Category: Fashion and Beauty Spice


Taking a fashion risk!

I am only a fashionista in my private fantasies, but I do check in on The Sartorialist regularly. He is able to capture some amazing real life street shots of regular people as well as fashion-types and their different style choices. I guess I do it in part that I might eventually absorb some of that fashion sense and develop a style of my own. A few months ago, he posted several photos of a particular color combination he saw throughout London. See the posts from February 22nd under the title “On the Street, London Color Story, London.” I have a dress that’s very close the blues he saw…and I began to consider the possibility that I could pull off pairing it with the golden yellow color, too:

From "The Sartorialist"

So, I got this great idea that I was going to find a pair of tights in golden yellow to wear with my royal blue dress. I’ve been thinking about it for months. Finally now, it’s dress and tights weather and just last week, I stopped at American Apparel to see of they had a tights in this crazy yellow. Of course, they did. And here is the result: golden yellow tights, royal blue jersey dress, topped with a light grey cotton linen cardigan (it is spring in Chicago after all – temperatures ranging from 75F to 55F in four hour span). Unfortunately, the lighting in this photo is bad, and you can’t quite see the vividness of the colors. But trust me, it was bright. To top off the look, I carried my turquoise bag! I took this look all over Chicago today, running errands and going to the spa – a spring day off! I’m fairly certain that this look got me some extra attention.

20110524-084336.jpg

What I learned from this experience was that a little fashion daring can be fun. There is something about wearing bright colors that puts an extra spring in your step and makes you feel a bit of sunshine your heart. You will have to see it someday in person to understand the full effect. So, judge me if you want, but it was fun!

Flash Sale Mania

I’ve spent my share of time and money on online flash sales.  I wouldn’t say I am obsessed with them but they have become a primary source for my shopping.  If I needed a new cross-body or a cute dress, I go straight to all my favorite sites.  Bored on the bus?  I will start my sale app on the phone and take a look (maybe purchase).  I consistently visit some sites, and occasionally browse through others.  My friends and I even considered about going into the business of flash sale. The idea seemed simple enough and look at the founders of Gilt.  But boy is that market saturated!  Did you know there are specific sites for wedding gowns, kids/babies (Zulily and Totsy), wines, music, and men’s fashion in India?  (I guess men in India like some good bargains too)

I really shouldn’t be anymore, but each month I find myself shocked at the items that go “on sale.”  Shocker of the week:  Buy your Wedding Day on Gilt City.

Wedding for party of 100 at Del Posto. A lovely four course dinner, with all the drinks your guests desire. Includes a live band and we even throw in a cake!  All just for $30,000!

The bargain tickle your fancy?  Better think quick.  Put it in your cart while you consider about a minute longer.  Read the fine prints.

Awww, its all sold out.  Better luck next time.

The Ultimate Cross Body

Cross body bags are all the rage these days and have become the ultimate fashion must have for Spring. A few weeks ago I became obsessed with them and concluded I just had to have one. With two kids, I need my hands free as much as possible (the reasonableness argument) but at the same time I don’t want a “mommy bag” YKWIM? (the vanity reality) The problem was which one?!

I had no idea, but what I did know:

It had to be functional and fun
It had to be something I could imagine draping along my body for at least 2 summers without getting bored
It had to be structured. (my personal preference)
It couldn’t have one of those top handle thingymagigs. I hate that
and most importantly, it  had to reflect a part of me, whether real or imagined.

So with the help of my dearest MacchaMe, here’s my short list:

1) Rebecca Minkoff – Neon Nights  (to channel my inner “waif” – Imagine me sucking in my cheeks and stomach for this one)

 

2)  Rebecca Minkoff – Main Squeeze (to channel my inner “badass”)

 

3) Mulberry – Mila (To channel my long retired inner “party girl”)

4)  Kate Spade – Essex Scout (To channel my inner “responsible woman” with timeless class and style – straight laced with a dash of daring )

5) Chloe – Marcie Mini (To channel my inner “teenager” – fun, free and playful)

6) Gucci – Snaffle Bit (To channel my inner “fashionista” )

 

and last but definitely not the least

7) Chloe – Marcie Regular (To channel my “current reality” – A mom who needs to carry around diapers and distractions for my entourage, but wants to look at my bag and say “ahh I still recognize myself in the midst of all this chaos”)

bridal fashions

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a girly-girl. I never dreamed about being a princess or a bride. But, here I am, suffering from insomnia at the Cleveland Hyatt Regency – and surfing the web, I came across some photos of Vera Wang’s Spring 2011 collection. I was actually inspired to check out the rest of the line on Vera’s website. And, I have to admit, my eyes widened a bit, in that “I see something I covet” way. I have never really understood the appeal of wedding gowns. I have flipped through bridal magazines and they all just kind of looked like prom dresses on steroids to me. But I see a special romance in these dresses – in all their flouncy, filmy, ruffly, warm peachy, and beigy-toned glory. Am I crazy? Suffering from lack of sleep? I know that if I ever do get married, it will likely be way past the point where I can reasonably have a princess-wedding with the big gown and everything. But, I would really like to see one of my friends in one of these dresses…

How can this dress not inspire romance? Why am I looking at wedding dresses at 4AM in Cleveland, Ohio?

Power hair?

As you know I have been thinking of getting a keratin treatment to say goodbye temporarily to frizz and to speed up my daily routine.  Funny enough, a friend at work pointed out that there was an article in the Wall Street Journal this week on the different types of hair treatments, the cost, the ingredients used, etc.  Why would such an article be in the Wall Street Journal?  Because of this lovely excerpt:

“Some image consultants say professional women with lots of curls often feel pressured to tame them for work. “The women who have the power spots in banking and hedge funds and all of that never wear their hair to extremes,” says Susan Sommers, a New York business-image coach who has advised employees at companies including Deloitte and Colgate-Palmolive Co. Their hair isn’t too straight, too long or too curly. “People who are being groomed for high potential, and people who are handling a lot of money, have overseers who really understand that they can’t look unkempt or ungroomed,” she says.”

EXCUSE ME???  Sorry, Wall Street Journal, but I doubt that is the reason why women want keratin treatments.  At least not this woman!  Agree or disagree?

Read the entire article here.

New York City got its first peek at Spring this past Friday.  It reached over 70 degrees and it was absolutely beautiful.  What made this day even more beautiful was that nyuchick and I, in rare form, was able to get out of work at 5 on the dot (in case you didn’t know, we work together!).  We were so flabbergasted at seeing daylight after work, we knew we had to take full advantage of this occasion.  So we strolled up Madison Avenue for a trip of indulgence.

To explain our first stop, you must learn that usually at this hour in the office, a typical conversation between nyuchick and I would be:

MacchaMe:  Gary just started knocking on my door and won’t stop

nyuchick: Gary just punched me in the stomach!

MacchaMe:  How rude, we need to get rid of Gary

[nyuchick and MacchaMe proceeds to eat a snack.]

To explain this conversation, Gary is our hunger pain nemesis, derived from the word hungry –> hungAry —> Gary!  (I know, it doesn’t quite make any sense).

Anyway, making my point unnecessarily long: in the office or not, we needed a snack!

Our first stop was on 59th street at Macaron Café.  I was shocked to learn that nyuchick never tried a french macaron before because she had always associated them with macarOOns, which she was not crazy about.  Who knew what a big difference an extra O made!  I was very excited to see her try these sweets.  The cafe was small but filled with a large variety of round meringue treats, arranged beautifully behind a glass pane in many different colors.  It seemed like they had at least a dozen flavors!  My eyes jumped immediately to the unique flavor of honey lavender and nyuchick jumped immediately to what she knows best is good in everything: Nutella.  As we are both peanut butter junkies, we decided to get that to share.

Honey Lavender

Nutella

Peanut Butter

The flavor of lavender was unfamiliar to me and was so delightedly intense that I didn’t want my two bites to finish.  The honey flavor was mild against the lavender but blended quite well.  However, I thought that texture of these macarons were very dense.  I typically like my macarons very light and delicate.  Although I did not prefer the dense texture, I did not think a lighter macaron would have brought out the nice intensity of the lavender flavor.  The peanut butter also had the same dense texture but with a gooey PB filling.  We were more intrigued why it was colored teal green for peanut butter.  I had decided that despite the density, I would return to try other flavors.  (I will let nyuchick speak to her thoughts on these treats.)

Energized by sugar, we continued north on Madison.

Our next stop was the family business of a fellow New Yorker, David Yurman, on 63rd Street.   Our visit started out really as an errand, cleaning nyuchick’s ring.  I said I would tag along to window shop.  You must know, I am a ring girl.  Rings are the only jewelry I wear and I love wearing them.  Ever since my apartment was robbed several years ago and I lost my mini collection of rings, including my beloved Bulgari ring, I’ve been trying to rebuild one.  Yurman has always been a contender but I never made the jump.  Browsing online, I could never figure out what kind of stone I liked.  Diamonds are my first choice but I didn’t want this to be mistaken for a certain type of ring.  I also know I don’t like anything too big. What better than to browse in person?

I was eyeing the Noblesse for its size and its single band.  The salesman, Keith, was extremely nice and let me tried on every possible stone in this style.  The store definitely had more variety of stones than what was online.  After narrowing it down to four stones from about nine, I looked to nyuchick.  For those of you who know me, you know that 1) I have trouble making decisions and 2) I like to “forever” research before making any purchases and do a lot of “should I? Should I not?”.   Having nyuchick there with me, she helped me decide on one stone in record time.  It felt easy!   As I was watching nyuchick give her autograph to the salesman for her purchase, I screamed, “I’ll take it too!”  I am not sure if it was seeing daylight after work, the beautiful weather, or the intense lavender meringues, I made an impulse buy and it felt great. No, it felt awesome!

 

Noblesse in Prasiolite

Cheap Nudes Part Deux

Ok so maybe I am obsessing a little over this nude shoe thing.  I was not pleased that I did not find the Tahari nude heels in the DSW near me, so I went to the one near my job after work.  Struck out = they had the heel but not in my size.

But I found more flats.  Ugh what am I doing?!?!  These are also Steve Madden, they’re the exact same colors as the flats I bought yesterday, but these have a rubber sole, are rounder in the front, and do not have a heel.  Now I am more confused than ever!

Steve Madden Heaven in black leather

Steve Madden Heaven in taupe patent

 

These were $39.99 a pair.  Not as good as a bargain as the $24 jobbies I bought yesterday.  Ugh I can’t make up my mind!  So let’s try a poll!

 

Cheap Nudes

It seems a continuing trend on fashion blogs and message boards lately is the quest for the perfect nude patent heel. I have to admit, I think they are very smart and sexy looking, and would be perfect for work as a lighter shoe alternative. I am a black shoe girl and it’s very hard for me to imagine my feet in anything else. I have brown, I have gray, I even had navy once, but I always go back to black. That’s the name of a fantastic Amy Winehouse song by the way, but I digress . . .

I think I am ready to jump on the nude bandwagon, but I have some requirements:

• Not too high (in my old age, I can’t bear to wear anything over 3 inches anymore)

• No platform (not my style, and in a nude color, I think they come off a little trashy stripper-like)

• Not too expensive (I am not made out of money, and I do not want to throw a lot of money at a shoe I’m not sure I’m going to get a lot of wear out of)

I recently blogged about a fabulous nude heel by Coach that I’ve been planning to buy, but the only place I’ve seen them is at Lord and Taylor and I have been too busy at work to get over there. In the meantime, I came across this pair in my internet travels . . .

Tahari Collette Pump

Nice, huh? It’s got a slight platform, it’s about 3 inches and it’s cheaper than the Coach pair, so I was intrigued. Plus, I have other Tahari shoes that are super comfortable. So off I went today while I was “food shopping” to “click click” check them out.

I found them, but my regular size 6 was a touch too big. I really think shoe manufacturers are vanity sizing now too because I’ve been a 6 for like 15 years and not I am a 5.5 in many brands. And of course, did not have 5.5. I will go to the DSW near work (which is more convenient for me than Lord and Taylor).

So who really goes to a shoe superstore, looks for one thing and then leaves? No one I know. So I walked the whole store anyway. You know, just to see what was there. I swear. Anyhoo, I found a pair of Steve Madden flats in the clearance section. Well, not really flats. More like a low heel. In black, of course.

 

Steve Madden Sofieee in black leather

A lot of my work pants are on the short side so a high heel does not work so I figured this 1-inch number would do the trick and would be comfortable for grabbing lunch, running for the bus, etc. But then I looked to the left, and there was the nude patent version as well.

 

Steve Madden Sofieee in blush patent

Hmm . . .do I buy black or nude? Black or nude? Black or nude?

So I did what I normally do in this situation.  I bought both pairs.

I know, I know . . . but I am horrible at making decisions and the nude ones actually looked cute with my jeans so I imagined myself running my spring errands wearing them. I also will need them to run to clients that are not dressy, but not super casual. I think they’d also looked cute with a skirt in the summer. It might be good to have a neutral option instead of black.

Price tag was for each pair read $59.94 so for two pairs I was prepared to spend $120 plus tax. So sad for an impulse purchase. However, when I got up to the counter, There was a discount (40% off clearance for the black and 50% off clearance for the nude) on top of another discount (30% extra clearance?) so at the end of the day, I paid an average of $24 for each pair. Two pairs of shoes for $48.

I’m pleased!!!

But now I am second guessing myself on the nude pair. On one hand, you can’t beat a pair of leather shoes for $24. On the other hand, I’m rethinking the low heel. Is the 1-inch heel farty? Are they fab or fug? Should I hold out for the heels? Which will be more practical? Which will I get more use out of?

Please help me!

Sometimes I do irrational things.  Like the day I caved in and purchased a gift certificate for highlights from Gilt.  I was at work and feeling a little stressed and down in the dumps and admittedly a little rough, beauty-wise.  I love that expression by the way – “she looked a little rough”.  It’s tough to describe what that looks like but you know it when you see it.  And boy was I feeling rough.

I’ve been having a love/hate relationship with my hair lately, for two reasons:

  • The onslaught of greys that are salting up my peppery mane.  I used to put highlights in my hair many years back and then stopped because I thought I was looking a little stripe-y.  Then I starting getting a single-process color, not to change the color but to cover the greys.  But it was just not getting the job done and it was costing me too much to keep getting color at the sa-lon.  I’ve toyed with the idea of doing it myself at home but I’m always afraid I will make a complete mess of my hair.  When I was in grade school, a girl in my class colored her hair too light and then attempted to color her hair again back to its natural brunette state.  It did not go well and the kids called her Elvira for about a month.  But I’ll get back to grade school in a little bit.
  • The frizzmonster!  It’s awful.  How did we all survive our teenage years without the advanced tools and potions they have today to make your hair silky and smooth?  At this point, I’ve tried almost everything I can buy OTC to fight the frizz and there are some good products out there.  I currently swear by Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum when I perform the annoying task of flat ironing my hair every morning.

So long story longer, something professional with this hair had to be done.  I am considering getting either a keratin treatment or a Brazilian blowout because I hear it removes the frizz but still keeps the bounce in your hair.  Sounds like it would be right up my alley right?  But from the research I’ve done, it can cost up to $500 and is not a permanent fix (it should last 6 weeks to 4 months depending on who you speak to).  My stylist Randy at Bumble and Bumble knows my follicle and financial situation and suggested I go see this girl named Mary at the Anthony Leonard Salon for the keratin treatment because they used to work together, she’s good and it would be cheaper than some other places (around $350).  Still not wanting to bite the bullet, I waited months and months.  And then came Gilt.

About two weeks ago on Gilt I see a sale for highlights at the Anthony Leonard Salon.  Not the keratin treatment I’ve been contemplating, but highlights.  Hmm, I could use some highlight again and it’s the same salon that was recommended to me by Randy!  It’s a sign!  So before I could read the fine print, I hit “BUY” and got “discount” highlights.  Discount price being $150.  $150 more than I have right now.  And that price does not include the blow dry.  Which is another $75.  And without the tip.  Why?  Turns out this place is a celeb hair place, not for the average cannoli.

What the hell was I thinking?  Damn you Gilt!  The g(u)ilt I was feeling was too much!  But I was in for it now and there was no turning back (and more importantly, no refunds).

Anyhoo, tonight was my highlight appointment.  My 5:30 appointment was apparently double booked because my color gal did not touch my hair until 6:15.  But I admit she was very nice, we chatted a lot about how did I not want anything drastic and she understood.  She foiled me up like a baked potato and put me under the heat lamp.  She gave me a gloss treatment and massaged the gloss to blend in the highlights.  I have to admit it was feeling worth the price.  Worth the discount price for sure.

And now it was time for the blow dry.  With Mary!  The keratin goddess that was praised to me by Randy!  She was very nice and we spoke about Facebook and high school and class reunions and age and then something clicked in my head, like I knew who she was.  And it must have clicked for her too because she asked me what high school I went to.  Turns out we went to the same high school.  And the same grade school.  She was two years ahead of me and in my sister’s class!  So weird, right?  I did not remember her at first, but the more I looked at her and thought about it, I think I do remember her.  How cool is that?  You rock Mary!  You rock not because we’re from the same hood, but because you gave me the best blow out I’ve had in YEARS!  It looks like a got a cut but I did not get a cut!  I feel like freaking Farrah Faucet right now!  I am definitely going back for the keratin treatment as soon as I can save up the cash.

Now if I only had a self-portrait of my Hotty McHot hair . . .  😉

For several weeks, I have had an obsession with finding the perfect shade of turquoise bag for spring...

It started out with a passing glance at a woman’s turquoise bag and thinking, that’s a striking color – I’d like a bag in a color like that. And then I started to obsess a little – looking around me, trying to find that exact color again. Over the weekend, I did a quick search through some of the brands I thought might be in my price range. And all I saw were bags that were too green, too blue. I have no idea why I started fixating on this color. But as I was leaving the office just a few hours ago, I made a decision – I am going to find the perfect turquoise bag and buy it for spring. So, I get home this evening and…new bags on gilt.com…let’s just take a look and see…and there it was – the perfect color! Offered in multiple shapes, no less. Gilt.com tried to explain to me that Kooba is a hip and trendy brand. I have no idea. Even with the near 50% discount, it was still at the upper end of what I wanted to spend. So, I paused before putting it into my basket. I thought about some of the other shapes offered. But this turquoisey-leathery bag began to imprint itself more and more on my brain. I tried to look away. I tried to focus on finding my sister a birthday present instead. But my subconscious crept in and explained to me how I’d been looking for this bag before I found it. And then it actually materialized in front of my eyes just days later. How could one argue with such destiny!

My rational brain realizes this is how online flash shopping gets you – not just because this deal is only around for a few days – because you know, from past experience – that if you just wait a half day, a few hours – the item you’ve been eyeing will be “sold out”. Snatched up by another shopper. Flash shopping makes it not just the joy of consumerism, but also the joy of  competition. Feeding multiple basic impulses and goading me into decisiveness where I otherwise might waffle. Because I don’t want to lose.

So, the ploy works on me. And, what do I care? I get to have my dream bag of the season….