When I was a girl, I would often take the time to sit and dream up the perfect mall day. It would start at Nordstrom and end at Limited Too, with visits to Claire's and Bath & Body Works in between. Back to school mall trips were as close to my fantasy shopping spree as I got once a year—I was around twelve or thirteen when I started spending my own money on clothes, and my world was never the same.
I'll let you imagine how excited I was when Fashion Valley mall in San Diego invited me down for a couple days to experience all their 1.7 million square foot establishment has to offer. Southern California has become a place near and dear to my heart in the last couple of years, and my dad even spent a few years growing up in San Diego, so the stars aligned and I said yes. Today, I can't wait to share the day we had at San Diego's largest (and most beautiful) mall, presented in order from start to finish.
MORNING AT HOTEL DEL CORONADO
We were lucky enough to stay in a stunning ocean-view room at the historic Hotel Del Coronado, or "The Del" as it's more commonly called. Elyse—my sister and traveling photographer—and I were up with the sun for a morning swim to kick off our packed day. We hit the pool by 8 a.m., and had it all to ourselves. For breakfast, we enjoyed the buffet at Sheerwater Restaurant at the hotel, where I put together a little Scandinavian-inspired breakfast of yogurt, pastries, and cheeses...but the selection ranges from that to cinnamon rolls, waffles, oatmeal, omelettes, and on and on and on. More coming from our stay here on truelane travel!
Personally, I was most excited about the drive to the mall: post-breakfast, we were picked up by cars courtesy of Porsche San Diego, another childhood dream come true, as they've been my favorite cars since I was about fourteen. I've always had a little need for speed. I didn't get to drive it, but a girl can dream. It was lovely to have Shawn, the general manager, drive us around—he's been in the automotive industry for over 30 years, and in the Kuni Automotive (now Holman Automotive, who owns Porsche and several other luxury car brands) family for over 11 years! He loves the San Diego area, so it was great to chat with him about his favorite activities and recommendations.
FACIALS AT ORIGINS
The first half of our day was dedicated to pampering—something I always forget you can do at a mall! I was surprised to learn that you can walk into any Origins store and get a free 30-minute facial, and I was even more surprised to learn how relaxing it was despite being in the middle of a mall and having it done in the middle of the store. If you end up at Origins Fashion Valley, be sure to ask for Robbie to do your facial—he is a ton of fun, super sweet, and your new best friend.
I actually came away with some new all-time favorites! Origins' Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay made my scarred, discolored skin glow like I was fifteen again, and I'm now sold on their Ginzing SPF 40 Tinted Moisturizer. It comes in one non-color—a white/gray—and works on all skin tones. When you apply it, ~science happens~ and it actually changes color to fit your skin based on heat and pH balance and more science words. It seems to blur out imperfections while still letting your natural skin show through—my dream product. I've been wearing it every day since!
HAIR + MASSAGES AT AVEDA
Next stop: Aveda! After a relaxing facial, we selected a scent for massage oil and got a stress-relieving neck massage followed by hair styling. Sharon from Style Lullaby got a beautiful braided updo, but the rest of us went for a curl refresh for that easy, breezy San Diego style.
MAKE-UP AT MAC
With the debut of MAC's new Girls collection, all of the ladies at MAC were excited to paint our faces. Each blogger tested out one of the new palettes, and I got done up with a little glam rock vibe to go with my Blondie tee. My everyday makeup is very natural and minimal, usually in various shades of brown and nude—that "no-makeup" makeup look. It took me a few hours to settle into my full face of color and shimmer, but I ended up loving it. Plus, it's so much fun to see artists excited about their work. It's clear that MAC girls are very passionate about what they do.
LUNCH AT NEIMAN MARCUS
Before our afternoon shopping spree, we took a quick break to meet the team at Neiman Marcus. We had a delicious Asian salad, but the popovers with strawberry butter stole the show for me. After we ate, we toured the personal shopping room where Neiman Marcus stylists host mini-presentations for their customers. I learned that Neiman Marcus is a very client-focused department store. Most of their sales come from men and women who call them up and say, "I'm going on vacation and need some outfits!" The stylists will pull full looks for them, set them up in the personal shopping room with drinks and treats, and the clients will select what they want. Whether it's for travel, special events, or simply your everyday wardrobe, Neiman Marcus stylists will literally put together your entire wardrobe for you. Closet goals!
From bohemian to bedazzled, we started out with three of the most contrasting stores you can think of. We strolled into Johnny Was after lunch and were welcomed with the cutest mimosa bar and treats. I felt like I'd walked into the closet of an international traveler. There were so many gypsy-inspired, ethereal and earthy pieces. My favorite were the espadrilles and the bags.
Uno de 50 was another new-to-me brand—handmade jewelry from Spain. I'm more of a gold jewelry person, and most of their pieces were silver, but their newest collection happened to feature a ton of gold pieces, so I hit the jackpot there!
Our visit to Swarovski coincided with their F/W '17 collection preview—Rosé Summer Soiree! They even had a manicurist on hand (anyone? anyone?) for Swarovski-crystal manicures. Pretty sure this is the most expensive my hands have ever been. It was such a treat to chat with Jody, the regional marketing manager, about the brand and even receive a personalized jewelry box with my initials in Swarovski crystal. It was such a thoughtful gift!
Madewell has been known for their denim for years now. I've actually worked with them on and off for truelane, but their denim has always been hit or miss for me. My body has changed a lot within the last five years, and as I learn my sizing and shape a little better, there are several denim styles from Madewell that I've come to love. This time, I ended up with a Demi-Boot pair, which is a really fun style for pre-fall. It was a toss-up between those, these button-fly skinny jeans (which I know at least one of the other bloggers ended up selecting!), and the "Perfect Summer Jean," which are exactly that.
Now, I'd definitely heard of Kipling before, but my knowledge about the brand was zero. Of course, I face-palmed later, the brand is named after Rudyard Kipling, the author of The Jungle Book—now the monkey logo suddenly makes sense, right? Kayde, the fabulous store manager, was telling me their biggest season of the year is Back To School...sales are even bigger than holiday! I can see why, as they had a ton of cute backpacks for both kids and adults alike. I came away with a cute navy one that we used at the beach the day after. The nylon fabric is super durable and perfect for a day in the sand. Easily cleaned as well!
I've been a fan of Ted Baker since I lived in Minneapolis and absolutely fell in love with a handbag that I absolutely needed to have for New York Fashion Week, so I was pretty excited for this store visit. I actually had no idea Ted Baker had a menswear line, but we all cracked up because the blogger husbands in tow had no idea Ted Baker had a women's line. But, finally, after all these years—I have my first Ted Baker bag. I can't wait to style it for fall! It's such a pretty color, and the store manager told me that not very many were made, so snap it up while you can.
Finally, our day ended with a hearty meal at Stacked, a burger joint of the future where you order everything off of an iPad, which is pretty convenient when building your own burger and deciding what exactly you want on it. I have a favorite veggie burger at a restaurant in my hometown, and I was able to create a pretty close replica by adding pepperjack cheese, jalapenos, and chipotle aioli to their standard veggie pattie. What can I say, I love all things spicy.
And don't judge the wine flight. I had just spent ten hours at a mall.
One more ride in a Porsche Cayenne back to The Del, and our day was done.
As you can see, our day at Fashion Valley was a dream come true. Getting the VIP treatment and gift bags at every store was definitely a highlight, but I hope you've noticed the people throughout the post as well. Since we were guests in every store, we got to meet the managers and spend time talking to them and learning about their role in the company. I've worked a retail job before, and I can't imagine being as passionate about the clothes I was selling as the managers we met are about their work. Robbie, Jody, and Kayde took the time to get to know me beyond just letting me run rampant in their store taking pictures and goody bags. Kayde at Kipling perfectly captured her attitude toward customer service in a simple sentence—"Shoppers are letting me be a part of their life for a few minutes or an hour, and that is a privilege."
Thanks so much to Fashion Valley for having me in San Diego for an unforgettable weekend. Lourdes, Karla, and Paul (the marketing and guest services team at the mall) were indispensable help and such pleasant company that I hope to see them next time I come back to shop at Fashion Valley. Because, of course, there will be a next time.
Thank you to Fashion Valley for sponsoring this post.