Welcome to Uber

Uber is a tech company that connects consumers with luxury sedan drivers available for hire using their smartphone app available on Google Android and Apple iPhones (everyone else can use texting to order Uber cars). It’s like using your phone to hail a limousine in cyberspace. A luxury sedan pulls up 10 minutes after ordering a car inside the app, which uses GPS to pinpoint your location. The cars also have GPS linked into the Uber app so you can actually watch your driver get closer and closer on the map. I’ve ridden in the traditional black Lincoln Towncars, but also Mercedes and Cadillacs. Compared to a cab fare, it costs about 30% more to ride the same distance in an Uber. But it’s hassle-free and tipping is structured into the fare, which is automatically factored into the charge that goes straight onto your credit card. No signing a credit slip, no fumbling with cash or change. It’s seamless. The service is genius.

Street-style hunting in an Uber car

Two weekends ago I rode around in Uber cars* like the one below while street-style hunting. I also rode in Uber cars* to visit Andrea and Jena at their homes to photograph them for the Michael Kors collaboration. It was AMAZING! I literally felt like a princess being chauffeured around Chicago like that. I use Uber when riding home from my friends’ houses and events late at night. I’ve been in a couple taxicab accidents, both of which were due to reckless driving by the cabbie, so if I’m not on the CTA (how I travel 99% of the time) I’m in an Uber. I sold my car after moving to Chicago because I didn’t want to pay for gas, insurance, or parking. I pay the $86 a month for unlimited CTA rides, I use Zipcar to run errands twice a month, and I use Uber if I’m out past 10 p.m. My transportation costs still are far below those of my friends who own a car. Even if you own a car in Chicago, I’m sure you use taxis to get around at night and when you’re exploring the city. If you’re like me, you know that it’s worth the little extra money to treat yourself to a hassle-free ride in a luxury sedan.

 Follow me on Instagram, @ChiStreetStyle, to stay up-to-date with my adventures

Since I love Uber so much and I know my readers will too, I’ve worked out a deal for all of you. Download the App from the iTunes or Android stores and set up your account. To receive $10 off your first ride enter the code CHISTREETSTYLE in the promotional code box! I can’t wait to hear how your Uber rides are. Tweet at me on twitter, @ChiStreetStyle. Not only is it the perfect way to pick up your date in style or arrive at an event, it’s also a relaxing way to travel home at the end of a stressful workday. Although I adore the CTA and couldn’t survive without it, sometimes it’s wonderful to roll up to places in a limousine. Then again, who doesn’t enjoy a little self-indulgence now and then?

Visit Uber.com for more information on how to sign up.

*FCC Disclosure: Uber provided transportation free of charge that day.

Thank You Refinery29 and CS Magazine!

December 29, 2011  |  Announcements
I’d like to give Refinery29 and CS Magazine a huge thank you for featuring my blog in two amazing articles yesterday:
Refinery29 Chicago compiled the best street-style of 2011 into a slideshow and several of my images were included. I feel so grateful whenever my work is featured on other websites, but since I’m a huge fan (and avid contributor) this was an especially touching tribute. Thank you Refinery!
CS Magazine, a cultural institution that defines Chicago’s high society, declared my blog as one of the most important blogs to follow in 2012. It was such an honor to see my name alongside several of Chicago’s most talented bloggers. I don’t take any of my success for granted. Every time I am featured in the mainstream media feels like the first time. I still become electrified whenever the magical emails from journalists appear in my inbox. So thanks again CS Magazine for recommending this blog to your readers. I’d like to extend a warm welcome to any new visitors!
To this day, I am still infinitely in awe of how many individuals read my blog and are passionate about the content. From the people who take the time to leave thoughtful comments and repeatedly check my blog for new updates on their smartphones throughout the day, to all you casual readers who check in once or twice a week; thank you for reading my blog. Without your support and readership, the magical events of the past year would never have happened.

CTA Holiday Train

December 18, 2011  |  Announcements, Special Features, Streetstyle
Santa sits, flanked by security, on an open air flat-bed car equipped with an emergency brake
Chicago is a magnificent place to live year-round but it’s especially apparent what a special city we live in during the winter holidays. If there’s anything Chicagoans love to do, it’s celebrate. We celebrate sports victories with record-breaking gatherings (Blackhawks 2010 Stanley Cup), we peacefully celebrate political milestones (Obama’s victory rally). And who could forget that we celebrate summer with a solid three months of street festivals every weekend? Yet it’s during the holiday season that the Windy City pulls out all the stops.
Front of the Holiday Train
The epitome of Chicago holiday cheer is the CTA Holiday Train. This drug-free psychedelic experience combines an Alice in Wonderland imagination with Santa Claus, no hallucinogens necessary. Although I had seen the Holiday train from far away last year I assumed it was a special no-passengers train. You know, the public transit equivalent of the neighborhood crazy person who uses Christmas lights to cover their entire house and decorations that cover the whole yard while publicly playing obnoxious holiday music. Every town has one of those houses.
Santa’s Reindeer
So last Wednesday I was waiting patiently at a CTA station for my train to come. I had gotten out of work at my normal time after a really tough day of fighting back tears since I had just found out that afternoon my friend Aaron passed away in a tragic accident. He was only 29 years old. I just wanted to get home so I could cry. All of a sudden I heard the familiar rumble of the El. When I looked up, I thought I was tripping on LSD. Before my eyes was a CTA train bedazzled with Christmas lights. When the doors opened two “elves” popped out of the car to hand peppermint sticks to riders. I smiled for the first time since I had gotten the bad news. It was a magical experience, a synchronicity, to end up on the CTA Holiday train and I couldn’t help but grin the entire way home. In life, sometimes it’s the small things and the coincidences that I find the most joy in. Think of the chances that on such a bad day I randomly ended up on the happiest train on earth?!
The CTA Holiday Train interior complete with tinsel, Christmas lights and peppermint stick poles
Throughout the 1990s the train was rumored to be an urban legend since it only made a few runs delivering food baskets to charities around the city; passengers were originally not allowed to ride. Over the years the CTA Holiday Train evolved into an all-out psychedelic extravaganza with CTA employees volunteering their time and money (for the decorations and candy) to make the train as lavish as possible. Not only are all the lights red and green, and the metal poles transformed into peppermint sticks, but cinnamon scent is pumped through the ventilation system so the train ACTUALLY SMELLS LIKE CHRISTMAS.

 I hopped off at Sheridan to get a photo of the entire train; the curve is the best spot to see it all

According to a recent Chicago Tribune article, the employees actually compete for a chance to work on and conduct the train as elves. We’re not known as the “City of Broad Shoulders” for nothing, as it’s the strong work ethic and kind hearts that define the Chicago spirit. This year the CTA Holiday Train will donate over 300 food baskets, each with the essential ingredients to make Christmas dinner, using food collected by CTA employees. This train is really about celebrating the holiday spirit and has become a way for the CTA to give thanks not only to riders with an amazing experience, but to the needy who are hungry.

For a chance to ride on the CTA Holiday Train click here to view a schedule with a timetable. The train is only running for a few more days so catch it if you can! If not, there’s always 2012.

*I hunted down the train for a second to gather pictures. And just because riding this train is so much fun.