Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hello Sailor!

Tuesday was apparently International Lipstick Day, a decidedly frivolous commemoration of commercial beauty products and a celebration that shares the calendar honor with International Tiger Day, notably more worthwhile as the aims appear to be raising awareness and protection funds for this beautiful species. I accidentally observed Lipstick Day, joined by countless other unknowing women surely, when I haphazardly slapped some red tint on my lips after work. Joining a friend at a fiction reading in the East Village, I wanted to add some color, some flare to my classic blue jeans and white tee shirt combination. Adding a layer of lipstick after a long day of grueling cubicle work is my default approach to attacking, to shedding the work blues, before hitting the town, even for a super casual event. Usually, by the end of the day, I feel a little disheveled, and a pigment-pop peps me up.

For my birthday this year, my sister Elizabeth surprised me with an incredible present: a tube of Hello Sailor lipstick from Lipstick Queen. As a belated and purposeful homage to International Lipstick Day, I cannot selflessly and shamelessly promote this product enough: the package design is cheeky and sleek, the lipstick endurance is admirable, and the versatility of the shade is incredible. The potent blue of the case and the pigment is a bit misleading; this is not a high school goth-pop shade, rather, the lipstick produces a soft, subtle sheen, accenting the natural pigments of the lips. In my case, the deep rose pink of my curved puckers is embellished; the look is glamorous, but utterly effortless. It is a wonderful ruse, pretending to the world that I naturally wake this way. At 25$ a tube, Hello Sailor sets the wallet back a bit more than my typical adored pharmacy brands, but is well worth the indulgence. 

(image taken from Fashion Monitor)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gold Chunky Heels

Subway grates, uneven pavement, spilled soda, discarded chicken bones, melted ice cream cones, bits of flotsam trash, blown from receptacles, resplendent with plastic refuse, lay in wait, traps, to soil shoes. Maneuvering through the city sidewalks, dodging in and out of these slick and sickly landmines can be tricky, requiring dexterity and resilience, especially if one is to maintain a quick urban pace. While I am certainly impressed, and sometimes both confused and bemused, at the women who can strut around in their stilettos, without toppling, victim to the wilds of the concrete jungle. Since moving here and relying on walking as one of my key modes of transportation, my penchant for any heels above an inch or two has dwindled, approached and nearly collided with that zero-tolerance asymptote. Occasionally, though, I find a pair of shoes with a steeper incline that still fit my standards for comfort and practicality, standards that are admittedly a bit vague and wavering at times, and standards that often cede to aesthetics, forever omnipotent and dominant. 

These brown and gold sandal-pump hybrids from Kelsi Dagger are a prime example of shoes that offer an attractive edgy vibe, but do not veer too far from the realm of comfort, thus do not incite fear for pinched toes, aching arches, or rolled ankles. Partly due to living a bipedal life, usually on the go, partly due to working in a more lackadaisical casual environment, throwing on the same few black flats is easy. To combat this lazy, automatic response, I have been digging into my closet for my wedges, my pumps, the pairs that integrate style and ease. To embellish the summery side of these dual purpose shoes, I coupled them with a white and yellow full floral dress, feigning as a skirt, with a light and almost sheer golden metallic short-sleeved sweater on top.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pink Stripes and Cocktail Ring

Stripes certainly run rampant in my wardrobe, though, predominantly in various typical neutral tones: cream, black, navy, white, gray. There is the occasional red stripe, unrelated to the beverage, amid the sea of classics, but, generally, that is about as saucy as it gets. As I grow older, and in some respects, my style choices become more refined, or restrained, depending on the perspective, I tend to rely and be attracted to those neutrals, those timeless creams, blacks, grays, with the occasional and more impactful infusion of sharp color. Diversity, variety, while maintaining a sense of an identifiable personal look, is something I have tried to hone; in addition, particularly working in a more reserved leaning industry, I also teeter between the cautious and the risky. Moderation is usually a challenge for me, but, a few years of dressing for the office has taught me the art of balance.

So, despite the penchant for my typical cream paired with black or navy stripes, earlier this summer, rather uncharacteristically, this pink, orange, black, and white pattern screamed for my attention. Orange was never a particular interest of mine; lately, though, between the brash branding of my office and it being my niece's absolute favorite, orange has pierced its way into my aesthetic subconscious. Typically, orange makes a splash as an accessory, often against an all white canvas. Paired with a lipstick pink, two brights vying for attention, the coupling could be overwhelming. With this dress, a cheap and cheerful sale find online, I found the chromatic optimism charming. For much of the long, dreadful winter, black clothing seemed like the only practical solution, the only palette to really mirror and absorb, and in a way, shield from the drudgery. This summer has been, thankfully, wonderfully and remarkably pleasant, warm and muggy as this climate dictates but not yet ungodly oppressive. Celebrating the sun with pink and orange is only appropriate.

To pair with my against the grain orange and pink stripes, I wore a large, bodacious pink cocktail ring, a find from my days scouring the consignment shops of northern New Jersey. Gilded peony petals devouring pale pink crystals; this ring is a pair of plucked flowers dipped in soft metal. Daring, but still delicate. I wear rings everyday, and like my stripes, lately, I am generally wearing the classics, which, in my jewelry box, are a vintage diamond engagement ring and a ruby ring both from my  maternal great-grandmother and an amethyst ring from my paternal grandmother. Big rings have always been my weakness, and while I do not wear them nearly as regularly as I have in the past, I still love them.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Montreal Jazz Festival

Last week, I jaunted over the northern border, into Quebec, for the opening weekend of the International Jazz Festival in Montreal. My younger brother is about to move across the country, to Texas, for his first real job; we traveled together, our first trip as adult siblings. Air hot and heavy, a fierce but pleasant sun, in a city renowned for its abominable ice, snow, and sleet, its underground commercial fortresses designed to help citizens avoid the biting winds, the people were out and scattered like an army of foraging ants, bustling, energized by the heat.  After a much too hurried June, I easily fell in love with the hybrid city, a beautiful cross between North American familiarity, in a known climate and terrain, and French romanticism and languish. That European pace, nonchalant and dismissive, with the pretension stripped, a sort of lazy friendliness permeating. Setting up base in hip but understated Mile End, we discovered the ideal local brewery beer hole, some delicious food and coffee, and a ton of envy-inducing art deco furniture window shopping. Everywhere we strolled, street art murals appeared along the crevices of alleys, on large swaths of building, intricate and bold and beautiful, obviously commissioned or at least condoned by the city. Joined by throngs of locals and tourists alike, we crowded into neighborhood cafes to watch the top World Cup games. Barely breathing, Adam and I took anxious sips of beer on an outdoor patio for the Brazil-Chile shoot out; we crashed the area, already crowded, just sidled up and saw the big screen. Thankfully, the waiter forgave our trespassing and served us, rather than pushing us to move along the walk way. 

Along with an epic portion of poutine and the unique brews of Dieu Du Ciel, seeing Diana Krall perform live, the evening clear and bright, was a trip highlight. She played many songs from her latest tour, but also covered three of my absolute favorite musicians: Fats Waller, Tom Waits, and Neil Young. For her encore, she was joined by husband Elvis Costello and they performed a couple of songs from The Band. Classical cool.

It was my first time to Montreal, and the temperatures startled me a bit. Initially, I felt a bit ill prepared, but my suitcase of slowing maxi dresses and my trusted leather booties proved to be perfection, especially when garnished generously with various necklaces and large earrings. To battle with the setting sun at the outdoor music stages, I wore some of my favorite vintage sunglasses, a subdued cat-eye shape of blonde tortoise shell, snagged from a small outdoor market in east London. While enjoying tunes led by trumpeter Alexis Baro, I snapped an off-kilter portrait, adorned with some coral lipstick and some cascading turquoise beads, despite the waning oppressive heat. I love throwing on some simple pharmacy lipstick to add some flair, but sometimes, in practice, it becomes cumbersome, namely while trying to eat ice cream cones and sweating from cheap beer and the sun. The contrast between the sharp coral and the milky turquoise made the hassle mostly worthwhile. My black sleeveless maxi was plain and comfortable; the gold, turquoise, and coral accents sent it into a higher echelon of sleek.

I hope to return to this so close, but just far away enough city soon; next time, provided I am not in a group of Anglophiles, I can dust off my French.