Wednesday, April 30, 2008

YSL Knows How I Like It

Remember how I said I like to buy big, bold, crazy accessories or not spend the money or exert the effort at all? These 'Monaco' t-strap sandals by Yves St. Laurent are the perfect example of a piece I'd love to save for - if not just to squirrel them away for very special occasions while I wear TJ Maxx sale heels day to day. Siiigh, only $688.00 (or one sugar daddy or winning lottery ticket) away from owning these brassy beauties.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Two Sisters Jewelry

Calling themselves "handmade, contemporary, hip and stylish; fun, funky and feminine; and a great value," Two Sisters Jewelry is, well, exactly those things. Gina and Jennifer are twin sisters who design and make unique pieces of jewelry with silver, gold and semi-precious stones.

Because they're a web-based company, I like that the site for Two Sisters Jewelry Boutique is clean and user-friendly, while giving off a real essence of the down-to-earth family tone that I believe Gina and Jennifer capture in their craft.

Greeting you from the front page, you immediately understand what this company is about: an intimate commerce between artists and their customer, with pieces that are lovingly handled and created with care. Unsurprisingly, the sisters are cordial in communication and willing to create custom pieces to compliment the style and preferences of their individual customers. This is exactly the kind of niche, intimate, small-business boutique which I love to discover, shop and endorse.

One of my favorite items from their collection is the Kai necklace in sterling silver:

It seems like a timeless statement piece, the type one would be known for wearing, and not quite like a necklace anyone else has. The chain comes in 16" or 18", and the stone is Faceted Smokey Quartz and Grey Onyx.

As the owner of the Emilia earrings, I can tell you that people will notice and compliment these pieces.

The Emilia earrings have an elegant goldfill wire drop-down hook, which stays on without a clasp. The hook is incorporated as a part of the design, like an unclosed hoop. Dangling down and sparkling in the sun are two gorgeous, simple black onyx stones.

All of their items, while mostly delicate and softspoken, have the dual ability to proclaim themselves as statement pieces. Two Sisters Jewelry agilely walks the line by offering pieces that meet the requirements of current fashion trends while being strikingly one-of-a-kind. This ability is something which makes me want to continue to visit the site to see what's new and what's on sale.

Two Sisters does offer a "Sale" section, but all of the pieces are affordable, ranging from about $25-$95. Other sections of note on their site are "Mother's Bracelets," "Infants and Toddler Bracelets," and "Prom." Gift Certificates are also available.

Because their pieces are diverse and age-spanning, I would recommend these for young, fashionable girls and established women. Almost anything from Two Sisters Jewelry would be a great idea for Mother's Day.

Enter code STYLEBARD to take 15% off your purchases!

Monday, April 28, 2008


My adoration for the Gorjana Bali Arc Hoop earrings (here, on Cindy Crawford) made me want to revisit the controversy that arose on this site a few years ago (has it really been that long??) when I confessed my raging actions against one act of hoop abuse that hit very close to home.

I want to explain again that I don't hate these earrings unconditionally (I mean, they aren't Crocs) but I think that they're something which we ordinary folk, but especially young girls, should think twice about. It's tempting to try to copy a trend executed flawlessly on a celebrity or in a magazine, but certain things, such as oversized hoop earrings, won't work on you. Yes, I mean you. Hoops are not for every face shape, and I would even suggest that they don't go with about half of face types. They can make a short or narrow face look even more so by comparison to the large, shiny round accessories providing an unattractive contrast to the face's natural contours. It especially bothers me because it's so easy to do better than that for yourself, to really bring out your assets and hide your flaws. What else, dare I ask, are accessories even for?

Years ago I used this picture to demonstrate a wrong use of hoops. Though her face isn't at a flattering angle, from this photo I can see that those earrings are too large for her small face. I think that a smaller earring would draw more attention to her beautiful features, rather than making them compete with oversized accessories.

In comparison, Mini Driver looks amazing in large hoop earrings due to the gorgeous architecture of her face, notably her jawline and cheekbones:

Her stylist for The Riches always gives her great accessories that are in harmony with her outfit, taking into account her strong features, her larger than life character, and the character's simple and elegant way of dressing. Therefore, statement pieces often work, and slightly bigger jewelry by her face makes sense. She is however also a gypsy, which I can only say is additional fodder to justify more and larger jewelry. If you too are a gypsy, please disregard my thoughts on jewelry tact and continue being awesome.

But for the cursory hoops experimenter, I say err on the side of modesty and never buy what might be too big for your face, lest you end up resembling this Project Catwalk judge:

Do not try this at home.

I'd say that the hoops in this post are almost the same size (minus the last). Take a look at the different shapes of these women's faces and you can see how the earrings work (or don't), and how they flatter or obscure the woman's profile. When shopping for accessories, be sure to not only look at how beautiful the piece itself is, but also think about what it can do for you or what another item might do better.

I advise trying on earrings (and most accessories) the way one would shoes. While some people find it awkward to try on earrings in a store, I would at least try to hold them up and really take the gestalt resulting picture into account before you buy. Happy shopping!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

New Shoes!

I didn't intend to go shoe shopping this weekend... my purposes at the mall were purely practical (I swear) as I went to pay my bills at Macy's and Victoria's Secret and to make a few returns. But how does one pass a DSW without checking out the clearance racks?? It would be remiss of me to be so lazy when I clearly owe you, my readers, absolute shoe sale diligence. Right? Right. Besides, they've got those fun sale stickers with color coding to tell you how much you're going to save - 30%, 40%, 50% or 70%!

Guess which these were:

You bet. A glorious 70% off the sticker price, which was already a markdown, for the grand total of $14.98. My friends, when I tell you that I am the expert on finding true shoe steals, you've just gotta believe me.

(Read the full post about my new shoes over at Style Bard Shoes.)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Men's Accessories

Hrm, that promised earrings post is kicking around and it's coming. In the meantime, here's some re-affirmation of my desire to see men working their accessories as the ladies do:

A great way for a man to give that little somethin' extra to his look.

Do people think squares are for squares? (The Style Bard thinks a pocket square can be rocked by any male in the right context with some swagger and confidence.)

An assortment of sexy, sophisticated and sporty watches is an absolute must for any man who's worthy of my beauty routine.

Of course, I wouldn't go this far, but let's just see guys put it out there, and we can always scale it back later, right?

And lest you think I'm just a bobble-headed yesman for StyleDash, I've gotta step in and interject my opinion on sneakers without socks. Don't do it, dudes. Putting on a pair of socks is not going to derail your schedule or crimp your style, I promise. (How about a great pair of these instead?)

All via StyleDash.

(For the record, while some love it and some hate it, I have to give Chris Brown's stylist major credit for the addition of this bold, gorgeous purple scarf in the Jordin Sparks "No Air" music video. Sorry for the sloppy screen shot!)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Gorjana Jewelry

You might already recognize this logo, and if you don't you will soon, and you should. It's the icon for Gorjana Jewelry, an increasingly widespread designer brand being sold in over 400 fine boutiques and websites, including Henri Bendel, Fred Segal and (If you know the Bard at all, you know that I'm enamored of anything sold on ShopBop.) The line is consistently featured in Lucky, InStyle, People and StyleWatch.

Gorjana Jewelry can often be spotted worn by celebrities such as Cindy Crawford, Mandy Moore, Hayden Panettiere, Sophia Bush and Felicity Huffman among others. And now it can be found gracing the ears of the Style Bard as well, in the form of the Bali Arc Hoop earrings. I don't look quite as good in them as Cindy, Hayden or Mandy:

But I do my best. What I love about these earrings (other than allowing me to pretend I'm a celebrity) is the very style which Gorjana represents - a kind of simple elegance with subtle but special embellishments. For more pics of celebs in Gorjana, check out the impressive Press section on their website - which you can, of course, also shop through. The Bali earrings are available in quality 14k Gold Vermeil or Sterling Silver and they're equally chic. Without screaming for attention themselves, the Gorjana pieces draw attention to you and polish your finished look. There's so much more I'd like to add to my collection - Gorjana also offers necklaces, rings, bracelets and fine jewelry. Someone's going to need to take away my credit card, I imagine.

Since receiving the Bali Arc Hoops from Gorjana, I've been seriously coveting a set of the Bali Bracelets to complete the set. If you're anything like me, I'd recommend saving yourself the angst and getting them both at once.

Other items on my radar for future purchase? The Eden Necklace followed by the Infinity Necklace.

Now, we've discussed hoops on this site in the past, but the Bali earrings have inspired me to re-open the conversation about which shapes should be worn with the shape of your face. I'll be returning to that topic tomorrow as Style Bard continues its coverage of accessories and jewelry as we get closer to Mother's Day.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Accessorization, Part 2

As I was saying yesterday, I try pretty hard to put together "looks" for myself, and there are no accessories I shun. As I dress, I make sure that all elements of my outfit compliment one another. If I have time, I make sure they're the ideal shoes, necklace, whathaveyou, out of all that I own -- but this does take thought and trial, and I don't have the energy to do it always.

But when I say that I'm not as put together as some people, I don't even necessarily mean that lack of effort. I mean that at my peak, I somehow manage to miss that element of effortless glam, of synchronized styling, that other women do daily as if they were born knowing how. [Enter imagery of a baby in a Pashmina with a purse here.] I really envy and appreciate the work of those ladies, as I admire pretty much anyone who can do something I just can't do (which is a lotta people, and a lotta things).

What the far lazier and less gifted Bard tends to do is buy big shiny lookitme! items, but then have a very boringsimple go-to set of things.

For the big bold items, I like to think that if I'm going to spend money on something, it should be something I really love and which other people are going to notice. This, I admit, is a flaw, as I know that other people may compliment a modest trinket as much as an attention-grabber, as much if not more, but somehow I just can't convince myself that I should fork over $200 for plain. Here are some examples of dramatic pieces I'd be attracted to:

(And of course we all know what shoes I'd rather be wearing.)

Meanwhile, here are examples of the mundane items I own and lazily opt to wear most of the time:

Shoes - Old Navy flip-flops in warm weather; cheap monochrome flats in the cold

Necklace - a sterling silver chain with whatever charm I'd last put on it (often a single pearl)

Rings - my right-hand diamond ring that never comes off; my gold I Love You ring on the left middle finger

Watch - a two-tone watch that I don't change unless I'm reeeally inspired. Gold and silver as the height of laziness -- it goes with whatever else I put on!

Bracelet - single sterling silver chain on the left hand, plus assorted hairbands. (What, it's convenient! ... yeahyeah, I know.)

Purse - black with bronze adornments (goes with everything so I can switch out purses as little as possible)

Earrings - I actually have 7 holes: two in my left ear, five in my right. In the cartilage I wear the same studs all the time, in the top set of lobe holes I wear shiny clear-blue studs, and in the bottom set I wear pearl studs.

Now, when my daily accessories are all put together, I look all right. I just know that with any given outfit, these particular things are not necessarily the best of what I own to compliment the tone and look of what I'm wearing. I don't think that women should settle for "all right" in their appearance (much less anything else), and I really do need to put forth more effort -- especially because lord knows I shop all the time and have quite an arsenal of shoes, earrings, etc. to choose from on any given day! But then it's 7am and I'm running out the door to work... and it's kind of hard to say hey, maybe if I'd woken up five minutes earlier, I could have the PERFECT bracelet on right now!

What accessories do you wear daily? Is your accessory style fussy and in flux with the trends, or constant and classic? Are there things you just never bother with -- or something you won't leave the house without? Let me know!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Accessorization, Part 1

I put a lot of thought into accessories, but I've realized that I could put even more thought into accessories. I'm both thrilled and terrified of that prospect.

It began when I took out my earrings last night, in order to clean them. They're simple pearl studs, my effortless go-to which you will find me wearing 9 out of every 10 days. When I woke this morning, I realized that I wasn't wearing any, and suddenly my whole outfit to go to work was going to revolve around wearing some glamorous earrings from the back of their drawer in the ol' jewelery box.

Here's an example of how a morning like this goes in the HouseStudio Apartment of Bard:

silver earrings selected
must wear shoes with silver hardware to pick up on them
no necklace to compete with the earrings
so the shirt has to have a compatible neckline for no necklace
and then my hair's gotta be worn up, right?
hmmm but the shirt doesn't really look as good with this hairstyle
and it takes more effort to re-style my hair
so let's just change shirts
well, I like this shirt, but I need straight-leg pants
or a skirt
or tan pants?
no, definitely a skirt
okay, but I definitely can't wear these flats with a skirt
oooh these shoes!
... which have a bronze buckle
well, I'll just change my earrings...

So, yeah. It gets complicated, and the way my mind works when I'm getting ready is an entirely separate conversation (...for a therapist), but the gist is that accessorizing creatively - and perfectly - well, it takes work. So when I see other girls who've got it together - maybe not yesterday, maybe not always, but today? - they get major props from me.

(Speaking of which, and this also begs an entirely new post, but I've gotta ask... boys, what have you done for me lately? Hats, belts, watches, scarves... right now in this accessory-palooza, it's carte blanche for you to impress the ladies with your accessorizing style. Take a chance and play with some fun new modes of self-expression! I promise you, the ladies will notice your effort and be impressed.)

And then I happened to be checking up on some Glam reads, and I was looking at the most recent photo posted by Lauren of Ask Fashion Kitty. She looks so chic! Here's a pic:

She was talking about the purse (and... to the purse, apparently), a recent Betsey Johnson consumption. Aside from the purse, which is brassy and loud and therefore just unavoidably loveable, Lauren looks so great with her pink highlight, with her intricate chandelier earrings, with her giant cocktail ring! Even her real phone, and even the drink sitting there? In the photo, those are accessories, too. And I just love it all. Importantly, it isn't too much-- trust me, I know many a gal who would be tempted to add a bracelet or necklace there. (I may even be that girl. I mean, er, I have a friend...) But Lauren demonstrates a flair for accessories, plus a knack for editing. Very inspirational. So put together. And so not me.

To be continued with Part 2 of Accessorization....

P.S. I've got some reviews of GREAT jewelery boutiques coming up in the next few weeks - just in time for Mother's Day! So if you love accessories, stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Love is Respect

I was browsing the Liz Claiborne site to snag a picture of the shirt I just bought, hoping to get some feedback from you guys, and though I haven't yet been able to find a picture of it on these vast and mighty internets, I found something even better - a charity shirt. I love it when big brands use their name to promote good causes. Liz Claiborne is doing their part to prevent domestic violence with the shown
"Love is Respect" Jersey Knit Tee.

I wish the second image were a little more staged -- don't you just want to reach into the photo and jerk down that wrinkle in the back?? It's bugging me like a dripping faucet, but I guess I'll tolerate it for awhile since, you know, it's for a good cause and all.

I actually can't find ready information on this shirt or the cause on the website (boo!) but the shirt's selling for $29. I love the shirt not only for its message, but because it looks so cute and comfy. Usually I wouldn't spend $30 for a jersey tee, but since I'm deducing that some unnamed percentage is going to end domestic violence, the price tag is summarily justified.

Despite the lack of information on this tee's page, the shirt that I bought which led me to this happens to carry the following message on the tag:

Since 1991, Liz Claiborne Inc. has been working to end domestic violence. Visit or call The National Domestic Hotline at

If you purchase a shirt (and you should!) drop a comment and be sure to let me know so I can award you proper kudos. In fact, since this is such an essential message for every relationship, I'll do better than kudos -- if you purchase a shirt and leave a comment, I'll throw in a link to your website in a special upcoming Thank You post -- how about that? Honor system. Sizes S, M, L, and XL.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Laying the Foundation

As a general rule, I've always believed that you should spend the most amount of money on things that lay closest to your skin. For example: bras, lotions, foundation.

And when I find a really great product (any kind of product, from a corkscrew to an author), I tend to commit. I stick with it and buy it over and over and over again. However, much like best laid plans, best laid foundation can often go awry. Here's the story of my search for the perfect foundation.

My first foundation love was Smashbox's Wet/Dry Foundation, in Natural. When I decided I needed to break free of the drugstore foundation for my precious skin (which was already on prescription medication for breakouts) I went to Sephora and had a beauty agent suggest what would be good for my skin, and she pointed me in this direction. I primarily used it dry, unless I really needed extra coverage in a few spots. I've read other reviews which complained about the flimsy sponge, and in the three or four times I re-purchased the product, I have to agree that was its biggest flaw. Otherwise, it lasted a long time, it covered well, felt light, gave you the wet option, and was reasonably priced.


Then Sephora discontinued the product. I'm not sure why; they told me that while Smashbox would still make the foundation available, Sephora was no longer opting to carry it. I was heartbroken, and begged for any samples they may still carry in my shade. Sephora's usually great about that kind of thing. Unfortunately, even backup sample compacts had already been given out in my shade! How could something so popular be discontinued, I wondered.

I decided to try another product, although I was heartbroken. I had already found a perfect foundation and now I had to start all over again!

I decided to try another product by Smashbox since I knew I could trust them, and was led to the Conversion Cream to Powder Foundation (shade 1.5). Apparently I just like foundations with two functions in the title? Actually, that's not far from the truth.One thing in particular that I loved about the Wet/Dry was that I could use it for smooth, complete coverage with only Neutrogena Tinted Moisturizer (with SPF 15) on my face beforehand. That is, I got to skip the expensive primer. As I explained that (along with other things I loved about the foundation) the saleslady at Sephora explained that the Cream would not require primer before wearing it, because it's in the cream format when it's applied (with the effect of the Wet/Dry when it was wet). However, when it dried, it was supposedly going to feel just like wearing a light powder foundation. All right, I thought, that sounded like the perfect replacement for the Wet/Dry!

Sigh. Suffice it to say, I was out about $35 bucks. I didn't love the feel of the cream when I applied it, the shade was imperfect for my whole face, and I broke out a lot more when I wore it (I feel as though I needed to put on a lot for total coverage, a contrast with the way the Wet/Dry foundation settled and blended in effortlessly). This was no competition for my beloved original.

Once again I asked for advice, and this time I was told that Sephora had their own foundation that was just like Smashbox's Wet/Dry. The woman told me that she had sold it to several people who'd come in looking for my favorite. (Again - if it was so popular - then why forsake me, Sephora? Why!) I was very wary about trying a new brand and a new product, so I had the woman apply it to most of my face, so I could really see how it went on and covered. I wanted to feel more confident, and I did feel good when I left with my new purchase. It helped that the Sephora brand was about $14 cheaper than Smashbox.

Over time I decided that Sephora Matifying Foundation (Warm Nude), combined once again with my Neutrogena base, was a worthy product. It wasn't perfect for me; I believe some concerns were not having a mirror and that the sponge crumbled (just like the Wet/Dry's had). Additionally, as it got old, the foundation cake began to crumble, which made it a little messy to carry around. In the end I was actually keeping it in a Ziploc bag so that it wouldn't make a mess in my makeup bag. After a few months, I finally laid the foundation to rest on vacation, because it turned to messy powder with a messy applicator when I needed it the most - traveling out of the country.

I would still use the Sephora brand foundation as a cheap backup, as it was better than anything I'd yet encountered in a drugstore, but there had to be something better out there. Last weekend, I had to look for the perfect new foundation. And would you believe I found it?

I'm going to go ahead and officially guess that this product is the replacement for the Wet/Dry foundation. Smashbox Function5 Foundation suddenly appeared in Sephora stores -- right where my old beloved used to be! And other than being a strictly dry powder, I find that the coverage and lightweight feel are identical to the Wet/Dry. I can wear it with my new favorite drugstore moisturizer, Summer Glow by Neutrogena with SPF 15. Over the course of the past few days, I've noticed that it stays in place and the Light L3-L4 matches my skin so perfectly, I can put it on a spot and need to lean in to see where I've already applied it. I'm not complaining.

So all's well that end's well. Although I'm back to spending -- what, $38? -- on foundation, I think that my trials have proven it's worth the expense. The sponge? It will probably still disassemble with use. Only time will tell. Yet? Dependable foundation, I am so glad to have you back.

Friday, April 11, 2008


As you can see, I've gotten to work on some of that redesign I've been yammering on about... be sure to let me know what you think!

In Action.

Kate Holmes demonstrates the mystifying collar/bolero thingy. Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

Monday, April 07, 2008

3 Days Left to Vote!

There are only 3 days left to vote for the Glam Network Awards! Please take a moment to vote for me in the following categories. You can vote once a day through April 10th.

Glam Network - Shopping

Glam Network - Fashion