Sunday, December 06, 2009

Win Free Boots from Style Bard Shoes!

Want to win a pair of free boots from Shoe Envy?

How about free Jean Straps, which help keep your pants neatly tucked into boots?

Enter by visiting the free boot giveaway on Style Bard Shoes.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Hookup

Have you had the chance to get your hands on one of these purse hooks yet? I've been seeing these clever trinkets all around at craft stores and streetside fairs lately, but I never really stopped to learn more about them, or I would've probably already bought one before the people at sent me over a product sample to try out.

The idea is fairly ingenious. The hook is a simple clasp that can be pried open and twisted so that it forms an S-hook, which can secure your purse to a chair or tabletop. I've seen mostly the metallic variety--but I've also seen plastic, colorful and bejeweled types as well. The Hookup comes in either Platinum or 22-carat Gold. Rather than a circle (which is the shape I've mostly seen prior) it comes in the shape of a heart. It's a little bit nicer to look at, and I also imagine it holds up longer than its competitors due to the quality nature of the materials. It comes in a little pouch inside of a pretty jewelry box, and I think the presentation means that it would make for a great gift for someone, on top of just being a neat trinket to pick up for yourself. Although The Hookup can dangle off the strap of your purse and act as decoration, you can also store it in a pocket of your purse inside of the pouch, so it stays shiny and free of nicks. Between the packaging, the cute name, the quality materials and the heart shape, I really have to hand it to the marketers behind this product for making a variety of this tool that stands out above the rest.

I've been hawking this to all of my friends like some kind of infomercial; and watch out for me in a bar, because even if you are a perfect stranger I might feel inclined to show you how The Hookup works and talk about how cool it is, after a few beers. A bar setting is really, I'll admit, the first thing that popped into my head when I got my hands on this. I can never find the right place to set my purse, and after a few drinks it's harder to keep your eye on all of your belongings. I've had two friends get robbed in the city while keeping their purses on the table-top next to them, or on the floor by their feet, because there wasn't a decent place to stash their purses at a bar. I like that whether you're sitting in a booth, standing at a high-top bar table or leaning against the bar counter, your purse will be right there in plain sight. I was worried about the clasp slipping or not being able to bear the weight of my famously massive purses, but The Hookup is engineered quite well to be slip-resistant and hold up to 30lbs. of dead weight.

As you can tell, I highly recommend this product. I can guarantee that it's going to come in handy more than you'd expect, and you'll start wondering how you managed without it. Every time I head out for a night on the town without it, I want to kick myself--now that's the hallmark of a really useful product.

Sponsorship Transparency and the FTC

Hello Fellow Fashion-Lovers!

I wanted to write a quick letter with regard to the Federal Trade Commission's new regulations on blog advertising and sponsorship. I've been meaning to address the topic for awhile now, and with this recent bulletin, now is as good a time as any.

The official word is that the FTC will start cracking down on bloggers who are posting opinions and product reviews that are bought. This is part of a bigger effort to provide readers worldwide with honest, expert information. The FTC is worried that people posing as 'experts' in their field are actually paying lip service to companies who want their products and services to look and sound good. Bloggers must clearly indicate when an opinion or review has been paid for or in some other way sponsored via "material connection." This will go into effect December 1st, 2009. Some people find these new guidelines laughable, because it's true, there's no real way the FTC can crack down on bloggers who they suspect aren't obeying the rules. But I believe it is good to have prescriptive behavioral guidelines in place that would allow the commission to penalize those who break these laws, when caught.

I just want to let you know, straight-up, that Style Bard and Style Bard Shoes never have and never will sell you anything but an honest, editorial opinion. It has always been my personal policy not to let money or goodies dictate a product review. I will always let you know when I have received products by mail to review, or been compensated in some way for advertising. Most--but not all--of the banners in the sidebar, you can imagine, are in some way compensated. However, everything in the content of the blogs is my unendorsed opinion. If an article is paid, you will see the word "sponsored" either in the title, or within the first sentence of the blog post. If companies send me samples to review, I will indicate whether or not I am keeping the items--but please know that I would never let some shiny trinket in my possession affect my review. I do not and never will sell my opinion. I only allow companies to send samples for review so that I can then in turn provide my readers with firsthand information about the product. The first suggestion I make to potential advertisers is donating a prize to my readers; y'all should know that I do not make a penny on contests run on my blogs. If vendors want to give you guys free stuff? I am more than happy to facilitate that endeavor by negotiating a fair contract and advertising the contests. I get nada out of contests, and it's the first recommendation I make to fashion outlets who want to advertise to you. Furthermore, I do not accept advertising for products that are unrelated to your interests (such as cookware, or gadgets). And before I accept actual cash money to write about an item, on top of letting the prospective client know that I will be telling you it's sponsored in very forthright wording, I am very careful to negotiate what kind of verbiage can and cannot be used. I will not make it seem like I have seen or tried anything if I actually haven't. I will not make it sound like I personally endorse anything that I don't like. I will never say that ugly shoes are cute.

Oh yes--and I should also reassure SB and SBS readers that any and all marginal profit I make from these two websites? Is used to maintain these two websites. No; the Style Bard is not running out to the mall with her hard-earned advertising dollars (besides which, rest assured, we'd be talking about a jaunt to Forever 21 and not a spending spree at Saks). gets a significant chunk of advertising dollars; I'm next going to invest in a much more polished (and paid) newsletter account so that I can actually regularly update readers about what's going on, instead of sending sporadic emails. Let me say it loud and clear: I'm not here to make a profit. This website was always started because I wanted to write about fashion, and share my opinions with others. And though I've now branched from this blog to Style Bard Shoes and OMNY, all of my writing continues in the same spirit. Cause you gotta trust me--if I were in blogging for the money I'd have quit a long, long, long time ago.

Well, I think that says what I set out to say. I just wanted to let y'all know that you can always trust the content on Style Bard and Style Bard Shoes--and that's because I'm not some money-hungry commercialized bigwig blogger. I do it 'cause I love it, and I'm honest because I care. Not just because the FTC is telling me to.


[PS: Speaking of which, check back later today for a product review on!]

Thursday, October 08, 2009


Lil Sis just bought this cute dress at Express for only $14! I am so very proud of her.

(Sorry for the poor photo quality--it's straight from the dressing room! I'll update with a pic of her in it later, if she lets me.)

[ETA: The dress, on! Much better effect, I think.]

[ETA #2: More new clothes! Lil Sis also scored this shirt for $12.78!]

Friday, October 02, 2009

~Love. Want. Need.~ TOMS T-Shirt

I'm totally behind the agenda of TOMS Shoes--"using the purchasing power of individuals to help those in need." For every pair of shoes purchased, one pair of shoes is donated to a child in need. I'm very supportive of this generous and helpful arrangement. The problem is, I really don't like TOMS Shoes. I see them all the time, easily identifiable on the street despite their myriad of color and pattern options. There are definitely a few styles I would wear if I owned them, but I wouldn't buy them for myself. I'm not the biggest fan of casual shoes, or anything very sneaker-like. However, I was recently looking through the website and came across this great t-shirt. Simple though it may be, the shirt offers many appealing traits. I wouldn't mind promoting this brand. It looks very comfy. And it's female-cut, which means it's going to have a slightly longer torso (probably) which I need, and not be as box-shaped as a men's t-shirt. Plus, it's only $28, and a child in an impoverished country still gets a free pair of shoes thanks to my order! This is definitely on the holiday wishlit, and I strongly encourage anyone who's thinking along the same lines to go ahead and consider some products from TOMS as they shop for others this holiday season.

Visit TOMS Shoes to check out the full selection of shoes and products.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Interview with Greg Shugar, CEO of TheTieBar.Com

A few months ago, I wrote about a cool tie-to-suit matching interface on It's meant to help men stop second-guessing their online purchases and easily coordinate their outfits.

Well it turns out that I was presented with the opportunity to interview the CEO of Tie Bar, Greg Shugar, via email. And here it is:

SB: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me! How did you get involved with selling men's accessories?
GS: As a courtroom attorney in Chicago, I was required to wear a necktie every day. I soon found myself to be a ‘tie guy’ but also became frustrated at paying $50 every time I wanted to add a necktie to my wardrobe. I had a hard time understanding why neckties were priced so high relative to other men’s business clothing (for example, I often bought my dress shirts for $40). After looking for but not finding a brand of necktie that was regularly priced inexpensively, my wife Gina and I wondered if it were possible to start a label of our own, and if so, if it would be financially feasible to sell a high-quality silk necktie for an inexpensive price. We soon found ourselves receiving silk necktie samples from factories around the world. We learned what actually makes a tie to be “high quality”. I then began designing with no fashion background. I soon discovered that it wasn’t easy. Neckties are three-dimensional designs, not two-dimensional. Our first collection was scrapped and we never even put them up for sale (we gave them away to charity). Eventually, though, I started to get the hang of it.

SB: Why do you think men need extra help coordinating their outfits? Why are women assumed to have more intuition when it comes to fashion?
GS: You may not like this answer – I don’t agree that women have more intuition when it comes to fashion. I think women enjoy shopping more, so maybe you can say that they have more experience shopping. I think more than anything, it’s a confidence issue with men shopping for themselves. The ‘rules’ of fashion (if there is such a thing) isn’t rocket science. Men can figure it out just as easily and quickly as women.

SB: When it comes to accessories, women live by Chanel's famous guideline, "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off." Is there one tip you would offer men to help them put together a fashionable outfit?
GS: Yes. Always make sure your shirt is properly tucked. That your collar stays in your shirt. Your tie’s knot is firm. Your tie is straight. You zipper is zipped. Your jacket collar is fixed. Your belt is straight. I might sound like someone’s mother but you wouldn’t believe how many men leave the house with one of these issues unresolved. You can be wearing a $6,000 Tom Ford Suit and a $800 custom shirt, but if your tie isn’t straightened or your fly is open, you’ll look like a schlub.

SB: Which is your favorite tie on the site?
GS: I’m starting to wear more medallions (larger patterns). My tie of choice (which seems to change with every collection) is our Implode - Brown tie which can be found here.

Here's a close-up of the print from Mr. Shugar's current favorite tie:

Implode - Brown. An absolute stunning weave of silk with a colorful medallion design. When you're not feeling like a total bore, don this tie.

Interested in learning more about men's fashion and accessories? Check out my latest blog entry at One More New Yorker for an interview with Matt Fox, local New Yorker and the owner of

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

New OMNY Post!

Think You Know NYC? The latest post at One More New Yorker might challenge that assumption with two little-known facts about New York City life.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

50 Books

Last year, I set out to read 50 books in one year starting from June 2008. I only reached 17 books by the end of May 2009, with a great bout of disappointment chronicled here.

As promised, however, I did start all over again in June 2009, determined to read 50 books before the end of May 2010.

Here's how I'm doing so far:

1)Now and Forever - Ray Bradbury (☆ ☆)
This is a collection of two novellas, entitled Somewhere a Band is Playing and Leviathan '99. The former was all right, but somewhat unrelateable. It's about a colony of writers who can't die, who live in a town of perpetual summer. The second was better--Moby Dick rewritten in space. Even if you think you're a Bradbury fan, I wouldn't recommend this.
2)The Angel of Darkness - Caleb Carr (☆ ☆ ☆ ☆)
All right, Carr isn't the most intelligent, sophisticated, clever writer of all time. But the guy really does carve a niche in historical fiction, and he is just such an entertaining storyteller. I read his first historical fiction novel, The Alienist, when I was in high school. A long time ago. And it left such an impression on me that I could have jumped for joy when I saw that he'd written another. I bought it without even knowing it had many of the same characters as the first book I had so loved! I strongly recommend reading The Alienist first, and then this book. Back-to-back might even be incredibly fun; I don't think you'll tire of the writing or the characters. In fact, you're really only at risk of starting to look at the world in 1890s terms and using outdated slang. I know these two novels look thick as hell, but they're real page-turners and you'll suddenly, sadly, be at the end before you know it. I'd love to go on several more adventures with these characters, and I hope you'll feel the same.
3)Life of Pi - Yann Martel (☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆)
I really didn't know what to expect when I started reading this book. In fact, I thought it probably 'wasn't my thing'--but hey, it was $.25 at a thrift store. Boy, was I wrong, so very wrong. I adored this book, and not only that, I'm pretty sure it's in my top ten favorite books. I cried at the end, I went back to re-read portions of it, and it gave me a lot to think about. I told all of my friends to go read it immediately, and I'm telling you the same thing right now.
4)Caroline, or Change - Tony Kushner (☆ ☆ ☆ ☆)
This is actually the book to a musical, so much of the text is lyrics. I still haven't heard the music. I liked experiencing the show that way, rather than letting myself get distracted or become influenced by the music itself, or the singing. Sometimes music will get you emotional and not let you look at the play and its words for what it is. But this piece stands on its own two feet as a written book, and it makes a very enjoyable read. I liked this play and I would be thrilled to see it.
5)Anna in the Tropics - Nilo Cruz (☆ ☆ ☆)
I liked everything about this play, would love to see it performed, and would recommend the read to anyone. But I have a few problems with the pacing of the main action. Without getting into spoilers, let's just say nothing but talk happens for a long time, then two big events happen back-to-back, which either undermines both of them or looks like a desperate grab for drama in the final inning when, of course, it's already much too late.
6)Two Sisters and a Piano - Nilo Cruz (☆)
Apparently, this play was based loosely on Anton Chekhov's works. If you're familiar with Chekhovian theatre, it is slow, melodramatic, chock full of metaphors, and can be completely different each and every time it's staged. Nilo Cruz lived up to the slow part. That's really all I have to say.
7)Tape - Stephen Belber (☆)
A friend directed this play in NYC recently, so I gave it a read and had the chance to see it. I'm not a fan overall (mostly because the playwright seems, at times, wishywashy about his own intentions, which is not ever good), but upon viewing the show, I realized that with a good cast and director there is room to stage it well with a lot of heart and complexity. I would see it staged again.
8)The Clean House and Other Plays - Sarah Ruhl (☆)
It's not really fair that one play counts as one book (see above), but this collection of three plays counts as one book. Oh well, I'll have to suck it up and let the binding dictate how the books count. So I read all three plays pretty much straight through, and though Clean House was my favorite (the other two are Eurydice and Late: A Cowboy Song), let me just say for the record that I'm not a Sarah Ruhl fan. I would see one of her plays live, once, to see if they're more enjoyable when performed; somehow I doubt it. I think Sarah Ruhl is one of those playwrights you're going to love or hate.
9)The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz (☆ ☆)
Winner of a Pulitzer Prize, this book is smart (sometimes, I'll admit, even too smart for me), enjoyable, clever and unique. It's about...well, the title basically tells you what it's about. The story delves into Dominican heritage, traditions and history in a very fun and dynamic way. It's really more than about Oscar Wao, it's about his life, his whole family and his friends. It's a whole little world, and he is the keystone of the story. You'll like it, but make yourself get past the first 30 pages or so. I wasn't a big fan of the ending, but I won't spoil that here.
10)One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (☆ ☆ ☆ ☆)
This book is about the entire founding and progress of a small town (Macondo) in South America. It offers complexity, depth, richness and vibrancy. It is poetic without compromising realism or plot. It is mystical and down-to-earth. You have to read it all at once, or else you'll forget who's who, and get confused about what's going on. You have to read slowly and let the story take you away with it. This is not a beach book. It would be five stars, but it's actually just a wee bit too damn long. I'm enjoying it, but I never meant to dedicate a month to one book. And I can't take breaks and read something else a little more lightweight because, as I said, that would really make you forget what was going on in the story. Oh, well. Still better to have read than not.

As you can see, I'm already doing much better than last year. In three months, I've read more than half the books I got through from 08-09. Then again, I started out strong last year too, and fell into a false sense of security. The truth is, I should be aiming for one book per week, and it's been about 11 weeks, so I'm actually behind. I also haven't been keeping up regularly online, which is why you only get short blurbs about the books, but I promise to try to do better as I move through the year. 40 more to go!

(PS--Do you like the new star scoring system? Last year, a reader suggested that I start ranking the books, so I decided to add that feature this year! Scoring is between 1-5.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

New OMNY Post!

Visit One More New Yorker to check out my review of the POSHGLAM VIP Shopping Event at Studio 26. You'll also find out what the Style Bard has in common with Keri Hilson!

Monday, July 20, 2009

My New Favorite Beauty Tool

I have discovered a new favorite beauty tool, and I just have to share it with you. Ready to Wear's Lash Extension is the best product I have ever used to define and elongate my eyelashes. I started out on a quest to expand my mascara proclivity past Maybelline's Great Lash Mascara, which resulted in the trial and review of both Global Goddess and IMAN mascaras (neither of which were worth my time). The next stop on my journey was R2W's Lash Extension. And let me tell you, third time's a charm.

Now, despite my 10-year inability to break my one-mascara-brand habit, I do have quite a bit of experience with lash extenders and falsies (as well as other eye-widening makeup tricks) from my theatre days. I dare say that if you've been wearing false eyelashes for a night out, you can quit right now if you go get Lash Extension, which creates the same full, dark effect--except that it is easier to apply and looks much more natural.

The product is not a gel or mascara. It's actually a tube of teeny-tiny little dry fibers that cling to wet mascara and thicken your eyelashes. If you follow instructions (one coat of mascara on your lashes, add the fibers, one coat of mascara to seal them in place), they do an amazing job of making it look like you were born with eyelashes that Liza Minnelli would envy. Here are some before and after pics from HSN:

The only thing you have to be wary of is making a mess with the fibers. The package actually comes with instruction for clean-up, but I found it pretty easy to remove stray fibers from the tops of my cheeks where they landed. The ones I wore on my eyes came off along with the mascara thanks to my other recent discovery, Talika Lash Conditioning Cleanser. With some practice, using the R2W Lash Extensions should be a piece of cake. And you, too, can be enjoying gorgeous, lush eyelashes that your friends will envy and men will notice.

Top 100 Fashion Blog

Didja hear? Style Bard Shoes is on the StyleClone Top 100 Fashion Blog list!

I am very humbled and flattered to be included with some of my own favorite fashion reads, such as Coutorture, Fashionologie, Go Fug Yourself, Manolo's Shoe Blog and Style Bubble.

For the complete list, follow the link.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Top Tunic Dress (TTD) by Roland Mouret

I'll be the first to admit that I never swooned over the Galaxy dress. My fascination with Roland Mouret has been limited to his sudden explosion onto the scene, his brooding eyes and that thick, charming accent. But now my interest is definitely piqued over Mouret's new TTD garment. More and more, designers plunge into the future by creating versatile garments that can be modified, recycled and reimagined with time. It's evident that fashion houses must consider the economically minded consumer in coming years, and speaking as one of them, I must say that a very versatile garment (or three pieces, really) speaks more to me than does a simple dress than can be worn one way to a limited number of occasions. Learn more about the TTD in the latest Notes Weekly at, and be sure to let me know what you think!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

New OMNY Post!

Ever get stuck at a swanky party wearing a t-shirt and jeans? The Style Bard has.

Check out the story at One More New Yorker.

Monday, July 06, 2009

LOL Spam

Here's the latest Top 20 Titles from Style Bard's Spambox.

If you squint, they kind of tell a story!

1. Hi
2. Do I know you?
3. Where will you go tonight?
4. Get ready to improve your night life.
5. I'm going to show you this, but keep it secret!
6. He wants an audience
7. And he, who is so kind and keen
8. Nail her like a youngster.
9. Wanna try?
10. Help needed
11. Join us at 8
12. we will make you happy;
13. For everybody in here
14. Where is those place?
15. Photos of the place
16. You're officially "in" now!
17. Check our new members
18. Call me back please.
19. You're a moron.
20. Aloha

I think it's the story of a poor, naive couple who goes to Hawaii on their honeymoon and are lured into joining a smutty sex scandal. But maybe that's just me.

Feel free to send me some of your better titles and I'll post them next time!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Havaianas Flip-Flops Review

Havaianas Sandals

Are you stuck in a flip-flop rut? I was; I always bought the same boring monochrome pair of Old Navy flip-flops year after year.

And then this year I decided to try Havianas, a very popular brand of Brazilian women's sandals.

Head over to SBS to check out the comparison between the two sandals, and to read the full review.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Product Review ~MUD Towelettes~

The Make-Up Designory (MUD), a renowned beauty school based in L.A. and NYC, has just released a new product: make-up removing towelettes. They sent me over a package to review, so here's the skinny on the latest addition to my arsenal of beauty tools.

Packaging: The MUD Make-Up Remover Towelettes are packaged in a packet-type container with a resealable slot for depositing fresh wipes; this seal also locks in moisture. At first I was doubtful about this arrangement, because I prefer a more structure package (preferably something tiny I can keep in the medicine cabinet, or something attractive I can keep out on the bathroom vanity). However, when I learned that these are being advertised for space conservation and travel use--"simply toss [into your] carry on, gym bag, purse or work tote"--I realized that it's the perfect design.

Quality: The MUD towelettes do a great job of removing make-up from the face and neck. I particularly like that they are not standard wipes, but rather like an oversized hanky damp with cleanser that provide enough acreage to give your whole face a good scrub without running out of towel. One takes care of the job, and you're done. The first time I used these, I tried using the towelette by itself (it seems to suggest that you can use them in lieu of washing your face), but I personally thought that while my face was clear of make-up (even tricky mascara) there was too much residue from the towelette still on my face. This may be a matter of sensitivity, but I gave my face a quick wash afterward.

After more experience, here's how I would suggest using them:

1) Wash your face with your usual soap (mine is Clean & Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser).
2) Use a MUD towelette to remove any excess make-up.
3) Splash water on your face to remove an excess residue from towelettes.

After I wash my face, I typically use make-up remover or astringent to remove remaining traces of make-up, then follow with a toner or moisturizer. MUD towelettes are designed to leave your face feeling fresh and balanced, so you can skip the last step.

Pricing: Suggested retail value is 40 wipes for $18, which equals roughly $2.50 per week for me. I would invest in the towelettes again for travel purposes, but not everyday use.

If you're interested in trying them yourself, you can check them out at the Make-Up Designory shop, under "Skincare."

Be sure to let me know what you think!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New (York City) Blog!

Hey guys! Exciting news! The Style Bard will now be writing as an Insider for the UK-based website,! Check out my first post:

Ok - I have to admit. I never really saw myself living in New York City.

Sure, everyone always said I’d grow up and become a city girl with a swanky apartment and a splendid writing career (right). But after hopping from Florida to Boston to Florida to Cambridge to New Paltz (where? - exactly) to Florida again, I decided that I needed to stop my shenanigans and pick a place of residence, already. Even my cat felt like she was constantly living out of a suitcase, and I was beginning to annoy USPS.

Read More of "Hello, New York City!" at One More New Yorker

Monday, June 22, 2009

LOL Spam

Here are 20 more hilarious subject lines from my spam inbox:

1. You're a jerk
2. Cheap drugs.

(SB: I like the forthrightness. And the use of punctuation.)

3. Step by step to her chair.
4. What now?
5. Your love is worthy to receive what she wants. Give it it!

(SB: Your love is worthy to be called an it!)

6. We thought something's wrong.
7. Ready to go with us?
8. Could you use $1060 a Month or even a weekly?
10. Say a few words here

(SB: This one came straight from the email blast template form, no doubt! You're supposed to change the text prompts, guys. Just a head's up.)

11. Saw that girl anywhere?
12. Hey, pal. Damn you
13. You upset me.
14. Correcting your mistake
15. And when the sun went down
16. Sir, reply, sir
17. Rode the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
18. All past efforts at world peace have failed...
19. Reply or get killed!
20. That is your life

Feel free to email me some of yours and I'll include them in the next round! But, uhm, since your comments are likely to end up in spam, please try to include a relevant subject line so that they don't get deleted. I know, I know, the irony.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Tie Bar Helps Men Coordinate Outfits

I remember being less than 5 years old, standing in my father's bedroom in the morning and helping him pick out ties to go with his suits. Whether he was just heading into the office, or about to go to court, he always valued my input and instincts. It's really sad when a grown man thinks that a preschooler has a better fashion sense than he does. Men shouldn't doubt their own instincts quite so much. But here I am, 20 years later, and the last time I saw my dad he still asked me which tie he should wear to dinner. So I guess things never do change. (Although I do like to consider myself a little more credible in the fashion department nowadays!)

But male haplessness is soon to be a thing of the past (when it comes to ties, anyhow). The Tie Bar website has launched a new interface which actually helps guys match their tie to their suit without the help of their wives or daughters. Men are able to "try on" ties by picking a shirt and suit jacket color, and then placing ties against the fabric on-screen to see what works and what doesn't. If men still don't trust their own judgment, Tie Bar suggests ties based on your suit jacket. So if you select 'Navy Suit' for instance, the menu will immediately show only the silk ties which coordinate with a navy blue background. (It took me about 30 seconds to put together the combination shown above, which looks exactly like something my dad would wear back in the day.)

Another reason this works is because unlike other garments, ties are not an accessory you need to try on, so once you know how it'll look, it's easy to shop online. After browsing by suit color, you can double-check your combo by adding a shirt in the "try-on" interface before checking out with your complete order. I think it's a great idea! It's straightforward and practical, which are the two traits guys want when they're forced to go shopping. Tie Bar was created in 2004 by former lawyers (just like my dad!) Greg and Gina Shugar. They wanted to create a way for men to buy affordable accessories that still helped them look sharp every day; now they aim to help men shop and dress with ease and confidence as well.

My dad doesn't wear ties to work anymore. But if yours does, forget the nonsense about a tie being a cliche Father's Day gift. A tie is a wonderful gift for those who wear them, and whose co-workers may be sick of seeing them in the same outfits time and again. But you know what would make an even better gift? Sitting down with dad and showing him how he can use Tie Bar to create stylish new combos all by himself. My dad always appreciates when I take a deep breath and sit down with him to show him how to do newfangled interweb thingys, so I imagine that your dad will appreciate the time and thought, too. Besides, if you give a man a fish he eats for a day, if you show a man to fish...

Then again, since every tie is only $15 and 100% silk, why not throw a tie or two into the gift bag as well? He can put the outfit together and you can pay at check-out. This is also a great last-minute gift idea, since it won't take much forethought and it won't need to be shipped in advance.

Whatever you do with dad this Sunday, I hope you cherish the time spent with your family. Both my father and step-father are far away this weekend, so I envy you your quality time. Give an extra hug for me and all those who can't be with their dads this weekend. Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Scary Mascara - Three Product Reviews

As a lifelong Maybelline Great Lash user, I have finally begun to consider updating my product by finding the perfect mascara for a night out. I recently received two mascaras from The first is IMAN Global Chic Signature Gold Long & Lush Mascara Duo in Black Caviar (it's also available in Cognac Brown), and the second is Global Goddess Exotic Eyes Lash-Building Mascara in Blackest Black.

Let's talk about IMAN, and start with internet reviews. You know it's never good when a mascara review contains the words "raccoon eyes." But that was just the beginning of a host of poor reviews for the IMAN product; many conclude with the phrase, "...which is why I sent it back" and a terse "skip this product" warning. As it turns out, I concur. But I have a quick little story that provides the background on why:

The IMAN mascara comes in a very beautiful sleek package, I have to give it that, though I'm a bit of a magpie, and good packaging gets me every time. It has two ends with two different brush types: one for lengthening, and one for thickening. Going out to my friend's house for a casual poker night, I chose what I believed was the lengthening mascara (the ends aren't marked) because I thought there was no need to lay it on thick just to go to someone's apartment. It applied well and looked good on. At first. As I was walking to the apartment from the subway, it began to rain. You all know where this is going. I knew that I was soaked from head to toe when I finally arrived (after getting lost, of course) and when I showed up, I introduced myself to a few new acquaintances before going into the bathroom with a towel to dry off and freshen up. One look in the mirror, and I was hysterically laughing. Little did I know that as I entered the apartment to greet new friends, my face was covered in mascara smudges, starting with two giant dark ovals around my eyes. 'Raccoon' doesn't even begin to cover it. Think Panda. Think Hamburglar. Anyway, because we're talking about a boy's apartment, there was only handsoap and water to be found, so it actually took some vigorous rubbing to get the worst off. When I got home to take off the rest, it still took several washes to completely cleanse my face. Thankfully, the guys were a good sport about my first impression, and the night improved from there. But I never plan to wear the IMAN again (at least, not for long periods of time); and the idea of applying even more at once with the thickening end of the brush just terrifies me.

As for the Global Goddess mascara, though the sales website claims that the product creates "bold, beautiful lashes for sultry seduction" (they like their alliteration), I found it to actually be a perfect everyday mascara. I thought it went on well and separated my lashes nicely (although, I will admit, I am still learning how to apply mascara with a curved brush)(apparently there's a steep learning curve---get it?). Because it was a daytime look, I only applied it once, and only to my top lashes. I thought it stayed in place well and provided a flattering look for many hours.

When it came time to wash it off, I did need more than soap and water, and it made a great big mess under my eyes. Fortunately, along with the original order of two mascaras, I also received Talika Lash Conditioning Cleanser, an oil-free makeup remover which can be applied to a cotton swab and used to remove tricky eye makeup--without needing a finishing rinse afterward. I love it because I usually keep makeup removers in the bathroom so that I can wash them off my face, but I keep this one by my bed so it's just a quick swipe before I go to sleep.

All in all, I do recommend the Global Goddess over the IMAN mascara, but the truth is that I would never spend upwards of $20 to replace either product. The cleanser, however, I would buy in a heartbeat. It's a steal at $24.00, and I know it sounds pricey, but the tube is huge and will last you forever--plus, it's not just a soap, it's also a lash conditioner(not that I'm sure I would notice the difference in my eyelashes). Alas, my hunt for the perfect mascara continues. Got any suggestions?

Monday, June 08, 2009

LOL Spam

Here's another installment of weird, funny, eye-roll-worthy subject lines from my spam inbox (all [sic] of course). I particularly like how they become increasingly volatile about some answer I haven't given. And that I'm apparently very ambiguous about either my gender or sexual orientation. Oh, well; enjoy!

1. Strains in relationship?
2. Asking you last time!
3. bovines
4. Your wife take deep
5. Her emotion will go off-scale!
6. pears
7. Need m-f-ing answer!
8. Mr., I need to know now
9. Become a sophisticated perfume? She'll adore your talent
10. Literally become a monster snake in my pants

(SB: "Literally.")

11. Let women excite you more
12. Turbines for your meat jet
13. Be so kind as to read this please
14. Monsters
15. I really like you.
16. Tom asked about you
17. dude, what's up?
18. Please
19. Tell me, what's this?
20. Our price: $

(SB: Sold!)

I think I need to make like, a t-shirt that's just a series of the one-word subject lines: 'Bovines, Pears, Monsters, Please...' Man. Now I really want that shirt. It's so damn irrelevant!

Feel free to share some of your funny spam messages with me in the comments, or shoot me an email and I'll publish them in the next round of LOL Spam.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

50 Books - The Conclusion

This year, I'm endeavoring to read 50 books in a year. I began in June of 2008, and as it's just a few weeks short of being June, 2009 we can all see that I've fallen woefully short.

That kind of bums me out, actually. For the first few months, I really had it in the bag. My pace was perfect. And then NaNoWriMo happened. And then the holidays. And then I traveled for two weeks. In between all of that, I was probably reading TV Guide, Glamour, Vogue, Reader's Digest, and maybe some sections of the newspaper. Oh yeah--and BLOGS. Yeesh. So that's where all of my reading time goes. Now that I'm ready to update again, I'm in the middle of the few books (more on that later) but nowhere near 50 books. Know what that means? Gotta start all over again in two weeks. For now, here's the updated list:

1) The Bostonians, Henry James
2) A Drink Before the War, Dennis Lehane
3) Darkness, Take My Hand, Dennis Lehane
4) Sacred, Dennis Lehane
5) Gone, Baby, Gone, Dennis Lehane
6) Prayers for Rain, Dennis Lehane
7) Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
8) The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted, Elizabeth Berg
9) The Apprentice, Tess Gerritsen
10) Skin Deep, Gary Braver
11) Proof: A Play, David Auburn
12) The Exonerated, Jessica Blank
13) All My Sons, Arthur Miller
14) Black Sunday, Thomas Harris
15) Just One Look, Harlan Coben - I'm actually surprised to learn that this guy's kind of a well-known name in the thriller genre, because I've never picked up anything by him before. If you're familiar, I'd compare him to Steve Martini--you know, the easy-to-read beach book sort of thing. Just One Look is about a woman who finds a mysterious photo of her husband tucked into her recently developed pack of photos (ah, the days before digital cameras) and shows it to her husband, and he freaks out and runs away. So she begins to investigate, of course. And begins uncovering a lot of things about her own past, things which aren't always what they seem...yada, yada. I actually thought that the ending was pretty awesome with its reveals, it just took a lot of plodding around and turning corners to get there. I wasn't really sure if I cared about the heroine, and of course, there are a bunch of times that you're just like WHY? WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT? but then again, there were some decent false leads and interesting characterizations, too. Anyway, if you want a decent easy read, check out this book and probably anything else by Coben. You can probably read this in like, a day.
16) Invasion (1997), Robin Cook


17) Shock (2001), Robin Cook

First of all, did you know that 'Robin Cook' is also a British politician? Well, now you do. Second of all, the thing with Robin Cook is that he is soooo hit-or-miss that I usually dread starting one of his novels. It takes about 2/3 of the book before I realize if it's any good or not, and by then I just have to finish it. And, if you've got a shelf of Cook's books in your house as I do, sometimes you can get 1/3 into them and then remember that you've read them before (or maybe you did; it's so hard to tell). If you read more than one at a time (as I did), the pacing and characterizations kind of blur together and wear on you. I think that Cook's strengths are in the science, plotting and social messages, but they lack individuality. In fact, if you've been reading his works for the past 30 years since he started publishing, I dare you to look at a list of his titles and correctly match the plots with the titles, describe what any of the books are about or name memorable traits about the protagonists. Try it!

Anyway, I read these two back-to-back before promptly burning out on Cook's writing. One was about aliens taking over the Earth, but I didn't really care for any of the characters and the premise wasn't exactly new. The other was about two reeeeeally dumb and frustrating girls who try to make money by selling their eggs and then start investigating the clinic for somewhat ambiguous reasons. Seriously, they're risking their lives without going to the authorities for reasons like they just have to know! Or: let's just gather more evidence to CONVINCE the authorities! Whatever. Shut up, heroines. I liked a few of the twists and turns of both novels, but the others were easy to spot. I do recall that I had to keep re-reading physical descriptions, because I just couldn't always picture buildings, rooms, people, landscapes or what-have-you. I guess that's another problem of Cook's writing. Sigh, anyway...I'm sure I'll finish all of his books one day--especially since I have a handful left on the shelf, and they're always like $.25 at thrift stores and libraries--but I'll need big breaks in between each novel, for sure.

So yeah, seriously, sadly, I think that's all I've finished so far. Meanwhile, I'm in the middle of a Ray Bradbury novel, a nonficton book about economics, a nonfiction book about blogging and this month's Glamour. The trick is to finish all of those by June and then...well, I'll have completed 20 books in a year. SO SAD. But I didn't quit, and now I'm prepared to hit it again with renewed vigor. I actually bought eight new books lately, not including the three I mentioned, so I have plenty of ammo and I'm ready to go.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Good Buys at Goodwill

Did anyone see the episode of Real Housewives of New York where (Countess?) LuAnn de Leseppe's daughter tells her mom that she's never heard of Goodwill? I wish I could find a clip of that for you, because it's truly a priceless gem.

Well anyway, the other day my car broke down across the street from a Goodwill store. As I waited nearly an hour for the mechanic to show up (in the Florida heat no less) I had plenty of time to think about how my one remaining denim skirt had recently broke its zipper, and decided that, since I was going out of town that weekend, I should really pick up a new denim skirt and why not check out what Goodwill had to offer?

You all probably know where this tale is heading, but after my car was fixed (new battery, oil change, tire rotation, new wipers--$$$--SIGH) I stopped by Goodwill to try on skirts. I walked out with the following:

Two t-shirts, a denim skirt, a brown peasant skirt, a jersey skirt, a military-style bolero jacket, a knit cotton shrug, and a pair of black pumps. Oh! Plus, three books not pictured here.

Total cost? $35.00 The shoes? $4.50

And to make matters better, half the clothes had original price tags still attached, including the shoes.

You just can't knock Goodwill, especially in these dire economic times. And luckily, a new one just opened up much closer to my house!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Metropolitan Museum Costume Gala

Footage from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Gala
Monday, May 4th, 2009

(thanks to

Friday, May 08, 2009

Exclusive Fashion Club Membership for Style Bard Readers!

Hey guys! I'm really excited to let you know about an exclusive membership opportunity that's currently available to you just for being Style Bard readers. This has been in the works for over a month, so I'm happy to finally spill the beans about it. Here's the deal:

Luxe Club One is a members-only site that grants fashion-savvy users access to special online deals, promotions and sample sales--members not only hear about these offers first, but they're often the only people allowed to take advantage of these special deals. For example, right now members of Luxe Club One can take advantage of 80% off the S/S Collection at Juliette Longuet by using a code that's only available through the LC1 website.

A year-long membership typically costs $99, while a VIP membership costs $399. But Style Bard readers are (for a limited time) able to join as VIP members for free for an entire year by signing up here:

Here's the official info about Luxe Club One:

Luxe Club One is an online, members only club for affluent fashion lovers. They negotiate special offers with luxury and contemporary brands and inform their members via an easy-to-scan email. While other clubs sell you last season’s inventory, Luxe Club One only brings you offers on fashion items that are currently on the brand’s website!

(BTW, Style Bard is receiving no monetary compensation for posting this information; this is not a paid advertisement. I've only made this offer available so that my readers can take advantage of a remarkable opportunity. Go check it out now! I'm already a member and I'm eager to hear what you think about the Luxe Club One specials and services.)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Product Review ~Clinique's Even Better Makeup SPF 15~

Sigh. Would that I could tell you specifically why this makeup failed so critically when I tried the sample packet that came tucked inside my Glamour magazine last month. But I lack the scientific knowledge to clearly articulate why this formula--which claims to 'erase the need for makeup'--failed me so utterly.

Here's the story. About to run out to a very casual sports bar by my house, I didn't feel like getting out of the shower and putting on a full mask of makeup. But, if you know anything about the Style Bard, she's not going to even the most dimly-lit hole-in-the-wall without something on her face. That's when I remembered that my latest Glamour offered a sample of Clinique's newest liquid makeup (concealer? foundation?) that supposedly shows 'improved clarity, a more even skin tone, [and] visibly diminished age spots' with one layer of application. So I used the whole sample-size packet and carefully distributed it evenly over my face and neck with my fingertips (since the final packaging doesn't seem to come with an applicator, I assume this is how it would be put on). At first glance, all went well. The 'Neutral' color that came in the sample (ostensibly the most ubiquitous skin color) matched me well enough, and my complexion did seem smooth and monochromatic. I thought I would wear this (and maybe some lip gloss) out and see how it performed.

At the restaurant itself, I forgot to check on the progress, but as soon as I got home I went to take a look. Oh my goodness! It must have been only two hours since I applied the makeup, and this stuff had suctioned itself to every pore and wrinkle in my 20-something face and made me look about 50 years old. I looked like the bad end of a failed botox experiment, or a Theatre major's first trial with aging makeup, or the witch-queen at the end of Snow White. Clinique's Even Better Makeup SPF 15 dried against my skin like cake makeup and decided to point out every little flaw on my face. After two hours.

If you can't tell already, I was absolutely aghast that I'd been seen in public like that. I washed the stuff off my face immediately, and I will remember to never try it again. It not only doesn't do anything that it promises to do to make you more beautiful, it actually makes you look older and uglier.

I have to say, if this is the even better formula...I'm just glad I never put a drop of the even worse stuff on my face.

To my readers, I strongly recommend avoiding any version of Clinique's "skin-improving" Even Better Makeup SPF 15.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

LOL Spam

I've always been a fan of spam. No, not the canned meat-like product (ick!) but rather spam email. Running two blogs with a public email address, I get a fair share of it in my spambox every day. But before I click 'Delete All' I like to browse through the subject lines. Whether perverse, solicitative, absurd or just poorly spelled, they often give me a good giggle.

The daily spam read-through has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, and now I want to share it with you. After all, what is there to life if we can't use our resources to bring happiness and spam into the lives of others? So without further ado, here's a first installment of LOL Spam (don't worry, it's safe for work)(and all subject lines are [sic]):

1. Size is Always Matter
[SB: This one blows my mind a little. Newton never saw it coming!]
2. Jack looks for you for a week!
3. I worry about you..
[SB: For some reason, this one makes me a little sad. I think it's the unfinished ellipses. What do you think happened to the sender midway? Now -I'm- worried. Vicious cycle!]
4. Nothing matters except a big dong
5. Give your bomb longer timer
6. No Impotence
7. Your love torch wont blow out
8. Scientists found pervert genes
9. How to be Irressistible to Women - Sexually
10. How to Eliminate All Your Yacht or Boat Expenses NOW
[SB: Whew, I was wondering how I'd pay for my yacht.]
11. This crysis never ends
12. Mom called police, where were you?
13. Make your own gun of pleasure
14. Is Linda here?
15. Outrageous games of yuppie
[SB: Polo? Stock trading? Dog breeding?]
16. CIA prisons' photos!
17. Hideous surgery's victims
18. Most brutal children
19. Get better in making it with her
20. Answer. This. Letter!

Enjoyable? You betcha. Feel free to email me any great lines from your own spambox, and I'll post them next time.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Free Jewelry by Peggy Li Winner -- Update

Hey guys! The winner of the Peggy Li Jewelry giveaway contacted me to let me know she received her prize. I wanted to share her email with you (with her permission, of course):

Hi! I just wanted to let you know I love the Peggy Li necklace! It came in time for me to wear out with my husband on our anniversary- it was perfect! Thanks again for picking me!


You're welcome, MJ!

Enjoy your beautiful quartz necklace, handmade by Peggy Li.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

World Blog Archive - Update

Since my last post, World Blog Archive has personally contacted me to inform me that the terms have been changed. That's pretty accommodating! Here are the old terms:

However, by posting your Content through the Service you automatically grant WorldBlogArchive a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive worldwide license to (i) use, publish, translate, adapt, distribute, perform, and display the Content alone or as part of other works in any form, media, or technology whether now known or later developed, and to (ii) freely and fully sublicense such rights through single or multiple tiers of sublicensees.

Here are the new terms:

However, by posting your Content through the Service you automatically grant WorldBlogArchive a royalty-free, good until termination, non-exclusive worldwide license to use, publish, translate, adapt, distribute, perform, and display the Content alone or as part of other works in any form, media, or technology whether now known or later developed.

Greg (who seems to be running things over there) is very receptive, open to communication and responds to inquiries in a timely manner. He even left me and my readers a comment on the last post, addressing my concerns--which means he takes the time to follow inbound links and read what people have to say (hi, Greg!). That's very respectable and thorough. So if you're thinking about publishing through them, but have some questions or reservations, I highly recommend shooting him at email at greg(a)

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Glam Network Awards

Hey guys, it's that time again! Please show some love and support my meager efforts here at Style Bard by voting for me at the Glam Network Awards in the category of Fashion. You can vote once per day through April 13th, 2009. Just click on the link below to go to the voting page. Thank you! <3 SB

Friday, April 03, 2009


For the record? When Facebook can't load a photo and it gives you this:

It is called a "photodally" ... as if the picture is just dallying, taking it's damn sweet time and smelling the daisies along the side of a 6-lane highway.

Those three fluctuating blue bars are the bane of Facebook. There's no sense of progress. There's no explanation. There's no estimate of how long you'll be waiting for the page to load. It just tells you, quite stoically: "You are not frozen. You are not frozen. You Are. Not. Frozen." (Even though it's essentially the same thing.) You click forward--and then back, aha!--but no, it has outsmarted you. It's still dallying. And dallying. And dallying.

And you just know it's the exact picture you came here to see, the one where all your friends are tagged, you look super hot, it's labeled with a pithy caption, and a slew of in-joke commentary is waiting to be read underneath. But it just...won'!

I think the photodally is a depiction of what the inside of Lennie Small's head looks like when he's confronted with a non yes-or-no question.

So: photodally. Don't ask me why, it's just called that. And I thought you should know, so we're all on the same page when we're lamenting and filing grievances. You're welcome.

P.S. I tried to get it to happen within an album, where it most frequently occurs. But this one time I could go through every album without a dally. What the hell? Because I was looking for it, of course. Sigh. You win, Facebook.

I'll update with that pic the next time I get one. Or if one of you encounters it before I do, feel free to send the screen pic my way. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Style Bard Faves

"Style Bard Faves" is a term I coined (heh, I just typed "coin I termed") over at Style Bard Shoes to denote my picks for the best buy within a selection of on-sale shoes. Now I'm gonna use it to tell you about my top five favorites in a number of fashion-related categories. "Style Bard Faves" will be a 5-part series running every Wednesday starting today, on the third anniversary of Style Bard.

First up: (what else?) shoes. I've been writing about shoes on an almost-daily basis at Style Bard Shoes for almost two years, since March 2007. That's 756 shoes in 730 days! Naturally, it's a little hard to pick out a selection of five favorites (and I have maternal guilt about all the hundreds I had to overlook). Yet, here they are:

5) The fourth runner-up out of the five favorite shoes I've come across in the past three years is actually the hardest to choose. Picking out your favorites is easy, but narrowing down the last one to make the cut is tricky. Should I choose another pair of whimsical knee-high boots? Boots are my favorite style of shoe. Should I feature something with a zipper? Style Bard readers know that I'm a sucker for some zipper detailing on a shoe. How about the quintessential Jimmy Choo mid-heel black patent slingbacks, which every girl needs in her shoe armoire? But no. Finally I decided that I needed to choose a flashy, bright, dress-up shoe, the likes of which I'll never be able to buy in real life--something to add balance to the dark, gothic, S&M, romantic shoes I tend to favor. And that's the Swarovski-coated 'Gilda' pump by Gina shoes, a heel which stands out among all other shoes and demands attention. What I wouldn't give to see these in the light of a bright summer day! (Other than the $1,215.00 it would take to make that happen.) At heart, I am a magpie, and I think these shiny shoes deserve a place in my top five faves:

4) I've gotta tell you, I would wear the hell out of these 'Motorcycle Boots' by Tory Burch. I love the hardware, love the glam, love the height and wish like hell I could justify the pricetag. But alas, these gems like so many others just got away from me. They also come in a very similar version with a zipper up the front (swoon), but these are slightly more sexy to me because, in case you didn't know, the Style Bard loves some good motorcycle chic and military authority in her shoes almost as much as a zipper! In the perfect world, I'd have both boots, but this list can only include one:

3) O, 'Frisoni' by Vivre. Every time I lay eyes upon you, I only want you more. I wish I had the nerve several years ago to buy you, even though I'm sure your pricetag was exorbitant and I would have had to drop out of school and move into a box. But oh, what a fabulous pair of shoes I would wear in my cardboard box home under the freeway. You would keep me warm at night with the fiery heat of red velvet, dry the tears from my eyes with the glimmering sight of gold stiletto, and soothe my empty stomach with the raindrops that would collect in your curvaceous black patent heel... O, 'Frison' by Vivre. If I only were as brave as you are beautiful:

2) Coming in at second place, or first runner-up, are a pair I actually own. That counts, right? I bought these Irregular Choice booties from Schuh in London in early 2006, which was waaaaaay before booties became a big-time trend. I absolutely fell in love with them, had to have them, and circled them like a shark until the salesperson came to help me (like someone would steal the display shoe and they wouldn't have any more in the back right?). Then in my near-drooling tizzy, I asked for a size 9. The sales guy stared at my feet for a long moment and said very slowly, "We...don't...carry...size... -hem- 9" Then I blushed and nervously giggled or hiccuped or something and said, "Oops! 9 American! 9 American! Sorry!" And I actually walked out with a much more reasonable size 7UK. To date, Irregular Choice remains my favorite shoe brand, these continue to be the most expensive pair of shoes I own, and they are absolutely my favorites:

1) But my number one favorite shoe of all time is the 'Arunium' by Manolo Blahnik. I would pretty much trade my firstborn for these heel-less beauties; I might even trade all the rest of my shoes for them (gasp!). If they're even available these days they would retail for an impossible $6,000.00. These are the shoes I will always covet:

Check back next Wednesday for another round of "Style Bard Faves" with a new fashionable topic.

Three Years and Counting

Happy Anniversary, Style Bard!

Today this blog turns three years old. There's no way to avoid this cliche: it does literally feel like just yesterday that I was sitting at my work-study job in college, bored to tears, making $7 an hour, and thinking: I should stop emailing my mother and sisters every day about what fashions I love or hate and just put it in a blog instead.

At the time, I already read a bunch of daily fashion blogs (some of my favorite reads such as Kristen at Beauty Addict, Annie at Blogdorf Goodman and Danielle at Final Fashion were immeasurably helpful and welcoming when I joined the world of blogging). And whenever I was bored at work I liked to peruse the sale pages of shopping sites to pick out my faves, much like virtually circling your favorite items in a mail catalog (which is ironic, since back in those days I could never afford to buy clothes at all so I might as well have looked at the full-price stuff). So it was a pretty easy transition to start my own blog. I never really had a major plan for this space. Just to collect my thoughts on fashion and share with the world the must-have pieces that I loved, wanted and needed. Although, I have noticed over the years that I love to write about shopping more than fashion. I love to write about sales and deals and finds. I think, going forward, I need to be a little less scattered about Style Bard and truly embrace my own theme. I remember about a year ago I read an article about American fashion icon Ralph Lauren, in which he stated something along the lines of not loving fashion, but rather loving clothes. That's how I feel about it. I don't love fashion per se (which is why you don't see runway or red carpet pics splashed all over the place on my blogs), but I do love shopping and style.

Of course, over at Style Bard Shoes, which I started approximately one year after I launched Style Bard, it's all about shoe sales and shoe shopping. The story behind SBS is that I was getting paid to freelance as a fashion specialist at another website that is now defunct (not my fault; I swear!) and they gave me permission to re-post my blogs on my own site. Of course, I was writing 5-8 blogs for them per week, so I thought that would really overpower Style Bard. So I started up a sister-site to post all of my shoe findings. Over the years I broke from the format that I was using at the freelance job, and have found my own voice and style with which to write about shoes. I love how familiar I am with the websites I frequent, such as Shopbop, Macy's, 6PM, Piperlime, Victoria's Secret, Shoebuy, OnlineShoes, Zappos, Bluefly, etc... I can always tell when they get new products, or when a shoe from a few weeks ago is now seriously on sale. I really enjoy combing through site after site and page after page of shoes to find the best deals and the best angles about which to write.

A lot of people assume I write these blogs for the money. To be quite candid, there's not too much of that coming in. I'm not one of those super big sites (yet) and I don't always do the smartest things to make the most money. For example, I write reviews for free, I work with affiliates on a quid-pro-quo unremunerative basis, and while I sometimes receive a commission from ad clicks or shoe sales, what I actually make per month from both my blogs combined is less than what I charge for one---one!---blog post in my real life as a freelance blogger/web content writer/SEO writer. And I work on my blogs like it's another part-time job, when it ain't paying like one. In short: I don't do it for the money. I do it because I love it. And I'm really not sure how someone could regularly blog two blogs (don't you love that it's a verb and a noun?) for three years unless they loved to. It's a big passion of mine, a big commitment, and I am thankful to all of my readers--because honestly, I'd just be talking to myself if it weren't for you guys.

So, I'm about to post "Style Bard Faves," a series about my favorite beauty products, jewelry items, shoes, designers, etc. which will continue every Wednesday alongside the 5-week Shoe Psyche/Win Free Shoes from Shoebuy results. Check back in a few minutes, and "Style Bard Faves" should be up. Or, you know, keep hitting refresh. I could use the traffic! Want to click some ads, too? It would be a wonderful anniversary present! ;D

Head over to Style Bard Shoes for the Second Annual St. Patrick's Day Green Shoe Week and the results of the Free Shoe Giveaway sponsored by Shoebuy (which is also the kick-off to five consecutive Wednesdays of Shoe Psyche, the new feature at SBS).

Thanks so much for reading! Y'all have been making it worthwhile for three years and counting.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Weekly Updates for SB and SBS

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

In honor of St. Paddy's, we're running the second annual Green Shoe Week at Style Bard Shoes.

Plus, today is the last day to enter to win free shoes from Shoebuy so head over and participate today! The grand prize winner will be announced tomorrow, with four follow-up winners announced every Wednesday hereafter in special new Shoe Psyche posts.

It's also one day until Style Bard's Third Anniversary, so check back tomorrow for a round-up of favorites in beauty and fashion.

Monday, March 02, 2009

World Blog Archive

Hey, I don't know if other bloggers out there are getting invites to join World Blog Archive, but I have.

I've been considering them and looking into syndicating my content there. In fact, I decided to list 'Style Bard' there, and as I was about to list 'Style Bard Shoes' with them as well, I decided to double-check the fine print. I was mostly concerned about duplicate content and non-compete, etc. I didn't want to hurt my SEO standings or impede on my agreement with Glam Network. Normally, an aggregate is going to know that to keep bloggers sending content their way, they'll have to provide for this. But, you know, I'm wary and I wanted to be sure.

Here's some of the terminology I encountered that made me more suspicious:

However, by posting your Content through the Service you automatically grant WorldBlogArchive a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive worldwide license to (i) use, publish, translate, adapt, distribute, perform, and display the Content alone or as part of other works in any form, media, or technology whether now known or later developed, and to (ii) freely and fully sublicense such rights through single or multiple tiers of sublicensees.

I have signed many a contract in the past three years of blogging, and this is above and beyond the agreements I'm used to signing. It's just too broad for my liking. There should be more explicit cancellation wording, I feel, and more information about how and how not they are allowed to use your blog content. It should be MORE fine print than this, actually. I know that sounds strange, but I actually like parsing the fine print when it's about rights *I* get. However, when a content aggregate wants non-defined, unremunerative, perpetual, irrevocable use of my blog's content because I said okay to link to me, I have to say no way. So here's the removal letter I wrote:

Hey, I was on board to have content from both of my blogs displayed here, but I'm not okay with perpetual and irrevocable use of my materials. This not only seems legally grandiose for WBA to assume, but it sounds like it encroaches on almost any and all opportunities to further syndicate or publish materials. In fact, I'm not sure if it would compete with small-print agreements on most networking/publishing sites (such as the ones I am a part of because they do not request the rights to my materials now and forever, no matter what). It's kind of the "times infinity" of legalese. If the terms are adapted in a more explicit and blogger-respectful way, I'd love to send my content and recommend the service to blogger friends. I work hard on my blog, and I want to keep my prospects a little more open than that, perpetually and irrevocably. Thanks for listening, SB

They're just kicking off, so I hope they're listening to feedback from contributors and they'll get in a bit more shape than this blanket-use nonsense. If anyone's making a dime off of my little pet projects, it'd better be me, mmkay?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Win Free Shoes from Shoebuy

On March 18th, the Style Bard blog is celebrating its third anniversary! That means Style Bard Shoes is celebrating its honorary second anniversary, and to do so, we're partnering with Shoebuy to give away some free shoes!

Want to win? Follow this link for more details.

And in honor of Style Bard turning 3 years old, you'll be seeing some reviews of my favorite fashions, brands and beauty products in an all-encompassing review throughout the month of March--so keep an eye on this site!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Free Jewelry by Peggy Li Winner

And the winner of a beautiful quartz necklace from the line of handcrafted jewelry by Peggy Li is... MJ!

MJ, I hope you had a wonderful low-key Valentine's Day with your husband. Please look for an e-mail from me tomorrow regarding your prize.

Thanks to everyone who participated! Remember to keep an eye on Style Bard Shoes this week for details about an upcoming chance to win Free Shoes. I'm excited about it and I hope you are, too!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Win Free Jewelry by Peggy Li

I know what's on every girl's mind this Valentine's Day: jewelry, jewelry, jewelry. And to be perfectly frank, I think every girl deserves new jewelry this time of year, whether she's single or married or somewhere in between. That's why Style Bard has partnered with Peggy Li to give away a beautiful quartz and gold-fill necklace (worth approximately $50.00) in a fun and easy giveaway. Whether it's a reward for making it through another long, cold, grey winter or a pick-me-up after another holiday season as a single gal (and believe me--I hear ya), what girl wouldn't love a unique, handmade, free necklace?

About Peggy Li
Peggy Li combines eight years of practice and a love of refined craftwork to create handmade rings, bracelets, necklaces and other accessories out of her San Francisco studio. Every piece reflects her genuine dedication to the craft--down to the last detail, there's an essence of careful patience and customer satisfaction in her work. These details are the kind of extra touches you simply don't get from mass-produced jewelry, which is one reason Style Bard is always happy to promote and partner with small businesses in the fashion industry. But despite its small-scale status, Peggy Li jewelry offers a wide variety of options, from sentimental, delicate charms to big, brash fun cocktail rings. There's something for every personality, and the pieces are affordable enough to fit into any budget (check out the Limited Edition selection for specialty items, or the Sale section for recent discounts). Peggy Li jewelry has been seen recently on such TV programs as Private Practice, Without A Trace and Grey's Anatomy. Prior features include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, What About Brian? and the 2008 movie Superbad. Frequent, repeat TV and film spots reflect Peggy Li's dedicated customer service and quality; Peggy Li only uses the best gems, charms and silver, gold, gold-fill and gold vermeil to make her signature jewelry.

Giveaway Terms
Since this giveaway is all about Valentine's Day, the terms are these: leave a comment here telling me about your plans for February 14th. Do they involve candlelight and dinner reservations? Sounds amazing. Staying home with your favorite film from Blockbuster? Tell me what you're watching. Maybe you've got a surprise in the works, or you're putting off celebrations until the weekend after. No problem; this contest runs through Saturday, February 21st, so you've got an entire week to fill me in on your V-Day plans, before or after they occur. Be sure to leave your email address with your comment so that I can contact you if you win! If you don't feel confident about leaving it in a comment, just shoot me an email letting me know which comment is yours, and I'll use the return email address to contact you. Sounds simple, right? The winner will be selected at random from the comments, and will promptly be sent the Slim Quartz necklace (pictured above). They will have have their choice of a gold-fill or silver chain in 16", 18" or 20" length.

(As an added bonus, if you pass on this giveaway information on your website or blog and email me the link, you'll receive two extra entries to the giveaway!)

So let me hear your Valentine's Day plans, and then check back on Sunday, February 22nd to see if you're the winner! Have fun and good luck!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

>>Ad Men: TV Ad Observations in the TIVO/DVR Era

Here are a few of my thoughts about commercialization in the era of live TV recording.

While my friends have had TIVO for a few years now, and I've toyed with the system now and again, I've only had access to DVR at my own residence for about eight months. The first time I paid any attention to the new way commercials seek the attention of viewers trying to fast-forward through them was watching Mad Men. Mad Men was the first show I recorded an entire season of in one go when I first had DVR. AMC's Mad Men is a show about a 1960s ad agency. It not only cleverly integrates their real-life sponsors as advertising clients within the show, but also features commercials by these sponsors during commercial breaks, and interrupts commercial breaks with little clips revealing interesting information about the clients. For example, Heineken commercials played during an episode in which the Mad Men won a Heineken campaign in the show, and in the midst of commercials, a little Mad Men-theme screen pops up telling you that Heineken was "the first imported beer in America after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933." Now that's smart, and intriguing, too. I always used to slow-forward through Mad Men commercial breaks so that I could catch the fun facts. This is a fantastic strategy to entice viewers to slow down and watch some commercials. (Here's an interesting interview with Mad Men's creator, Matthew Weiner, which touches on this strategy. And just for kicks, below is the Simpson's Mad Men spoof. If you don't watch this show you should!)

Another technique I've observed recently is having network stars feature in commercials that play during their own show's time slot. For instance, I was watching House, and the actor who plays Dr. Kutner (Kal Penn) was featured in a commercial. I was quick-forwarding through the ads, but I caught his face and rewound, thinking I'd gone too far. But no, my show was not back on. It was a well-planned commercial, making me watch it.

By the way, is it just me, or does House have more commercial breaks than other TV shows?

Overall, I think the most frustrating (and...good) strategy is Bravo's. They feature sponsored items on the shows (we're onto you, nondiscreet product placement lords over at Bravo), they break up the commercial breaks with funny clips and bloopers from the show that's playing (looking at you, Top Chef), and they also splice up the commercial break with commercials for other Bravo TV shows, as opposed to using those ads only at the beginning and end of the commercial break. For example, on TNT I know that if I see an ad for another TNT show, my show is about to come back on after it's over, so I hit play ahead of time. On Bravo, I keep hitting play for random Bravo commercials, as I never know which one will be the bookend commercial that signals my show coming back on.

My favorite shows are like Sons of Anarchy on FX, where Viewer Discretion is Advised, and I see the black screen forewarning me when my show's about to come back on. I pretty much like any show that flashes the same thing before the new scene's about to start, which is all I visually skim for as I FF commercials.

And then of course there's online TV, like, where they make your show pause for 15 or 30 seconds and force you to watch one featured commercial over and over again. That really ticks me off. Give me some variety at least! Especially when they trick you and play a minute-long commercial, and it's up to YOU to hit "continue" when it releases you from your commercial viewing prison. Tricky TV network bastards!

Do you have any favorite shows or networks that tell you when to forward, pause and play? Have you noticed any other TIVO/DVR-proof tricks that the networks are using as they adapt to modern TV-watching habits?

Or am I an old-fuddy-duddy who should just skip to DLing everything online so that there are NO commercials? Personally, I feel as though that's only encouraging on-screen commercials that pop up during shows which I haaate.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and observations with me!