Monday, December 30, 2013

Random Goodness

There are some things you come across that you use and fall in love with.  Here are a few of my recent finds.

On the recommendation of Dani, I tried the Diptyque Feu de Bois candle.  She was right. It smells exactly like you are burning a fire in your fireplace.  It fills the house with scent shortly after you light it.  I have no fireplace, and miss having one.  The candle is so convincing that visitors to my house thought I did.  I can't wait to try some of their other scents.

I came across this sweater on the Forever 21 website and was reminded of Vince, Helmut Lang and Theory.  It's definitely inspired by all those designers.  Unlike many garments from Forever 21, there's no polyester and no acrylic.  It has a very thin and soft hand and drapes beautifully.  For a desert dweller who has chilly days but no real cold, it's the ideal weight. 

The reviews on this speak for themselves, there's nothing much I can add other than my recommendation.  My skin looks better than it ever has.

I am mad in love with these Proenza Schouler pumps.  I resisted the sales very well, despite the deluge of emails and catalogues.  I had a list of things I was hoping to find on sale and most of them didn't get marked down, or weren't marked down enough for my budget.  These ended up at 70% off after a second mark down and thankfully were still available in my size.  These may well be the most comfortable pumps I've ever put on my feet.  The matte leather is unique, as is the shape of the heel. Speaking of the heel, it's low enough to actually walk in while having enough height to make your legs look terrific, which is the job of a pump after all. 

Last but not least, an item that came to me after literally years of looking.  Two years to be exact.  I first spotted the J. Crew pony skirt on their site in 2011. It was too rich for my blood and once it hit sale it sold out almost immediately.  I had a personal shopper look for it, I stalked eBay, to no avail. Not imagining that I would have any luck, I posted in the Looking To Find weekly post of the J. Crew Aficionada blog. My prayers were answered by the lovely Tiffany.  After all the searching I worried that I might receive it and it wouldn't be as fabulous as I had built it up in my mind. Thankfully, it was.  Two panels of soft shiny pony bisect the wool knit body of the skirt. It pulls on, flatters the hip and narrows at the bottom.  The panels can be worn front/back, or on the sides, giving the skirt different looks.   

 Any random goodness to report?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Did you forget to send Christmas cards?

I don't know if it's because Thanksgiving was so late this year or I'm just looking for an excuse for my neglect. Whatever the reason, I did not send Christmas cards.  I'm not sure how I feel about this.  It is a tradition, something I've been doing for years. Not because I'm a big Christmas person but because for many of my old friends - and even some family - it's the one time a year that I contact them. 

I suppose it's not too late.  I could run out to the drugstore and get a few boxes. If I posted them next week, most would arrive before Christmas.  Do I need that kind of pressure?  Spending a whole weekend rushing through signing cards and writing messages in each?  Certainly not. I've got to devote that time to eating the baked goods that are abundant this time of year.

But seriously, I do want to send the annual missive that reminds people I'm still among the living and thinking of them.  Then it occurred to me, why not new year's cards?  Long after the Christmas cards have all been delivered and spent their time on the mantel, my new year's card will arrive in the mail boxes of my loved ones as a welcome surprise. 

Having convinced myself that this is an excellent plan, one that will allow me to procrastinate for at least 2 more weeks, I set out to find the cards.  I googled, and found that although there are some commercially prepared cards on the market, the biggest selection was the handmade cards on Etsy.

I love the clean aesthetic of these:

You can personalize these cards with your name, and different colors are available if pink isn't your thing.  Pink is not my thing.

How about these beautiful reproductions of a hand drawn design?

I'm not sure yet which of these I'll be sending.  I only hope that I make a decision soon and don't end up sending Easter cards instead.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Distinguishing a want from a need

I suppose strictly speaking I don't need anything.  I have more than enough clothing to satisfy my basic needs. My wardrobe extends beyond that, I have enough for special occasions, vacations, hiking trips, you name it.  I need nothing, plain and simple. 

I could stretch the meaning of need to the point it nearly snaps and tell you that I need black booties.  They are the thing this fall, everyone is wearing black booties.  With cropped trousers, with denim, with midi skirts, with dresses, you name it.  The ankle bootie seems to be the LBD of footwear, appropriate in every situation.

Having determined that I don't need anything, see above, I should not have been looking for black ankle booties.  And yet I found them.

I stumbled across the perfect pair, Jimmy Choo Amore.  I may be drawn to them because of the sensible heel, the perfect calf leather and the just above the ankle height.  Or I may be drawn to them because I have the knee high version, the Alma.

The bad news is the price.  Although I think I'd wear these for years and get my money's worth out of them, I will either have to wait for sale or bid these adieu. 
Perhaps a fitting substitute is this much more reasonably priced pair, the Loeffler Randall Reese
Same toe shape, same sensible heel, similar silhouette.  The differences are interesting suede details, and a shorter shaft that goes not quite as far up the ankle.  Still, all in all, in pretty good option.  At a more reasonable price and offered by so many retailers that finding them on sale will not be difficult, they are the more likely candidate for my closet.
No needs here, just a few wants.  Okay, more than a few, but that's a post for another day.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Here's what I didn't buy . . . and why.

It's a tough time of year to be a reformed binge shopper.  The stores are filled to the brim with new fall goods. Every retailer and their neighbor is having some version of a friends and family sale. Each and every morning my inbox is full of 20% off this and new in that. 

I have a fair amount of self discipline and most of the emails and catalogues end up in their respective trash bins.  Still, the temptations abound and I can't say I haven't thought about making some purchases.  Here's a sampling of what I put in my virtual cart and ultimately decided against.

First up, J. Crew.  Their October roll out actually held my interest, which hasn't happened for quite a while with them.  I was ruffled and sequined out a long time ago.  Their "style guide" catalogue arrived in the mail and I immediately spotted three things to pique my interest.

The wrap skirt, available in red, black, and Bristol blue - a dark teal.  Similar enough to the Tibi wrap skirt I lost out on, and with colors that would coordinate well with my collection of tops and sweaters. 

The great price of $148.00 combined with a 25% off code almost had me.  Checking out the details I noticed polyester with polyester lining.  It wouldn't feel good and it wouldn't sound good.  Pass.

It doesn't get much more office appropriate than a grey dress, and naturally the pocket dress in stretch wool caught my eye. 


It's a gorgeous dress, stylish and fitted.  Yet I passed yet again.  I already have 2 grey dresses. 

On to the shoes and the siren call of red suede in a pointy toe stiletto.  What's not to like?

I must admit, these babies almost had me.  I don't have red shoes.  My love of the pointy toe single sole pump is well known.  I adore the color and the texture.  Check out that ankle strap though.  Long enough to go around the ankle a few times, and not removable thanks to those adorable tassels. Would I actually wear them with that thin piece wrapped around my leg?  Not likely.  Another pass.

So there you have it.  A little window shopping that could have hit the credit card to the tune of $650.00 and I hit the delete button.  I think it's safe to say the Crewlade has lost it's hold on me.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

There's an app for that

I love scarves. I have a big plastic container full of them.  I try hard to wear them and I manage to pull one out two or three times a month.  I hate to think of them languishing in the closet, as beautiful as many of them are. I have an excuse for the neglect. I am woefully inept when it comes to using them creatively.  I think I know one method of tying.  One.  Scarves can be outfit makers, tame unruly hair and even be worn as garments.  That is, if you know what to do with them. 

Google "scarf tying" and you'll find oodles of You Tube videos instructing you on every kind of tying for any size scarf you could possibly have.  Many of them are professional level and look like they had the backing of a full film crew.  Others are grainy and wobbly, and not in the charming 8mm way.  Sometimes a girl wants some one-stop shopping, without having to search.  Enter the iPad and iPhone version of the Hermes how-to app, Silk Knots. 

A collection of pictures and videos demonstrating various methods for using all those scarves gathering dust in your bureau drawer, not just those from the venerable house of Hermes.

The app is free in the App Store.  

Monday, September 30, 2013

My entire fall wardrobe in one place - terrific Tibi

Let's start off with a disclaimer. I'm not supposed to be shopping. I'm not supposed to be surfing the web.  I shouldn't look at the many retailer emails that hit my in box.  I don't need clothes and God knows I don't need shoes.  I had a list for fall and winter, sadly a short pair of seasons in the desert, and I ticked all the boxes on the list.  And then some.  Shopping, done. 

Initially it wasn't that hard to resist when the unappealing email from Tibi landed in my inbox. A bunch of clothes, laid flat against a white background. You'd have to have the imagination of Leonardo da Vinci to see potential.  The mistake I made was clicking through to the website where the clothes are pictured from all angles on actual models.  I don't think my fall and winter wardrobe will be complete without all of these. 

The amazing tropical wool split front pant is high on the wish list.  Slim pants, nicely fitted and gorgeous worn with a heel thanks to that front slit. 

Next on the list of kicked up basics, the Anson asymmetrical skirt.  Sure, I have black pencil skirts but none with such an interesting detail as the front panel on this skirt.  It is the perfect combination of ladylike and edgy. 

The last thing in my pretend shopping cart is the silk 3/4 sleeve V-neck top.  It comes in black in addition to the perfect ivory below.  This top, with the two classic with a twist bottoms, would coordinate with a bunch of jackets, shoes and accessories in my wardrobe. 
A grand total of $820.00 for three items, even three as versatile as these, is not in the budget at the moment.  The sale watch begins. 
How is your fall shopping going?  Are you finished like me or still on the hunt for things?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Making it last - shoe edition

Let's say you've achieved closet nirvana. You have all the fabulous shoes, bags, and clothes a girl could want and you make amazing outfits and look sensational every day.  Even if your reality is a little different than that, you're probably at least part way there and you've got some great things.  You want them to be wearable as long as possible. 

How do you extend the life of your fashion finds?  Let's start with shoes.  Obviously they take a beating, hitting the street as they do.  Their soles wear down, their tips fall off and they can end up in a state that we'll just call less than fresh. 

Let's go inside out.  Whether you wear socks, hose or go commando, you're going to end up with sweat and dirt in your shoes.  When you are ready to put your shoes away for the night, there are a few things you can do to refresh them. The simplest and least expensive is to wipe out the inside with baby wipes.  Yep, regular drug store baby wipes. After all, if they're mild enough to clean a sensitive little baby butt, they're safe for your leather lined shoes.

The normal day to day grime can be wiped away.  A used dryer sheet rolled into your shoe will help keep it smelling fresh.  When you've spent many hours on your feet with the swelling and sweating that comes from that, a little more help is needed. Foot powders can be used in the shoe to absorb moisture and odor.

Now onto the part of the shoe you see.  Wearing suede or light colored leather?  Minor marks can be removed by rubbing gently with a Pink Pearl eraser or a white gum eraser from the art supply store.  Smudges on patent leather blend in after a swipe of white vinegar on a paper towel.  When you scuff the heels of your black pumps, get the Sharpie out of your desk drawer and dab on.

Sometimes self help is not enough.  Find a good cobbler and make friends.  He or she can save your soles.  Think that the red bottoms of Louboutins are the only ones worth saving?  Any shoe can be zip soled, the rubber comes in almost every color of the rainbow and your cobbler can cut it to the perfect size.  Not only does it ensure the bottoms will last, it provides a non-slip surface.

Pointy toes that wear first on the bottom can be protected with little triangles.  Tips can be replaced with a sturdier version than the one that came on the shoe. A talented cobbler is your shoe wardrobe's best friend.
Whether you bought your footwear at Payless Shoes or Saks Fifth Avenue, pay them a little attention and they'll last long enough to make that cost per wear look pretty good.

Monday, September 9, 2013

How many snake print shoes does a girl need?

Please understand that this is a rhetorical question. I don't really want an answer. I have a thing for snake, I'm sure I'll add more snake print pieces to my bulging shoe closet. 

What is it about snake print? The varied colors, naturally. The texture that makes them seem high end even if they're not.  Maybe the exotic nature of snake is a draw.  It's like cocaine to me, I can't seem to get enough and when I have some I want more.

It all started with this pair of Prada pumps.  New in the box for a fantastic price on eBay.  I've worn them at least 100 times, probably more.  They are beige, ivory, grey and black all in one and go with almost everything.  I dropped them off at cobbler today for new soles, that's how much I wear them.

Then I came across these babies on eBay, again new in the box for an amazing price.  From Prada's baby sister Miu Miu, they are perfect for fall.  The snake is different, the pattern more compact. A hypnotizing blend of greens and greys that will make my neutral outfits more interesting.

Not happy to confine myself to heels, I also obsessed about flats in a real snake, not just a print. I stalked them for sale for months and months (and blogged about them), finally nabbing the last pair in my size that could be found on earth after receiving a 20% off sale code for 3.1 Phillip Lim.  The crazy pointed toe, the casual loafer style, the gorgeous tones, all reeled me in.
I know you won't be surprised that I am interested in yet another pair, these gorgeous mustard and black beauties by No. 21.  Once again, unworn and in the box.  The heels are a modest 2.25". 

Want to take bets on whether I buy them?

Monday, August 26, 2013

An ode to the cropped flare jean

I don't wear jeans often. My office does not have casual Fridays. We may have the rare dress down day connected to the success of the Arizona Wildcats, that's once or twice a year. I live in the desert where at least six or seven months it's far too hot for long pants and certainly for denim.  There are some lovely chilly days in the winter when I wear jeans. I look forward to those opportunities all year long.  Just any old pair of jeans will not do.

I've been searching for the perfect jean for me.  I like a mid rise.  The tummy no longer allows for a low rise pant.  I like a slim cut.  No retro 70s wide leg for me, I lived through that the first time.  I need jeans that will work with flats or heels.  I've spent hours on the internet clicking on image after image until I thought I finally found the pair of my dreams.

Behold the MIH Brighton jean.

Lovely!  A mid rise slim with a little kick flare. Ticks all the boxes.  Except one.  Sold out in my size.  And back to the drawing board I go.

What do you do when you strike out completely and descend into despair?  (Okay, that's a bit melodramatic but these are jeans we're talking about here.)  You reach out for help, that's what you do.  Having seen the gorgeous Tabitha of Bourbon and Pearls in the very style I was lusting after, I emailed her.  She shared the information, the pair that made her stems so gorgeous were J Brand Gigi jeans.  The bad news was the style was several years old and no longer sold.  Undeterred I turned to eBay and there they were.  As worn by many celebrities including Elle McPherson, one of my style icons, they are the perfect combination of rise, rinse and flare. January Jones wears them all the time.

They're fabulous with heels, Audrey Hepburn-esque with flats.  The dark wash is dressy enough to be worn with a black blazer and pumps, and they can go casual with flats and a tee.  I'm giddy waiting for their arrival. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Who is your muse?

Muse  (myooz)
1. Greek Mythology Any of the nine daughters of Mnemosyne and Zeus, each of whom presided over a different art or science.
2. muse
               a. A guiding spirit
               b. A source of inspiration.
3. muse A poet.
In the days of movie magazines, before tabloids and ET (that's Entertainment television, not the extraterrestrial), women had only the images the stars wanted them to see.  Beautiful shots of Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Katherine Hepburn filled the pages women thumbed through at the beauty parlor.  While they are still relevant fashion icons, we now have pictures of fashion editors, designers, singers, actors and those who seem to be famous for no reason at all. 
The explosion of street style photographers, personal style blogs, fashion show coverage and red carpet recaps give us plenty of examples to follow.  Still, finding your own style can be quite a challenge.  It helps to have a muse.  Or maybe more than one.  Following someone whose style you admire and want to emulate can give you a blueprint. 
My closet has evolved after using my muses as my source of fashion inspiration.  Here are a few of them.
Carine Roitfeld
Elle McPherson
Victoria Beckham


Monday, July 29, 2013

The elusive perfect coral lippie

The ups and downs of my search for the perfect summer lip color, first chronicled here, almost threatened to wear me down. I thought the Revlon lipshine was "it".  Then I realized I couldn't keep it on for more than 10 minutes.  Seriously, where does lipstick go?!  I wasn't eating or drinking, licking my lips or even talking much. Yet it disappeared into thin air.

Someone I work with sells Mary Kay. Although I've never had good luck with their products, she swore to me that if I tried the True Dimensions line, I'd be sold.  I took the leap.  Why not?  If it didn't work out, it would join the many dozens of failed attempts at the perfect lip color in the plastic container under my bathroom sink. Also known as the lipstick graveyard.

I ordered it and waited patiently.  When it arrived, the first thing I noticed was the novel tube.  You press the clear lid at the top and the bottom pops out.  Turn it up like any other lipstick and apply.  It's a pretty silver cylinder, quite chic for those quick after dinner touch ups.

I've had it for a week.  The verdict?  Beautiful sheer color in the lovely coral shade I hoped for, just a touch on the orange side.  Staying power of 2-3 hours, lots of moisture and just a bit of sheen.  I've ordered 2 more since I now live in fear that it will be discontinued.  Everytime I find the perfect lippie, it gets discontinued.   

It's $18 and can be purchased directly on the Mary Kay site if you don't know a representative.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

When skies are grey

Grey is one of those difficult to define colors. It's not just what you get when you mix black and white. It can have tones and shades stolen from other colors. It's softer than black against the skin, especially for day time.  Designers went a bit gaga over it for fall.

How versatile is this amazing grey dress by Maison Martin Margiela?

Really a long sweater vest, it could be worn alone, over a white long sleeved top, under a fitted jacket or over cropped pants for the office.  Dress it down with jeans and a tee or belt it over cashmere sweater and throw on some boots for weekend.  A sweater vest never looked so goo.
A grey suit can also do double duty.  The skirt will play well with tops of pretty much any color.  Grey is a great back drop.  A fitted jacket can break away from it's pencil skirt sister to top a sheath dress.
Not going to work?  How about something in a casual grey?  This sweet little dress is the perfect thing to throw on when the heat index is up and you want to look put together even while you're sweating.  Throw on flat sandals and grab your bucket bag, you're off to run errands. 
Of course, we're all about the shoes.  How about these amazing pump/bootie/slingback hybrids that have a grey upper and black heel? 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Some decisions aren't black and white

Yesterday I expressed my angst about choosing between the Miu Miu and the Prada flats.  Still undecided, by the way.  As I googled images of both and shopped various websites, I came across these beautiful Prada pumps.

White with black trim. Sigh.  How gorgeous?  A totally white shoe, not for me.  But add that thick band of black and you have a whole new ball game.

I already have oodles of black pumps.  Still, the reverse shoe also caught my eye.

Not exactly the opposite, this one is black with silver trim.  The silver elevates the basic black pump making it office ready and evening appropriate.

I'm not done yet, what about a different kind of black and white color block?

This pair my be my favorite.  The heel is my preferred height, 80mm, as opposed to the higher heel of the two pairs above.  I'm smitten with the cap toe.  I've got dozens of things in my closet that would coordinate with these and like the flats from yesterday's post, they're shoes that can be worn next year and the year after.

Now I just need to decide. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

This or that?

I posted these Miu Miu flats a while back.  Love the color block, the pointy toe, the slight bit of heel.


Then I came across these Prada flats.  The obvious similarities are the two tone, the pointy toe, that little heel. 

Such a dilemma!  The Miu Miu are slightly more casual, with the loafer or slipper styling.  The Prada are pretty and feminine, the Miu Miu a bit more borrowed from the boys.  Either works really well with cropped pants, jeans, sleek dresses. 

Which brings up a question.  What's the difference between Miu Miu and Prada anyway?  Aren't they all the same designer? 

But I digress.  What am I going to do about the flats question?  Prada or Miu Miu?  Miu Miu or Prada?  Both gorgeous, both very wearable and classic enough to last for years.  I don't need nor can I afford both.  I have to choose!! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Another lip color review

I wasn't kidding in that earlier post. I love lip colors. I have literally dozens and dozens in my bathroom cabinet.  I am a sucker for packaging and marketing. If I see something fabulous in a store, I buy it.  When someone recommends a lippie, I buy it.  I watch for new products, I consume magazine articles about lip colors.  This explains the dozens and dozens I mentioned above.

Naturally, when one of my favorite bloggers recommended a new lip color, I tried it.  It was an epic fail.  Beautiful color and beautiful packaging that looked and felt good for about 1/2 hour, after which it became an odd combination of tacky and dry, wore unevenly, looked patchy and messy all at the same time.  But the color, oh the color! It was summer in a tube.  The perfect orangey-coral with golden flecks.  Here it is, but don't buy it.

Revlon It Girl Ultimate Suede Lipstick. Bad, bad, bad.

Still, the perfect color in that tube haunted me.  There had to be something similarly bright and pretty!  Something that wouldn't make me look like a failed science experiment.

Stumbling through Walgreen's the other day, looking for a new flat iron, I passed an end cap.  There it was.  My perfect summer lippie.  Revlon Super Lustrous Shine Lipstick in Lovers Coral.  It's almost the identical color to it's messy cousin, without the gold flecks.  It goes on very sheer, and the color is buildable by adding more coats.  It's very moisturizing with smooth and even application. 


This is a product I can get behind and recommend.  In fact, I've already picked it up in more colors.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Obsession: All Saints Reptile Quad Jacket

This jacket has been floating around in my cerebellum since it landed on the All Saints website a few months ago.  It's perfect for me and the climate I live in.  Light leather that is easy to care for - the website says regular dry clean (not the super expensive specialty leather dry clean) - and easy to wear.  Perforated panels with solid sleeves, and the sleeves are short.  What better garment for spring and fall in the desert?  With a long sleeved turtleneck or tee, it transitions easily to winter.  Given that I work in an office building chilled to arctic levels, it would even work in the summer.

In my wardrobe this baby would be extremely versatile, the obvious use being weekend casual.  The streamlined shape and classic cut means it would also work well over a sheath dress, or as a topper to a pencil skirt and silk tee.  Alas, the bank account does not allow even such a well reasoned purchase.  Starting out at $785.00, it was recently marked down 20% to $628.00.  Still too rich for my blood. 

If memory serves, All Saints had a code for 4th of July last year, even though they are a UK based company.  Cross your fingers they do the same next week and I can grab this little gem at a discount.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: Aerin beach cream

In the summer time I'm all about easy and minimal. Easy as in a streamlined beauty routine, and minimal as in not much clothing.  Simple makeup, simple hair, simple outfits.  Your skin and hair are front and center when everything else is low key.  You want to look fresh and glowy, with a hint of color.

Enter Aerin beach cream, a multipurpose product that works equally well on skin and hair.  It's not greasy, it has a light scent and it makes your legs look terrific.  Put it on the ends of your damp hair and hit it with the blow dryer, it will have body with a golden sparkle. 

While it can be used for everyday, it's called beach cream for a reason.  Take it with you on your next vacation to keep your skin soft and create beachy sunkissed hair. Available here and lots of other online retailers, $45.