Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Carnivale de Couture ~Reply 5~

This week's Carnivale was posted at Fashion is a Verb and it is:
"My question to you all is this: What movie do you credit with being responsible for the biggest Fashion Don'ts? In other words- Which movie started off clothing trends that never should have been." (It was later amended it to include music videos and tv shows.)

So I'm going to take the prompting to vent about kids' tv shows. The clothing trends that really bother me on some of these shows is how put together and made up the kids all are to go to high school, or worse, middle school. I feel as though kids of the age of Disney's target audience in particular are very impressionable. In high school I felt enough pressure to wear the right thing, dress "cool" and fit in. It's not always easy- either because you don't want to wake up three hours earlier in the morning to straighten your hair and put on your makeup and pick out your clothes, or you can't afford the clothes that other kids are wearing. Sometimes just keeping up with the trends is difficult, but also trying to look cute and pretty is a lot of pressure. In the real world, kids shouldn't be focusing on looking as (admittedly) cute as Lizzie McGuire does. Or, not to just pick on that show, although it was the first to come to mind, 7th Heaven. I'm kind of astonished by how Ruthie looks when she goes to school on that show. Are little girls really expected to look like that? Surely not. Are the shows advocating that girls spend hours in the morning getting ready? I doubt it. But the viewers themselves may get that impression because they idolize those characters. And networks know it. Their idolization of those tv girls is what rockets people like Hilary Duff, Raven, etc. to celebrity.

It's bad enough that the actors and actresses on many tv shows are years older in real life than the characters they're playing which sets all kinds of twisted examples that I find merely ludicrous. And I'm not going to worry too much about this and sound like an eighty year old prude, but it does sometimes make me roll my eyes that the kids get to wear flipflops or sandals, tank tops or midriff bearing clothes when schools have been cracking down on things like backless shoes and short skirts for a long time, and no one would be able to even get away with it in an actual school. It's not that they are wearing spaghetti straps that bothers me, because I always found dress codes ridiculously stringent, merely the believability factor. But one tv show thing that really, as my friend C. loves to say, "burns my toast" is when girls like Rory on Gilmore Girls, or the cast of Beautiful People are wearing really gorgeous, flattering outfits or skirts or dresses when they're supposed to be broke, struggling with money, or handmaking their outfits. Yeahyeah, I know we can say that Rory gets money from her grandparents now, or Lorelai's got more money what with the Inn and all, but there are many times on many shows where I just have to question where they get the money to afford the lovely pieces. But then we get into the endless suspension of disbelief debate about perfect hair, skin, nails, etc. on tv and how it's impossible and infuriating. And we just have to let it go. And how did the cast of Friends, professors and out of work actors and street musicians and cooks afford all of their Manhattan apartments? No idea. Weak one-line throw-away explanations. We let it go.

I just don't want kids to see trends of really cute over-worked ensembles on tv shows and feel like that's how they should look every day. There's already enough pressure from their own peers. Not to mention movies and magazines about weight and what to wear and how to look--- not that I believe the media maliciously dictates those ideas to the children, but I do know that people derive their own pressure from the resources. And kids shouldn't feel that way. I hope they don't. But I'd love to see the trend abolished anyway and to see TV put a little more effort into making their characters look like you and me, because surviving real life and real high school requires real, relatable role models- in every way, even if it's only appearances.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Being Petite

I am not petite, nono, not by any stretch of the imagination. I am 5'9" and quite proud of it. Except, of course, when I try to date and have to wear my low-heeled shoes because not every guy is going to be tall enough for me to wear the higher-heeled variety. And, on that note, I'm slightly sick of the high-high-HIGH heels I've seen in department stores everywhere. Sometimes it's just difficult to find a modest heel these days. It's like ballet flats, hooker stilettos, or nada.

But that's not what I meant to focus on right now. I read this article in The New York Times, about how major department stores are minimalizing or discontinuing petite lines and floor space.

"Executives at the three department stores said the decision was based on the poor sales of petite sizes, which are traditionally designed for a woman 5-foot-4 or smaller, with pant lengths and jacket proportions cut accordingly. Petite women, they said, would rather wear the more youthful, skin-baring and tighter-fitting clothing in the contemporary departments, even if it does not fit them as well. And, they point out, there is always tailoring."

Many loyal "P" customers are understandably angry, but if the stores aren't turning out a profit, I don't see what customers expect from management. Fashion is a business, dahling. My favorite quote of the article puts it quite bluntly:

"'It appears that we have frustrated some customers,' said Ron Frasch, the chief merchant at Saks. 'We are trying to figure out how many we have frustrated.'"

True, Mr. Frasch (may I call you Ron?). It's a numbers game; it's a money game. No one is claiming otherwise. If women expect service to bend to their minority needs and desires, they can go to specialty boutiques, online, or to tailors. I don't mean to sound harsh. My own mother often shops in petites for tops (and I am quite angry with her for being petite, because all of her lovely, well-preserved vintage coats from the seventies do not fit my broad shoulders or long arms at all). But big and tall women and men, as well as those with big or small feet or any number of other specialty needs have to do the same. You and I (and all of us), we sometimes go to specialty supermarkets, retail stores or other establishments to get what we want when it isn't what the majority wants. I am a health-conscious vegetarian, sometimes grocery stores don't provide amply for my needs, and I go elsewhere. It's just the way.

The article claims that some petite women feel targeted and undervalued by this change. I don't find it much more actively discriminatory for Sak's to reduce its petites section than I do the fact that no store sells Ben & Jerry's low-fat frozen yogurt Phish Food within 300 miles of me (mm, sometimes it's as though I only dreamt you). Isn't walking into a store that caters to your needs explicitly also rewarding, albeit less convenient? If the petites sections were as necessary and useful and popular as they were in the 80's and 90's, they would doubtlessly be remaining. If there were a store to which I could reasonably drive to get that Phish Food? Boy howdy, I would.

This article has some useful tips if you're a petite shopper.

Finding Clothes That Fit and Flatter on WebMD.com, of all places, has some helpful hints if you've had the experience (haven't we all?) of walking into a store and feeling like the clothes were meant for someone other than you.

As always, feel free to let me know what you think on the matter.

(The picture above is Kristen Bell, star of Veronica Mars, a whopping 5'1". I think she's just fabulous, and she dresses her height with flourish and grace.)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Dr. Bard

Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Hoops

I like to imagine that the girl in this picture is looking down at her reflection in the pool, waking from a zombie-like trance that had been cast on her by some Evil Fashion Villian, and exclaiming, "What the hell am I wearing? Who did my makeup? I am way too attractive for this crap!" And then, she, y'know, kicks some Evil Fashion Villian ass. Y'all know where this one is going, I presume. If not, scroll to the "What I'm..." a few posts down.

Tonight was my cousin's graduation party, and when I got there it was all I could do not to stomp my foot with exasperation when I found her wearing giant hoop earrings again! In fact, they were the same pair I had previously thrown in the pool; I learned that someone had actually gotten them out for her afterward. Yes, I took them off of her again. This time they went in the trash. Fear not, my present to her for graduation had actually been a card that read "Your gift can be any earrings or similar item - as long as they are bought with and by [the Style Bard]." Yes, I thought I'd give her another shot. A few years ago when I tried taking her shopping she was young, maybe now she'd actually retain that I'm not trying to be mean to her, I don't hate all hoops (I own a pair), I simply want her to look as pretty as she can. (And not like a pirate. Or a gypsy.) So, I'm not too sorry I threw them away... I just sincerely hope no one goes into the trash to get them for her!

The image above is actually from a site dedicated to hoop earrings, surprise, surprise. I think that some of the images on the website have the exact ratio disproportion which I loathe because it's unflattering to the models' faces. There's got to be a balance between my hoop criticisms and all-out hoop worship.

This article describes some alternatives to the traditional silver hoop. I thought it was helpful and I might show it to my cousin, because it provides variations on the hoop theme that has some kind of Invasion of the Body Snatchers-type hold on her.

If we can't find a compromise that works for her, for me, and for every addict out there, there is always the one fail-proof hoop:

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Shoes by Santana?

We all know what they say about a "jack-of-all-trades," right? Master of none. You'd think that Carlos Santana, of all people, would settle for being a master of one --that is, playing his guitar like a fiend-- and leave playing shoe stylist to the experts. Apparently not.

While I was tooling around Macy's, looking for a picture of the beautiful silver and white Alfani slides I recently purchased, 'Breathless,' these shoes caught my eye:

They're a neutral shade, casual enough to walk the mall or beaches in, and attractively 'different' from those staid metallics and wedges everyone (including me) is walking around in. Plus, I predict they'll last past the season's trends. So I was pretty much into these shoes when I managed to notice that they're Carlos, by Carlos Santana. What? Obviously my mind flashed to the many, many lines of clothing, purses, shoes, and makeup (I'm looking at you, Britney Spears, Kimora Lee, J Lo -- just stop, please!) by celebrities. Sometimes you just wonder why a girl who doesn't wear her own line (Jessica) and a girl who wears what... Britney... wears... (or doesn't wear) can dictate or sell to you. At least the Olsens and Sarah Jessica Parker have in fact managed to be style icons for years, and are therefore justified in their respective lines, and they haven't yet lost their credibility by marrying someone who's scraggly and looks like he's perpetually auditioning for the live-action Nightmare Before Christmas and might drink my blood (Lopez).

I'm sure I'm way, way late on this bandwagon. Santana started his own line in, what, 2001? Just, please tell me whose bright idea it was to market fashion suggested by a guy who's public image is as such:

Fragrance is one thing. But I just don't see how Santana can convincingly sell women's shoes. A music legend does not a designer make. Not that I believe he's sketched or conceived of a single shoe himself, but he has loaned his image to make the label, and I disapprove. An article from brandchannel.com covers the Santana line and elaborates on the trend of using star names to push merchandise:

"On the other end of the 15-minute fame and money cynicism charts, some artists, such as Carlos Santana, leverage licensing and branded products to fund philanthropic causes. Carlos and his wife Deborah Santana together with his River of Colors licensing division teamed with Brown Shoe Company in 2001 to create "Carlos by Carlos Santana" women's shoes. Available in mainstream department stores and niche boutiques, the line, targeted for women ages 18 to 55, is sexy seventies inspired with lots of colors, unique prints and high heels—reflective of Santana's eclectic Latin rock music."

To explain the Santana shoe phenomena, the article offers:

"According to [Caryn Hartsock, brand manager for River of Colors], "[The shoe line] kind of goes hand in hand with Carlos' career in terms of you would never say this is the traditional route a musician would take."

Michael Jensen of Jensen Communications (the PR company behind Santana) says, "We realized [with the success of "Supernatural" in 2000] that Carlos had become more lifestyle than just him alone."

The entire article can be found here and is worth a read.

But what gives you the right to tell me what to put on my feet, Carlos Santana? I shop at Macy's, I'm in your target age, gender, and financial audience range-- I've even seen you perform live-- but how does your "lifestyle" relate to mine? I do not know. Ah, well. You're lucky those brown ones are cute.

Some more shoes by Carlos Santana can be found on dresswithakick.com, such as:

[UPDATE: In related news, Beyonce expands her line to include Juniors' apparel. And I ran into Ashlee Simpson's jewelry at Claire's but I actually surprised myself and found some of it cute! And I approve because it totally coincides with the punk image she's perpetuated from the start, skulls and kitsch glam.]

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

What I'm...

Good taste.

Summer, especially in South Florida, is bound to be chock full of pool and beach parties. It simply can't be helped- but it can be planned for. I went to one such pool party a few nights ago, of the evening variety, and while most of the guests were dressed appropriately I am ashamed to say that my own cousin was there, and she was stylistically hideous. (No, she is not Rita Moreno, but I'm getting to that...)

First, a little backstory to set up this run-in:

The last few times I have visited my cousin, she's had this awful attachment to giant hoop earrings. The very first time I saw her wearing them, I immediately chastised her because she has a very small, narrow, angular face and the giant hoops don't flatter those dimensions. They make her look like a caricature of herself. In my humble opinion, oversized accessories should be left to rodeo clowns and prop comics.

Granted, my cousin is a bit younger than I, so I concluded that she simply didn't know better. To be fair, I told her that if she handed over those earrings to me, I would buy her a new pair that better flattered her face, and they would actually be real silver because I could tell that those she was sporting weren't. Perfectly generous of me, no? She handed them over and within the next few days I had selected a pair for her from Macy's. They were real silver and I believe, again to be fair, merely a smaller and more stylish variation of the hoop that would work better for her features.

The last time I saw her, she was again wearing giant fake hoop earrings. Well, wasn't I miffed! It was so thankless of her that I actually took the cheap things off of her ears and threw them into the nearest public garbage can, vowing (once again) to buy her new ones. At which point she revealed to me that they were her friend's. Sigh. I went to the mall the next day and bought not only a cute set of silver turtle earrings for my cousin because they were adorable, but also a pair of cheap hoops for her friend to replace those I'd thrown out.

After that bit of background, let me return to the night of the party (I think you can see where this is going):

So, I run into my cousin. I greeted her: "If you had even one inkling that I might be at this party, why on earth would you wear giant.hoop.EARRINGS?" She was pretty startled and replied with something along the lines of, "...shit." Not only was the fashion-challenged culprit wearing those atrocious things, but she was wearing gauchos. Insult to injury! Everyone knows those are banned from my sight. Especially since her body continues to be as narrow and angular as her face, and therefore the baggy swaths of extra material swishing about her stick-like legs made her appear bottom-heavy. About ten of her legs could have fit into one leg of the jersey material- it was just unreasonable! And to top it all off... the young blonde girl had... black eyeliner around both of her entire eyes, both lashlines. Ingrate! I try not to be a total jerk about over-criticizing, but couldn't stand it, really. Between the earrings and the makeup, she should have just given herself some dark lip-liner around paler lips, and lied that she was doing a production of West Side Story. Except, this would be the dres rehearsal, and after getting out of hair and makeup, she would leave her baggy pants on to run through one of her kicky dances before actually getting into costume, and thus, the gauchos. It is the only forgivable explanation.

After pseudo-stewing all night at the party and giving her ample reason to avoid me, I managed to catch her attention as she was walking by- by slipping my finger effortlessly into the hoop of her earring and giving it a gentle tug. She stopped and looked at me with those dark-lined eyes and before I could help myself, I took the earring (and its mate) and threw them both right into the pool. Adding, natch, "If those were real silver you wouldn't have to worry about it. Oh well." A little dramatic? Maybe. But really, had I not been more than fair and compassionate in the past? Suffice it to say, I did not offer to buy her new ones. I did, however, offer to give her a makeover if she wanted to see how good she'd look in lighter, natural makeup. (One chance, that's all she's getting).

Many bloggers have covered the topic of what is appropriate to wear to a pool or the beach, so I'm not going to go overboard (teehee) with suggestions, but here are a few cute things that are perfectly allowable:


Wet Seal

Banana Republic

Neiman Marcus

It's so easy to find cute outfits this summer that if someone can't pull it together, I say make 'em walk the plank!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Hair Style

Sure, some hair styles come and go. Who can deny the bob, the mullet, the side ponytail their rightful places in style history? (We won't even get started on white powdered wigs...) But other than the major trends that slip through the prevalent, timeless, boring conventions, how does a person regard style in terms of their own hair at the moment when they walk into a salon?

A few days ago I got a hair cut (well, actually, I got them ALL--- seriously, who else could die happy without ever hearing that joke again?) and I was thinking about what I wanted to DO with it. You know when you get that feeling like you want or need a major style change and you just can't decide on what but you walk into the salon boldly and begin making expectant demands of the stylist? "I want something new. Nothing too crazy-- and not too short! But, you know, I'm sick of this." But, after all, it's in the stylist's very job title to be able to give you what you want and what's good for you (without you even knowing what that is).

We're all terrified of dramatic hair experiments because it seems so permanent (for a while, until it grows). Women especially seem to feel vulnerable with hair- if they don't particularly love it on a given day, not to mention overall shape and color and cut. Women also more often hide behind their hair. Some are Rapunzels, letting ravishing locks speak for or deny their locked away, inner selves/beauty.

So when I walked into my hair appointment I knew I wanted to do something with my lame locks. The last time I'd seen this particular hairdresser (this was back in Upstate NY, so you can imagine I never got hair cuts there with any frequency) she'd razored out my thick hair and then straightened it and I've never seen it look so good straight. So I said, "Do whatever you want, I trust you, I loved what you did last time." Now I see this as a bit of a faux pas in hairdresser-client relations protocol. As soon as the words fell off my silly tongue I realized that it was practically a challenge. Would this woman have to outdo herself now? Would she create some wild experiment on my head? In her willingness to either impress me or re-affirm my positive opinion of her, would she get too bold and do something I would actually hate, when she wouldn't have if I'd never said anything at all? I mean, she couldn't exactly do the -same- thing as last time (not that I wanted to tempt fate by putting my zestfully-curly mane on a plane with a fresh straightening job-- even the best stylist couldn't sway my hair from frizz in a dry plane cabin atmosphere). I really wasn't sure how to convey trust to the stylist without taking a huge risk and possibly upsetting the delicate balance of fortune and talent that gave this woman her ability to make me (and many others, undoubtedly) feel good about myself. I probably shouldn't have said anything; I was sure I had jinxed myself.

She brought out the razor again and I was immediately scared. I didn't want my hair straight, so how would it look layered and thinned if I wanted to curl it (ha, I say that like I have anything to do with it, like the curling of this hair takes effort, ha!), and what would I say or do if I simply hated it-- probably cry?

When my hair was first drying I was freaking out a little bit because my hair was lighter, thinner, and therefore lifted and had more bounce. I had visions of being a mop, a mop!, and simply because I couldn't keep my mouth closed (not that it would be the first nor the last time that would get me into trouble). I should have said I wanted a trim, like I always get, because I am relatively hair-boring. I should have let her touch up my highlights (but no, I am waiting to see my own girl in S. Florida for that). My mind whirled, frantically trying to re-create old styles I'd previously worn to see if the hairbands, clips, rods would work the same. (What's the appropriate word for those decorative hair sticks you twist your hair up with? it can't be 'rod'. I like them; I've always been able to put my hair up with even a pencil... I can see you turning green! I'm thinking of you, every girl with your hair down who ever had a class with me on a hot day!)

It took (as it always will, for all of us) getting home and getting my hands in my mane to finally breathe. The next time I washed it myself and styled it myself it came out so lovely that I thought of passing word on to the woman that although I might have seemed shaky when she was through, I was thoroughly loving my hair now. I have gotten many compliments on it since then- I can't remember when the last time was that I actually went in and changed the infrastructure of my hair rather than just wearing it long, layered, and either natural or with some inspired highlights. And, being back in my home state, I think old friends have noticed.

All in all, the wash, razor, and styling came to (an astounding, gasp!) $15. In both The City and in S. Florida I've always paid at least twice that amount and I'm sure most of you can back me up about what a bargain it is (especially since I made the stylist think of and execute a style for my face shape and hair type on the spot). I suppose there are some good things about that small, small town. Regardless, I can assure you that I left the woman a nice tip, despite my own unnecessary paranoia at the time of my departure from the salon.

Next time I get a new hair style, I will save myself the strife; I am going to get this one:

Artist: Alexander Calder

ps- I'm back! I promise to never leave for nearly a week again. Trust me, it was as hard for me as it was for you. =)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Wow! Sorry for my absence.

I hit the last phase of my Big Move to South Florida, from where I will happily post henceforth. I got here to find the wireless down, but as you can see I have been re-connected.

Thank you for your patience; I've been anxiously saving up some topics and will start posting again very shortly!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Carnivale de Couture ~Reply 4~

This week's Carnivale was hosted by Bargain Queen and it was a toughie:

"What is your best-ever bargain? Where did you find it, how much was it and why is it your favourite?"

The topic is simple in its nature, yes, but the real screw to the thing is that I can barely get out of bed without getting a bargain out of it (no seriously, if you ever need to get me up, the magic words are 'coffee' and 'eggs' and you'd better be buying). On any given day you can assume that 30% of that day's wardrobe is thrift and 90% of it was wicked on sale. Because it's in my blood (I blame you, mom).

So how do I pick one best-ever bargain? Sure, I can do it the easy way and figure out where I literally saved the most money, but that's boring and probably some tshirt I got for a quarter. And then I have the option of picking out the most shocking, sensationalist save, some name-brand rare find to make everyone jealous. But Plato's Closet and Second Time Around and the likes have blessed me with so, so many unspeakably amazing designer finds that I can barely pick one there, either. (Besides, that's like Sophie's Choice. I just couldn't do it.)

So instead of all of those things, I am going to pick the one that was most exciting to me to find, win, and wear, and that is my vintage suede rockstar red coat from Ebay! Cotton on the inside, real suede outside, fake fur collar, this coat is outrageous and perfectly "me". I had to really battle for this one, chasing the other potential buyers right down to the wire with bids and constantly upping my self-imposed "limit" of what I would spend on it. But at last, I won this beautiful baby, and I owe it to the fact that the tagline read "suade" (otherwise I'm sure more people would've been on to it). Here she is:

$50 with shipping. If that price, along with the feelings I get wearing it out, are not a bargain, I don't know what is!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day part 2

Hey, I'm not supposed to get presents on Mother's Day! (Unless my darling Josh or Biff wanted to get me something, but hey, they're kitties.) But this morning, when I went to my grandma's for breakfast, she gave me a set of pearls.

Grandma has gotten pearls for each of her five female grandchildren. This is not just another reason why she's so awesome, it's also a very thoughtful and practical gesture. Grandma knows that every little girl, and every grown woman, no matter their taste, should own a good set of pearls- necklace, bracelet, earrings. It's such a lovely way of thinking, and an enduring gift that will never go out of style. I believe we should all own them- there will always be some occasion. And now I have mine.

And I guess they'll suffice as far as Mother's Day goes, since I doubt these schmucks will be buying me anything anytime soon:

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

While out wine-tasting around the Fingerlakes the other day, I got my mother these:

I'm not quite sure what that says about our relationship, but it sure makes me happy. I can't wait to give them to her. Jewelry by Rhonda also sells cocktail drinks, mai tais, champagne, wine and some other really cute variations. Personally, I'd love a pair of the red wine earrings, or the red wine necklace charm!

What did you get your mother?

Three Musings and a Baby

This entry is a bit of a hodgepodge, in three parts, so bear with me:

Through one of those rare, interesting, winding narratives between parent and child about the circumstances surrounding their birth, today I gleaned from my father the following tidbit:

On the way to the hospital when my mother was in labor with me, in December, as they (we) passed a strip of stores my mom suddenly told him to pull over so that she could do some Christmas Shopping. On her way to the hospital. In labor. And they did shop- until she, you know, had to go birth me.

Is this not a terribly fitting thing to learn about my origins?


"Style takes effort."

"Just because it is in Neiman Marcus doesn't mean it's right for her!"

-Clinton and Stacy, respectively, from What Not To Wear

So I'm watching the endless back to back reruns of the show (above) and I'm wondering about the public/private nuances of style. Because while it's something that's yours and reflects you, it's also aesthetic, clothes, meant to be seen by other people. How do you assert style unless someone sees you frequently enough to recognize and acknowledge your style? Celebrities aren't necessarily more stylish, but they do have the upper hand with the publicity they get in what they wear. (How can one be 'more stylish' anyway? It's like 'more unique'... it doesn't compute.)

In high school, girls and boys with style were easy to pick out. You saw them everyday. My friends knew when I was wearing new earrings, new pants. They saw me enough to get the gist of my wardrobe, preferences, style. If you live a private life, or at least don't see the same people with any frequency (and no one's in the woods and a tree falls) does style exist?

People tend to believe that style is a matter of either religiously following fashion fads (which it most certainly isn't- in fact, that's the near opposite of style) or being a total trendsetter (which it also is not- you don't have to reject things that flatter you because it's popular or prevalent). Style isn't, in the case of celebrities, owning a certain color or cut or designer and wearing it over and over again because it's "their thing." Style is about knowing what you like, what fits you, and being true to yourself (looking at you, Laertes, heh). Little quirks and flare can make the trendy, overexposed pieces and patterns look fresh and personalized. On the other hand, an awareness of style is often marked by incorporating contemporary ideas.

But how do you take style from a private idea of how you visualize yourself and make it a matter of public awareness, noted style? How do you accurately represent and express yourself through how you appear? A lot of the problems I witness daily, and the problems being addressed on shows such as What Not to Wear, are a result of a dissonance between the way one perceives his or her self and the way they are actually being perceived by the public eye. Stacy and Clinton show these people how to alter their mindset in order to assert their style- without changing the participant's initial concept of the his or her personal style.

Well, this public/private idea obviously needs to kick around a little more, but I'm going to work on it, and please feel free to share your ideas.


One last note. My baby sister went off to prom tonight. I'll include more detailed photos later (including shoes!), but for now, rest assured that with the help many of you provided, accompanied by what I can only imagine was a colorful, musical ensemble of beauty professionals ("Can you even dye my eyes to match my gown?") she came out beautiful.

Thank you!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Shopping Spree ~Outlet Mall~

Yes, the outlet mall.

...look, before you judge me, let me just say this. They added a Banana Republic (and some other things)! I couldn't help myself, I had to go have a walk-around, especially on a beautiful weekday, before the kiddies are out of school for the summer, when we post-college twenty-somethings can strut around like the Queens of the World with no place to be except at the mall. The place was dead; the place was mine.

But I won't just go on and on bragging about the things I purchased (though I would) or the unbelievable prices for which they were obtained (though I should). I will merely focus on what's important, the essentials of this little shopping spree, contained in a little story that goes something like this:

So there I was walking along, fiddle-dee-dee, swinging my armloads of shopping bags, basking in that new-clothes smell and the adrenaline of seriously good buys, on my way to the BCBG Maxazria outlet (would I lie to you?), all in all looking as carefree as the above photo, had I an umbrella or fucshia bowler...

...when what do I pass, look back at, turn, and slowly approach (much like a predator stalking its prey) but a Cosmetics Company Store? Inside this makeup haven are shelves and shelves of Estee Lauder (Clinique, Bobbi Brown, MAC, Stila) --- outlet. My eyes must have glassed up, maybe I drooled a little as I entered, slack-jawed. In this beautiful, beautiful store were all of these makeup lines, usually unobtainable to me because I am a sensible and penny-wise girl, and they were all (waaaait for it)...at least 30% off.

This was where I spent the next hour or so, sampling, fondling, searching through the goodies. Now, granted, it was an outlet, so many of the things they offered were Merry Christmas! compacts and 5th Anniversary collections. But then again, there were limited-release items now discontinued, and seasonal scents that no one can get their hands on. When loved ones tell you, "Don't worry, they didn't really discontinue your favorite Lipglass, they just sent it to a farm where it could run and play with all the other beauty products!" this is what they mean. It was truly Heaven.

Not only that, but to work there the sales ladies didn't even need makeup training. They knew little to nothing about these brands or their values. Apparently, they are given the number of a superior Estee Lauder representative for when they have questions. On one hand, they were terrible at helping me find things and answering my questions about the stock. On the other hand, I was the most knowledgeable person in the store, so I was given free range to toy with everything my little heart desired!

The best (and worst) part is that when I got to chatting with these fantastic, personable ladies, they told me that there were jobs open for not only salespeople but full-time management! And they get (are you sitting down?) 50% off already reduced merchandise bringing their grand discount to an average of 80% off Estee Lauder. And then the one added, "You look like you'd be great for the management job." ...be still my heart. It would be a total dream job! But, alas, I would have to stay in Small Town, NY. And I just, I just can't. What's the good of having unlimited access to beautiful makeup in a town where no one even appreciates that this little store is there and even the sales people don't know too much about the cosmetics? (This was like that Twilight Zone, where the guy gets to live in a world of books with unlimited time to read them and he steps on his glasses...)

Anyway, there were two things I purchased that day, I will make it a point to go back and get more:

MAC Eyeshadow, Regular Price $13.50, My Price: $9.50

MAC Hyper Real Foundation, Regular Price $26.00, My Price $17.00

And this was all especially sweetened because earlier in the day at the very same mall, in an outlet Borders, I picked up:
Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin, Regular Price: $21.95, My Price: $6.99

I bought this book for The Little Sister last Christmas, as mentioned in an earlier post, but for this price I figured I should get my own and stop stealing hers! Besides, at the end of this shopping day, hadn't I had enough "steals"?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Love. Want. Need. ~Pucci~

Once again, the brilliant Shoewawa makes me drool for a pair of gorgeous shoes. I don't always agree with the sister-sites Shoewawa, Catwalk Queen, The Bag Lady --- but I don't take their opinions lightly, either. And lo! though I spent all of yesterday shopping (oh yeah, more on that to come, fear not, faithful lads and lasses) I never found a pair of wedges I liked. Not. One. Pair! I was looking for two things (shoe-wise): metallic sandals that weren't flats, and blue-and-white wedges. What. Is. So. Hard?

As some of you might recall, I have been searching for shoes to go with something like this dress:
To be paired with a shrug or a cardi or cover-up of some kind, in white.

And then sigh, today my heart goes flippity-flop for these oh-so-unaffordable Pucci thong wedges:

$250 for the shoes and my outfit was only, what, $40! Oh well, at least I'd look like a thousand bucks! Especially with the oversized thin-white-framed sunglasses I bought yesterday... oh yes, I caved, and it felt glorious!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Carnivale de Couture ~Reply 3~

From Clothesaholic, Clothes on Film:

"What movie, TV show or video featured clothes that made an impression on you? What movie, TV or video wardrobe did you try to emulate? How many times did you dress up as Emma Peel (or for the mens, John Steed) at Halloween, and if not, why not? 'Fess up, I know you have at least one vest a la Annie Hall, or torn sweat-shirt a la Flashdance, stuffed back there in your Closet of Shame."

Well! Goody. Because I have to take one of the obvious films, but be true to myself and say, yes: Gone with the Wind.

I. have. always. wanted to dress like (and be, ahem) Scarlett O'Hara. I wanted to sweep my full-skirted gowns down elegant stairways and steal Melanie's beau, to be an 'asshole magnet' and court the unbridled, dark, curt Rhett. I wanted to be a vixen in a corset and make a gorgeous velvet gown out of curtains, oh yes, yes I did.

Most of all I wanted to wear this, the infamous whore-red dress:

Ah, 1860's. I have never worn full period garb, but I would love to. My style will always bend to accomodate any clothing that brings me closer to feeling like film's favorite bitch.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Love. Want. Need. ~Free People~

On my "goodbye, city!" shopping spree, I loaded up on a lot of great H&M and Free People clothes (among other things, naturally, but these were the great deals -- and I am all about great deals). Because my camera is still broken, I haven't been able to share my amazing finds, but today I thought I'd see if I could find the items (or things like them) online.

Of course I couldn't, since the pieces were already on sale, but I got to looking around online and I have to tell you, I am not at all impressed with Free People shoes. There was just about nothing that caught my eye, and boy howdy it is difficult for me to go to a shoe section and not want to buy, or not to buy, a few pairs.

But these two, though they weren't incredibly eyecatching, were my favorites.

First, some blue boots. I would wear the heck out of these:

And then these are really cute:

The amazing thing about the zebra flats is that I love them even though I absolutely loathe the ballet flat trend. I think that flats (like most things) are cute on some people, for some looks. I've seen punk-y/indie girls at concerts with their hair in pigtails and lots of buttons and pins all over their purse pull them off nicely (I'm looking at you, Kim).

For long, lean, tall girls, the curve of the toe and the flat heel is unflattering. It's like they've been blessed with "legs that go on forever" until whomp! truncated. As though an axe had suddenly curtailed those long stems. Your shoe should elongate and flatter the line of your body and give your entire 2D image a pulled-together, long-and-lean image. Especially under a pair of long trousers, you need some toe peeping out from under the cuffs. Ballet flats can make it look like you've got no feet! However, if I were ever to compromise my devotion to pointy-toe (or at least non-rounded toe) shoes with heels, these would be the shoes for which to compromise. They're stylish- and classy too. The toe isn't too stunted at the end; it comes out a little from the body of the shoe. I could wear these under jeans and not feel too much like a sell-out or trend-hopper. The zebra definitely puts them in the ranks with my own personal style.

I might be adding these to my collection very soon. I almost reached for my credit card immediately when I looked at them.

As for the other 6 pages of shoes on Free People, I just say phooey.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Grandma Drives a Jaguar

My grandma is the person I have been coming to see up here in Upstate NY all my life. I was 9 when I took my first flight by myself to come see her - sans parents, sans sisters. The sisters were too scared of flying without the parents. I saw her almost every year after that until now, mostly by myself.

My grandma is a very special woman. She's a little eclectic (African wooden masks on the wall) a little crazy (Dove bars and homemade mac'n'cheese are always an acceptable meal) and often sweet (her fancy wedding anniversary one year turned into a night to celebrate my new haircut, including getting a brand new dress and whatever I wanted for dinner, which turned out to be Pizza Hut). She used to have 9 cats and 2 dogs when I was growing up. She took me out bar-hopping for the first time, though I was too young to do more than sip her drinks.

She also happens to be, essentially, the matron of this small town. Everyone knows her, she is a fixture. Everyone knows her large house on the main road through. Everyone knows her car, which is, yes, a silver 2004 Jaguar. She used to have a Towncar. She has a Magnum now, and a Jaguar. Each with hundreds, maybe some few thousands of miles on them because she only goes around town. She knows everyones' names, she loans her jewelry to people for special occasions. If I can make a firm claim to any inherent sense of style, any affixed, learned traits regarding stylistic choices, it is because of this woman. She is dressed to the 9's to go to the grocery store, and going out to a local bar requires an all-day spa-like preparation in her home. I kid you not.

Well today I climbed into her Jag and we went to pick my small cousin up from elementary school. Beginning on a completely arbitrary point, as though I had seen her yesterday and not, in fact, nine months ago, I complimented her bag. It was a slouchy soft snakeskin-type fabric. Its shape was almost exactly like my daily bag from the winter (which needs to soon be replaced for this season). On that note, she dove right into her usual diatribe about how people don't always appreciate or understand style. People always like or hate our oversized bags.

"There's this couple, you know, up near the P&C, the _____'s, and she's very nice. They're very wealthy. And she, she always has such nice clothes. I mean, very expensive, very fashionable, very high-quality clothes, you can tell. And she always, well, she always looks nice. Her clothes are very nice, I have to admit. But this woman, she has no idea how to dress herself. She wears... she wears... blouses that fall straight over her stomach, over her pants. They make her seem wider- not that she has much of a stomach or anything- but they make her seem wider than she is."

Her cigarette wags out of the window before she resumes.

"And pleats! Long, brown pants maybe, I'm sure they're terribly expensive... that bell at the bottom! And they have pleats in the front, on top... it's horrible. Maybe someone can wear them, but they don't look good on her. And that's the problem... she can pick out nice, rich pieces all of the time, she seems to know what's fashionable and has the means to purchase them, but that woman has no sense of what looks good on her. And that's why... that's why I think that I can wear straight pants, maybe with a slight flare at the bottom, that look good on me and I can get them at Marshall's, and I could look better than her."

My grandma believes what I believe, knows what I know, and what, if anything, this blog was created for. To convey to as many people as possible that there is a distinctive, important definition of style that takes more than money, more than magazines. It is the most impressive aspect of fashion. Wear what looks good on you. And own it.

As she further elaborated, "...you don't need all of that flare or money. Your other grandmother, the best I ever saw her look, was when I ran into her in downtown NYC, and she was wearing jeans that just fit her well, and a slight heel, a shirt and a jean jacket. It was so simple, it's not at all what she would wear now, or ever wore since. That woman has no idea what looks good on her, and sometimes tries too hard. But that was the best she ever looked."

Amen. If grandma had a column in this town's paper, I certainly think the woman with the bright orange pants with the racing stripe down the side would have thought twice before leaving her house this afternoon. And maybe the woman in Walmart piling little workout hot pink shorts into her cart with words like "Cutie" would have re-considered. I like to give them the benefit of a doubt. I like to think they purchased these things for private use in their bedrooms, or the inside of a gym. But to be perfectly honest, I don't think there's a single gym in this town. And if that's what they're wearing to bed, I'd think there'd be a shorter line to pick up the hoards of kids at the elementary school...

Today grandma wore black lounge pants with a single thin white stripe down the outside of each leg, a white 3/4 sleeve blouse, and wedges. And, y'know, pah, some diamonds. I have yet to see anyone look so casual-chic around this place. I could make a killing on women like Ms. Pleaty Pants who want to do good by fashion, but know not what to do with their wealth. If only there were enough of them with the means to make it worth my while to stay and make a living in this town.

Grandma and I have a loose appointment to get our mani-pedi's and haircuts later this week. Keep ya posted.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

City Girl, Country Girl

So I'm in transition, moving.
I left the big city and am spending interim vacation time in upstate New York.

This place will bring interesting shopping/clothing tales for you, I'm sure. This is the land of wholesale, Walmarts as genuine clothing retail sources for the residents, and the upper echelons of fashion consisting of those who can afford/drive to Gap. It's a transition; sometimes I enjoy escaping the expensive, competitive confines of the city's style. (And then sometimes, a makeup-less girl in a matching sweatsuit set with a ponytail walks through the bank and makes every male head turn, because that's style here.) (Then again, I myself can make heads turn and jaws drop by wearing high heels. Where is that hussy going gussied up like that? She must be from the city...)

After my recent "goodbye, city!" shopping spree this past weekend, this little town will take some adjusting to. The nearest mall is about 45 minutes away. -- But mall, the mall, dare we splurge? When, after all, the outlet strip mall is only ten minutes farther away and we can get last year's styles at discounts that will bring stars to your eyes! -- I admit, when I'm here or places like here, I outlet shop and I enjoy it, thankyouverymuch. When in Rome...

But, thankfully, we are also within driving distance to the famous Carousel Center/Mall in Syracuse, which is beautiful and clean and might! even have a MAC or Sephora added since the last time I was here. And if not, if the rumors are not true, there's always Crabtree & Evelyn, Banana Republic, Coach. Is there a Johnny Rockets, too? I think so (mm, milkshake)! And, of course, giant plastic ponies that go round and round to the tune of one's childhood...

Rochester is also not too far, and happens to be the home of Kodak, so I might have my camera fixed and share some of the pictures I've been promising! Stay tuned for updates on that, and musings on the local style.

[EDIT: No Sephora. Maybe in the surrounding area, but not the mall. Damn.]

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What I'm...

... never, ever touching. Wow.

(seen on ShinyShiny)

I mean, I know and live by "beauty is pain", but we must draw a LINE, people!

[EDIT: I decided to add that I do think it looks really cool. I mean, it does have a bold, creative appeal. But if I saw someone wearing it, I'd think she was brave and also crazy.]

Shopping Spree ~New Paltz~

Stylish Items Found in New Paltz, Antiques Shopping:

A little dove on a silver chain.

This reminds me of a necklace I got from my grandmother, produced by Avon in the 70's.

A beaded, gilded long necklace on black cord.

I wore this out tonight, I love the originality. Long and funky.

More to come! =)