Chicago Sun-Times
With Jessica Sedgwick

Recently in New find Category

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In today's Shopping column, I previewed the fabulous new Chicago Fashion Incubator Pop-Up Shop, inside the 900 North Michigan Shops. For those of you who have always wanted to support local designers but have never gotten around to it, you really have no excuse now. More than a dozen of Chicago's biggest up-and-coming designers are selling their spring clothing, all in one place, and a lot of it is surprisingly affordable. (I'd say 75 percent of the clothing and accessories are less than $200.)

A quick background on the Chicago Fashion Incubator program, for those who are unfamiliar: For the past three years, the city's Incubator program has mentored
up-and-coming designers, giving them a workspace inside Macy's on State and
helping them start their own businesses. (Think "Project Runway" without the
TV cameras. Or having to make a jumpsuit out of Twizzlers.)

This pop-up shop, which opens today and runs through April 23, features Incubator alumni from the past three years. Hours are: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday through Wednesday.

And to get better acquainted with the designers, make sure to hit one of these trunk shows, fashion shows or meet-and-greets that will be held next door to the pop-up shop:

March 18: noon to 5 p.m. - Kristin Hassan Trunk show
March 19: noon to 5 p.m. - Meet and Greet with Nora del Busto
March 20: noon to 5 p.m. - 2011 DIR Meet and Greet
March 24: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. - Agga B. Trunk Show
March 25: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. - Agga B. Trunk Show
March 26: noon to 3 p.m. - Evil Kitty Trunk Show
March 26: 5 to 10 p.m. - Anna Hovet Fashion Show

April 1: noon to 6 p.m. - Dottie's Delights & Miriam Cecilia Manicures & Mocktails
April 2: noon to 5 p.m. - Spring into Glamour and the Future with Evil Kitty
April 3: 1 to 5 p.m. - Anna Hovet Trunk Show
April 3: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. - Buyer's Brunch
April 7: 6 to 9 p.m. - Kristin Hassan Fashion Show
April 8: 4 to 7 p.m. - Alidade Trunk Show
April 8: 8 to 10 p.m. - Zamrie Fashion Show
April 9: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. -Dottie's Delights Spring Pin Up Photo Shoot Event
April 10: noon to 3 p.m. - Zamrie Trunk Show
April 15: 6 to 9 p.m. - Nonnie Threads Trunk Show
April 15: 6 to 9 p.m. - Miriam Cecilia Fashion Show
April 16: 2 to 6 p.m. - Alidade Trunk Show
April 17: noon to 5 p.m. - Kristin Hassan Trunk Show
April 17: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. - Nora del Busto Trunk Show
April 21: 6 to 9 p.m. - Killian Gui Informal Presentation

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Left: Coeur du Jour Necklace, $68 (choose from six messages, including "Crazy 4 You" and "U R Hot.") Right: Tetra Ring, $96. Wood is sustainably-grown Sono wood from Indonesia. Both prices are before the 40 percent off.


From now until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, February 9, you can snag 40 percent off of all jewelry at www.objetsdenvy.com.

To get the special Valentine's Day markdown, enter the code 40OFF at check out.

The jewelry, designed by Chicagoan Kirsten Goede, features Swarovski crystals in elegant designs that are colorful, feminine and playful.

Goede designs bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings, as well as earrings and bracelets for kids.

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While I'm of the opinion that leggings are NOT pants (despite what I still see some Chicago women wearing), l love a good legging with a dress or long sweater.

And these -- the Military Button Detail Leggings, $29 at AKIRA -- are pretty darn cute.

The Chicago boutique chain includes the leggings in their list of Top 10 favorite items for the new year. For the other 9 (which include a faux fur vest and a gorgeous vintage-inspired floral and black vest), go to shopakirachicago.com.

Click here for all AKIRA locations.

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Kids can be both warm and fashionable at Chicago Bulls games this year. I'm even thinking of trying on one of these T-shirts myself.

NBA and Junk Food Clothing, a vintage retro apparel company, teamed up to offer the NBA's growing base of young fans a cool new line of shirts featuring the Hardwood Classic logos of 11 NBA teams. The 2-in-1 Basketball Graphic T-shirts (which feature an added knit sleeve to give a layered look) are $22.50 and available only at GapKids stores and at Gap.com.

Other teams included are the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, and San Antonio Spurs.

The T-shirts are 50 percent cotton and 50 percent poly jersey blend. Sizes range from small to XX-large.

Go Bulls!

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If you're a Chicago Bears-loving mom-to-be, you won't be needing that beer money this season. Instead use the extra cash for the official new Bears Maternity T-shirt, $24.98 at motherhood.com and destinationmaternity.com, and $26.99 at nflshop.com.

The NFL partnered with Motherhood Maternity to create the shirt, which is 100 percent cotton and designed for the expanding belly! Also available in white.

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Affordable denim that still has that luxurious, designer feel? We've heard that before.

Plenty of companies have claimed such a feat. And now Web-based company Alias Premium Denim has launched the Sweet Dee, a pair of dark-washed, soft-woven denim for a mere $40. Did they live up to their claim? I enlisted my denim-loving co-worker Lori Rackl to give the jeans a test drive, and here's what she had to say:

By Lori Rackl
I'm guilty of dropping well over $100 on premium denim from companies whose
names sound like non-profits, i.e. Citizens of Humanity and 7 for All
Mankind. What can I say? I'm a sucker for the softness of the denim, the
form-fitting cut of the jeans and way they look a little worn in just the
right places.

But the economy has tanked, so it's time to start looking for affordable
alternatives. Alias premium denim, at $40 a pair, is a way to downsize your
denim spending without sacrificing too much in the style/comfort department.

Alias' jeans are like a cross between Levi's and the Big Boys like 7 for All
Mankind. They feel a little sturdier -- not necessarily in a good way -- than
pricey premium denim, but they still have that luxury feel. In other words,
these aren't the jeans you throw on to dig up dandelions in the garden.

My biggest complaint is that the button hole seems too small for the button,
so getting them on or off can be a tad frustrating. But hey, in this
economy, I'll put up with the hassle if it means saving some money.


Size chart
Alias fits sizes 0 to 12. Here's how their sizes break down: 26 (0-2); 28 (4-6); 30 (8-10); 32 (12).

Win a free pair
Alias is working on the design of their second style (Sweet Dee is the only style offered right now). Sign up here to be one of the first to try them out by winning a free pair!

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FROM LEFT: T-shirt designed by Anna Sui but no longer available; Embroidered Feather Tee by Koi Suwannagate; Pearl Print Tee by Anna Sui (satin bows add three-dimensional charm).

You still have time to snag one of these adorable limited-edition T-shirts, designed by Koi Suwannagate and Anna Sui for Nordstrom in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The shirts, $60, are sold exclusively through May at Nordstrom.com and at select stores (520 N. Michigan is the only Illinois location included).

Proceeds from the shirts will benefit the scholarship program of OCA, a national organization dedicated to serving Asian Pacific Americans.

I don't know exactly what it is.

But there's just something about a flat from Urban Outfitters. They're not necessarily the most comfortable shoe (I mean, they get the job done, but they're no Naturalizers). They probably only last one season, two if you're lucky.

But just look them. The sleek shape that forms perfectly to your foot. The woven leather patterns, the V-neck toe, the sheer lace overlay. The fact that they often get marked down as low as $6.99 (see prices below).

They're a perfect finish to a pair of skinny jeans and T-shirt or to a summer dress for the Pitchfork Music Festival or Lollapalooza this summer. And although I wouldn't walk 10 miles in them, they give you hours of comfort and support and girly hipster fashion.

Here are a few of this summer's flats from Urban Outfitters -- I order a few every spring. And right now, get free shipping of purchases over $75 (through April 27).


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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Lace skimmer, $19.99 (on sale from $38); Fairytales Are True Leather City Skimmer, $6.99 (on sale from $38); Fairytales Are True Scalloped Skimmer, $29.99 (on sale from $38); and Ecote Woven Flat, $38.

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Turn off the world -- and your own repetitive and annoying thoughts that penetrate the mind all day long -- during a FREE guided meditation at Exhale spa, 945 N. State. They're offering a month-long series to help you explore meditation, learn new techniques and find what works best for you. Classes are from 6 to 6:30 April 6, 13, 20 and 27. Reservations are required though, so call (312) 753-6500 to reserve your spot for the free class.

Here's what Exhale has to say about meditation: "It tames the mind and calms the body by bringing focus to the breath, leading your 'thinking' mind into a deeper state of relaxation and allowing you to let go of repetitive thoughts." Exhale also says meditation can boost the immune system, lower blood pressure and improve concentration.

I wasn't surprised when I heard the "Twilight" DVD was being released on a Saturday instead of the traditional Tuesday. After all, what kind of a midnight release party can you have on a Monday night? All the tweens are already tucked neatly into bed. And all of the mom fans are at home tucking their tweens into bed. It's a school night!

But I WAS surprised to see how many different editions are available (a quick stroll through fan sites showed me I'm not the only one who's confused). One disc, two discs, THREE DISCS??? It's enough to make your head spin. So if you haven't already pre-ordered your DVD, here's a quick and easy rundown of what will be available at five different stores this Saturday:


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TARGET
Offering: A Three-Disc Deluxe Edition DVD, which includes extended and deleted scenes, audio commentary by director Catherine Hardwicke, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, music videos and a seven-part documentary on the making of "Twilight." The third disc includes an iTunes Download of the film and bonus content and is exclusive to Target.
Price: $17.99
Thoughts: Most stores are offering the two-disc for the exact same price, so why not go to Target and the third disc for free? The third disc appears to only include an iTunes Download, but this is pretty awesome considering you can download the film AND special features to your iPod or MP3 player (and you'll be able to watch Edward and Bella wherever you go!). This appears to be the best deal. Also, this is where my "Twilight"-obsessed mother will be heading to pick up her copy this Saturday in Peoria, Ill. And Linda Sedgwick is as much of a bargain shopper as anyone!


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BEST BUY, AMAZON.COM, WAL-MART
Offering: The Two-Disc Special Edition DVD, which includes extended and deleted scenes, audio commentary by director Catherine Hardwicke, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, music videos and a seven-part documentary on the making of "Twilight."
Price: $17.99; $17.97 at Wal-mart
Thoughts: This seems to be the standard. But again, Target has them beat with the extra disc with the iTunes download.


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BORDERS
Offering: Borders Exclusive Edition DVD, which includes more than an hour of additional bonus materials (including red-carpet interviews from the movie premiere), special photo cards and fancy packaging.
Price: $29.99
Thoughts: The packaging is beautiful -- looks very much like a TV series box set. But I'm not sure it's worth it to shell out an extra $12 or so for fancy packaging, photo cards and a few red-carpet interviews. Though it does look very pretty. (Borders is also offering the regular Two-Disc Special Edition, but for $23.79.)


Happy shopping "Twilight" fans. Oh, and if you don't yet have plans to hit a midnight DVD release party, go to the official DVD Web site, www.twilightthemovie.com, type in your zip code, and they'll tell you where to find a party near you. Also, the DVD pre-release parties at Borders start at 10 tonight and include Vampire Baseball Trivia, an in-store scavenger hunt and the Twilight Movie Awards ceremony. Go to Borders.com to find a participating store near you and download a Twilight Movie Awards ballot (you get to choose your favorite quote from the movie, favorite scenes and other nerdy things like that.) Enjoy!

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