What’s your definition of effortless morning style and how do you go about achieving it?

This is a question I only wish I had the answer to! On the weekends I definitely error on being comfortable and relaxed. An oversized cashmere sweater, leggings or jeans, and a great pair of boots (currently obsessed with my new Balenciaga riding boots compliments of a recent sale!). I love throwing in a few fancy bangles to dress it up a bit as well as my favorite chunky infinity scarf. Alternatively I’m also a bit addicted to mixing flannels, chambray, and herringbone a la J. Crew inspiration.

What are your must-have beauty products for looking polished and pretty in the morning?
I keep it simple and easy. As long as I don’t have any big events or meetings that day, I can always do my make-up in the morning without a mirror and in less than five minutes. Must Haves – Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua (major bonus: SPF 15), NARS blush (in Desire for the perfect pinky cheek), and ‘Photo Finish’ Luminizing Foundation Primer by Smashbox (adds a hint of natural bronzer to any base). And I never leave home without my Yves Saint Laurent ‘Touche Éclat’ – perfect for everything! Taming my hair is a whole other beast (fine hair, but lots of it = hefty time with the blowdryer). To cut down on drying time, I towel/air dry with Kerastase Elixir Ultime, add volume with Serge Normant Meta Lush Volumizer, and have been loyal to my Super Solano for quite some time now.

Where do you like to breakfast and brunch in Chicago and beyond? How do you make a fashion statement at these locales?
When I first moved to Chicago [from San Francisco] back in 2005, I really struggled with the lack of dining options in the city. Over the last few years Chicago has truly made a name for itself in the foodie universe. I have an endless list of places I still have yet to try (including Nightwood and Bite Cafe). But my more recent favorites were GT Fish & Oyster, Trenchermen, and The Storefront Company.

You’re going to Paris. I’m so excited for you! Any ideas where you may breakfast while in the “City of Light”?
This will be my sixth time in Paris – a few days following a two week holiday in Morocco. Unfortunately most of the cities best spots were shut down while we were there as it was over the New Year holiday. We stumbled upon a few classic Parisian bistros and kept it simple. The real treat was Morocco. We traveled to Marrakech, The Atlas Mountains, The Sahara Desert, and Fes – every breakfast was better than the last. Fresh squeezed orange juice from trees right outside your window, homemade breads and jams, local honey, eggs fresh off the farm, classic Mint tea, fruit so ripe I almost couldn’t believe it. Most memorable breakfast: waking up in The Sahara Desert in our private camp – watching the sunrise over the dunes, and the moon set – all while enjoying an authentic and completely made-from-scratch Moroccan breakfast compliments of our crew of six.


Nicole’s Private Tent Breakfast

Tell us a little bit more about what you do for Gilt City and the aspect of your job that you love the most.
I launched Gilt City Chicago in August 2010 and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. I’m currently the Sales Lead for Chicago and every single day is different than the last. I handle all of our local media segments, business development opportunities, and events like our Gilt Warehouse Sales and our signature ‘Better Than Backstage’ Lollapalooza Pool Party (2011 with Cults and 2012 with Of Monsters and Men). On a day to day basis, I oversee the sales aspects for our local team including scheduling features, meeting with prospective (and past) partners to curate unique marketing programs, strategize on upcoming themes and partnerships and even pitch in with graphic design and marketing needs when time permits! We also just launched our partnership with MasterCard Priceless Chicago for which I oversee on a daily basis as well. What I love most: Gilt is filled with hundreds of like minded individuals who truly believe in the brand and what we deliver to our 6+ million members across the country. Every day presents a new challenge and this role allows me to be embrace my entrepreneurial spirit, build relationships with fabulous local businesses, and enjoy all that the Windy City has to offer.

What are some of your favorite Gilt City brunching and breakfast experiences?
We recently featured a Holiday Brunch for Two at Nellcote where our members were privy to exclusive movies like ‘Love Actually’ and ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ to get them in the holiday spirit paired with brunch, charcuterie, and mimosas. Be on the lookout for some fabulous brunch experiences at The Savoy and Pump Room later this month [January] – including a Private Brunch with Chef Moosah where you can spend an hour in the kitchen at Pump Room, followed by an exclusive brunch complete with Chef’s coats and mimosas!

Any morning guilty pleasures you’d like to share?
Every night I promise myself I’m not going to open my MacBook in the morning and that I’m going to hop straight in the shower and get out the door. Without fail I start working the minute I wake (sometimes as early as 5AM!)…parking to grab Starbucks is such a hassle in the city so by 7:30 I rely heavily on my Keurig to get me through the day. If I can squeeze it in, I love-love-love making eggs (over medium) with a sourdough English muffin! However, my true morning indulgence is my own little take on the breakfast sandwich complete with a fried egg, Black Forest ham, a slice of Gruyere, Serrano chilies, and a pinch of Maldon sea salt flakes.


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