Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Impulse Purchase, Again: L’Oréal Colour Riche Balm

My older sister has always been a veritable, occasionally formidable, influence in my life, one that has been a predominantly positive force. I will admit, at a more nascent time, many years ago, when my powers of logic and deductive reasoning, and by extension, economics, were notably weaker than they are now, Elizabeth negotiated a number of unfair trades, namely, taking my unfinished ice cream cones and promising in return, at future date, packs of gum. Our mother did not allow us to chew gum, so, this was an enticing offer. Needless to say, she owes me a good fifty or so gum packs. I will refrain from making any comments regarding cavity metrics. I must also admit, conversely, that she is the reason, during the reviled and awkward developmental stage, adolescence, I was listening to Depeche Mode and New Order and Stereolab, as opposed to a group of hair gelled, glittered, middle aged men, inappropriately labeled as boys, jive and shake before throngs of sweating, also glittered young girls. And the reason I would simultaneously carry a hand-painted skull and crossbones while wearing a pink lacrosse ribbon in my ponytail, in a true Free to Be You and Me-fashion. And the reason that I precociously understood that, sure, high school can be fun, to an extent, but it is not the climax of life cultural, aesthetic, and social experiences. She is a beautiful woman, and is a big reason that I am the beautiful woman I am, here, today. But I digress.

Last night, the inertia of influence perpetuated, this time in the form of lipstick lusting; over the weekend, Elizabeth introduced me to her latest acquisition: L’Oréal Colour Riche Balm. In between buying some deodorant and some calorie-free sweetener, because I believe we should take everything in moderation, even our carcinogens, I added a plum balm to my cart. After years of excavating fine stain fonts from the caverns of cosmetics, she has converted, to those that are a bit cheaper to procure: the pharmacy selection. I agree wholeheartedly with this decision; most of my favorite lipsticks, those with the most vibrant hue and the optimum texture and consistency, those that are enduring, are those that were under 10$ and were found between aisles of hard candies and greeting cards. Elizabeth collects lipsticks in the way that I collect clip-on earrings; that is, to say, obsessively and compulsively and without restraint. So, when she recommends a brand, I take heed.

Donning lipstick for my cubicle is not an adventure on which I have been willing to embark, at least not yet, so I have no personal experience as of yet with this new tube. I would imagine it will be smooth, bold yet a bit more sheen and sheer, and will become a new staple.

(image taken from Musings of a Muse)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Juan Gatti: Vesalius Heritage

My dear friend Katherine, a lover and a maker of fine design, introduced me to artist and graphic designer Juan Gatti. With an intense and unwavering fascination of history of medicine and anatomy, of the intersection of the body as biological, procreative vehicle and a work of sculpture, of the topography of internal organ systems, of intricate organization from molecular to organism, an interest in these prints was intuitive and immediate. Since taking a course a number of years ago on early modern British literature and the scientific revolution, I have had a love for Vesalius and his iconic prints: large, god-like men, towering over minute villages, skin and layers of flesh peeled back to reveal the terrain of striated muscle fibers, woven roads of red blood arteries and veins. His vision and acute sense of detail is carried forward by these beautiful works by Gatti.

(image taken from Design Boom)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Casual Friday: Cozy Loose Knit

My willingness and patience to tolerate synthetic fabrics from Gap products perpetuates, sustains strong, alas; I really need to block all sale communications from their automaton headquarters vortex entirely. Despite the fact that this sweater will most likely pill and congeal the portions of it that are, indeed, wool after a single cycle in the wash, I do really like the pattern of weave, as well as the mixture of colored threads. A midnight navy blue and a black coexist, intertwine intimately and organically, the chimeric product a tapestry, which evinces the tonal subtleties of the true night sky.

With a loose knit featuring tiny, purposeful embellishment holes scattered across the front, I decided to pair the sweater with a basic cotton white button-down blouse, for a classic deep navy and crisp white look. My dark, fitted denim jeans offered a casual respite to complement the comfortable sweater, to combat the austerity of a collar.

I found these gold woven earrings last weekend; they remind me of coils of rope, wrapped and wrapped to organize the slack. The nautical feel with the rope made these the natural choice for my navy and white outfit.

Though this winter has been relatively mild, especially in comparison to the deluge of snow and sleet from last year, I have found that I have been wearing my rubber rain boots, in lieu of my furry snow boots, a fair amount. Trudging through puddles in these sheaths of nearly impenetrable black is much preferable to ruining suede pumps.

Suede pumps such as these; clearly, the traditionally frowned upon navy and black color combination is a new favorite of mine.

Sunday afternoon coffee soundtrack: Power, Lies, and Corruption New Order

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tweed and a Pocket Square

Were it not Friday late afternoon, or rather, an early evening, I would be cunningly crafting a bemused but mocking tone, emulating the imminent and ever earnest Scott Schuman, illuminating the utter profound and refined simplicity of the minor details. In this case, a uniquely structured tweed jacket, without collar, sweeping in front and fastened tight with a gold button, embellished with a polka dot silk pocket square. Here, I will reveal my secrets, those finer details left to the imagination in other sartorial ponderings: the pocket square is, in fact, merely a scarf, the tweed jacket an item found hidden between others more box-like and squat, amidst rows of donated items at a consignment shop. I love the amalgamation of brown, cream, and black neutrals, reminiscent of an X chromosome deactivation terrain of calico cats; the polka dots are an ultimately unnecessary, but welcome, flourish.


Frantically pouring my coffee into my travel mug, clipping on some earrings, searching for my rain boots, I forgot to put on my rings earlier this morning. Everyday, on my left hand, I wore a diamond engagement ring from my great-grandmother, on my middle finger, so as not to confuse, which dates to the early twentieth century and is nearly one hundred years old; on my right hand, ring finger, a large cube shaped ring, which appears to be bakelite, but, indeed, is not. It is a contemporary piece of plastic crap, however, I love the shape and the ivory shade; somehow, it garners more compliments that any legitimately nice pieces of jewelry I own combined. The juxtaposition of materials, age, style, texture, tone, history of these rings fascinates me, and amuses me. I feel naked without them.

(image taken from Shelbelle Tiki Hut)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cass McCombs at the Bowery Ballroom

(image taken from What's Protocol)

(image taken from Indie Rock Reviews)

(image taken from Pretty Much Amazing)

Last night, the filmmaker and I enjoyed an evening of incredible live music; one of my favorite songwriters, Cass McCombs, performed at the Bowery Ballroom and peremptorily earned a place in my heart as one of my favorite live shows. The Bowery, despite serving as a lek mating ground for female and male hipsters alike, preening and flaunting their respective desirable ironic traits, and despite exorbitant drink prices, is an ideal venue; it is an intimate space and the acoustics are perfect.

Opening for Cass was a young man named Frank Fairfield, who played a repertoire of late nineteenth century and early twentieth century song book folk classics. Dressed dapper, in a brown tweed suit and a jauntily groomed mustache, he twanged and thrilled upon a fiddle, a banjo, and a guitar, equally adroit in all three stringed mediums, furiously coaxing from their carved wooden bodies fast and sweet rhythms, occasionally whooping with his own mouth. Had there been even the tiniest shred of ironic affectation in this wonderfully nostalgic and talented display, I would have loathed it; thankfully, even his sweat was genuine and endearing. Unfortunately, I did not have cash on hand to purchase an album; I would have loved to buy an appropriately old-fashioned LP. I will certainly be perusing upcoming tours.

Although I have listened and re-listened to his songs for years, I had never actually gazed upon his veritable visage; last night, the band and Cass remained blackened, the stage back lit with a terrain of small yellow lights, allowing the mystery of his person persist, his voice and his guitar to resonate and dominate. Deviating from this recorded work, Mr. McCombs performed some extended versions of his songs, gleaning from the depths of each piece further tapestries of melodic reverberations. I had not been to a live show in some time, and, against the grain, against nature, I swayed to and fro, my body enveloped in slow-washing sound, the audience around me steadfast and grave with awe.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Girls who Like Dresses, who Like Skirts

Last week, in an effort to pull myself up from the bowels of winter doldrums and combat the black monochrome maelstrom, I sought relief and alliance with some summer staples: a bright, purple and turquoise floral, tea-length dress and a pop of poppy colored sheets of horizontal pleats dress. One of my favorite strategies to pull greater versatility out of certain wardrobe pieces, and in this case, harness the power of their patterns and color, is to wear dresses as skirts; essentially, this is merely mildly more creative layering. Inherent to the dress is a skirt of some type, in one case here fuller and more flowing, in the other more fitted, almost pencil-like; incorporating either a button-down blouse, a thick sweater, or a blazer gives the illusion of a completely different outfit, without any physical alterations or financial expenditures.

Large purple and white flowers, splotched with hints of gray and black, scattered across a turquoise background: the perfect pattern to embrace in an effort to avoid the convenience and the mundane of constant black.

With such a large scale, almost histrionic pattern in the skirt, I selected a simple black wool sweater, which features a slightly embellished neck line, a sort of faux cowl neck with a few buttons that trace the clavicle and shoulder line on the left arm. I rather like the juxtaposition of textures, the illusory soft petals of large exotic flowers, likely on a decadent brink of decay, competing with and complementing the heavy knit of the warm sweater.

With the sweater being a bit loose and over-sized, I added a wide cream leather belt with a golden accented buckle. The dress alone has a fitted bodice, cinching a bit at the waist, before falling voluminously into a fuller skirt. With the sweater, this structure, unfortunately, was a bit obscured; the belt was my attempt to emulate it.

For a final flair, large circular golden quilted earrings.

Thankfully, last week, the ground was still free of ice, slush, other detritus from the perpetually gray sky, so I was able to wear these black leather and suede lace-up pumps.

For my second chunky sweater meets summer dress concoction, I decided to wear this warm weather favorite: a light Calvin Klein simple sheath dress, with a plain scoop neck and a layers of flat horizontal ruffles. I feel like there is a single, perfect word to describe this type of shearing in a fabric, and it continues to elude me; my brain, lately, is a giant sieve for all types of knowledge and secrets I had hoped I would forever savor.

This deep navy sweater actually has a fair amount of black thread woven into the mix, creating the dark color and a great contrast with the bright poppy. I had ordered this sweater online, from Gap, during one of the infamous sales, always touted as events that are exclusive and not to be missed; I was a bit disappointed with the various fabric components of the sweater, but, the touch is soft and natural, and the price was right.

Cream and golden swirl earrings, along with a brassy gold chain-link bracelet, which had once belonged to my grandmother. In December, during a pre-Christmas family trek into Brooklyn to visit with my new baby niece and to celebrate, I went with my brother and parents to the Brooklyn flea market; I found a piece identical to this bracelet, being sold for 175$. If there are any offers out there, I am probably not willing to bargain, but I am always willing to entertain a negotiation and a new argument.

These shoes were exactly what my closet was missing; classic and sensible.


With the first snow of the winter season, I decided to display these new thigh-high socks; somewhat sultry and predominantly practical, I purchased a pack of three pairs in patriotic red, white, and blue for myself as a Christmas present. As the temperature dips below freezing, even the columns of mercury barely feel like moving; thick knit socks are a perfect couple with furry, rubber-soled boots, to brave the furies of the cold.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Iconography: Etta James

(image taken from Lipstick Alley)

(image taken from NY Daily News)

(image taken from LA Times)

(image taken from Rolling Stone)

It is always troubling when a beautiful voice and an incredible woman are doused, by inevitable senescence and time, however, she was surely suffering unbearably towards the end. Though she struggled much, particularly with the demons of addiction, she also overcame and achieved much.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

White for Winter

Last night and this morning, the first snow of the season fell; I do not count the inches from Halloween, disregarding the horror as a pure anomaly. Soft, a sprinkling of powdered sugar upon frozen earth, the flakes give the landscape a beauty, cleanse the air. Though this weather no longer means freedom from the tedium of elementary and middle school, or, generally, an afternoon of rushing down steep hills, rolling about a frigid pool of cold swathed in down, I still enjoy the serenity of the first snow. Fitting with the cold, I baked a pan of boxed brownies, which are convenient and, mostly, are less offensive than other tasty treats of immediacy. The oven glowed, warmed my apartment, as I stay cuddled in my bed, wrapped in old cashmere sweaters my father discarded and handed down to me.

This evening, I wrote my first piece of fiction in months; it is rather short, and I am displeased with the result, but generally satisfied with the overall exercise. Combating stagnation will remain my mantra.

(image taken from Rare Vintage)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Browser Shopping and Surprise Bounties

(image taken from The Guardian)

(image taken from The Prodigal Guide)

Occasionally, when taking a brief pause from my diligent and deliberate work at the office, a mental respite as my body remains, hunched before my laptop in my cubicle, I peruse various online shops. Generally, I am enticed by the frequent and generous online sales of certain tried and true franchises, stores where I not only understand the intimate details of sizing, but also, more importantly, the quality of construction and the propensity to push polyester and other such unspeakably unpleasant synthetic fabrics. As a busy, though typically unimportant, businesswoman, the benefits of convenience associated with shopping online, between teleconferences, during the second coffee break, cannot be denied or argued. The proverbial killing of the multiple birds, hummingbirds, if agile and quick, soaring falcons, if grand and mighty, with the single hurl of a stone. I do not have to travel in my car, risk being pummeled by an errant driver who runs a red light, wanton, without a single regard for another breathing creature, I do not have to tolerate throngs of mall dwellers, gleaning the sale racks, pores oozing cinnamon and grease aftershocks from the deep fried glories of the food court. And, of course, in these days of intermingling consumerist and technological modernity, I am able to reap the reward of the online exclusive sale, with free shipping.

Free shipping. A beautiful, almost divine thing. That is, until the fine print emerges, faded and enigmatic, as though etched in some palimpsest eons ago: seven to nine business days. The excitement of smart, and impulsive, shopping subdues, replaced with something numb, clinical. Nine business days is an eternity, for consumer relying on the calming narcotics of instant gratification. Numbness is then overcome by memory loss. The purchase, the transient monetary transaction, merchandise not yet in hand, out in some place of postal limbo, never happened. And then the beautiful surprise, as most recently happened for me this past Tuesday, when a plain brown box arrives, items waiting to be donned and tested for fitting.

This time I am doubly surprised; one of my sweaters purchased has a predominance of acrylic, though the blend is balanced out by some wool. Bought on sale, a true product of the perpetually stunted economy. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Casual Friday: Colonel Mustard and Lucite

Last Friday, I stumbled upon a unique look, for me, by pairing two very basic pieces: a silk crew neck sweater, in a deep mustard hue, and a pair of dark wash skinny denim. Well versed in dresses and skirts, I often find myself surprised when I actually wear jeans, both at the aesthetic and the comfort outcome. As a particularly endowed young lady in the chest region, I tend to avoid most crew necks, in favor of a more flattering deep v-neck or boat neck; occasionally, however, the allure of a particular color will grasp hold, firmly. Although it did not ultimately photograph well here, predominantly due to my inability to pose my body in an attractive and showcasing fashion, the fitted cut of this sweater was actually quite appropriate and ideal for highlighting the dramatic display of cascading lucite.

Clearly, I am overjoyed with childish glee; these photographs were taken on Friday afternoon, right after the filmmaker and I retrieved my dear friend Elizabeth from the airport. I have not seen her since graduation, so, spending the evening getting caught up over bottles of wine and plates of luxuriously creamy pasta was simply divine. After spending over a year in Haiti, working at a local medical clinic, she has returned to Ithaca to pursue her doctorate in nutrition; I cannot wait to pay a visit to her and the alma mater this spring.

The weekend was quite a whirlwind, between hosting Elizabeth and attending a bon voyage party in Brooklyn for a pair of university friends, uprooting their lives for a new adventure in Hong Kong. I forgot about these images until today, when, ironically, I committed the gauche move of wearing this same sweater within the same week; thankfully, suburban pawns seem ignorant and disinterested by the ridiculous rules prescribed and perpetuated by fashion.

After spending the summer frolicking about Brooklyn, mingling with chain-smoking, vintage polyester clad hipsters, my mother has embraced fully the glories of the skinny jean. Luckily, I, too, have reaped the benefits of this newly cultivated fascination with contemporary trends: new jeans gifted to me for Christmas, which exude a streamlined fit, without resulting in any blood loss or constriction to the ever crucial feet, ankles, and calves.

I could wear these shoes all day, every day; I should save them for when I am withered and aged, and require orthopedic assistance.

With such a plain, though classic and traditional, outfit, in terms of lines and in terms of color combination, a splash of sparkle truly shines: lucite, pearls, and a large rhinestone.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Guilty as Charged, or, Red Carpet Revelry

I do not watch television, let alone own a television, and my knowledge of various award show nominations is about as deep as my interest in such frivolous, superficial, capitalist affairs. My vehemence could be construed as bitterness or disdain, which is not the case; I love capitalism and being entertained, though, do find the comedy in an entire industrial machine that feigns to be something righteous and beautiful and unconcerned with money.

Despite this blissful ignorance surrounded the purported meat of the Golden Globes, I cannot help but spend the next morning in procrastination, admiring the sartorial works of art, the successes, and wrestling with the catacombs of fabric that some stylist, somewhere, thought was an acceptable idea. This year, a dramatic but classic Versace, donned by an equally dramatic Angelina Jolie, was my favorite.

(image taken from Glamour)

Lazy Sunday

(image taken from Ivy Style)

(image taken from Boston Herald)

Yesterday afternoon, in true American fashion, the filmmaker and I spent our hours watching football, imbibing some brews and some tequila too, snacking on unhealthy fried foods and chips, and reveling in the festive atmosphere of a local watering hole. Unlike our compatriots, I decided to forgo the expected uniform of a faux jersey from a favored team, pun intended, for a more preppy and classic look: a green and navy plaid, very warm, accented with pearls and red lips. I am usually a bit more inspired by the fashions associated with rugby, the thick rugged shirts, the tartans, the blazers, the scarves, rather than the shaved, painted chests and plastic colorful beads donned by football fanatics, but, as the sports are close cousins, I believe this is acceptable.

The Baltimore Ravens, a cultural stalwart of my hometown, and the New York Giants, the local icons, were both triumphant, making the afternoon a happy success. I am not emotionally invested in professional football, saving my loyalties for college lacrosse and basketball, generally, but it is enjoyable to relax, watch a game or two, and absorb the positive energy from an impassioned crowd.

Unfortunately, a long and lazy Sunday has one painful and bitter pitfall: rising early for work Monday morning. Today, this was an even greater struggle, knowing that many were still in bed, off for the holiday celebrating and venerating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Already, I have been greeted at work with an old, withered banana, which I had hoped would accompany my yogurt but instead was destined for the trash, and a minute, but noticeable, hole in my cardigan. It will be a long week.