around which all else orbits. The Inn is the beating heart of this vibrant little island, creating a sense of community that is truly felt. Every space in the more-than-a-century-old Inn brings to mind ‘Old Florida’ or at least everything I envision it to have been; where grandeur mixes with tradition, and etiquette is very much so still alive and well. As Vanity Fair magazine so eloquently described: 

“… For your impending winter holiday, might we suggest repairing to one of America’s most historic grand hotels — the former playgrounds of Windsors, Astors, and Rockefellers, oh my?” 

The 103-year-old Gasparilla Inn & Club

I was immediately charmed by the vibrantly colored furniture and vignettes that so cheerfully fill each room. The leafy palm wallpaper in the main corridor gives way to florals in soft pastels, with pink sofa’s, tropical wall art and sea shell ornaments, so thoughtfully arranged. Artfully designed to capture all there is to love about Florida life, I find I could spend hours in this light and airy space in perfect contentment.

 A favorite space in The Gasparilla Inn & Club

Serenaded by floral wall paper, flamingo wall art and sea shell ornaments. 

Note to self: Bring some of this neon back to Philly…

Everything on the island is within walking distance from The Inn, unless of course your preference is for a bicycle – those darling ones with a basket to carry your beach bag – or a golf cart. My morning ritual, even after just two days, involved a leisurely stroll over to the delightful and delicious Inn Bakery Café. Just two blocks from The Inn, this charming café serves up a sweet assortment of pastries and other baked goods, and can whip up one mean cappuccino (so very necessary, despite the heat). If you’re ever in town, their famed glazed donuts have made a name for themselves. Perfect as a little post-lunch pick-me-up… unless you’re the ‘cake for breakfast’ type – then go for it. For a more savory alternative, the quiche (my favorite!) is offered up as a small atomic pie, hot and completely satisfying.

The Beach Club is the best place to spend a leisurely afternoon. From sea to shifting skies, the smell of fresh sea salt and the cool sea breeze, this space carries with it a sense of peace and tranquility that washes away the stressors and responsibilities that come with city dwelling. This body (yes, mine) hasn’t seen sun, much less a bathing suit, in months! Compared to the glowing, sun-kissed complexions of my neighbors, I’d sooner belong in a Twilight sequel with my remarkable translucence.

I spent the afternoon under the shade of a neon yellow striped umbrella, beholding the most magnificent and humbling of views and feeling nostalgic for Greece. These past few summer’s, I’ve missed the heat, the salt, the sand, the escape to our beach house up north, located in a small beach town just outside Thessaloniki. I guess life really does get in the way sometimes, though I won’t let it pass me by.

Views at the The Beach Club

Stop. Breathe. Relax. Repeat. 

 Sunset at The Beach Club 

I am no golfer. Not even close. Not even a little bit. And yet when it comes to The Gasparilla Inn & Club’s magnificent greens, peppered with shady palms and overlooking scenic Charlotte Harbor, I’ve entertained the thought. The Golf Shop’s extensive selection of ladies golf wear, in vibrant colors and chic, sporty cuts, made the sport that much more appealing. Dressing the part, after all, is half the fun. No?

Exploring the course by golf cart was pure delight, as were the temps. Warmth, sunshine and the occasional cool breeze that tickles the skin – that’s winter for you in darling Boca Grande.

The island within an island golf course overlooking Charlotte Harbor.

The championship course is peppered with shady palms.

 Can days like this get any more perfect?

It’s decided. I’m trading in my car for a Golf Cart. #BocaLife

Sunset on the Course

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The Perfect Brunch OOTD

As is the case for most of you babes, brunching also happens to make it to the top of our list of extracurriculars.  Okay, so it may not be as physically demanding as hiking or mountain biking, or require the discipline of more mindful practices like yoga or meditation, but this little hobby has manifested into an every weekend kinda thing, and by extension has worked wonders for our wardrobes. It has also made us into major food snobs (amateur saveurs as we like to say)… but we digress!

When dressing for brunch, you can’t just throw on any old thing! Well fine, you CAN. But, the super causal vibes that come with styling sweatpants, a hoodie (and dare we say, bedhead?) was something we got well out of our systems back in our college days. We’ve graduated to selecting pieces for our own wardrobes and for LILA (which, also happen to end up in our closets!) that effortlessly mix downtown-cool with euro-chic, and are feminine, fresh and modern.

The look styled here perfectly exemplifies how the LILA girl does brunch. For this little OOTD (social speak for, ‘Outfit of the Day’), we picked a fanciful tartan frock, in hues of warm burgundy and navy, which was designed by Greek designer Madame Shou Shou. The oversized cut gives the Begonia Dress a babydoll look, which is so very flattering on any figure, and can be especially forgiving after one too many mimosas.

We’ve praised the scarf so many times, so forgive us as we do so once again!  There are so many ways to style a scarf – in fact, that’s probably the most frequently asked question we get in the shop from women who have always wanted to give it a try, yet are intimated by how to do so. The most traditional way is looped around the neck, either hanging loose or tied loosely. Our favorite, is tied in a bow at the neck. We like to angle the bow off to one side, as is custom in Paris.

We’re also largely in favor of tying your scarf like a bolero, as masterfully demonstrated in the fun DIY videos of Grecian Chic, the supremely talented designer behind the vibrant collection of printed silk scarves available at LILA Fashion International and styled in this shoot. Pictured is the beautiful Trojan Horse silk scarf. You can also view our full collection, HERE.

Or, if the scarf is not really your thing, it can be used to accessorize your handbag instead, functioning in the same manner as the pom keychain, pictured. Both lend a little extra pop where it’s needed.

For accessories, we’ve styled another favorite, a leather Barrel Bag in warm burgundy by Athens-based designer Vice Versa, with a furry red pom keychain to complement the colors of the frock. Subtle pairings are what ultimately tie a look together and bring overall harmony to the ensemble.  Also incorporated into the look are bracelet stacks from LILA Fashion International’s own collection of jewelry, handmade in Athens. The playful owl and angel charms comprise the Cat-Eye Charm bracelet, featuring cat-eye faceted beads and both gold plated sterling silver and sterling silver accents. Charming, isn’t it?

If you’ve been watching our Instagram Stories, you’ll know that the black suede platforms pictured, have been practically worn to death.  Although they are not a LILA find, we couldn’t resist slipping them on for one more shoot… cause they’re just that awesome. Enough said. xx

Outfit Details

Sunglasses | Saint Laurent

Begonia Dress | LILA Fashion International

Trojan Horse Silk Scarf | LILA Fashion International

Cat-Eye Charm Bracelet | LILA Fashion International

Burgundy Barrel Bag | LILA Fashion International

Red Pom Keychain | LILA Fashion International

Suede Platform Heels | Nine West

Photography: Rebecca Gudelunas

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Spring Fever

February, February – the month of love, right? How about, simply, the month of love yourself? These past few weeks, my RSS feed has been inundated with articles and blog posts from this fashion authority and that, on how to style the perfect look for the perfect date. And while all the chatter has quieted down, post-Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share one of the sweetest looks I’ve styled for LILA Fashion International this spring, that can be styled for any occasion… not just for a special someone! And is especially perfect as we embrace those warmer days of the season.

The lovely Flora Frock (also available in GREY in the web shop) is definitely an investment piece for spring, and a darling choice for an afternoon outing – be it solo, with your best girlfriends or with your beau! Made with a lightweight fabric that lends an airy, romantic feel to the garment, the Flora Dress is one of those pieces that will get you through those tricky transitional months, and well on your way to the glorious summer season.

Granted, it’s still frigid outside, so a cozy jacket is very much in order! I’ve paired it with the Betony jacket, which I like to consider a much-needed closet basic. As both a solid and a neutral, it complements the dress without competing with its pattern. Instead, it stands out with a unique layering effect and button detailing. For extra warmth, a neutral scarf in black or grey and gloves, would complete this ensemble.

I adore accessorizing. It adds that extra layer of polish (and pizzazz) that you can’t achieve from your attire alone. There’s a fine line between ‘overdone’ and ‘just right’… so it’s important to find that happy medium, and stick with it. I’ve paired pieces that accentuated my look, without overpowering it.

I paired a skinny gold belt (you can opt for something a little chunkier if that is your preference!) and a darling Saddle Bag in burgundy to play up the canary yellow of the dress and the pink hues in the floral print. Both pieces handmade by Athens-based designer Vice Versa, and are available in a variety of colors in our online shop!

For jewelry, I selected pieces from LILA’s own collection, handmade in Athens. The necklace is fashion with tiger eye beads, Swarovski crystal pave beads and gold plated sterling silver accents; the Tiger Eye bracelet set also features a playful Eiffel Tower charm (for those of us who still have Paris on the brain! **sigh**). The studs in popping lime are fashioned with Swarovski crystals and come in a range of equally spring-inspired colors. So fun, right?

Black booties wrap up the ensemble. I wanted to keep this aspect of the look relatively low-key, so I compromised with the color, but had a bit of fun with the rhinestones. On first glance, the boots appear subtle, but in the light – gosh, do they sparkle! What do you think of this outfit – would you style it for your afternoon outing or day date?

Outfit Details

Betony Jacket | LILA Fashion International; available in-store only

Flora Dress | LILA Fashion International; Yellow Flora is available in-store only, but shop it in Grey!

Saddle Bag (Burgundy) | LILA Fashion International

 Skinny Leather Belt (Gold) | LILA Fashion International

Crystal Studded Earrings (Lime) | LILA Fashion International

Necklace | LILA Fashion International

 Paris Bracelet Set | LILA Fashion International; SOLD OUT in Tiger Eye, but Mauve Jade and Violet Crystal are still up for grabs!

Studded Ankle Booties | Zara

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The Off-Duty Outfit

This might come as a surprise, but us girls over at LILA Fashion International are huge proponents of off-duty style. After a typical week, which can include anything from meetings and presentations, to photoshoots and pop ups, nothing calls our name more sweetly than casual wear. That is one truth we cannot deny!

With that in mind, even casual wear can carry a little polish, and that is the happy medium you’ll most often find us gravitating towards in the looks we conceptualize and share with you! And though we do wholeheartedly adore our comfy sweats (who doesn’t?!), we typically reserve those for cozy nights spent indoors bingeing on old reruns of Sex and the City. 

One of the favorite looks we pulled together as we ready for spring, embraced another wardrobe staple, and a sister to the sweat pant – the legging! We’ve used and abused this closet ‘basic’ whenever our denim skinnies have felt too restrictive (which is often…!). That aside, they’re comfortable AF and easy to wedge into a boot, whether you’re into the season’s trending ‘over-the-knee’ styles, or are more in favor of the equally addictive ankle bootie. Tough call, right?

As for the Slouchy Pinecone Tee (isn’t the print just darling?!), its the cherry atop the chocolate sundae. It lends this sweet look pizzazz, and a dose of joie de vie; perfect for welcoming the weekend! Made in Scotland, its lightweight composition and silky satin finish add just the right amount of polish to a casual ensemble. We’ve styled it with a pair of suede over-the-knee heeled boots (major trend alert!) with ruffle detailing, though riding boots would make an equally worthy (and functional) alternative.

 

Tiny top handles and clutches are currently all the rage, and we’ve very much so embraced this style with pieces like the Cappuccino Clutch, featured in this look! This trend is all about making small strides towards simplifying your everyday life. But seriously…why does everything always have to be so complicated?! As 2017 really begins to get underway, we’re working towards simplifying our lifestyle, our daily looks, de-cluttering our closets, and yes, our handbags too! One thing we love about the clutch – you’re pretty much required to just take the essentials. Cash, credit cards, smart phone, lip gloss – that’s it! Well ok – your keys too. But seriously, it’s ‘OUT’ with the Mary Poppins-sized totes, and IN with all things compact.

To tie this lovely look together, we’ve styled a jewelry piece from our very own LILA Luxe Collection, handmade in Greece. Although this particular gem is not yet available online, you can still stop by our web shop to view a full range of pieces from the collection – HERE.

What do you think about this look? Would you consider it more for everyday, or a specific occasion?

Outfit Details

Slouchy Pinecone Tee | LILA Fashion International

Necklace | LILA Fashion International

Clutch | LILA Fashion International (SOLD OUT in Cappuccino, but available in CharcoalPebbled Charcoal and Pebbled Latte.)

Leggings | Zara

Over-the-Knee Boots | Kelsi Dagger

Photography: Rebecca Gudelunas

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NYE: It’s Party Time

We love a good party, and nothing tops the fanfare that comes with prepping for New Year’s Eve. The occasion comes with a heady mix of emotions, namely the excitement and anticipation of all that the new year will bring (and we’ve got a feeling that 2017 will be a good one!). That, coupled with the necessity of finding the absolute right ensemble to crack open the bubbly and dance away the last hours of December, can be overwhelming and wonderful… and well, overwhelming. What to wear? It must be striking, flattering and festive, all wrapped in one! At least, that’s our take. Yours?

Our top pick for the occasion came in dashing red velvet, a LRD (little red dress, if you will), with a plunging backline and form-fitting silhouette that fits like a glove. Velvet is this season’s textured darling – blogger babes took to it like bees to honey – and we simply couldn’t get enough of it ourselves!

Shoutout to our fabulous merchandising intern at LILA Fashion International, Jasmine, for showing us how to simply style this show-stopping piece for the par-tay you’ll be attending. It will most definitely be a evening to remember! Embellishments have been kept to a minimum, because the dress, does, speak for itself. Wouldn’t you say?

The look is accessorized with simple and chic pearl strands from LILA’s own jewelry collection, and a statement gold metallic clutch (a favorite!), lovingly handcrafted from 100% raw Greek leather in Greece. Although we are currently sold out of the Illusion Clutch in gold, this beauty is still available in festive red.

And the best part? All pieces are available to shop at LILA Fashion International. Just in time for the festivities.

We hope you ring in the New Year in high style loves, and we wish you all the health and happiness in the world for 2017! All for now. xo

Outfit Details

Verbena Velvet Dress | LILA Fashion International

Illusion Clutch | LILA Fashion International, We’re SOLD OUT in Gold, but Red & Peach (on sale!) are still available in the web shop.

Pearl Necklaces | LILA Fashion International (in store only)

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