Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bedside Reading — "Sex And The City 2"

OK, maybe titling this post bedside "reading" is a little generous — it's all about the looking, actually more like gazing longingly at fabulous clothes and shoes.

I never really got into "Sex And The City." Saw the first few episodes and the last, and I was fine with that. When the movies came out, I didn't rush out to see them. Months after the movie's release, the first SATC "lookbook" was on the sale table at Urban Outfitters. It was $5. Generally, I don't pass up anything marked down to $5. It's a personal rule.

Still hadn't seen the movie, but it was such fun to flip through the pages and see all those gorgeous outfits and how Patricia Field put things together. Same holds true for the latest book (which is available on Amazon for not quite $10). It's like the ultimate fashion mag. I even have a few things in my closet that could duplicate the feel of some of SJP's very, very casual outfits.

My favorite piece from SATC 2 — the John Galliano newsprint dress. I have a fondness for newsprint. Apparently John Galliano has a line of underwear with the same motif. I dunno for for $89, I want people to see the piece.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Shoe Haiku — Killer Platforms

Wooden platforms rock

Grommets add an edgy twist

Go with everything

Shoe n' Tell: Picked these up during my recent "fakecation" in the Phoenix area at Nordstrom Rack. As much as I love the blood-pressure lowering atmosphere of the real, high-priced Nordstrom with its live music and gracious salespeople, the Rack is where it's at — down in the trenches, scour every corner and work for your clothes bargain hunt. That's where these Report "Susie" platforms came from. At $46, I had to take them home. Also found this Torn by Ronny Kobo "Lauren" tank, that's still selling in excess of $100. My new one was $21 at the Rack.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Steal vs Splurge — Sheer Cardis

Nicole Richie's clothing line Winter Kate sells out everywhere.

Seems people can't get enough of the Boho-y, flowing pieces in ethereally light fabrics. But those price tags are killers. Case in point: This light-as-a-feather Ginger cardi goes for more than $130. What's a cash-strapped gal to do?

Well, if you have a sharp-eyed bargain hunter friend, you let her do the work.

My infinitely chic, online shopper extraordinaire pal Desert Flower* found the perfect, inexpensive doppelganger for the wisp of a cardigan — at a fraction of the price ($27.80).

Behold, the Forever XXI version (ProductCode: 2078476128). I like it more. It's still silk. The pattern is cute, and the variety of colors will make it easier to mix n' match.

It's winging its way to me now. IRL photos to post soon.

Oh, and Forever XXI has free shipping right now for $40-plus orders with the code STANDOUT. A $40 purchase? You can buy a whole new wardrobe there. (You could also try SURVEY, which has no minimum purchase required, but it may have expired by now.)

* Apparently some people out there in Bloggerland think Desert Flower is moi. No, my online handle is Kcookski. Desert Flower also dwells in Tucson and hits the blogs pretty regularly. This dusty burg does have more than a few of us. :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


See that crowded tackle box there? That would be my makeup case. The top two tiers are devoted to lipsticks and pencils. Glosses, stains and balms are relegated to an entire, different storage containment system.

Obviously, lip gunk makes my heart skip a beat. Or three.

But here's the thing — I'm so addicted to tinted balms right now that I'm not even delving into the recesses of the makeup box. Fresh's Sugar Rose Tinted Lip Treatment has been my go-to lip slick since I discovered it last year. When a second darker berry shade came out this summer, I sprang for that, too. Love it just as much, although I am simultaneously horrified at paying $20 for what is essentially glorified Chapstick.

In my defense though, the Fresh lip treatment is incredibly hydrating (and my lips are flakier than Lindsay Lohan at a court hearing). It keeps my lips soft and moisturized for so much longer than any other cheaper balm PLUS it gives the barest hint of color. The only drawback is that it's pretty delicate, so I can't carry it around in my purse in the triple-digit summer heat. Gets too melty.

But now I've discovered Lipstick Queen's Medieval Tinted Lip Treatment.

I saw it IRL recently at Barney's in Scottsdale Fashion Square. Store was like a ghost town. Don't tell me there isn't a recession going on — I was the only person in that high falutin', high priced retail outlet. In fact, one of the beauty associates started stalking me, the place was so empty. I was just browsing, but she followed me from counter to counter. When I paused at the Lipstick Queen display, she pounced.

"Oh, look at thees — it is very wonderful," she purred in an untraceable European accent. She whipped out Medieval and had me hook, line and sinker.

Like the Fresh product, Medieval is very moisturizing. It's a good starter stick for those petrified of red. It imparts a delicate red hue but isn't as high maintenance or scary as a true red. Love. It's still $20, but I consider that a charitable contribution to keep department-store employees with stalkerlike tendencies gainfully employed.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hee Hee Hee....She Said "Spit"

Site O' The Day: Allsaints Spitalfields

So I've been wanting to order from Allsaints Spitalfields, a UK site that sells comfy, apocalyptic-looking clothing. Seriously, go troll the site — there's not a lot of color, clothing is drapey and loose, and it looks raggedy, all in the best possible way. I love it. The clothes look like they'd be on the best-dressed survivors of a nuclear holocaust.

Also, like the true junior high schooler that I am, it makes me giggle a little to say "spital" even though it's not spelled like "spittle" 'cuz it makes me picture someone speaking fast and furiously with the foam flyin'.

Despite free shipping to the U.S., I haven't drunk the Kool-Aid because the prices are on the high side. But today, an e-mail crashlanded in my inbox proclaiming a sale. Yippee.

Lurve the Vasu cardi, which fastens with an oversized safety pin (I inexplicably lust after the giant ones In-N-Out employees use to keep their red aprons tied on).

The stripe Manila cardigans is one of the few pops of color on the site. The funnel-ish neck is cool, and those asymmetrical buttons and back are on-trend and just plain awesome. The Beetlejuice-ish stripes would rock a pair o' jeans.

Check it out. Shop. Tell me what you think.

Monday, July 26, 2010

We Have A Winner!

THANK YOU so much for entering the contest to win a $25 J Crew gift card. I have to say though, that now I am really pining for fall after reading about the trends y'all are most excited about. I think I'm most looking forward to wearing full-length jeans without sweating like a pig. Oh, and pulling out my over-the-knee boots.

So, we hear at Some Hot Dishes are decidedly low-tech, hence the old-school giveaway — one of my trusty assistants pulled a name out of this killer Burberry hat that was acquired from a clothing swap (thanks Tasha). Sure it took some effort to print and cut up the entries, but now the kids are enjoying themselves by randomly pulling names out of the hat. They'll do this for...oh, at least another minute, long enough for me to finish this post.

Without further ado, congrats to Lauren, who says she's "excited about investing in some tights, riding boots, tweed and the lovely fur pieces."

There's another check off the fall list — I have a faux fur vest in my closet ready to roll.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hello Again!

I'm back.....with new shoes.

Aren't they pretty? I think I took care of my clog fixation. The new lovelies, from left to right, Lucky brand clogs; H&M zip-up wedges; Report "Susie" wooden platform sandals.

To recap, we just got back from fakecation. Definition: a noun meaning you get away with the hub BUT also bring the kids AND DOGS to not-a-real destination. In our case, two hours up the highway to the big city (Phoenix) to stay with the in-laws (free). Cheapness does come at a cost, though:

• freakishly hot weather (100-plus with bright, white sunlight to sear right through to your soul)
• 4 a.m. wakeup calls (early risers in a papier mache-walled house; plus our dogs and their dogs did not get along)
• bruises thanks to repeated pummeling by the biggest bed hog ever, my 5-year-old (weird sleeping arrangement explainer: There are double beds at the in-laws, which is not enough room for my sleep-troubled, 6-foot-2 husband and me. We sleep in a king at home, and — truth be told — if I could buy a bigger bed, I would. I likes my space, too. Spooning? Pbbblt.)
• an 80 percent hearing loss and eye twitch as a result of two hours spent in a place called Makutu's Island, which bills itself as an indoor "fun" gym, but I know it is really a super-secret government experiment designed to see how long it takes adults to lose their minds.

But, this non-vacation was designed to be economical. Lots o' expenses = not so exotic locale.

On the up side, I did make it to Scottsdale Fashion Square (cue heavenly angels singing here) during Nordstrom's anniversary sale AND I got to browse a Nordstrom Rack and look at each and every rack and try on clothes without a single person complaining of boredom or that he/she had to go to the bathroom NOW.

Also "got" to go to a water park in Phoenix. We bought "discount" tickets and for $29, I expected someone to get in the water for me. No such luck. But, it was some good people watching. What is trending in the big city, based on the waterpark peep show:
• teens with tats (honestly, 16 is too young to make a pretty much permanent decision about your skin)
• sausage-casing swimsuit covers. Seriously, if it's skintight and white and then gets wet, it ain't gonna hide the rolls.

OK, thus ends my scatter-shot report. Perhaps tomorrow I will be more coherent.

Thanks for all who joined and entered the J Crew contest. Come back tomorrow to find out the winner!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bon Voyage- And A Contest!

Well, I'm off on my fakecation.

What is a fakecation, you ask? Well, it's not a real vacation. It's a poseur.

I'm calling it a fakecation because when you travel with children — who fight any time they're not eating or sleeping — it is neither a break nor relaxing, which typically vacations are. We're also staying at my in-laws' home. Wait — that's not the bad part. This is: They live in Phoenix, which is the only place brain-meltingly hotter than Tucson. Oy.

You can cry for me, Argentina. I actually adore pity.

But, enough of that. Since this year-old blog is now at 61 followers (lookout, Blogosphere. I'm gonna take over any minute), including the mighty, the amazing J. Crew Aficionada, seems like time to run a contest.

Here's the dealio: Follow the blog (if you're not one of the many, many already), leave a comment about what fall trend you're most excited about and then leave an e-mail address. A winner will be chosen at random. The prize — a $25 J. Crew gift card!

Last day to enter is July 24.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

New to Me — Target's Red Hot Shop

Apparently, I am the last to know about Target's Red Hot Shop.

Or, am I?

Were you aware that everyone's favorite mass-market retailer offers cool designer collaborations on a monthly basis? They include everything from clothes (Geren Ford is the designer du month) to housewares, and there's some pretty cute stuff. This For Me, For You handmade necklace
is a unique, fancier spin on threaded friendship bracelets.

I'm mulling one of last month's selections — Textile Junkie's striped open cardi. It's cute, and I love the back but the sleeves are giving me pause. I'm thinking the cuffed wrists are dowdy. Plus, it's still $48. The price'll drop — it always does. It's Target.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Shoe Haiku — Woo hoo

Sexy, zip-up heel
Loeffler Randall wannabe!
So what — they were cheap.

Shoe n' Tell: Loeffler Randall's Yvette cut-out booties make my heart flitter. So does the price — still more than $400. On sale. Ouch. But, trolling through Forever XXI, I came across these for $22.80 (what is up with that pricing?) and decided they'd fill the LR void. They're even a size 6.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Random (And Not So Deep) Thoughts

• Enough with the oversized logos already. I have had quite enough of super-sized initials plopped right smack in the middle of things (I'm talking to you, Michael Kors and Coach). It's basically like marking your territory — the fashion equivalent of urinating on someone's stuff.

Please designers, when people love you, they spot your style. You don't have to put your mark all over it.

• New and completely cool discovery — Where Did U Get That. Wow, she's got some style. I don't even feel worthy to scroll through this blog, quite frankly. Karen wore these skater shoes by Unique in a recent post (third one from the top, "Pinky") and I am head over heels for these look-like-heels-but -they're-wedges shoes. It's INSANE to heart them so, they're too high, too expensive, too young, too completely irrational and yet....

• This J Crew ribbon dress is another infatuation. Can't find it online anymore, so it must be sold out — especially since it went on sale. Ah well. A pop-back, perhaps? Although as much as I love this and it's way more practical than the aforementioned shoes, J Crew sizing has gotten so screwy that I'd never run the risk (or pay the too-high shipping price) by buying online. Put this in the "One That Got Away" Pile.

• Since there's no color listed on this bottle of Sally Hansen Insta-Dri polish, I have dubbed it "mint chip." Ha.

• And finally, short eyelashes DO suck. I now know this firsthand since there was an unfortunate grilling incident last night and I singed off half the lashes on my right eye. Also did a fair amount of damage to the hair on the right side of my head. Burned hair smells like perm. I am officially done grilling for the season. Maybe forever.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rubik's Cube Clothing


Please. Someone? Anyone? I can't figure out my clothes. Well, this particular piece of clothing, anyway.

"Here," my friend Jessica said, pulling a long, plaid coat/vest thingie off a hanger in her closet. "I've been wanting to give this to you. It's really cool, and it's perfect for you — you're so good at layering."

Layering, yes, I can do that — toss on a cardigan or a vest and ta da! But solving puzzles? Not so much. This is like the Rubik's Cube of the fashion world.

You know how I solved the cube back in the day? Pried off the loose square tile in the middle, used a screw driver to undo the hidden screw and then I pulled each piece out and put the whole thing back together again. Oh, I had the book on how to solve it. I just didn't understand it.

So here I am with what is obviously a beautifully well-made piece from a European clothing line, Transparente. Yes, I Googled it. Know what came back? A lot of links to sheer clothing along with a few stores that used to carry Transparente.

A wool-cotton blend, the sleeveless coat has buttons and a scrap of matching fabric that appears to hook onto said buttons. I'll be darned, but I'm hopelessly, completely lost. Just lost.

I've never owned any fashion item so nice that it required its own instruction manual. But, I'm determined to figure this out. I really don't want to whip out my screwdriver, though.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Quest for Clogs

This is no mission for mere mortals. It takes strength, foresight, the ability to stand atop teetering wooden heels without losing balance. I, quite frankly, may not be up for the challenge. But, must......try....Clogs....look.....too....cute.

For days I've been surfing, trying to find THE PAIR. I think I've narrowed it down — dark brown, medium heel and probably a safety strap. Is it possible to walk in slippery wood-soled shoes without a strap? Probably not for me.

Here are the contenders so far. Oh, and by way of disclaimer, obviously not all of them are serious candidates for my closet. Nearly $300 for a pair of one-season wonders? Not in this girl's wallet.

Michael Michael Kors "Astor" clog ($120). No one makes comfortable heels like Mike. These are classics. Love the studs.

Daniblack peep-toe slingback clog ($160). Peep-toe AND a strap? Too cute. Too dark, but I really love the contemporary look of these.

Stuart Weitzman stud clog (gulp, $248 — on sale). Ah, Stuart. You can do no wrong. It's the leather covered heel that gets me.

Volatile "Chaps" clog ($40). Can you smell the cheap? How bad would faux hide stink, I wonder? These are cute, but I fear they do indeed look like they cost all of 40 bucks.

Tory Burch "Alexander" clog ($275). OK, these are the ones that make my heart go pitter-patter the most. Naturally, because they are the most expensive. Love the studding, love the strap. The shorter heel height is practical, but I'd like taller. Of course, the low-rider look is what sets these apart.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Mascara Chronicles

Back in high school when all the girls looked like raccoons, thanks to copious amounts of mascara, my eyes were conspicuously bare. I'd ask my mom about how to use mascara. Her response: "You have dark lashes. You don't need it." Then she'd grab what looked like a 17-century torture device and curl her lashes. I so did not want to mess with that thing. I equated mascara with that scary eyelash curler and stayed away. For years.

So, I'm getting a late start on the mascara thing.

Despite what my mom always said, I think anyone's eyes look better with a slick of mascara. It adds impact, brings out your eyes even when you use nothing else. I'm a convert, even though I can't seem to find The One.

In the past six months, I've tried something from Tarte (a sample from Sephora), Mary Kay Signature mascara and now Maybelline XXL Pro Extensions, which is readily available at Target and drug stores for about $7.

The trick to this stuff is that it's got primer on one end and mascara on the other. Primer is a great thing, it thickens without requiring raccoon levels of mascara. The directions refer to the primer as a "base coat" and say that it will "uncross" unruly lashes and lock them into place. Um, no. It does coat them, though, and you have to be careful not to put it on too thick or you'll end up with clumps from the get-go.

The actual mascara itself does add oomph and did make my lashes look longer, but I had to run the brush in and out of the tube several times to prevent lumps.

Now, I never put mascara on the bottom lashes because when I do, I end up looking like Lindsay Lohan after a court hearing with the stuff smeared across my face. Yet somehow, the XXL Pro managed to migrate beneath my bottom lashes. The next day when I used it, I made sure to put concealer beneath my eyes (which I should probably do anyway to minimize the Samsonite baggage under there). That seemed to do the trick.

Only time will tell. But for now, I'm likin' the Maybelline XXL Pro Extensions mascara.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Easy-Peasy Weekend

It's July, mid-way through the summer, and my shopping ban is a complete flop.

I'm not working right now (hence no income, hence my desire to not spend what I don't have. Hmm, was that almost a Sinead O'Connor song?). So, I didn't go to W Boutique during its Big Freakin' Sale the very day it started and I also didn't buy this cute Michael Stars crochet-back tank for $12. Really.

But if I had, could you blame me? Is the loose top not the very essence of an easy weekend outfit, paired with this James Perse skirt and Stuart Weitzman "Gladio" flats?

Can I just add that it's very weird to see my back. I never worry about because it's, well, back there, out of sight. But now I'm seeing it and I think I could stand to do some toning. Can backs look flabby? Is that some freckling below my neck where I may have missed applying sunscreen?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"Camp Mommy" Casual

Only four days into "Camp Mommy" and the director — moi — is ready to quit.

Dude, now I understand why summer camp costs so much. It's a flippin' lot of work — and that's even before the day officially begins. Every morning I struggle to get dressed.

(Back story: I have three kids, none of whom are old enough to be left unattended for days on end. CPS frowns upon that sort of thing. So, we must pay for summer camps. They cost a ton of money, so much that after running the numbers, I realized it made more sense for me to take unpaid leave and stay home. Hence, Camp Mommy was born.)

How do you look pulled together when you're doing lots of random kid activities? Well, this was one answer: cheap chic. All inexpensive staples from Target to H&M with a spark of color and panache courtesy of killer Stuart Weitzman flats (gifted from my lovely friend Jessica, who owns a walk-in closet I would die for).

This ensemble: Forever XXI newspaper print tee; H&M ruffled vest; Mossimo Supply Co. bermuda shorts and Stu's cherry-red patent, cut-out flats.

On a related note: This Blank Denim dress is so cute, it could be a Camp Mommy uniform, if it weren't too short. It would probably hit about right on me since I'm not 6-feet tall and 100 pounds like's models (actually, I think it's cool that model info is in the fit guide, so you can gauge the clothing better). But just guess what the color is called? Canckles. No joke. Who does that? Picturing the no ankle, calf-to-foot affliction completely turns me off to what is actually a cute dress. An army-type jacket is done in "pickle." That, I get. It's cute. But canckles? Shudder.

And, on an unrelated note: Remember the life-changing manicure post? Well, I actually did that for work. Here's the full scoop. Get all the dirty details and see much, much better photos that I can do one-handed.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday Shoe Haiku

Oh how I waited
But, I could not help myself
You are mine, hot shoes

Shoe n' Tell: Jeffrey Campbell "Buckles" sandals.

So, I love edgy shoes. Typically those come with killer high heels, too. Now, I understand piercings can be edgy, too, but not if they're through your neck to hold your halo brace in place because you snapped your spine. The heel on these babies is modest while the buckles give the shoes plenty of 'tude and sass. The gray softens the look and gives that bit of neutrality that means I can wear 'em with anything.

I kept waiting and waiting for them to go on sale. Instead, they kept selling out. Well, I know a sign when I see one — the shoes popped back in the gray color I wanted at the exact same time my friend wanted a pair of shoes from Nordies, too. If the two of us joined forces, we could have — cue heavenly music here — free shipping. I bit. Hard. Hey, I had a giftcard, too.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ten Hut!

I'm late to jump onto the military jacket bandwagon. Well, I guess that wouldn't be so much a bandwagon as a camo Humvee.

This season's versions are more inviting than the earlier incarnations. They're less structured, flirtier, slouchier and infinitely more comfy looking.

Some of my front-runners:
Leifsdottir slouchy military cardigan ($188). It's a cardi with 'zzazz. The longer, looser fit is so cute, but it's still girly with subtle ruffle detailing.

• Love the shirt-tail hem on this Express jacket ($88). I never go for white (I'm messy), but here it looks so crisp.

Free People military jacket with ruffles ($148). So cute with the heavy ruffles.

Anthro's Well-Wisher jacket ($148). This one's got it all goin' on — goldtone buttons, asymmetrical hem, ruffles. It's like something a flirty sergeant would wear. Off-duty, of course.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Highlights At Home (And I Don't Mean the Magazine For Kids)

I've come a long way from those elementary/middle school/high school days when I'd get a wild hair, cut my strands super-short and then cry. Feeling desperate, I'd make matters worse by begging my mom for a perm to try and camouflage the shortness. Home perm, of course. I cannot imagine those aren't carcinogenic.

These days, I'm much less white-knuckle about my hair. It grows. I've done all-over color, and even though more than once it's been too dark (making me a ringer for Professor Snape from the Harry Potter movies), I think I've got it now: When you already have dark hair, go lighter than you think.

My latest exploration into at-home haircare — L'Oreal Touch-on Highlights. Readily available at drugstores for around $12, I figured I could tackle this. The finger-tip brush was intriguing. Let me assure you — it is nowhere as neat and fun as that trollop on the box makes it look.

First, you still have to wear gloves beneath the applicator. You mix up the sludgy stuff and are supposed to separate hair into just three strands. This is hard, people. Really hard, especially when you have on one-size-fits-all gloves, and while the fingertip applicator is better than a brush, it still isn't meant for detail work.

I ended up getting tired and kinda haphazardly brushing stuff on. I worried I slapped on too much, so I rinsed off at the least amount of time possible. The result wasn't at all bad. My dark brown hair had very, very subtle reddish highlights — not as distinct and streaky as pictured on the box. My goal was achieved — it was hard to pick out the gray strands with those lighter ones around.

When I do this again and I will do this again — insert mad scientist laugh here, bwahahahaha — I'll trade the fingertip applicator for a mascara wand. That ought to fine enough and easily enough to wield — even with plastic gloves.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wonder Woman Gets A Questionable Makeover

My not so deep, dark secret: My husband reads comic books.

Oh, excuse me, graphic novels. Snicker. As you can imagine, I give him a lot of grief for this, but as he pointed out to me, revisiting a harmless childhood hobby like that isn't such a bad midlife crisis, compared to what some dudes do. True dat.

I figured he'd be proud then when I was able to talk comics with him and chat up Wonder Woman's new outfit. I'd heard a story on NPR about how Wonder Woman is getting a makeover. That had my attention. Comics — who cares? But Wonder Woman? She's been my idol since I was 7. I spent hours in the backyard spinning myself silly because I thought — scratch that, I knew — I could turn into her, just like Diana Prince did on the old '70s TV show.

His response: "Eh, I don't care about DC Comics."


But, back to the true subject at hand: a fashion critique. Naturally I'm all for girl power and stuff, what with the XX chromosomes and all, but I just can't get on board with the argument that this so-called makeover brings her into the 21st century. I hate that outfit. It's....biker blah. Very pedestrian. She doesn't look like she's going to fight crime — she's going to Express to see if any of those pants will fit over her thighs.

Where's the flash? Where's the glam? Where's the plain wonder?

Say what you will about how hoochie the other outfit was, but it's iconic. This is Wonder Woman. Yes, it showed a lot of skin but covering up the body in a skintight costume doesn't exactly de-hooch it, eh Catwoman?

And don't even get me started on the flat, shapeless hair.

Perhaps a new outfit isn't as pressing as a T3 blow dryer. Bet she could trade in the lasso of truth for one.