Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Travel Outside Your Fashion Comfort Zone

Wednesday January 21, 2015 at 6:06 AM | 2 Comments

We’ve all heard the phrase “step outside your comfort zone” be it related to travel, career, or relationships. But what about when it comes to fashion. How often do you travel outside your fashion comfort zone?

For those of you who know me, I specialize in equestrian travel. I take horseback riding vacations on a regular basis to review dude ranches and luxury resorts. I work with fashion brands such as Ariat, Royal Robbins, Durango and Wrangler. You get where I’m going with this; I’m more comfortable in flannel shirts, denim jeans and cowboy boots than I am with Spanx, high heels and high-end fashion.

Neiman Marcus, fashion, clothing

The latest styles from top fashion designers


Travel outside fashion comfort zone

Like a kitten dipping one paw in a pool of cold water I slowly stepped inside the doors of Neiman Marcus, an upscale clothing retailer in my neighborhood. Walking through the tall glass doors and over to the bright lights of the Laura Mercier cosmetics counter was certainly traveling outside my fashion comfort zone.

The day before I scheduled my makeup consultation, I’d reached out to some of my beauty and fashion blogger friends to ask, ‘what one item would you select from the Laura Mercier cosmetics line?” Beauty expert and Teen Vogue contributor Amber Katz was the first to respond via Twitter with “no question, the tinted moisturizer” with Zippy Sandler of Champagne Living,  Beauty Blogger Nadine Jolie Courtney and Beauty Writer Aly Walansky of A Little Alytude giving their thumbs up approval for the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer broad spectrum SPF 20 sunscreen. Needless to say, I bought the moisturizer in bisque.

Laura Mercier, Neiman Marcus, makeup

Milk and cookies with Laura Mercier. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Breakfast of champions

Fortunately, Jose Contreras, Laura Mercier Product Specialist, welcomed me with open arms and milk and cookies! Neiman Marcus prides itself on extraordinary customer service and my morning of fashion pampering was no exception. After all, chocolate chip cookies and cold milk is the breakfast of champions, right?

Jose created a flawless face for my New Year New You look and kept me looking natural and feeling radiant. I’m sure I’m committing a fashion crime by placing before and after photos for all the world to see online, but as I said previously, this post is about stepping outside your fashion comfort zone.

What I liked about Laura Mercier cosmetics. Mercier came to the beauty business from a makeup artist’s perspective – creating editorial spread for magazines such as Elle, Vanity Fair, Glamour and Seventeen. Her cosmetics accentuate a woman’s natural beauty. I didn’t feel like a made up clown wearing endless layers of makeup when I left the cosmetics counter. I also liked that Jose was not on commission and was not pushing the products. It was clear that he loved his job working in the beauty industry and did a wonderful job of showing me how to recreate the flawless face look.


Nancy Brown, Laura Mercier, cosmetics

Nancy Brown’s Laura Mercier makeover.

Designer fashion

With my game face on, I was ready to try some designer fashion brands. My stylist had hung several items in the dressing room for me to try. I immediately gravitated toward Akris punto. These black pants would carry me from day to night in comfort and style.  The Swiss label is known for their designer sportswear. My Neiman Marcus Selling Specialist Joy Anya called the pants an “investment piece” when I winced at the designer price tag.

Nancy Brown, Nicole Miller, fashion

Nancy Brown wearing Nicole Miller Artelier dress

Nicole Miller fashion

I asked if Joy had any designer fashions that were on sale. Out came Nicole Miller’s Artelier dress. It should be noted that I don’t own a “little black dress” and this long-sleeved dress with an elegant high neckline and side tuck draping gave me a figure flattering look. I could wear this dress with my Starstruck gold Tieks or a hip pair of Ariat black boots. Certainly, this Nicole Miller dress was traveling outside my fashion comfort zone. What do you think?

Akris punto, fashion

Designer sportswear. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Insider Tip
Do you travel outside your fashion comfort zone? If you’d like to schedule a complimentary makeup or wardrobe consultation, give Neiman Marcus a call. For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @LauraMercier and @NeimanMarcus on Twitter.

Article written by and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. Disclosure: Neiman Marcus supplied me with milk and cookies. All opinions are my own.

Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown’s 2014 Year in Review

Wednesday December 31, 2014 at 6:06 AM | 0 Comments

"Nancy Brown", Bahia Bell sternwheeler

Travel Writer Nancy Brown in San Diego, California

Even though December is notoriously a busy month, I always save time to write Nancy D. Brown’s year in review. As a travel writer, I am fortunate to visit many destinations each year; 2014 was no exception. As many of you know, I specialize in equestrian and luxury travel. There’s nothing I like better than discovering the world from the back of a horse!


What better way to combine luxury and horses than a trip to Texas Hill Country and the Inn at Dos Brisas? This Relais & Chateaux ranch resort has the only Forbes five-star restaurant in the entire state of Texas.

While my trip to San Diego didn’t involve horseback riding, I was surrounded by cowboys and cowgirls from all over the United States. I had the pleasure of speaking with The Dude Ranchers’ Association about How to Work with Travel Bloggers at their annual convention. The dude ranch members gathered at The Bahia Resort Hotel in Mission Bay. A first for me, I gave my presentation on The Bahia Belle, a Mississippi-style sternwheeler that travels on Mission Bay in Southern California. What a trip!

I had my airline tickets booked to attend Quebec Winter Carnival in Canada. Unfortunately, I came down with a nasty cold at the tail end of my San Diego trip and had to cancel Quebec. The folks from Tourism Quebec were understanding of my plight and invited me to Quebec City and the Charlevoix region of Canada during the height of leaf changing season. I was also able to go horseback riding on a Canadian horse during my travels.


My son is a rebel – not the rebellious type – but an Ole Miss Rebel. Our California boy is headed south to attend the University of Mississippi next fall. The campus is lovely and there are plenty of things to do in Oxford, Mississippi, but I’m not ready to have my youngest live so far away! Ready or not, my husband and I enjoyed our trip to Oxford. There were plenty of great restaurants and lots of history to uncover. I look forward to learning more about the state of Mississippi.


Hasta la vista baby! I headed to Mexico for Cancun Riviera Maya Wine & Food Fest and a stay at Secrets the Vine. French Chef Daniel Boulud was in the kitchen. Yum!

"Nancy Brown" "Morro Bay" California

Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown kayaking in Morro Bay


Monterey press trip to report on the opening of Tentacles exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Equidistant from Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, Morro Bay and Wine Coast Country, along Highway 1 Discovery Route, offers kayaking, horseback riding, sailing, plenty of B&B’s, Inns & motels and is a great place to go fly a kite!


I love living so close to wine country! I almost consider myself a local and wrote a post on “How to Do Napa Like a Local.” There’s always some new restaurant or hotel opening in downtown Napa. What are your favorites?

This proud mama, along with her husband, watched our daughter graduate from the University of California at Berkeley.

I had a chance to attend BBQ University with guest Chef Steven Raichlen at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado. San Francisco International Airport offers a nightly non-stop flight to Colorado Springs.


We had not one, but two graduations this summer. Our son graduated from high school in June and will be attending Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi in the fall.

We helped our daughter move into her Portland townhouse and meet her new roommates before starting her first job, post-college. To keep it fun and involve family, we rented a houseboat on Shasta Lake. Lake Shasta Marina set us up with a luxury houseboat and ski boat July 31-August 3. Low water levels due to California’s third year of a drought, but there was still plenty of water in Shasta to water ski and slide off the houseboat into the lake!

"Shasta Lake" sunset

Shasta Lake Sunset


If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that Sunriver Resort is a family destination for us. This year Destination Hotels & Resorts hosted us at Sunriver Lodge Village Suite August 3-6 and Skamania Lodge August 6. I could have stayed longer at Skamania Lodge exploring the Columbia Gorge area, but we needed to return to California.

One of the highlights of my summer travel was a cruise through Alaska’s Glacier Bay with Uncruise Adventures August 31 – September 7. If you think cruising is not for you, read my blog posts on small ship cruising. My reviews will change your mind.


Another advantage of living in California is how easy it is to travel to Hawaii. This fall I visited Molokai and explored the island by donkey – riding down the highest sea cliffs in the world – and kayaking it’s blue waters.

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, Arizona, hotel

Four Seasons Scottsdale. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


As mentioned above, I was able to tour Quebec’s walled city and toward the end of the month I headed to Scottsdale, Arizona to play cowgirl at Arizona Cowboy College. I had an extraordinary experience riding a reining horse thanks to an invitation from Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North.

After a little rock and roll action in Napa (that’s code for earthquake) I headed back to downtown Napa to review the remodeled Embassy Suites and check out my new favorite restaurant, Torc. I was also introduced to new to me musicians, Penny & Sparrow, during a concert at City Winery. There is SO MUCH more going on in downtown Napa than when my husband and I lived there in the late 1980’s!

Back to the central coast, this time to discovery Los Osos. Have you heard of it? This tiny beach-side community is a hidden secret on the California coast. I also did a little recycled holiday shopping in Morro Bay and picked up a couple of gifts for myself at some local thrift shops. Woot!

Thanksgiving was spent with family in Carmel and for that, I am very grateful. I am a huge fan of the Monterey Peninsula and our dog loves the pet-friendly beaches.


I was able to check river cruising off my bucket list and I did it in style with Viking River Cruises. I was blessed to be asked to cruise the Danube River during the Christmas Markets. Yes, I am filled with gratitude for my traveling writing life. I see amazing places and meet wonderful people along the journey.

Where did your travels take you in 2014 and where are you headed in 2015?

Photos and post by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown

Travel Apparel: Royal Robbins

Friday December 19, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 2 Comments

Typically airline travelers fall into two categories; those who check their luggage and those who carry on. Personally, I’m a carry on traveler ever since United Airlines lost my checked luggage on a non-stop flight from San Francisco to Chicago. With strict luggage weight regulations, packing light is crucial. Fortunately, I discovered Royal Robbins, an active adventurers answer to lightweight and functional travel apparel.

Nancy D. Brown, Royal Robbins, travel clothes

Nancy looking stylish in her Royal Robbins Voyager Cardigan.


California-based Royal Robbins

I didn’t have to look far to find Royal Robbins. Like me, the outdoor clothing company has deep roots in Northern California. Royal Robbins is a well known climber and kayaker who founded the company, along with his wife, based on the lack of technical and lightweight mountaineering apparel available back in the late 1960’s. Today, the California-based company features quality and stylish clothing for the active adventure traveler. The fact that Royal Robbins has stores in Berkeley and Modesto, with affordably priced travel clothes, is an added bonus to this freelance writer’s budget.

Nancy D. Brown, Royal Robbins, Carmel, California, travel

Dressed in blue to match California’s Pacific Ocean in Carmel.

Go everywhere travel clothes

I’ve partnered with Royal Robbins as a member of their Go Everywhere team as I travel the world, often on horseback. As you’ll see from the photos, our family recently spent time in Carmel and next week I am off to explore Europe by way of the Danube with Viking River Cruises. Fortunately, my travel clothes are able to go everywhere, from California’s beaches to the Christmas Markets of Germany, Austria and Hungary.

Royal Robbins, travel clothes, travel pant

Rock climbing with Royal Robbins Slickrock Plaid shirt and Traveler Stretch Pant. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


Least you think Royal Robbins clothes are only for women, note that my husband is now a RR devotee. He liked the Slickrock Plaid long sleeve shirt for its UPF protection, quick drying and wrinkle resistant material and the ever-important front pocket. The same can be said of his traveler stretch pants. The blend of spandex and nylon feels like cotton, while the lightweight fabric is ideal for packing and travel. He specifically asked me to point out the position of the lower right pocket on the pants. “It’s the perfection location for my cell phone,” said Cory Brown.

Insider Tip
Fellow height-challenged people will be happy to note that many Royal Robbins pants come in short lengths. On behalf of all the short people who hate shelling out our hard earned dollars for alteration fees – thank you! For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @Royal_Robbins on Twitter.

If You Go

Royal Robbins (800) 587-9044
841 Gilman Street
Berkeley, California 94710

Article written by and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. Thanks to Royal Robbins for supplying me with these travel clothes. All opinions are my own.