I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Cori McFadden, founder of eDrop-Off and star of VH1's House of Consignment, to talk about shopping for the holidays and getting through another Chicago winter staying as stylish and warm as possible.
With over 2,500 unique items going through eDrop-Off each week, Corri relishes in the joy from giving the gift of high-fashion at affordable prices to bidders nationwide. She was radiant as she led me through the eDrop-Off headquarters in Lincoln Park as her two adorable (and well-behaved!) Yorkies, Emma and Harley, tagged along for our chat.
Check out what one of Chicago's finest fashion extraordinaires had to say about this holiday season's shopping experience and see some of her top gift ideas from eDrop-Off's current auctions in the gallery below!
What's at the top of your wish list this year?
I'm a very blessed girl so my wish list honestly is just for a great break. That's what means more to me than anything -- going home and being with family... not to say that I don't want gifts!
My fiancé is really good about always giving me a piece of jewelry for Christmas.
I'm hoping for a Faraone Mennella pink tourmaline band. I'm very good at laying ground work which I recommend for any girl to do. If you don't give hints, you're setting him up for failure! Why not have both parties happy and lay the groundwork for what you're really wishing for?
I don't want a whole lot. For the holidays, I like giving. It's a big deal for me. I love giving really nice gifts that I know someone isn't going to buy for themselves. So that's where I get my fulfillment from the holidays.
What's been your proudest gift to someone else?
My mom's jewelry. My mom's neck is my pride. I buy her things she wouldn't buy herself. She has hundreds of gold and diamond charms on these two necklaces. They're memories, and I love seeing that. Seeing something she wears everyday and means so much to her is my favorite.
What's been your favorite gift you've recently received?
My fiancé got me this Proenza python bag for my birthday. He did it on his own -- I didn't have to lay the groundwork for him! I did tell him a rule: If you never know what to get me, just get me a PS1 in any color because this is my favorite bag.
When you go shopping for others, do you go by any mantras/rules?
I believe a gift should be for the person. It shouldn't be just a quick buyout or buy 10 of these and just gift them out. When [a gift is] for your best gal or your boyfriend or your family member buy a gift just for them.
I pride myself in giving personalized gifts -- when they open it up it looks like them and they know that I thought of them when I bought it because that's what a gift is about. I'm big into buying things that are personalized that are on their wish list.
I'm a big online shopper -- it's easy, quick and efficient, but I'm also a big local shopper. A lot of times people get caught up in the hustle and the bustle. You want the best deal, but I think that you should give the gift to your local retailers in giving them the business. Maybe it's a litte more out of your pocket, but it's supporting those that support you. It's building those relationships. Local retailers will take care of you like no other.
What are your favorite local retail shops in Chicago?
Here in the city I love Sofia's. It's one of my favorite places. [Sofia's has] really great contemporary clothing and accessories. They have a home goods section now. I also love Jonathan Adler. You cannot go wrong with anything in there. If you have an ornament exchange, that's the place to get your ornament and you'll be the most popular person [at the party].
I love Dana Rebecca. I'm gifting a lot of Dana Rebecca jewelry this year. She puts jewelry on the stars but she's a Chicago-based artist. Those are my go-to local.
If you need really good ideas Keep.com is an amazing site. It's basically a curated collection of anything cool and eclectic. It's a shop-able Pinterest. If you need last minute ideas, just pop on there. It changes daily -- you can see different boards and collections. (See Corri's Keep.com collection here!)
Going down Michigan Avenue, what are the stores you hit up?
Zara is a go-to. I'm a big fan of Topshop. I love the girls at the Saks Fifth Ave. Club -- they're amazing. I'm one that's really drawn by my mood and window displays. I love walking through Ralph Lauren. It makes you feel good in there. It's beautiful.
Any tips on getting through a Chicago winter?
Usually I say it's all in the boot. Rubber sole is a necessity. You need something that you can still look fashionable in and walk out and not break your butt. That's the biggest thing. You can change into heels when you go inside. Put your backup pair in your bag.
Have a coat that covers your butt. That's it. That's when you're freezing -- it's when you have impractical shoes on, your coat is too short, and you're not wearing gloves. It's about looking cute and fashionable -- you don't want to feel schluppy, but you want to be warm. Girls, cover up!
Find a great hat, a great scarf, a great pair of gloves, a coat. Wear the same one everyday -- who cares?
Have an evening coat and a day coat. Your day coat can be a Moncler or a North Face or a long down coat (preferrably full length). Then have an evening coat that's wool, that's a little dressier that you can go out in. Moncler is amazing -- I bought a full length one, and I'm going on my fourth winter with it. Look at a coat as an investment not a purchase. People are off-put by an $800 price tag -- that's a lot! But let's look like it as "This is $800. I'm going to use this for four winters. That comes down to $200 a season." It's an investment.
Zara has amazing outerwear this season! They have an army green wool coat with gold studded sleeves. $175 -- you can't beat that. Invest in your daycoat the one that you're really spending outdoors in and then for your more trendy evening coat, pick [one] up at a place like Zara. Have the double coats otherwise you're going to be frustrated when you're trying to go to a black-tie [event] and all you have is a down coat.
What are your plans this holiday season?
I'm going home. [My fiancé and I] roadtrip every year. I'm from Kansas City. Last year we rented an RV and this year we're bringing it back. We like to completely decompress. It's a nine to 10-hour drive, I stop at Chili's. I stop at Sonic. I hang out. I see old friends. I do a whole lot of nothing. I hang out with my parents. That's what it's about. It's all that time you took advantage of when you were younger when you were living at home that now you see the value to it, and now I just crave it.
Her final words on The Windy City:
- I moved from Kansas City to Chicago 10 years ago. Chicago's it.
- This is where I'm going to raise my family and grow up. I'm invested in this city.
- It's important to surround yourself with people that just want to support you and you want to support back.
Corri, you make Chicago proud!