Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Red Dress for Me

Ah, friends.

They laugh with you, cry with you, shop with you. If you're really lucky, they'll shop for you.

It was a crushing blow to discover that the Scottsdale H&M store wasn't getting the full Garden Collection and most importantly, no red rosette dress. In fact, it was the fashion equivalent of your favorite pitcher being out for the entire season*. But, my friend S is well-connected. As we stood in the middle of the chaos that is an H&M this past weekend, she texted a message to her fashion friends to keep an eye out for the red dress.

Well, one's coming.

Color me giddy. I'll look exactly like the long-limbed, sunken-cheeked Swedish model in it, I just know it.

The thing that's tripping me up — what shoes will I wear?

*Sometimes my husband reads. Gotta make sure and speak in terms he understands. Then, perhaps, he will realize what a joyous thing it is when the dress arrives and he will take me out somewhere in it. A mother of three can dream.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

J Crew Jumps the Shark

I've come to terms with the fact that rompers are around for yet another season. And though I don't like them, I can choose not to wear them. And I won't.

J Crew's got this Adele Romper ($98) in its new catalog. Available catalog and online only. As if it'll sell either way.

Now, there are rompers and then there's this thing, which I'd call a onesie. Really, J Crew? Who — over age 3 — is gonna wear this? And surprisingly, it comes in only adult sizes.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Styling A Steal

So, back went the chemise!

Just couldn't overcome the fact that it was supposed to be a nightgown. Not that I'm against repurposing clothes, but I also realized it's just another knit dress to add to my collection.

It all worked out for the best though because on my return trip, I found this great Eva Franco navy skirt for $25! Not even $25, it was $24.95. Niiiice. It's got that great ruffle going up the front and lots of draping, which hides a multitude of Oreos and chocolate. The back is ruched, too. It's sexy and fun and unlike any other skirt in my closet.

So, here are three ways I'm styling it:

• Dressy: J Crew "Tartine" cardi, Converse (Target) cami and Me Too "Locket" pumps
• Medium: Michael Stars striped cardi, random white tank and Lovely People covered wedges
• Casual: newly acquired H&M pink striped tee, Betseyville wedges

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Road Trip to H&M

When shopping calls, I'm dutybound to answer.

Even if it means a 2-hour-plus drive to Scottsdale. Because the siren song of H&M's Garden Collection is not one to be ignored.

Bombarded with ads for H&M's eco-friendly and super-cute line, I convinced S and J to go with on that long, ugly ride up Interstate 10. Sadly, our H&M did not get the coveted red, rosette-studded dress, which is what I really, really wanted. Boo.

But, as you can see, I got lots of other stuff. I nabbed that great trench/anorak hybrid that's popped up in all the advertising, too, and the pink rosette tank along with linen-blend shorts from the Garden Collection.

If only I had some actual computer skills, I'd do something really cool like sketch in arrows pointing to each item. Instead, you get to look at my decidedly low-tech photo, which involved me standing, precariously, on my dresser.

Other stuff in the photo (clockwise from left):
• Garden Collection blush tank with rosettes (the fit is much looser than I expected)
• Blue super-soft nitie
• Tie-dye scarf
• Anorak/trench from the Garden Collection (amazingly soft and worth the money, a good timeless piece)
• Floral dress from the Garden Collection (it has pockets, which makes me love it even more)
• Linen blend cargo shorts from the Garden Collection
• A viscose Members Only style jacket. You can't tell from the photo, but this is completely sheer, a great layering piece to dress up or down
• Gray ruffled vest (the best deal of the trip $10)
• Black/white racerback, asymmetrical-hem tank
• Pink striped and black T-shirts

So, I dearly love H&M and allegedly Tucson will have its own at the Tucson Mall in August (yay!), but two things vex me about the inexpensive, fashionable retailer: Why do they put those crazy strings across the backs of clothes, so you're strangled as you try them on and why do they not provide bags for schlepping items? I seriously tweaked my left arm from lugging around 20 pounds of clothes piled on top.

Oh wait, I thought of another perplexing question: Why do they insist on having so few dressing rooms? The line was so freakin' long that we actually trooped upstairs to the nearly deserted kids' section and tried stuff on up there. Seriously. Good thing I wore nice undies.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ahhhhhh, Aveda

Look what I unearthed from my overly full medicine cabinet — Aveda Blue Oil Concentrate.

I bought the little roll-on about a year ago after a sales associate gave me a little test spin. She rolled some of the brisk pepperminty oil onto the undersides of my wrist and the back of my neck and rubbed the oil in. My skin grew cool and tingly. It's relaxing, refreshing — kinda like a massage in a mini bottle. The stuff lasts forever so don't worry about paying $13.50.

Huh. I need to dig through those drawers and cabinets more often. Who knows what else I'll find.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Shoe 'ku

Cheater heel — the wedge.
Height without falling over.
Well, most of the time.

Shoe 'n Tell: Harajuku Lovers buckle wedges, a farewell purchase from my beloved Stems — A Shoe Boutique, a Tucson shop that made it nearly four years before the stinky economy did it in. It's due to close any day now. Fun shoes, even funner people. A true loss.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A-Shoppin' I Did Go

While I, quite literally, window shop every day online, I don't actually pull the trigger on many things.

And I've been trying to be good. No, really. Stop laughing, spousal unit.

I did, however, end up with a few somethin' somethin's this week.

•The roundabout shirt from Anthro. On sale for $39 and a dead-ringer for an Elizabeth & James shirt that's waaaay more expensive, it was a must-buy, especially with free shipping for Anthro memebers.

• I picked up this Anthro number in-store. Yes, I dared venture into the sale room, which triggers minor seizures, it's so jam-packed full of stuff.
I'm thinkin' it would be a cute summer dress, although technically it's loungewear. But now that I've seen all the reviews where women are talking about sleeping in it, I'm rethinking the dress. Is it too nightwear-ish?

• A trinket scored on sale from Shopbop. It's by Madwell — J Crew's sister line. It's quite lovely IRL. I think I did the right thing 'cuz it's sold out now.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hurry Up, Glee!

"Glee" — come back.


CDs volume 1 and 2 have been playing on an endless loop in the mini van. I so miss that show. I need something to even out the intensity of "24," which ticks about 60 minutes off my life every episode and the extreme annoyance of "Lost," which just plain ticks me off because those writers aren't going to reveal squat. Instead, all of us faithful viewers will be every bit as dazed and confused as we were in Season One. Bet you.

But, "Glee," — it never disappoints. It's cute, has that incredibly uplifting music and I'm completely smitten with that fresh-faced football player Finn. Maybe it's his Chiclet teeth, but damn he's a cutie. And, lest you think I'm a completely dirty old woman, you know in real life he's gotta be well into his 20s. So, I'm not that cougar-y.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Shirt I *Should* Love...But I Don't

I should love this.

Should being the operative word.

This Patterson J. Kincaid tank is everything that I adore — a little quirky but not too out there and made of blissfully soft cotton.

And yet, I don't love it.

The feathers are a deal breaker.

It's on sale, I have a discount code, but those feathers totally creep me out. Birds creep me out. No, not because of the Alfred Hitchcock movie. Never seen it. But, when I was 5, I remember running after a flock of birds. One didn't fly up into the sky. He didn't look so good. I carefully scooped that sucker up into my hands and ran it over to the doctor who lived in the cul-de-sac.

He blew me off. So, I ran home to show my new pet to my mom.

"THAT'S A DEAD BIRD. Do you know how many germs that thing has? Go wash your hands!"

I dropped that poor dead little birdie like a hot potato and washed my hands till I thought the first layer of skin would fall off.

A few years later, I picked out a white finch at the pet store, but I was so vain I didn't wear my glasses. I am — and long have been — blind as a bat. I thought that little dude had brown spots. Um, no, the feathers were plucked clean off him in several spots. You could see its naked bird skin, and — if my memory isn't tricking me — its spine. Totally grossed me out

So, you can see why bird-related merchandise doesn't do much for me. And yet, this cute tank is killing me because it'd be such a great score for a fashionable, normal person. Normal being the operative word.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Recession-Proof Shoes

Recession? What recession?

According to Piperlime, these $400 Cynthia Vincent shoes are a "best seller."

Love. But won't bite until 95 percent off.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I Do Not Like Oxfords

I am Kristen, Kristen I is
I just don't get this oxford biz.
I did not like 'em in the '80s when they were jazz shoes
I absolutely refuse to wear them now. I just refuse!

I would not wear them with a dress,
I would not wear them to play chess.

I think they make feet look big,
I would not wear them to do a jig.

I would not wear them with some socks,
I do not think this re-trend rocks.

I hope you do not think me rude,
But this style can make you look like a dude.

And I suppose if you're one of the ladies who do like this style, I ought to tell you which shoes these are. No laces are Joie "Louie Louie"
and the other is Boutique 9 "Brazen."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ahhh, Family Movie Night.


That's all I've got to say after Netflixing "Mr. Mom" for family movie night. A few weeks back when the montage of John Hughes movies popped up during the Oscars, "Mr. Mom" was one of the clips. I loved that movie as a kid.

So, last night, my younguns gathered 'round the TV and maybe half an hour into it there was a "shit." I glanced around. Thank goodness for the tinny sound of movies from the 1980s because I don't think anyone could really tell what was said. Although the oldest knows alllll those choice words because her dad thought it would be good to talk about 'em all after another kid dropped an 'f' bomb in — wait for it — religious ed class! At church! Niiiice. After the f-in' incident, Joe sat her down and rattled off every four-letter word he knew and told her each's meaning.

Then, there was the scene when the other ladies dragged Michael Keaton to the male strip club. The synthish porn music started and the dancers, in space suits, slowly unzipped and peeled off the outfits. My youngest, coincidentally clad in only a pull-up, immediately pops up and starts gyrating along with 'em.

Niiice. He did not end up with any dollars in his drawers.

And then there was the classic scene when Keaton is in the bathroom and realizes that one of the ladies from the neighborhood gaggle is making a play for him and he debates the pros and cons of going for it in the mirror.

"She wants it," he says, pointing a finger at his reflection.

"What's he talking about?" asks the oldest one. "What's 'it'?"

But I'd have to say my favorite part of the whole movie watching experience was when Keaton set up an ironing board in the kitchen while he was watching soap operas. The iron was flat down on the board and smoking, as it burned through the cover.

"What's that?" the youngest one asked. "What does that do?"

Yeah, ironing is one R-rated event my kids have yet to witness in our household.

What does one wear for Family Movie Night? An ancient Banana Republic cami, an even older J. Crew hoodie and Gilligan O'Malley sleep pants. Aaaaaaaaah.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Shoe 'ku

Hot pink, kitten heels
Lady Gaga would wear these
Probably to church.

Shoe n' Tell: These babies go waaaaay back. They're Chinese Laundry's Wash line. Funny how they're probably 8 or 9 years old, and yet this season funky, heeled sneaks were back again.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Crewsin' Again

One of the best movies of all time — "Say Anything" — features a character hopelessly in love with a bad news dude named Joe (remember the song: "Joe lies! Joe lies!"). She knows this, but still can't help herself around him.

Well, that's how it is with J. Crew and me (for more on our sordid past, see Jan. 6 posting "Kicking the Crew Habit").

I cut up my card and haven't bought anything Crew for months. Then, I get a new catalog and immediately find myself ooohing and ahhing over things like the ultra-knit hoodie and the palmera tank.

Picture me clenching my teeth and pumping my fist and muttering — Jerry Seinfeld-like when he speaks about his nemesis Newman — "J.... Crew..."

Damn them.

I'm also shamelessly smitten with their silk-blend pants even though I know in my heart of hearts that my ass would look terrible. This would be the clothing version of Joe.

All it would take is a free ship code with no minimum, and I'd become another hopeless lamb back in the fold of the Crewnation. Oh wait, Crew NEVER does that. Whew. Safe.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Just Brows-ing

Brows are big. Like, Robert Pattinson big. OK, maybe not quite that Cro-Magnon, but more natural-looking brows are the order of the day.

This information immediately struck fear into my heart because I'm worried my brows, particularly at the ends, aren't thick enough. BK (Before Kids), I spent a fair amount of time getting those caterpillars waxed and plucked into submission to avoid that Russian leader look.

These days, I've been hittin' the brow products pretty hard, trying to cover up possible overpluckage. Powder, pencil, wax, gel, you name it, I've tried it. So, I figure I'm qualified to offer some opinions on what's out there along with tips on how to determine your brow shape, although you should definitely leave the shaping to the professionals. Trimming at home, if you have a light hand, is OK, but the light hand part is key. I had to do an eyebrow combover for weeks because I got a little carried away with the scissors. Not pretty.

• Powder. This is good for filling in sparse brows. I've tried the sets that come with wax, and frankly, they get all gunky. You don't need the wax. Sephora used to carry a cheap brow powder kit that works pretty well. If you want to go higher-end, the Anastasia brow kits are also good.
• Pencil. Today, I like the pencil better than powder. That could change tomorrow. I've been using MAC's fine point pencil ($15) to draw light, feathery strokes in the sparser part of my brows. This can look harsh, though, so you need to use an angled brush to blend. Pencil offers the same look as powder but requires that extra step of blending. It's a personal choice — do you have time for that extra blending step?
• Highlighter. Using a highlighter along the underside of your brows highlights the arch and makes you look more alert. Couldn't we all use a cheat like that? Two favs: Anastasia Shimmer Highlighter ($21) and MAC's cream colour base in pearl ($16.50). The MAC stuff has a slight frosty sheen, and you need to blend it well.
• Gel. Skip it. The brands I've used make your brows crazy stiff, or the stuff flakes off. Yuck.

Use a makeup pencil and place it alongside your nose. By following this line straight up, you can see where your eyebrows ought to begin.
Next, keep the pencil's lower end against your nose. Move the top of the pencil so it's lined up with the outer edge of the iris. Now you've found where the arch should be.
Again, keeping one end of the pencil against the nose, line up the pencil's far end with the eye's outer corner. This shows where the brow should end.

Next we'll cover dealing with those straggly chin hairs. What's up with those anyway? Another one of Mother Nature's cruel practical jokes as you age. Just kiddin'. I'm not actually going to write about that, but don't they suck?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Not-So-Buttoned-Down Button-down

Generally, I'm not a fan of button downs. They're just too....well, buttoned down. Not to mention they require ironing. Blech.

But this one, I likes.

From Funktional, it's got a cool vibe — it's slouchy but crisp. The wrap-type detailing and double pockets are nifty twists on a basic, too.

Alas, I didn't act quickly enough when I first saw it on It's now sold out on every site I've seen it on. Guess I do know a good thing when I see it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday Sales

So many good things filled my in-box today that I figured I'd share:
• Fan on Facebook and join its mailing list and you could win a $200 gift card.
Lindsay Lou's got a denim sale goin' on. Enter code "denim35" and get 35 percent off all denim until midnight. Don't forget — the shipping's free.
Bliss has free shipping through April 30, but some exclusions apply.
Urban Outfitters added a ton of new stuff to its sale section.
Paula's Choice (she'd be the cosmetics cop who's penned all those "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me" books) has $3 shipping plus three free samples. I'm a big fan of the skincare line, in particular the antioxidant gel and toner.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hoopty Do

After my midlife crisis bonus ear piercings nearly six months ago, I continue to get recurring infections in the tippy-top hole.

My doc said I need to wear pure gold because those mixed-metal crap earrings I've been wearing could be part of the problem (my words, not hers). So, I bought some little 14K gold hoops for the two bonus holes. And then — because I've been in a hoop kind of mood and already wore the giant, Beyonce-sized ones the first time around — I went for more subtle, smaller ones.

But, they just don't look right all in one ear. A little too pirate-y. Ahoy, matey!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

You Can't Always Get What You Want...

But you get what you need.

And these $16 Forever 21 shorts (middle pic) will fill my obsession for the season. For now.

Shorts popped up on the runways earlier in the fall and continue to be hot, hot, hot for the heat, heat, heat this spring. This time around the fabric is lighter and the cut is looser and drapey.

I had been pining for these lovely draped pocket Eight Sixty shorts. They perfectly mimic looks from higher-end designers like Alexander Wang.

Not for $70, though.

As so often happens, I turned to Forever 21. The trend factory churns out wallet-friendly knock-offs like nobody's biz, but this particular style seems to have escaped them. Some dressy, pleated shorts are a good option, though. They're long enough to wear to work and easy to dress up or down.

Maybe one day, I will feel bold enough to pair 'em with my zebra platform sandals.

On the other end of the shorts spectrum are these pale shimmery Patterson J. Kincaid bubble shorts. A case study in what to avoid. Bubble shorts? Shudder.

Outfit: Patterson J. Kincaid "Penny" silk HOODIE!, Forever 21 black shorts ($15.80 from the "Love 21" label, but I couldn't get a product number to turn up online); J. Crew "Lydia" top; pewter strappy wedges of unknown parentage.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bonus Friday Shoe Post

I was half-heartedly Googling Farylrobin to see if I could come up with the name of the nifty shoes for the Friday Shoe Haiku. Didn't find it, but check out these cool kicks.
Now these are called "Madison." When they go on sale (currently $200-plus), I will call them mine.

The Friday Shoe Haiku — Posted Extra Early!*

Yo, my pumps, my pumps
Love my lovely lady pumps
Sorry, Black Eyed Peas.**

Shoes: Farylrobin somethin' or others.

*The oversized puppies are restless, keeping us awake. Ugh.
**I have never actually heard the Black Eyed Peas' version of this song. I have the Will Ferrell version from "Blades of Glory" stuck in my head.

We Have A Winner!

Congrats to... Ina! She was randomly selected to win the very first (but not the last) giveaway. She said she'd wear the J. Crew links necklace with "my COH jeans, a white ruffle button-down, serengeti belt and cognac peep-toes from unisa."


A very, very special THANKS to everyone who played and gave such wonderful outfit pairings to go along with the Crew necklace. You came for the free stuff (I don't blame you — I love it, too, as evidenced by my obsessive entering of Lucky magazine giveaways), but I hope you'll check back in regularly. I plan to do MORE giveaways with equally fabulous prizes.

Thank you for following. :)

The Winner Shall Be Named Today

Stay tuned....

Web Site Shout-out: Lindsay Lou

I'm hopelessly in love with the T by Alexander Wang line. Lately I've been lusting after the slouchy, long-sleeved pocket tee (shown here in gray).

Woe is me — it's $81.

Luckily I came across a little Web site called Lindsay Lou. It's just up the road in Scottsdale (a good two-hour drive) and stocks all the things I like — Haute Hippie, Torn, Wildfox, Splendid. There's a good mix of stuff.

Well, a Young Fabulous & Broke long-sleeved tee has been calling my name, and the added incentive of a 30 percent off code made me answer loud and proud.

The modal shirt is whisper-soft and not stripper sheer. And, it was just $23. It's a ringer for the AW shirt, don't you think?

This was the first time I've ordered from Lindsay Lou, but it won't be the last. Shipping was FREE (one of my favorite things) and it was Fed Ex fast. AND, this part is really, really cool, there's online help. I was able to fire off a question and get an immediate answer. That's customer service.

And the packaging is just darling.

Two enthusiastic thumbs up. Sign up for the e-mails.

The outfit: YFB shirt from Lindsay Lou; Forever 21 skinny jeans; Stuart Weitzman "Phoenix" heels purchased at a shocking sale price.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Last Day to Enter the Giveaway!

Today's the deadline, my friends.

A very, very special thanks to all those who took the time to become followers and to post such fun, witty, thoughtful comments.

You can go here to enter if you haven't already.

A Most Expensive Read

Sad but true — I don't read. The last book I picked up was that Percy Jackson Lightning Thief one. Before that, all the "Twilight" books. Loved those. Yup, juvenile fiction is about my speed. Despite my 30-something chronological age, I am still 13 inside. And wearing braces.

For someone who's a journalist by trade, that's probably not a good admission. But I have this completely weird, unreasonable disorder in which every book I pick up immediately depresses me when I read it because I think, "I need to write a book. I should write a book." I have notebooks filled with half-baked ideas. One day.

So even though I ignore books, I love my magazines. I think I'm up to 10 subscriptions now, including Teen Vogue, which I somehow ended up with (free with purchase maybe?) and actually like despite my advancing age.

I did buy the "Sex and the City" book when it went on crazy super sale at Urban Outfitters. No joke, the $4.99 price tag is still on it. I adore memorizing its pages and all the wonderful, glorious clothes and shoes. I never get tired of looking at that.

The point I'm getting to is that there's this Prada book out there that's 125 smackers. Yowza. The hardcover has an overview of all of Miuccia Prada's collections, pictures of nearly 4,000 different looks and production shots of shoes being crafted. It sounds so cool. But $125? It's just under $79 on Amazon. Free shipping, but still.

So I am trying to rationalize this purchase. Would I get $78.75 worth of enjoyment? And no, it is not cheaper on eBay. I checked.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Super Cool, Must-Have Accessory (Even if You Don't Fight Crime)

Alas, I never had Wonder Woman Underoos as a kid, though I soooo wanted them.

Yet I managed to grow into a normal, well-adjusted adult. I think.

Still, I sometimes feel like something's missing. Perhaps this bracelet will help. At the very least, it's a wicked cool, kitschy accessory to add to an outfit.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Post-Oscars Fashion Musing

I'm one of those who TiVos the Oscars so I can skip through all the boring, insincere, overly-rehearsed thank you speeches. Can you tell I'm not one of those fawning types? I prefer to heckle the TV like a one-gal Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets.

Should I ever have occasion to go to the Oscars (It could happen. Don't they usually need seat fillers?), I've developed some fashion guidelines. First, I will not wear a dress that requires double layers of Spanx (didn't Kathryn Bigelow's dress look horribly uncomfortable?). Second, I won't wear anything that means I have to grab onto an Oscar helper boy's arm to navigate stairs. How can that be fun to worry about tripping on your dress all night?

Swap Till You Drop

These outfits are all quite different, but they have one thing in common: Some, if not all of the pieces, were free. Not because of a five-finger discount, either.

I had a swap party.

If you're unfamiliar with the concept, swap parties are a recessionista's best friend. The gist of it: Pull things from the closet that you're ready to get rid of — whether a piece doesn't fit or you're just over it — and swap with your pals. It's a great way to A) purge your closet and B) score some really cool stuff that's new to you. That kickin' red leather bag? That would be a Jimmy Choo hand-me-down, thankyouverymuch.

If you Google "clothes swap party," you can find all kinds of suggestions and rules for throwing a swap party. We kept it simple. Everyone brought good-condition clothes, shoes, bags, jewelry and accessories like belts and hats on the appointed day and time.

Originally, we were going to be pretty formal and hand out poker chips based on the "level" of the item. Top-tier stuff (designer labels like Jimmy Choo) would get one color; the next level of stuff (J. Crew, etc.) would get one and then fashion-for-the-masses (Target) would get another color. The plan was that lower level chips could be added together to equal top-tier stuff. Well, we ended up having only eight swappers, so we kept it low-key and skipped the chips.

It was a very polite crowd, and in the end, interestingly enough, a lot of stuff was left over. I think we were all hesitant to stuff our closets after weeding them out.

• Have snacks. Goes without saying. Everyone was nearly as engrossed in the snack table as the clothes. Seriously.
• Roll with it. The more clothing racks you have available, the better (I got one for pretty cheap from Bed Bath & Beyond years ago). Many people also brought their metal dry cleaner hangers, which can be recycled back to the cleaners.
• Don't get hung up on labels. It's all new to you whether the label says "Mossimo Supply Co." or "Stella McCartney." A purple, hooded Gap sweater nearly sparked a fist-fight. (Not really, but two people did want it.) Which brings us to another tip: have a tie-breaker system ready if more than one person wants something. One site I saw suggested "Rock Paper Scissors."
• Don't worry about sizes. At one point, the swap party turned into "The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants" with everyone trying on this same pair of teeny Forever 21 stretch jeans. It was neat how the pants fit (and well) different body types.
• Broaden the, um, jean pool. Cast a wide net — have friends invite their friends. That way you get more variety.
• Donate. We gave away our stuff to a local charity that helps women getting back into the work force.