What I Wore: South Beach

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It feels like -27 outside, and I am questioning all of my life choices that brought me here, to Toronto where the air hurts my face on a daily basis. So if you need me, I’ll be here, daydreaming about Miami, and the South Beach, and sunshine, and warm sand, and anything but snow and extreme cold alerts. Stay warm out there, Toronto.

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Style Blog Travels: 5 Things To Do in Miami

A couple of months ago, le bf and I packed our bags and took off on a week-long Miami vacay. We were set to arrive on the last day of Art Basel, and had very little idea as to what we would actually do in Miami once we land. I had no time for research, and so we set off with no preconceived notions about the city, with that Will Smith song stuck in my head. Now that we got to experience a bit of what Miami has to offer, I thought I’d share my newfound wisdom…aka the top 5 things we loved about Miami, and you may too. Feel free to let us know which places are on your must-do list!

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Wynwood Walls
I’ll be honest, I learned about Wynwood Walls from Instagram, and all of those photogenic outfit pics of various bloggers, posing in front of the coolest graffiti I’ve ever seen. So, being a fashion blogger, I knew I had to make the trip to see (and pose in front of) those beautiful walls. And so we went, we saw, we posed, we photographed, and we loved it. Honestly, whether you’re a blogger or not, you’ll love Wynwood Walls. It’s a grungy area to be sure, but it’s inspiring all the same. Once you’re done admiring the pretty walls and doors, you can take a short cab ride over to Miami’s Design District, where you can do some high-end shopping, before grabbing a table on Mandolin’s lovely sun-soaked patio. Their kefte and saganaki are delicious, while the unsweetened iced-tea is super refreshing.

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Versace Mansion aka The Villa by Barton G.
As a fashion lover, I knew I had to check out the infamous Versace Mansion while in Miami. There’s obviously a sad backstory to the mansion and those infamous front steps, but it’s basically a historic sight and a must-visit while in Miami. We made a dinner reservation, and arrived without high expectations. Mostly, we just wanted to check out the mansion itself, so the dinner part was just an aside. But when our meals arrived, we were pleasantly surprised by how much we loved the food. There are mixed reviews online, but everything we ordered was delicious. And as a bonus, we got to sit facing the beautiful courtyard, with that magnificent pool and infamous tiled floor as our view. We also had an unexpected dinner companion running around our feet – a Versace cat. We were told that on the day Gianni was shot, a cat arrived at the steps of the mansion, and since Gianni believed in reincarnation, the cat was allowed to stay, with its offsprings now enjoying the privilege of being Versace Mansion inhabitants.

Tip: If you plan on grabbing dinner at the Villa, make sure to leave your flip flops at the hotel. Smart attire is required.

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What I Wore: Bal Harbour Shops

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It’s been nearly a month since our Miami trip, and I can’t tell you how much I miss dressing like this. A lace shift, a pair of sandals, and some shades. No pesky tights, no bulky coats, no hats, no gloves…Le sigh.

These photos were taken at Bal Harbour Shops – a beautiful outdoor shopping centre, where le bf and I spent a day shopping and eating our faces off. More about Bal Harbour Shops to come in my Miami recap post, but in the meantime, here’s a little taste of summer in the middle of Canadian winter – all blue skies and greenery. Is it spring yet?

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Rewind 2014: A Year in Photos

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It’s official…2014 is out, 2015 is in! But before we move on to all things new and exciting, I wanted to do a little revisiting, in part to look back on the wonderful year that 2014 was, and in part to have this post for posterity, and in case I ever need a reminder of some awesome things I did last year. If you hate those “me, me, me” posts, then this one may not be for you. Sorry (not really).

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2014 started out pretty well for me, unlike 2013 (credit card fraud galore!), I kicked off the year with a brand new video segment I created in partnership with Yorkdale and Max Kopanygin, called Styled By Nelia. Since January, we shot 9 segments, with 9 amazing retailers, and plan to shoot lots more in 2015. Since I truly hate to be on video, this was a huge challenge for me, but I got more and more comfortable with every episode we shot…and hope to get a little better with each video going forward.

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In February, I had the pleasure of participating in a photoshoot for eLUXE’s Spring 2014 lookbook, featuring Canadian bloggers. And as I will find out later, this will not be the last collab with eLUXE that I would shoot in 2014.


At the beginning of 2014, I also go to test out the Olay Regenerist Luminous skincare line, with beautiful results. Freckles, be gone!
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What I Wore: Wynwood Walls

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One of the things I was most looking forward to in Miami was a visit to The Wynwood Walls. After seeing dozens of photos of beautiful murals, painted doors, and even flower walls, I knew it was going to be a very special place, and that we couldn’t miss it. Of course, being a fashion blogger, I had to pose in front of several of my favourite walls, as one does. But there were so many more that le bf and I got to admire, wondering why Toronto’s graffiti alley isn’t as well-known. Although, no offence to our graffiti alley, the murals we got to see in Miami were definitely not your usual street art – those were intricate, interesting, and expertly-painted murals, not your run of the mill “tags”.

We saw murals painted by Kashink, Lakwena, Maya Hayuk, and of course, the infamous flower wall by Fafi – all women artists, who kick ass at street art, which has primarily been a boys club until not too long ago. Inspiring and so very cool to see.

After exploring street art of Miami, we hit up Miami’s new Design District for a delicious lunch at Mandolin, where we sipped unsweetened iced-tea, and nibbled on delicious cheese saganaki, bulghur salad, and kefte, on their lovely patio. One of our most memorable meals in Miami to be sure.

Post-lunch, we climbed into a cab, driven by a crazy woman (she literally drove us crazy), and returned to South Beach to relax by the pool at our hotel. Just another day in paradise.

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What I Wore: Welcome to Miami

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It’s Friday, and I’m going to keep it light and indulge in a little #FBF on the site today. This outfit post is from day 1 of our little Miami getaway last week. Yup, just last week, I got to wear a summery dress and shades on a sandy beach. Just last week, I didn’t have to wear tights, or a jacket, or gloves. It was glorious.

On our first day in Miami, le bf and I didn’t do much, except for a little exploring around our hotel, which included a walk on the beach at sunset, window-shopping on Collins Ave, and a dip in our hotel’s rooftop pool at night. It wasn’t very eventful, but we were happy to take it easy after a few hectic weeks at work, and just enjoy each other and this new city that we’ve never visited before. Today, as flurries swirl outside my office window, I am dreaming of warmer days, bare shoulders, and sun in my eyes. I think I need another getaway.

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Travel: Queen of the Night in NYC

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When I first heard about Queen of the Night I was definitely intrigued – a live-show that’s neither a theatre production, nor a musical, with a sexy circus twist, and an interactive dinner served in the darkness, with performers clad in Thom Browne-designed costumes? Sign me up! Well, the chance to see it all go down came up in September, when I was in New York for fashion week, and, of course, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

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Before the show, my friend and I were taken downstairs, a cocktail in hand, to spend some time exploring the venue, while the sexy butlers (who we soon found out were the night’s performers too) mingled with the crowd, luring people into secret rooms, asking some to complete a scavenger hunt in order to win a kiss. We weaved our way in and out of several rooms, checking out the intriguing decor, and watching an attendee hit on actor Bryan Greenberg in a wax-covered room. His fiance Jaimie Chung was there too; seated just behind the couple, we observed them laughing throughout the show, enjoying the performance. Celebrities like Hugh Jackman, Jude Law, John Legend, Jessica Alba, and Adriana Lima, among others had enjoyed the show at The Diamond Horseshoe this year, so you never know who you’ll run into on your visit.

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What I Wore: Summertime Sadness

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This is my last outfit post from my birthday trip to France…I know I’ve milked it for months now, but I guess I just didn’t want to let it go. And now that it’s October, it feels pretty appropriate to say good-bye to summer, and hello to fall. Those of you that follow me on Instagram, already know that I dyed my hair, so the next outfit post will definitely show off that new side of me…but in the meantime, here’s the last bit of summer in October. 

I’ve always thought of Monaco as a very glamorous place. Before visiting, the word brought on visions of Grace Kelly, fancy hats, fast cars, and gleaming sailboats. But reality wasn’t quite as fabulous. Perhaps rainy weather had something to do with it, or maybe the fact that we visited on a Sunday, when all the shops and restaurants were closed, but I just didn’t love it.

Sure, there are a few pretty buildings to look at, and the views of the sea are pretty breathtaking, but underneath it all, it felt more than a little gauche – the casino that charges an entrance fee, show-offs in their tricked-out cars, horrible food at the only restaurant open for business, over-the-top yachts…none of it felt glamorous. Perhaps I would have a different view of the place, had we stayed overnight…apparently the parties and the clubs are a must-do in Monaco, but something tells me I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed those either. Do I sound like a crusty old lady yet?

Either way, we made the best of our little day-trip, enjoying the views and the public art, but to be quite honest, we couldn’t wait to run back to the train station to catch the next train back to Nice and our cozy, yet decidedly not-so-glam apartment.

Have you ever been to Monaco? Did you have a different experience? Share in the comments.

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Shopping: La Vallee Village Outlets Near Paris

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For a shopaholic like myself, a visit to Paris is never complete without a shopping spree or two. But you really don’t have to spend a fortune in order to get something memorable to commemorate your trip, there’s always La Vallee Village to help you get the most bang for your euros. What’s La Vallee Village, you ask? Well, it’s a designer outlet mall, located a quick jaunt away from Central Paris, and just a skip and a hop from Disneyland Paris, and last June, I had the pleasure of shopping there!

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GETTING THERE

From Disneyland

Since we were staying at Disneyland, getting to La Vallee Village was a breeze! Direct shuttles are available from each Disneyland hotel, you just need to request one at the concierge desk. However, on our trip, we opted to take the RER instead. We got off at Val d’Europe/Serris Montévrain station, before walking through Les Terrasses shopping mall that carries all the usual suspects from H&M to Zara, as well as a few European brands that have yet to make their way to North America. Entrance to La Vallee Village awaited just outside Les Terrasses - super quick and easy.

From Central Paris

RER is a great option if you want to visit from Central Paris (destination station Val d’Europe/Serris Montévrain). The trip will take around 40 minutes, depending on where you board. But if you want to ride in style and comfort, then La Vallee Village Shopping Express is your best bet! This daily bus departs from Central Paris (near Louvre) and takes around 30 minutes. If you plan on buying a lot of things, I would highly recommend this shuttle. We took it at the end of our shopping day and loved everything about it. And the best part is, it’ll only cost you EUR22 both ways. Can’t beat that!

And finally, if you prefer the luxury of riding solo, then Chauffeur Drive might be for you. I am not exactly sure how much that service costs, but you can definitely inquire here.

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DESIGNERS

For all the brand obsessives out there, La Vallee Village has a seriously great selection of designers on offer – from Armani, to Burberry, to Celine, to Valentino – if you’re looking for designer deals, this is your place. The day I was visiting, I saw great deals on Celine leather totes, Carven dresses, Kenzo leather jackets, and Marni necklaces. They even had Valentino rockstud flats in fun colours, but limited sizes. After spending what felt like an eternity deciding between a dozen cool Marni necklaces, I finally settled on just one (even though I wanted them all), while my friend picked up a travel bag from Longchamp for a steal! To refuel, we stopped by Natalie’s Cafe for some delicious lunch, before heading out again to do some more shopping.

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If you’re wondering whether the deals are worth the trek, in my experience they were, but it really depends. As with other outlet malls, selection can fluctuate, and depending on the month/week/day, you can either leave with bags of loot, or with only a couple of things. Prices of certain goods aren’t necessarily cheaper for North American shoppers (don’t go expecting to buy Ralph Lauren wares for less than in the US), but a lot of European brands are. Just like with my much-adored Florence outlets, La Vallee Village is now part of my must-visit spots in Europe…and I can’t wait to come back!

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Travel: Overnight Stay with Hotel Tonight

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Last month, a small group of Toronto media members gathered at Toronto’s DaiLo restaurant to nibble on Big Mac baos and learn all about a cool app called Hotel Tonight from the company’s COO Jared Simon. As someone who travels quite a bit, this was an awesome new discovery – an app that lets one find a last-minute discounted hotel room for a night.

This easy to use app allows users to search for hotels in over 500 cities in North America and Europe, as well as in Mexico. All hotels are vetted to ensure the highest level of  satisfaction, and users can post photos and reviews of the hotel after their stay. To test it out, we were all given promo codes to book our own rooms using Hotel Tonight. Le bf and I chose Thompson Hotel, and after a couple of swipes, a few taps, and tracing the Hotel Tonight logo to confirm, we were all booked! You know we love our staycations, and this one was great! We had dinner at Buca, enjoyed a romantic stroll along King St West, sipped drinks on Thompson’s roof, and the next morning had a leisurely swim in their rooftop pool, before grabbing delicious pastries from Colette. So relaxing!

So next time I’m downtown and too tired to schlep myself home during Toronto Fashion Week, or after a super long dinner with friends, I will know to check Hotel Tonight’s rates – it may be worth it to just stay downtown once in a while. And if you’re curious about the app – here’s a little incentive to check it out – if you use promo code NBELKOVA, you’ll get $25 credit on sign-up, making your stay even more affordable!

So tell me, have you ever used Hotel Tonight to book a hotel room? Share you stories in the comments!

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*Hotel stay was complimentary. All reviews and opinions are mine.