The HerKentucky Louisville List: Gilt.com Pop-Up Shop

So, we have some rather big news at my house. We're moving back to Louisville this summer!

There is so much to love about the Commonwealth's biggest city. Over the next couple of months, I'll be packing up our stuff and the dogs and making plans to join my beau, who's already there. Here on HerKentucky, I'll be compiling The Louisville List, a series of posts that highlight my very favorite things about the Derby City: things like the food, the parks, the volunteer opportunities, and the awesome neighborhoods. Oh, and did I mention the shopping?

Well, the shopping is pretty great. Louisville is home to some amazing boutiques. The malls are, hands down, the best in Kentucky. (Don't get me started on how, in high school, I seized every opportunity to travel the four hours from my hometown to Oxmoor Center, then boasted of my haul to my Benetton-deprived friends.) There's even the promise of a fancy new outlet mall. And, starting next week, Gilt.com will bring a unique pop-up shop to the East End. 

Y'all know Gilt.com, right? It's a flash-sale site for high-end clothing and home furnishings. You can find unique, luxurious items at a steal. Brands like Missoni, Vera Wang, Zac Posen, and  my imaginary BFFs Badgley Mischka. And now, for one month, they'll have their very first brick and mortar store. The fun starts next Friday, June 28, at The Shelbyville Road Plaza (4600 Shelbyville Road). I hope y'all can make it out to the Gilt Designer Outlet. In the meantime, here's your invitation to shop around on Gilt.com


I can't wait to re-discover one of my favorite cities, and I'm excited to do some shopping!

{No member of the HerKentucky writing staff was compensated for this post.}

My 2012 Kentucky Resolutions

Earlier this week, Sarah posted a brilliant list of her 2012 Kentucky Resolutions. Her list got me thinking about my own goals for the New Year. How can I find new ways to enjoy being a Kentuckian in 2012? I wondered. I've already perfected my own beer cheese and bourbon ball recipes. I've seen the Commonwealth's major tourist sites, I've been to Derby and Oaks, and I've joined in the frenzy following a National Championship win.

But, of course, there are always new ways to enjoy the Bluegrass State. Here are a few goals I came up with for the upcoming year.  I tried to keep them realistic; I'm probably not going to become BFF with Mark Badgley and James Mischka this year (but I'm not going to stop hoping for that...)
  1. Shop(and Eat) Kentucky.I lived in Louisville's Highlands neighborhood for years. Now, when you live in the heart of the Keep Louisville Weird movement, it's pretty easy to have locally-sourced meals and locally-crafted products within your reach. But, recently, I've found myself gradually backsliding into more suburban, mainstream purchasing habits. Over the holidays, I was reminded how delightful local products can be when my aunt gave me a sampler of coffees roasted in-house at Lexington's Coffee Times Coffee House. The Big Blue Blend was so bright and sunny, but with a spicy bite -- it started sweet, like mocha ice cream, but finished with almost a chicory note. I was instantly smitten, and reminded that good things are often made just around the corner!
  2. Tour the Bourbon Trail; learn to place Box and Wheel bets. Yep, I resolve to do some sinnin' this year, but I want to learn to do it well. I want to see where my favorite bourbons are made -- I've driven past the distilleries hundreds of times, but I've just never taken the time to stop for the tour. And, I want to learn to make the kind of sophisticated bets that yield high payouts -- the kind that come from a deeper knowledge of horses and wagering. It's been a long time since I took a statistics class, but I think this will be a fun skill to acquire.
  3. Get involved with Kentucky politics. It's been way too long since I contacted a Congressman about an issue I believed in, volunteeered with a campaign, or generally gotten involved. I kind of miss it.
  4. Publish a story or essay set in Appalachia. As a writer, I've frequently struggled with how to include my hometown in my work while preserving my own experience. I love so many cultural elements of Appalachia, but I really hate some of the imagery of poverty and ignorance that so often emerges in Appalachian fiction. This year, I want to write a piece that is set in Eastern Kentucky, but which doesn't involve bad stereotypes, trips "to the Walmarts", or exploitative dialogue. 
  5. Finally see Western Kentucky.  To be a lifelong Kentuckian, I've spent an embarrassingly brief amount of time west of I-65.  I need to visit The Quilt Museum, eat some barbecue, and visit Abe's house.
What "Kentucky Things" do you want to do this year?

Lexington Style

Image via Ralph Lauren.
Ralph Lauren famously once stated, "I could design my entire collection based solely on the style of three places: The Hamptons, Santa Fe and Lexington, Kentucky."  In 2006, Esquire Magazine named Kentucky the most stylish state in the Union.  And, legendary designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka's Central Kentucky horse farm is said to be as fabulous as their bridal designs. (Which, in a related note, why am I not BFF with Badgley Mischka? I think we've just set my goal for 2012, y'all.)

Image via Ralph Lauren
Lexington is far from a world fashion capital.  It'll never be confused with Milan, Paris, or New York.  But its style is undeniable.  It's still the kind of town where people dress up for a nice restaurant.  You don't see flip-flops or dressy shorts at cocktail parties, nor do "dressy jeans" constitute dinner attire.  It's the kind of place where a small-town haberdasher bases his collection directly on an suit designed for Edward VIII.

But, yet, Lexington seems neither as formal nor as over-the-top as these images suggest.  That Lexington style boasts a heavy equestrian influence is undeniable, but it's far less garish and in-your-face than Mr. Lauren would have you believe.  The town's truly horsey folk are often seen in faded, relaxed jeans and barn jackets, and their broken-in boots are constantly caked in mud.  And, Lexington never stops being an SEC college town.  When I think of Lexington's style, I immediately envision preppy frat boys in navy blazers and khakis tailgating at Keeneland with their sundress-clad girlfriends.  I picture the Junior League Horse Show, which boasts more per-capita Lilly Pulitzer dresses than the Breakers on Labor Day weekend.  I picture the ubiquitous needlepoint  and horse-harness belts.  And, then, I picture all the blue.

Kentucky Girl Dress via Red Dress Boutique
Wildcat Blue is everywhere in Lexington.  It isn't a gameday tradition; it's an everyday tradition.  You see it on license plates and serving plates.  You see it on casual wear and business wear.  You see it on well-heeled season ticket holders, who occupy the floor seats and the skyboxes.  You see it on the adorable little mamaws who've driven in from nearby counties to cheer on their team.   You see it on infants, for whom fandom is a birthright.  In so many ways, it's the color of Lexington itself.

My new besties, via Elle Decor
I think that Lexington's style is a great analogy for the town itself; there are some fancy aspirations, but it never forgets its small-town roots.  There are so many influences which combine for an elegant yet easy style.  It screams "authentic" rather than "couture."  It's way more than a brand name, a label, or a single "style."  It's a pretty, tasteful aesthetic as graceful as the Central Kentucky countryside.

But, of course, if Bagdley and Mischka ("Mark and James" to me, natch, since we're soon to be besties) want to meet me at Jonathan's for a cocktail soon, I'm all about the labels...