Friday, September 26, 2008

Buy a Cute Shirt & Promote Breast Cancer Awareness

The Style Bard always likes when fashion and celebrity uses its power for a good cause, such as the latest example, which is a series of pink shirts by Jaime King, Cindy Crawford, Nicky Hilton, Sophia Bush, Hilary Duff, and Denise Richards. They're $88, which may seem like a lot for a cotton tee (it does to me) but if you think about where the money's going, that takes some of the bite out of it. So does Free Shipping from Shopbop. And with the holidays right around the corner, one of these thoughtful and meaningful tees would make a great present for any of the women in your life. Whether's it's making the purchase, a mention on your blog, or simply wearing the shirt, people have the power to promote awareness, create change, and support one another. You'll feel good about yourself, and look great doing it.

From the site:

"In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2008, we’ve partnered with six celebrity friends to create a capsule collection of tees, and 50% of the proceeds from each will benefit Breast Cancer Network of Strength: an organization whose mission is to ensure, through education and peer support, that no one faces this disease alone."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My TV Picks (aka: Hi, My Name is Style Bard and I Am Addicted to "Reality" Television)

With some shows drawing to a close and some just beginning, I've decided to go ahead and announce come of my choices and preferences in today's competitive reality TV shows. At the same time, I am going to complete embarass myself by admitting some of the crap that I keep abreast of, if not actively watch. I blame DVR for this unhealthy addiction.

America's Got Talent

Disclaimer: I do not actively follow this show. But I do try to keep up with what's happening, and I am guilty of DVRing it. In fact, I refuse to watch it without DVR, because I can--and this is absolutely accurate--watch the entire 2 hours in about 29 minutes. Talk about FILLER.

At the beginning of last week, when we were dealing with the Top Twenty contestants, my favorites were:

The Taubl Family
This is a talented family. They sing, they play various instruments, and they look good on television. I have a little distaste for the Sound of Music-esque troupe affiliations, but I feel that when they really get out and put the show on the road, a good manager and director will know how to keep the young, fresh kids out front and hide away or lose altogether the older generation, or thin the less talented of the pack. I see that the family package is part of the appeal, and I wouldn't take that out of the marketing, but there are really a few too many here. However, some of the music they make is absolutely enchanting and I could watch them do several songs in a row, which says something.

Flaming Baton Twirler, Jonathin Burkin
(you decide what's modifying what, there)
I've never been sure if Jonathon has the personality and starpower to really make a name for himself, but what he likes in attractiveness and charm he makes up for in originality and talent. As they're quick to point out, he never makes a mistake, always knows when to pose or smile, and seems genuinely humble. The real reason I like him is that his act is novel, much like last year's winner. There isn't something like this in Vegas, and I think that's really important. It's something we don't see all the time, and Jonathon masters his craft. That's win-win.

Nuttin' But Stringz
Oh, man. Where to begin? Every time this duo gets on stage they rile the crowd. They're passionate, and they're talented, and they bring together stringed instruments and street attitude. I love them because they're genuine, they glue you to the TV screen, and they come off as modest and charming. I think they can win because they are unique and memorable.

The Cadence
Okay, I have to admit that most of the "talent" I see in this group has to do with how much I want to see them take their shirts off. I'm only human! However, they are actually good at what they do, and I think if they a) showed some skin or b) employed the use of gymnastics or like, harnasses, this could really be a show that's near to the success of one of the current renditions of Stomp! or Blue Man Group. I just never thought they'd make it far in this particular contest, and I don't think they were ready for Vegas. But that doesn't mean they couldn't be, and whoever scoops up the rights to represent this group may have a big hit on their hands in the upcoming years.

I was absolutely aghast at the results which narrowed 20 finalists down to 10 last week (in a staggering 5 hours of television, which I probably watched in about an hour and a half). Nine of them are singing acts. One of them can play a guitar. One of them can play the piano. And one of them is four years old. So it's easy to guess that the only remaining contestant that I could bear to see win would be Nuttin' But Stringz, an act which is unique, electrifying and honestly, the only thing left standing which doesn't make me question the sanity or entertainment quota of America. Except maybe Eli the pianist (you make the easy joke). We shall see.

Project Runway

The remaining contestants: Jerell, Joe, Suede, Leanne, Korto and Kenley.

Who I want to win, based on brief glimpses at their runway collections as well as overall personality and participation throughout the season: Leanne. She can be eye-roll inducing, but she isn't annoying, and she's shown herself to be a strong competitor with a new voice and a love of architectural design. I'd love to see even more whimsy in her design, something always seems to me as though she's still trying to prove herself instead of just being herself, but of everyone left I like her and Korto, but Leanne's final collection made more of an impact and left me wanting to see more. Korto's was also very beautiful though, and I would be happy for her win.

America's Next Top Model

Now this one's just getting started, and I am very much pleased with the quality of the challenges and the entertainment value of the models as opposed to, say, last season. Which absolutely sucked from the very beginning, and left me rooting for no one.

For a far wittier overview of the girls this season, go here. Rich at FourFour is my favorite ANTM recapper, and while I've dabbled with thoughts of covering the show here in depth, I always think of his brilliance and it puts my teasing to shame. And by the way, subtract Nikeysha, as we lost her last week. One bitch down!

So who do I like? Based on two episodes, I have to say my favorite three this far are: Elina, the outgoing bisexual of the season and a stunning beauty with standout facial features; Isis, the transgendered social statement of the season with the cool demeanor to make it through a season of reality TV as well as a kind of inherent talent for editorial posing; and maybe Sheena, just cause this wild girl brings some actual spark and humor to the cast and I want to see more of her. Then again, my enduring favorites are girls I usually pay no attention to in the first half of the season, since early episodes are always filled with drama, hijinx, and obnoxious bitches who are just there to hook the viewers (hi, Hannah!). Often I wind up liking one of the quieter beauties once she finds her place, learns the ropes, and is in a small enough group of girls to get her voice heard. I'm looking at you, Lauren.

And out of the those, my best early choice to take the whole thing would be Isis or Lauren, depending on whether or not Tyra's out to make another loud statement about "different" models (take that to mean what you please), whether Isis pulls her shit together and reverts to her natural modeling talent (ie, stops 'being in her head' or whatever mumbojumbo modeling term they use), and whether someone steps up out of the herd when the duststorm of initial displacement settles. Oh yeah: and how the makeovers go. Eeek, I feel the drama comin' on this Wednesday.

Then again, it's been awhile since a black chick won. I may have to modify these sentiments as the season progresses.

Other shows I'm currently sucked into: Mad Men, Supernatural, and Top Design.
Looking forward to watching: House, Grey's Anatomy, Lost and Stylista.

What are YOU watching? Come on, you can admit your dirty little TV habits...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Looking for a New Mascara?

The first thing I thought as Kenley bawled her way through Project Runway's recent Diane von Furstenberg challenge was: thank goodness the girl has good mascara! Especially with her retro style; sometimes the makeup you use to carry a distinctive "look" can go on heavy and not exactly support a nationally broadcasted crying jaunt. But, interview clip to interview clip, her mascara held up. Bravo!

To be honest, I tend to repeatedly buy Maybelline Great Lash Mascara at CVS or Walgreens. You know, the ones in the notorious neon pink-and-green tubes. If you wait for the right coupon, you get these "buy one, get one free" which is how I took home my first tube of Royal Blue mascara, a beauty item I now cannot live without. I also carry a back-up travel-size Estee Lauder tube, which has lasted absolutely forever and probably came with a free sample of cosmetics. However, I have been looking for one perfect "favorite mascara" to wear on special evenings or with dramatic looks, since I find the brand better for everyday wear. I want something bold, something darker, something that withstands hours and hours out on the town, even after a day of work.

If you're looking for mascara too, you might consider one that's being toted by Saks Fifth Avenue's award-winning Want It! campaign, which highlights noteable trends and products. This season, Want It! is promoting Polished Face cosmetics, and Saks is debuting a complete Polished Face Kit, an affordable cosmetics collection which comes in a lush Marc Jacob Italian leather clutch. This kit features Guerlain’s Le 2 mascara, hailed as "a two-brush mascara that enables you to get to every last lash to create the fullest lashes possible." Hmmm, sounds like what I'm looking for. And yes, it's true, I'm eyeing that luscious clutch as well. (This great offer happens to come in conjuction with, a shopping search site the Style Bard was honored to be recognized by earlier this year. For more information, go here.)

Is Guerlain to be my new big-money brand (aka, "Sephora-worthy", in Style Bard lingo)? I might have to get my hands on it and see. In the meantime, what's your favorite mascara for when you want to make an impact? Let me know in the comments, I'd love any recommendations.

*photo art must be credited to The Minx, whose always-amusing reviews come to the Style Bard via beloved Blogging Project Runway.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fashionable Quote

"She behaves as if she was beautiful. Most American women do. It is the secret of their charm."

Ah, mustn't we love Wilde.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Books, Books, Books

A good friend, K., is doing this 50-books-in-a-year thing, and I was immediately like, ooooh I wanna do that too (cause I'm a big copycat...) and I was going to just start from June, which is when I started reading a bunch of stuff again in a consistent way.

But then I kept putting off the list because I didn't want to backtrack and do reviews for a bunch of books I'd read a few weeks prior, and then I decided, screw it. I'm just going to do it without real reviews, because it's a good exercise no matter what to keep track of the list, push myself to complete the 50 books, and maybe along the line if I'm feeling motivated, I can just arbitrarily do a review or two.

(I only wish Vogue counted. It's 798 pages! And The New Yorker... that thing can be dense! Huffff...)

So, here it is:

1) The Bostonians, Henry James - This took me foreeeeever to finish because James is so damn wordy, and I was only reading a few pages per sitting while I killed other easy books, but I finished it when I moved back, and I did enjoy the read. It very thoughtfully and cleverly explores all sides of the feminist movement of the 19th century. I have no interest in seeing the old movie version, however.

2) A Drink Before the War, Dennis Lehane - This is the first of Lehane's mystery/detective novel series. Not typically my genre, but I fell for him after reading Mystic River for a class in college, and then reading Shutter Island on my own. (Read both of those books, by the way!) I was a little disappointed by the beach-reading ease of this book, but I knew Mystic River hadn't come out of nowhere, so I waited and hoped to see his skills develop in later novels.

3) Darkness, Take My Hand, Dennis Lehane - The second novel of the series, still basically the same tone, but as I learn the characters they're growing on me. The main guy has kind of the self-deprecating, quick-witted tone of DeMille protagonists.

4) Sacred, Dennis Lehane - Enoyable, same few-hours-read kind of deal. I do, by the way, recommend the series just to kick back and enjoy. I don't mean to put it down in any way. It was, after all, summer reading--often consumed next to a pool.

5) Gone, Baby, Gone, Dennis Lehane - At first I hadn't known that this novel by him was a part of the series, thinking it was another stand alone. Realizing that the movie characters I'd seen were actually the ones I'd been reading about was very interesting. I also wondered why this of all his novels was chosen for a film, but as I began reading it I immediately noticed a change of tone, a little more exploration into descriptiveness and poetic writing than in previous novels. I think this is where he really hits his stride as an author. And now I'm looking forward to re-watching the movie.

6) Prayers for Rain, Dennis Lehane - The one thing I didn't like as much about this book was that it veered a bit more toward the vigilante side than I wanted it to. The detectives are usually assigned to cases and go above and beyond the call of duty, but in this novel the lead character is going above and beyond the call of duty just for justice, not as part of any assignment. Also, I really hate the will they/won't they drama of the two main chars' love life because it... basically is nonexistent. They break up and get back together with little fanfare, to the point where I'm almost disinterested. We know they're gonna get back together, yeah, that's the nature of the beast, but when it happens I'd still like to... care? This is also the last in the series so far, and it was printed in 1999, and then MR was a few years later, and SI shortly after that. But this doesn't really sit well as the end of a series, so I'd like at least one more to close it off before, you know, it's been a DECADE since we've heard from these guys. It's not very loyal to the readers, y'know? I just started these this summer but I can't imagine what loyal fans from the 1990's are thinking.

And now I'm starting The Picture of Dorian Gray, which no, I have not read before (and yet studied and referenced in at least 2 classes). So sue me.

And after that I have to go to the library because I am out of books! (Well, I have plenty new books but they're in storage right now.)

Friday, September 05, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance, Season 4 Finale

The month of August was a pretty crazy time for the Style Bard, which is why I'm only just seeing the Season Finale of SYTYCD. Better a month late than never, right?

Throughout the season (this was the first complete season of this show I've watched) my favorites were often in flux. I always enjoyed watching Mark perform because of how he took on his roles. I always liked his partner Chelsie for her warm, relateable personality. And then there were Josh and Twitch, two of my favorite all-around dancers from the Top 20. But I was mostly rooting for Will, who demonstrated a brilliant combination of charm, humility, technique and sheer talent.

Watching Will get booted from the Top 6 completely broke my heart. I thought he would at the very least make it to the end. But America's votes proved my choice moot. However, the Top 4, Josh, Katee, Twitch and Courtney are very very strong competitors and I'm not disappointed by any of them being there. They've continued to earn their place and prove to me that the loss of Will wasn't in vain.

Watching the Finale, my top female was Katee and my favorite male was Josh. Courtney's loss didn't slay me, but I was surprised that Katie, another girl, got knocked off first. This really was a season for the men--and, may I say, black men. Then again, I didn't expect two girls to win in consecutive seasons, either. Last year, Sabra's win was a big moment for the show.

I like having a prize for the Top Guy and Top Girl. I find it very hard to compare the female and male dancers to one another, since dance leans so heavily on gender roles, and because this show always couples their dancers male/female throughout. However, doesn't that really suck for the second best dancer (Twitch) to get nothing while the third best dancer gets a prize for being the opposite sex of the winner? I don't know, something bothers me about this situation.

And on Mary Murphy's dance? I gotta say--it's a shame she spends all of that time on-air behind the table, because, damn that woman has some gams.

The Cirque du Soleil dance, "Homage to All of the Rabbits Who Died at the Hands of Incompetent Magicians"? May I just say: creepy and sensational. Loved it. It might have only been too macabre without the leverage of the cheeky title card. And throughout this eery dance, I found the most compelling/repulsive characters to be the ones where their entire faces were concealed, so I especially enjoyed the final touch where all of the masks were removed.

And last but not least, I have to write a little love letter to the costume department on this show... keep up the amazing work, guys. I always love seeing what the dancers will wear next.

One day, one day I will see the dance tour that follows this show. I'm so glad the top ten dancers get to travel and perform, and are guaranteed work for awhile even if they don't win. They all have such a strong fan base, and the fans should get to see these performers working together live. It's a great idea, and I look forward to seeing it one year when I'm incredibly attached to the cast.

As for this year: congratulations Josh, you were always incredibly strong and sexy, modest and smart, and always surprising the judges with your concealed strengths in unpredictable areas. You're a true winner.

Did you watch this season? Who did you want to win? What was your favorite dance? (I think mine was Mark & Chelsie's "Bleeding Love," as pictured.) Tell me what you think!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

CW's Stylista

Okay, stop what you're doing and go check out the preview for the CW's new show, Stylista.

Created by those responsible for ANTM and Project Runway, Stylista is a cross-breed of The Apprentice and like, every Top Something show. Eleven would-be fashion editors compete to be assistant to Elle's Anne Slowey. One is fired every week after performing challenges, as well as one editorial styling. Should be great! I mean, I'll probably DVR it and watch it religiously, compare it to its predecessors, and then watch Stylista: London and Stylista: Canada, etc. as they come. Hello, cat fights and gay boys!

Are you excited? I'm excited.

Stylista starts Wednesday, October 22nd at 9pm. Watch it with me!

Monday, September 01, 2008

~Love. Want. Need.~ Red Agate Cocktail Ring

Every year when I was young, I flew to NY in September to visit my awesome grandmother, and the trip would include raiding end-of-summer sales for insane deals on clothes that I would wear back to school. See, I lived in Florida, so while New York was trying to vacate itself of anything resembling a short or sandal, I was scooping them up by the cartload, since I would be able to keep wearing them year-round. Sometimes I brought an extra suitcase for this purpose.

So you'd think that I would have learned by now that when I'm in FL I need to pay special attention to Labor Day Sales. The sales in-store in FL are not nearly as good as those online, since the wardrobe changeover is not as drastic. Sometimes I forget to look, since, duh, the changing of seasons just doesn't catch my attention until it's too late.

On the other hand, years when I remember to browse the sales, like this year, I usually manage to forget the purpose. After spending an hour shopping the Shopbop end-of-summer section, which is 30%-70% off and one of my fave shopping sites, this is what I end up wanting the most: a cocktail ring.

This Juicy Couture Red Agate ring is not simply fabulous, and a cocktail ring which I so need to complete my collection right now, but it also happens to match my gold/red necklace which has similar braiding detail and a vintage-y look to it. I was drawn to this immediately, and it's 50% off!

But, of course a ring is not what I was supposed to be doing shopping summer sales! I still need a denim skirt... and some new shirts... and hey, I can always use new sandals on the cheap! But now I just really want this one ring...

Shopping failure, Style Bard.