October 29, 2013 Cracking the Holiday Dress Code

The holidays are just around the corner, and so is the holiday party circuit: business lunches, festive get-togethers, chic soirées. More than likely you won’t be receiving invites like Kim Kardashion’s  “all white” party or Capote’s famous masked party that give explicit instructions on what to wear.  Instead, you’ll have to crack the dress code—“Festive”? “Creative Black Tie”?   But don’t worry, we’re here to help!

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Cocktail Attire

The look here should be sophisticated and chic, with a bit of fun!  Stick to tasteful, knee-length options paired with sexy heels or stylish ankle boots. Think of that perfect LBD—like our Natalia Sheath. Or that favorite taffeta party dress—our Claudine Sheath, Borealis Dress or Marilyn Party Dress are sure to impress! Complete the look with a beautiful clutch and some sparkling jewelry.

businessattire

Business Attire

Business attire is a glammed-up version of what you would wear to work. Although it’s still a suitable option (pun intended), these days we can go beyond the polished suit set.   Say, a beautiful pencil skirt with a nice top—like our Marais Pencil Skirt  or East-West Skirt.  Go a little bolder with the jewelry and accessories. Stacks of bangles, a statement necklace or pretty scarf add an elegant touch.

festiveattire

Festive

No, this doesn’t mean donning a holiday sweater with a 3-D Rudolph or light-up Santa. Probably the most elusive of all dress codes, Festive attire falls somewhere between business and cocktail attire.  Think of something special and fun, but still sophisticated, with a touch more opulence than normal—like our Zelda Dress or Organza Skirt and Top.  Try adding in some sparkle—like we did on our lurex-laced Priya Dress.

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Creative Black Tie

Think formal, but with a trendy, creative twist… a modern touch to the traditional.  Instead of a floor-length satin dress, go for a lacy handcrochet number—like our Edwardian Dress. Or even a long skirt with a gorgeous topper.

Black Tie Optional

You don’t have to wear a long evening gown (but you can if you want to). You can also wear a formal cocktail dress, a dressy pantsuit, or even a long full skirt with an elegant sweater.  Just keep it classy and elegant—try to think if you’d be embarrassed standing next to someone in their sparkling floor-length evening gown.  We suggest our Stardust Dress or the Portia Lace Dress.

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Dressy Casual/Elegant Casual

This means just what it sounds like: relaxed, yet polished and pulled together.  This could mean something as simple as an elegant sweater-dress with cool accessories—like our Cambridge Dress. Or you could wear a crisp pair of our Coated East End Jeans with a cool jacket or dressed-up sweater, like the Burnished Moto Jacket or Kelmscott Cardigan.

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Casual

This doesn’t mean wear your sweats, but it does mean relaxed. For evening, a pair of jeans with a pretty top or nice sweater would be appropriate.   Don’t over-think this one too much—wear whatever makes you comfortable!

One last thing to remember: An event during the evening is always dressier than one during the day!

 

 

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October 24, 2013 Sticky Toffee Pudding

After we returned from the Holiday photo shoot in England, my mind kept drifting back to sticky toffee pudding—the perfect amalgamation of cream, caramel and dates!  Since I couldn’t find it on any dessert menus back home, it didn’t take long for me to whip up a version of my own.  Without further adieu, I present to you….

Sticky Toffee Pudding

stickypudding

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Grease an 8” x 8” square cake pan.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 1/3 Cup evaporated milk (or regular milk), 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 8 oz chopped dates.  Bring to a boil, but watch closely so it doesn’t burn or boil over.  Boil for a couple minutes, until the mixture thickens and the dates seem nice and soft.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine ½ Cup brown sugar, ¼ Cup sugar and 1 stick of butter (1/2 Cup), softened.  Beat with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Add 2 eggs and beat for another minute.  Then add 1 ¼ Cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon salt, beating just until it’s combined.  Lastly, add the date/milk mixture and beat again just until it’s combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  I start checking after 25 minutes, testing it with a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean.

While the cake bakes, prepare the caramel (toffee) sauce:

                               caramel

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 stick of butter (1/2 Cup) with 1 cup of brown sugar and a small dash of salt.  Once it boils, you’ll want to stir it almost constantly with a wire whisk.  Continue boiling for 2-3 minutes, then add ½ Cup heavy cream (whipping cream), without turning off the heat.  Return to a boil and let it cook for a minute longer, whisking almost constantly.  Finally add 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract just before removing it from the heat. Set aside.

Once the cake is done, it only needs to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.  You want it to be warm!  While cooling, whip up some fresh cream for the top.  All you have to do is pour about ¾ cup heavy whipping cream into a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric beater until thick.  When it’s close to the perfect thickness, turn off the beaters and add a small amount of powdered sugar (confectioners sugar), about ½-1 tablespoon depending on how sweet you like it.  Keep in mind that the caramel and the cake are both very sweet, so the cream does not need to be as sweet as normal.

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To serve, cut the warm cake into squares and top individual servings with a heavy stream of caramel and a dollop of cream!

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Out the Back Door: Holiday Inspirations

The inspiration behind some of our Holiday 2013 prints took us to far-flung places spanning oceans and even decades, while others didn’t take us further than the backyard!  Take a peek at how we re-imagined real-world objects into wearable landscapes…

Moroccan Tile New

Sometimes you need to travel to far-away lands! The ornate stylized designs in Morocco have inspired countless patterns here at Peruvian Connection.  In our Holiday collection, we were especially thrilled about this fanciful Moroccan scrollwork painted on ceramic tiles.   We colored it and played with different fabrics ranging from printed jerseys to velveteen and devoré—and then re-colored it some more!

LacePants

Other times you need a little fancy paper!  For these lacy-print pants, we started with a pattern inspired by this lavish gold-leaf paper, then “ate away” at the print for an abstracted, decayed lace look.  We loved this print on the Paloma Pants so much that we reinvented it on the bohemian Bolinas Skirt.

AntiqueScrolls

Then sometimes time-travel is the only way!  For our Antique Scrolls Tee, we drew from the ornate aesthetic found in 18th century Romanticism. We gave it a contemporary look by making it more graphic and using rich jewel-tone coloring.

Sketchbookdress

And sometimes all you need is to look out the back door!  If you didn’t know by now, the Peruvian Connection headquarters sit on a gorgeous landscaped farm, complete with chickens and all!  The print on our Sketchbook Dress was created from images and drawings of garden flowers in our very own back yard. Then we layered on washes of watercolor to bring you this artsy, close-to-home print!

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All Saints Day in Peru

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All Hallows Day in America may be overshadowed by costumes, trick-or-treating and jack o’ lanterns the night before, but let’s not forget why zombies and ghosts fill the streets on Halloween.  Celebrated on November 1st, this Christian ritual, also known as All Saints Day, honors those who have attained saintliness in heaven. The following day, known as All Souls Day, commemorates the departed who have yet to reach heaven and remain trapped in purgatory.  When the Spaniards arrived in Peru in the 16th century, they brought these rituals with them.  The Incas always maintained a strong connection with their deceased ancestors, offering them gifts and requesting assistance, so the ideas behind All Saints Day and All Souls Day were easily absorbed.  To this day, the Peruvian celebration of these rituals, known as Dia de los Difuntos, “Day of the Deceased,” focuses on departed ancestors and their indelible connection to those living on earth.

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In Peru, the celebration is rooted in the belief that the souls of deceased relatives visit earth on this day.  It is the family’s duty to ensure that plenty of food is available for these departed souls in order to fuel their journey in the afterlife.  In more rural areas, families may share their meal on the grave of the deceased relative and leave some behind, while in other areas, families will simply bring food or flowers to the grave.  Either way, lively music is likely to fill the air, along with the smells of roasted pig, the most traditional food to enjoy on Dia de los Difuntos.

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In addition to the roast pig, you’ll likely find “bread babies,” or Tanta Wawas, filling gravesites, decorating the dinner table and entertaining children.  Tanta Wawas are made from a brioche-like dough usually in the shape of a baby, to signify the beginning of the life cycle.  It’s common in some regions to find horse-shaped Wawas or even staircases, both of which are meant to assist an ancestor in their journey from earth to the other realm.

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Since the focus is on remembering the dead as they were when living, Peruvian graves are a live “scrapbook” of the deceased. Often, the grave will be gifted with the favorite food or drink of the deceased–it’s not uncommon to spot a beer, a soda or even a bottle of pisco inside the framed glass enclosures that mark an individual’s grave in Peru.  These glass enclosures are a window into the life of the deceased.  Even as a stranger from another country, you can get the sense of how someone lived, what they liked and who they were from the meaningful display in front of their grave.

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October 23, 2013 PC is in the News!

Rachael Ray wearing our Cheval Pendant on the October cover of EveryDay.

Rachael Ray wearing our Cheval Pendant on the October cover of EveryDay.

Peruvian Connection got a kickstart back in 1979 thanks to an article in the New York Times style section…we’ve been big believers in the power of the press ever since.  PC has been in the news lately, with mentions in a number of popular blogs as well as in print features. The latest edition of KC Magazine, features an interview with our founder, Annie Hurlbut, telling the story of PC’s roots on the family farm in Tonganoxie, Kansas.

Annie Hurlbut with Georgina of "Notes on Lifestyle by Georgina".

Annie Hurlbut with Georgina of “Notes on Lifestyle by Georgina”.

Jonelle of Jo Traveler has been a PC customer and follower for 15 years, and made the trip to Kansas to visit our headquarters in September.

LiquidHip, an alternative review site that covers the cool, new and artistic, gives Peruvian Connection and its Art Knits a 9.5 on their Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Our retail stores have been garnering praise in the blogosphere–check out the latest comments about our stores and Fall / Holiday collections:
Boston:
Racked Boston
Bostinno.com
Bostonista
Scorpion Disco
Height of Style
Notes on Lifestyle by Georgina
Where Boston

Renata of Scorpion / Disco in PC's Bella Lace Pullover and Ayaviri Dress.

Renata of Scorpion / Disco in PC’s Bella Lace Pullover and Ayaviri Dress.

Kacy of "The Height of Style" in PC's Lucia Silk Pinafore.

Kacy of “The Height of Style” in PC’s Lucia Silk Pinafore.

Kelsey of "Tickle Me Pink" in our Inlet Pullover.

Kelsey of “Tickle Me Pink” in our Inlet Pullover.

Chicago:
included on Michigan Avenue‘s list of 2013′s Best Places to Shop
Red Soles & Red Wine
Sassy Moms in the City
Racked Chicago
PureWow Chicago
Jess & Jill

Jen of Red Soles & Red Wine, in PC's Bedouin Knit Coat.

Jen of “Red Soles & Red Wine”, in PC’s Bedouin Knit Coat.

Jill of "Jess & Jill" in our Macedonia Pencil Skirt.

Jill of “Jess & Jill” in our Macedonia Pencil Skirt.

Look for features coming up soon in EveryDay with Rachael Ray, Women’s Health and Good Housekeeping!

Visit the store nearest you:
Washington DC  -  San Francisco –  Chicago –  Santa Fe  - Kansas City –  Boston  -  London

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