Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Socal Living

Living in New York for the past three years has definitely influenced the way I dress.

Scratch that; "influenced" isn't exactly the right word.  Rather, New York gave me the permission to break free from the shackles of suburbia try to become the Madonna/Shirley Manson/Gwen Stefani/Cyndi Lauper-incarnate I had dreamed of ever since I started watching music videos on the Internet in 5th grade.  Really, when you see people like Andre J. on the street, you realize you really can't go too far in this city.

Now I've moved back home, to Orange County, for the next eight months, and for the past week I've been relentlessly job-hunting.  One morning, with several hours of obtaining and submitting applications ahead of me, I shower, blow-dry my hair so it's stick-straight, rim my eyes with black liner, slide on a generous coating of mascara, and gloss my lips pink and wet.  I pick out the day's outfit: a black C&C tank; a high-waisted vintage silk pencil skirt that's printed with a black, white, and shocking pink pop-art flower motif; a white silk LaROK cropped jacket that's been sitting unworn, with tags still attached, in my closet since I bought it last summer; and some simple black platform sandals I swipe from my sister's closet.  I do a final once-over in my mirror; I look put-together but unique, ladylike but edgy.  It's a good outfit.

My mom thinks differently when I come into the living room.  "That's what you're wearing?" she asks, raising a blonde eyebrow.

"Why not?"

"It's cute, don't get me wrong, but it's not the kind of thing people wear around here.  You should put on some jeans."

"And think about using those sunless tan towelettes I bought for you," I hear my mother add as I head back to my room to slip into something a little more... boring.

Clearly, my style doesn't quite fit into Orange County's laid-back vibe.  And since I'll be here for awhile, I might as well assimilate a little bit.  Besides lopping off the legs of my trouser-cut Hudsons to make shorts and digging up all my (shudder) flip-flops, I'm also going to invest in some effortless dresses, breezy tunics, and charming t-shirts.  Like this one:

Hating on LA when you're a California-spawn escapee who's made New York her home: predictable.  Making a jab at LA when you're living in Southern California after an extended stay on the East Coast: totally acceptable.

Part British It Girl, part effortless West Coast chic, part 60s mod; totally iconic and relevant.

With a skin-flattering color, generous cut, and sexy racerback, this tank is sure to be a piece I'll live in all summer - and all fall and winter, too.  Gotta love this beautiful-year-round California climate!

Works as well with flip-flops on the beach as it does with platform sandals out to dinner.

At once futuristic and 60s mod, with sleek minimalism and shiny perforated leather, these boots... are making me drool all over my MacBook.

Three things I will always love: boldly printed silk, clothes that are 60s and 70s-inspired, and showing off a girl's sculpted shoulders.  Trina Turk delivers all three with this gorgeous, works-with-everything top.

This could be a sky-high heel-worshiping city girl's answer to the flip flop.  Also, less expensive and much more effective than enlisting a cobbler to slice off the heels of my four-inch-tall beauties.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Any Monday when you get the day of from work is worth celebrating with some new clothes.

I would so much more into this dress if it was an actual dress, and not just an extra long shirt that the slutty American Apparel models wear without pants. The Fine Jersey Tee Dress, $26, is nice casual with the raw edges on the neckline, sleeves, and hem, and I really like the wide neckline that can also be worn off the shoulder. And it actually doesn't look that short in this photo, but in some of the others it barely comes over the model's butt. Just the sort of frustrating tackiness we've come to expect from AA.

This Alice + Olivia dress would not be appropriate for any Memorial Day barbeques, but if there's some swanky rooftop party in your future, or maybe some glam Medieval-themed party, the Chain Strap Dress, $484, will be perfect. The dress is chiffon, with criss-cross beading and sweet multi-chain straps. It also comes in black, but I think the white avoids any dominatrix associations with the chains.

Sorry for posting another ridiculously expensive dress, but I absolutely adore this Jill Stuart Robin Floral Print Dress, $540. Florals can be a little grandma or pre-teen girl, but the over sized roses on the white background are perfect for the flirty young woman. This is the sort of dress you can throw on after getting out of the shower and wear with no accessories nor complicated shoes. Totally fresh and effortless-- let's cross our fingers that Forever 21 makes an affordable knockoff at some point this summer.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Holy Trinity (+ shoes)

Groundbreaking news in the world of online shopping!

Now, you can buy items from Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Piperlime all together, for just $7 flat shipping rate! I don't want to sound like a corporate shill, but c'mon, this is totally awesome. Flat shipping rates are second only to free shipping; I hate feeling like I'm getting punished when I buy more things and have to pay more for shipping. Also, I spend inordinate amounts of time on these four websites, so it's awesome that I can put a swimsuit from the Gap, a skirt from Old Navy, a dress from Banana Republic and a pair of heels from Piperlime into the same shopping bag. I wonder if they all ship together? No matter, 7 bucks is 7 bucks.

So in celebration of this, I present a standout item or two from each store.

The Gap's Sequin Striped Halter Top and Bikini Bottom, $29.62 each. I love the super simple and classic navy and white stripes transformed into something glamorous and fresh through the use of sequins. It could be too much if the bottoms were all sequiny too (and I can just imagine how torn up they would get if you dared to go boogie boarding or something), so I love that the bottoms are solid with the sequin striped ties as an accent.

If you want to continue the bling theme (and I usually do), there's the Old Navy Metallic Sharkskin Skirt, $29.50. I'm not sure if the fabric actually has a sharkskin-like print or texture, but I'm guessing the answer is no. The pleating at the waist and simple shape of the skirt probably makes it very easy to wear; I can imagine just slipping it on with a tank top and sandals for the day, then adding a more sexy halter top and heels to go out at night.

Also from Old Navy, these Brown Suede-Rattan Wedges, $34.50, are the perfect mix of elegant and casual. I like that they're rattan instead of espadrille, which is such a common summer wedge trend that it's practically expected. The rattan is a bit classier, and the shiny leather on the edge of the suede straps adds a hint of glam. Old Navy has had some really great shoes this season, not to mention the classic 2 for $5 classic flip flops. Keep up the good work, Old Navy.

I suspect that you'd have to be super tall, skinny and buff to look good in this Banana Republic Silk Asymmetrical Dress, $175, but those who could pull it off would look stunning. It's an undeniably incredible color: a rich, bright purple that you just don't see everyday. The one-shouldered look and waist sash just add more interest. This is the sort of dress that will bring on an avalanche of compliments from women and come-ons from men-- aka, the best kind of dress.

I used to be really into giant cocktail rings, both because I liked the way they looked when I made big gestures and because I liked knowing that if I were to punch someone in the face I'd do some real damage. The BR Majestic Ring, $54.50, is so over-the-top that you can't take it seriously. It's like something Elizabeth Taylor would wear, right? So you'd have to wear it with a sense of humor and a lot of confidence, and if someone gives you any guff, punch them in the nose with whatever hand this ring is on.

For some reason, Piperlime just isn't doing it for me tonight. It could be that I spent all day in a pair of heels that left giant blisters on both of my little toes, and at the moment I want nothing more than to wear fuzzy socks for the rest of my life. Or maybe they just don't update their selection as much as I wished they did. But I would be remiss if I didn't include something from this usually pretty great shoe and handbag site, so here are the Guess Enthuse heels in black poppy, $100. They're not really my style, and prints on shoes are almost always a bitch to match, but there's something really fun and sexy about these shoes. They remind me of something Carrie Bradshaw would wear, and not in a bad way. I would want to take off the tacky G charm, though.

Some Hairy Products

The bitches tend to come out when they’re severely guilted. Sorry darlings, I may as well be a guest contributor. I giveth you the deals, and then I horedth them away for myself. Yes, I am a greedy little bitch. But, occasionally, the gates of my two-sizes-too-small black heart open wide, and, like the Grinch returning the presents to all the Who kids in Who-ville, it grows three sizes in a day and I share the golden goods.

(Okay, in reality, I had finals, a dorm to close, and spent a night in Richmond bawling my eyes out after I missed my flight. Really. A disaster. If I had posted anything it would have been about all the amazing shit I found in the dorm that people left behind and the bag of in-flight pretzels the AirTran employee gave me to get me to stop sobbing.)

First up: The Mason Pearson brush:

This is actually a really famous product… and for a good reason. When you use it, it feels like an angel’s fingers stroking through your hair. Not joking. The brush was first developed in 1885 and was the first to use (and patent) that air cushion mentality. It’s very gentle on your hair and it actually does massage your scalp in a light, delicate way. Also, if you flip your hair and brush under, it definitely does give you volume!

Because the brushes are renown for being very easy on the hair, I told my mom to buy it when she felt like her hair was thinning due to all the weight she’d lost (side note: way to go Mama!)—I also told her to buy it so I could use it the minute I got home from school. They have three different types depending on how thick your hair is (and sensitive your scalp is). Unfortunately, the brushes run between $80-$170 dollars (read more about pricing and the brush company here).

Okay, gather round Who kids, it’s story time: up until the time I was in seventh grade, my hair was short, thin, and shiny. At one time (you know, when I was two and three), it was actually blonde (I have photographic evidence!!). And then, one day—that day being February 2, 2000--I woke up and had a bad hair day. A bad hair day that is known to many as puberty. All of a sudden, on top of my Harry Potter round glasses and my sweet metal braces (with alternating hot pink and fuchsia bands), my hair started growing out of my head in frizzy girls. So maybe it wasn’t puberty. Maybe it was my latent Greek blood, finally rearing its ugly head.

So that was a very long way of telling you that because my frizz hasn’t ever really gone away, I’ve gone through many different products. It really is a struggle not to overload your hair with all the different products: you need your shampoo, hair conditioner, smoothing milk/leave-in condition, stuff to protect your hair from the vital, but hair-frying monster known as the flat iron… and then the nice finishing spray. After all products are used and I’ve finally managed to scrape the product from my hands, I’m left with flat hair from product overload.

This is where It’s a Ten comes in and saves you from having to use a gazillion products. My hairdresser couldn’t kept this in stock, so Mama had to go out on her own and find it on her own. It’s a typical leave-in conditioner… you take a shower, towel your hair and spray it in. Easy as pie (and it smells as delicious as pie). That’s pretty much the only way it’s typical. This is a little hair warrior:

It's a 10 Ten - Miracle Leave In Product is an amazingly new product on the professional salon market that does 10 things instantly:
1.) Repairs dry damaged hair
2.) Adds shine
3.) Smoothes & controls frizz
4.) Seals & protects hair color
5.) Detangles
6.) Prevents split ends
7.) Stops hair breakage
8.) Creates Silkiness
9.) Enhances natural body
10.) Flat iron spray & thermal protector

Really. It’s pretty damn awesome. The bottle is $15.00, but so far it’s lasted.

And on one final note: check out the latest Isaac Mizahri dresses at Target. If you weed through the crap, you’ll actually find some really pretty silhouettes and colors! I won’t go into detail because this post is already long enough, but how pretty is the Envelope Dress? Here’s a picture of the front and back in yellow; it’s available in quite a few colors (I at least saw navy and black), but I thought you could see the detail and shape of the dress a little better in yellow. The back is my favorite part of the dress, and the good news is that it looks like you can wear a bra with it.

It retails for $39.00.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Sorry for the lack of posts; I moved into a new apartment and have been without internet for a week, and those other bitches are just lazy.

So with the transition out of dorm housing came a lot of shopping. No longer am I sleeping in an extra-long twin bed; I now have a super sweet queen from Ikea. The upgrade I was most excited for, though, was getting new bedding. Not only were my sheets sort of gross and falling apart (I washed them, I swear! Just, probably not often enough), but I had completely grown out of the color scheme. Senior year of high school was all about pink and green for me; I pretty much wished the cover of Prep was my life. What I really wanted was pink and green argyle sheets, but thank god I couldn't find them. Instead I got a dusty light green comforter, and one set of fairly bright pink sheets and another set of green and pink striped sheets. I loved them so much... for like a year. And then I was constantly embarrassed at the fact that I was in my 20's and sleeping on pink sheets. Especially since, after arriving in New York, my wardrobe had gone from a rainbow of bright blues and vivid reds to overwhelmingly black, grey, navy blue, and, when I was feeling crazy, dark green.

So when it was time to buy new sheets, I wanted to make sure I got something that I wasn't going to look at with disgust in two years. I'm not positive I hit the mark; it's very hard to predict my future moods with regard to color. But I'm hopeful that I found a classic color combo that'll last at least until my mid-twenties.

For the comforter, I went for a nice, deep red, which I think will go well with my wooden furniture. From Target, the Woolrich Down Alternative Comforter is $59.99. I don't know why they're making such a big deal of it being a "down alternative," but I guess that's good for those of you with fragile noses or whatever.

Then for sheets, I got 600 Thread-Count Sheets in "beige," which is really more of a nice gold, and Ultra Soft Cotton/Modal Sheets in Ivory, which is more off-white than it seems in the photo. I like having a little variety, and not only because it helps me remember that a certain set of sheets needs to be washed. The gold sheets are a bit more in-your-face and blingy, while the ivory is a bit more subdued and classic. I think it's a nice set.

Sure, I had to go all the way to the Target in Brooklyn to get these sheets, and on the way back I got caught in the rain without an umbrella, making me get very cranky about the fact that if I had gone home for the summer, I would probably have spent the day lying by the pool under cloudless skies, reading a great book, and then I could've thrown a dress over my swimsuit and hopped in my car and driven five minutes to Target and I would be warm and dry and tan. But I digress. Basically, I'm just rather happy not to be sleeping in a sleeping bag anymore.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mother's Day Presents

Today is Mother's Day, so all you ungrateful children better get your asses in gear and buy something for your momma that says, "I love you this many dollars worth."

Flowers are, of course, a classic. But don't get your mom roses (too Oedipal) or carnations (too cheap). I think most moms like hydrangeas, and these White Hydrangeas in a teal canister are $44.99 from 1-800-Flowers. Martha Stewart is doing a collection for them, and, naturally, it's totally fantastic. All her Mother's Day arrangements are sold out, but I love the spring wildflowers in this Vibrant Purple Bouquet, $49.95.

I think the best present I ever got my mom for Mother's Day was a flower bouquet in the shape of a cake. I'm not sure why, but she thought it was the cutest thing she'd ever seen, even cuter than me as a toddler. This Petite Flowers Cake is $49.95. Unfortunately, there is not a real cake underneath that you can eat (you should probably tell your mom that up front so she doesn't get disappointed when she tries to cut it later), but you can blow out the candle!

As an alternative to the flower cake, if your mom is a little more free-spirited, the kind of mom who let you watch cartoons all afternoon while she nursed her third martini and complained about how your father never appreciated her, there's this Strawberry Floral Margarita bouquet, $69.99. So cute, right? But probably not a good choice if your mother ever went to AA.

But you know what? Flowers die and then it gets a little depressing when you have to throw them out. Books are better, especially if you give a book you've already read, because then your mom can call and discuss it. I got my mom Ann Patchett's Truth and Beauty for Christmas, which was risky because my mom usually doesn't like non-fiction. But this memoir of Patchett's friendship with Lucy Greeley, another writer with a a horribly disfiguring cancer... of the jaw? I don't know, it was some cancer that messed up her face and it's all very sad. Your mom will cry, and yet be touched by the power of female friendship. Other good Ann Patchett books for you or your mom are Bel Canto and Run.

In appreciation of my mom, I'd like to share a little anecdote that she claims never happened but I remember really clearly: we were wandering the aisles of an airport bookstore, and I picked up a Nicholas Sparks book (this was a many years ago, before the movie version of the Notebook came out), and she said, "Ugh, Nicholas Sparks. If he ever had an original thought his head would explode."

But what, you are asking, am I actually planning on getting my mom for Mother's Day? Juno on DVD, because she sent me an email saying, "I want Juno for Mother's Day." Sometimes my life is really easy.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


If you're a girl, and you know how to walk in heels (and maybe even if you don't), then you've gotta have a little black dress. It's a classic, it's ultra-flattering, you can wear it everywhere with everything. Everyone loves the little black dress.

And yet... when you wear a LBD to a bar or party, it's just about impossible to get the "all eyes on me" effect, because you're blending in with all the other girls in black dresses. It's always important to have that "safety" dress that you can throw on when you want to look guaranteed good, but sometimes that same dress becomes your "boring" outfit.

Enter the Little White Dress. If there's one thing I learned from my time on my high school newspaper staff, it's that the eye loves white space (also, a pica is some sort of measurement that will drive you absolutely insane). Basically, if you wear a white dress, you'll be the attention-catching pull quote in the middle of an overwhelming solid block of text. Or, in a less nerdy example, you'll be like a spotlight... or a star! A star in the middle of a night sky!

Yes, sure, there are definitely hazards to the white dress. First, you don't want to look like a bride. Second, if you spill your dinner on your dress, you might as well call it a night and head home. And third, and my biggest pet peeve, so many white dresses are see-through. Lining is God's gift for those of us who like to wear underwear, so I don't know why every designer doesn't slap it inside their lighter-colored clothes.

I might as well break my lining rule right off the bat, with this Susana Monaco Pleat Pocket Tube Dress, $149. It'd probably be suited for a swimsuit cover-up, but if the fabric is thick enough to wear without breaking any public decency laws, it'd be a great sexy dress for when you want to look effortlessly hot. I love the hip pockets (since I love all pockets), and I think the gathered bustier would be very flattering to boobs of all shapes and sizes (except square, probably).

Here's a similarly simple dress, from Ella Moss. The Abbey Bow Dress, $155, has the cutest braided straps, and I love that the tie on the bust leaves a little keyhole opening. Very sexy with a side of sweet. I'm generally not a huge fan of bubble hems (they're fattening on almost everyone, I swear), but it seems like the hem on this dress is very subtle-y balloon-y. And I guess it could be read as a high-fashion detail on what could otherwise be a Prettiest Girl at the County Fair dress.

I don't play tennis, but if I did play tennis in some sort of fantasy world country club or Connecticut weekend home, this is what I would want to be wearing. From Ben Sherman, the Pearl dress, $129, is probably too fancy for any actual sports (it could possibly work for croquet). It's a full button-down (both the top and skirt), and there's pin-tucking on the bodice, like a feminine version of the tuxedo shirt. But that just means that the dress can go from the courts to cocktail hour; just take off the removable straps, add some bright heels, and make sure not to spill your Screwdriver. Also, I feel that the model in this photo demonstrates a great quality of all white dresses that I forgot to mention: if you've spent any time at all out in the sun, they make you look so freaking tan. There are very, very few compliments I like better than, "Wow, you look tan," and a white dress is a lot less trashy than going to a (shudder!) tanning salon.

Is all this white making your eyes hurt, like you've been staring into the sun for too long? I'll give you a break with some white dresses with colored accents. The fiercest I've seen is undoubtedly this Dallin Chase Franz dress, $161. The fuchsia ruffle at the neckline could be overkill on a different dress, but against the white it's the perfect pop of color. And you know I love waist sashes, and this one is even greater because of the orange on one side and fuchsia on the other. This dress is ridiculously short, though; you could probably wear it over jeans and make it into a tunic. I'm not sure if it would work with tights, though, since it's such a warm-weather look.

All these dresses so far have been on the pricey side, so let's bring it back to the, "If I buy this dress, then I won't be able to buy 8 cups of coffee. Worth it!" realm. From Forever 21, the Nana embroidered dress, $29.80 would be perfect for Cinco de Mayo (if it wasn't already over). The embroidery, in a shade of light orange that's perfect as an accent but would be overwhelming otherwise, makes this dress look more well-made than it probably is.

Ok, so this next dress is more of a cream (Old Navy calls it "powdered milk," which I find rather gross), but it's in the white family so I hope you'll forgive me. The Old Navy tiered embroidered dress, $20.70 is a bit extreme with the babydoll style-- those cups look a little small to me. But it has a "road trip to Cali!" or, if you're already in California, "road trip to TJ!" vibe that I really like.

Moving on to tank dresses (did you notice I'm progressing from strapless to spaghetti strap to tank, and then we'll have halter, sleeveless and short sleeve!), I've posted this dress from Delia's before, and I still love it even though I'm sure in person it's total crap. But how am I supposed to resist all the cuteness in this photo? She has flowers in her purse, for god's sake! I want the Helena Eyelet dress, $44, just so I can attempt to recreate her entire look (first step: find some cobblestone streets to walk on).

Danielle's gonna hate this dress because it's super infantalizing, even more infantalizing than the dresses I always post about. The Black Halo Empire Tank dress, $306, practically looks like a christening gown. But check out the cool pattern on the top, and how the satin belt complements the different fabrics on the bodice and skirt. It's like debutante on top, hippie on bottom, bride in the middle, but the white brings it all together and keeps it cohesive.

My three halter dresses are all under $45-- how about that? First, from Isaac Mizrahi for Target, there's the Eyelet Halter dress, $39.99. Classic shape in a light, breezy fabric-- a great option.

Another Delia's pick, I find this Caroline dress, $44.50, appealingly slutty. The ruffles on the halter are totally telling everyone to stare at your chest, which is sometimes the effect you want to have.

This F21 dress looks so luxe, like something J.Lo would wear if it cost $21,000. And if it were lined. The Embroidered Shift Dress, $19.80, has that shock of color around the collar that'll frame your face and get you loads of compliments.

This dress is very Mad Men Goes to the Hamptons-- a little costume-y but totally hot on the right girl. From Miss Sixty, this Manya Dress, $209, is the more polished sister of the second dress I posted, the Abbey dress. It has the tie-front detail, but the pencil skirt and cap sleeves make it almost appropriate for the office or a swanky cocktail lounge. The fabric is linen instead of a knit, I think, so you'd have to work a bit harder to keep the dress looking crisp and fresh.

The Ella Moss Kate dress, $162, has one of my favorite ways of wearing white, as crochet. Crochet can be a little old-fashioned, and no one wants to be crotchety, but the simple t-shirt shape of this dress and the unlined sleeves keep it very young. Throw this on with some flat gold sandals and you're all set to go get some tacos.

My final dress isn't my favorite, but the Banana Republic Linen lace-front dress, $98, is still pretty cute. You can't really see the detail on the white version, so I'm posting a photo of the blue, too. Ignore the dumb scarf on the model, the racing stripes of lace down the front are very cute. And I think the shape is moderate enough to work into fall and even winter, with the right accessories.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Seahorses... on furniture!

So, two orders of business. First, somehow our Mindy Kaling Appreciation Facebook group (the spark that lit the bonfire of materialism that is this blog) has somehow managed to go down in group members. I suspect that the Angela Kinsey fans have turned violent and are killing off our members so their appreciation group can be larger. We cannot let this stand! You may think, "What does it matter if you used to have 91 members and now you have 88?" I'll tell you why it matters: because I made a blood vow to bake a cake when our group reaches 100 members, and every time I go to the grocery I'm like, "Mmm, funfetti cake mix, one day you will be mine." So would it be inappropriate for me to ask you to join, if you haven't already? Also, I'm not sure if everyone is aware of this, but if you've ever laughed out loud at something Mindy wrote in her blog, you are legally obligated to join her Facebook group. Do you really want to break the law?

Ok, secondly, I want this dresser so bad it hurts:
I know, I know, this dresser would look freaking ridiculous in my tiny New York apartment. And it's like 900 bucks. Damn you, Pottery Barn, and your lust-inducing beach house furniture! This Nautical Entryway Cabinet is $899, and I will make it mine one day.