Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mmmm, Sparkly...

I used to have a friend who would call me "Magpie" because of my very pronounced predilection for all things sparkly. I have to admit, I struggle with my sparkly impulses, to keep them in check and prevent myself from looking like Glinda the Good Witch Shops at Saks (or worse yet, Glinda the Good Witch Shops at Forever 21, which is less likely but way more scary in my case.)

At any rate, I do have a soft spot for the sparkly stuff. This is my latest new sparkly thang:

(No, I'm not nude! Calm down!)

Here's a better photo from the Fragments website

which I probably shouldn't have bothered with because it turns out they're selling it for a goodly chunk less than Neiman Marcus (or Needless Markup, as so many would have it, and they would be right in this instance) where I got mine. Best not to think about that, probably. Moving on...

I really love this necklace, which was a terrible splurge on my part, but it gives me a lot of pleasure when I wear it. This past weekend it went to dinner & drinks resting in the v-neck of a nice, loose creamy off-white cashmere sweater that I love but always worry about wearing because I fear it washes me out. (I'm pretty off-white myself, you see.) The sweater is a little oversized, giving it a slightly casual, "boyfriend sweater" feeling, and the necklace was a nice juxtaposition. Plus, the champagne-colored lucite gave me just a little kick of warmth & color near my face. The necklace also comes in clear:

but my coloring looks nicer with the warm one, I think. In low light it kind of glows, which is a lovely thing to have near one's face, especially for une femme d'un certain age like myself.

The lucite thing seems really to be happening these days, and I think instead of struggling against it we should attempt to make it work for us. There's a lot of fun jewelry out there. Here's a few I found in a similar vein, click on the photos for links.

Wildly fun & affordable little vintage number. This is so adorable.

Very pretty -- just one piece instead of a flurry of them, in case you don't want to make quite such a commitment.

Once again, I've got to give it up for Nine West, doing cool design on a budget. (Although it completely cracks me up that they classify this as "flamboyant yet tasteful." Is that even possible?)

Mixed shapes in clear Lucite, from Intuition. Big fun, little price.

Quelle 80s! Tremendous fun, vintage, also very affordable.

A gorgeous, Victorian take on the idea. Imagine this with your favorite LBD, holding a flute of champagne in your well-manicured hand. Nice, huh?

So there ya go. A few nice ways to make the lucite trend work for you, without resorting to shoe shopping on Planet Poledance. Give it a try.

I'm off tomorrow morning for a week in NYC. I'll try to do a little posting, but it's likely you won't see me until I get back with tales of New York retailing. Have a good week, everyone!

Photos: Style Spy, Fragments, FashionDig, Maddi's Gallery, Nine West, ShopIntuition, RavinStyle

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mascara Winner... Robin!! Send me your address in an e-mail & I'll pop it into the mail!

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

What Did I Tell You?!?!?

I'm not just a fashion hysteric -- there is real danger here!!!

Thanks to my Bloghero Manolo for the heads up.

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Lippie Update

Well, I reapplied the MAXWear Lipcolor right after my shower late this morning, since my Cetaphil seemed to do the trick in mostly removing it. With a fresh start, I can report that three and a half hours, one Indian food leftover lunch, and a thorough toothbrushing later, it's still looking pretty good. It's a little hard to tell with this color, because it's so similar to my actual lip tone, but yeah, it's hanging in there. I've reapplied the gloss now. We'll see what the rest of the day brings.

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Well, I didn't have the best day yesterday, but it was considerably brightened by a FedEx box that was waiting at my front door and contained this:

Excellent schwag from Max Factor! This teaches us that A) the power of the Interweb (that magical series of tubes) is pretty darned awesome and B) Karma extends to cosmetics!

The day after my (wholly unsolicited, I promise) rave review of Max Factor Lash Perfection mascara I received a nice e-mail from a young woman at the firm who handles their public relations thanking me for my kind words and offering to send me some other new products to try. Well, I'm no fool -- I said sure. So this post is less unsolicited, but don't worry, I'm not in the pocket of Big Mascara quite yet.

There's all kinds of fun stuff in here and a few things I'm really looking forward to trying, including two tubes of their Lash Perfection Volume Couture Mascara.

I'm not exactly sure yet how this differs from the straight-up Lash Perfection that I already have, but I'm looking forward to finding out. It has the same kind of brush that the original has, which is a big part of the appeal for me. Thing is, I just bought a brand new tube of the other stuff this weekend, and I don't want to open the new one just yet (mascara starts to degrade the moment you expose it to air). So I'm going to make the extra tube available here. Just leave me a comment (with your name -- ahem!!) saying you want to be eligible and I'll do a drawing Saturday morning. If I pick your name, I'll send you the mascara, but you have to promise to write & let me know what you think of it. (The color, by the way, is Soft Black.) I'm also thrilled to find out they have this in Auburn, which is a wonderful everyday color for redheads like myself.)

The thing I am trying out presently is the MAXWear Lipcolor. It's one of those double-ended tubey glosses with a sponge app -- one end is a long-wearing color and the other is a gloss. I'd given up on the long-wearing lip colors quite a while ago, because they made my mouth feel as though I'd painted it with the same latex-based stuff that's on my bathroom cabinets, but this actually feels okay. I'm testing it in a color called Cinnamon & Sugar, which is a lovely light brownie-pink (sort of a my-lips-but-better color) that has a sparkly clear gloss. So far, I'm through my second cup of coffee and the color is still there, although the gloss is long gone. Bonus -- the gloss tastes like marshmallows! The real test will be if it survives my lunch of leftover palak paneer. Stay tuned!

And now -- my next unsolicited (I swear) rave, for this stuff:

Bliss Sleeping Peel Serum. Oy, vey, I love this goo. A friend got a bottle in some schwag and handed it over to me to try and baby, I am hooked on the junk. I really wish it didn't cost 60 damn dollars an ounce, but I'm here to to tell you that I am going to pony up. It's one of those antioxidant exfoliator thingies and it really did make a difference in my skin. No one is mistaking me for a young Catherine Deneuve or anything, but to me it was noticeable.

(Unnecessarily beautiful. Unreasonably so, even.)

So is this a not-very-opaque attempt to get the folks at Bliss to send me more juice? Hell, yes! After squirting this stuff on me every day for a few weeks I'll happily put pretty much anything they squish into a bottle, tub, or tube on myself. So there! My crass commercialism knows no bounds, because unfortunately my bank account does.

Oooooh, so much to do before I leave on Monday. Posting may get spotty for a bit, friends, as I race around trying to line up my travel ducks. Bear with me.

Photos: Style Spy,,, Geocities

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Jealousy and Other Handbag Emotions

Sound the trumpets! I declare my first experiment in handbag dyeing a success! Huzzah!! My much-loved black Tusk handbag has been beautifully renewed, thanks to supplies and suggestions from the kind folks at The Shoe Shine Kit. She really looks gorgeous.

First of all, I gave her a going-over with Lexol-PH cleaner, because handbags don't actually get to bathe all that often. Then, with some trepidation, I busted out the Tarrago Leather Dye I'd ordered. I was very nervous about the dyeing. For one thing, I anticipated it being messy. I envisioned my office floor awash in a sea of permanent black gunk, much like my kitchen was when I created a Jolly Roger cake for a friend's pirate-themed birthday party a few years ago. (Hey, it was her birthday! I had to go along with her!)

There was a LOT of black food coloring in that icing -- I looked like a goth Betty Crocker when it was all over. What's more, the cake itself was a red velvet cake -- I used about three quarts of red food coloring in it and my kitchen looked like the damn shower scene from Pyscho. What the hell is it with food coloring -- that stuff is indestructible. And man, you should have seen our tongues after we ate it. Not exactly elegant, but Gene Simmons would probably have loved it.

At any rate, the leather dye was actually much easier to handle than the black food coloring (which gives one a newfound respect for pastry chefs, doesn't it?). You only need a very tiny amount, which helps. As a bonus, the Tarrago Dye, which is made by a Spanish company, is accompanied by a booklet of instructions in several different languages, including French, Greek, some Scandinavian thing with way too many extra vowels, and an English translation that is charmingly just left of center. (If you ever need to know how to say "Apply one or two brushstrokes of dye" in Dutch, I'm your gal.) I put the dye on the scuffed places and let it dry for a couple of days (They suggest five hours. I am nothing if not thorough.) and then went over the whole thing with some Lexol Conditioner. And she looks bee-yoo-tee-full.

In the interest of full disclosure I must add that I have not yet dyed the straps. I'm going to wear the bag once or twice to make sure the color doesn't rub off on my clothes before I go through with that. But I am hopeful.

So my beauty is looking loverly once again. It was very satisfying, and I'm sure she feels very proud of her spiffy state. But. All is not entirely well in the handbag cupboard.

(The handbag cupboard, although most of the handbags are cropped out of this photo. I also keep scarves in this side of what is actually a big, beautiful antique wardrobe, but the furry whiskered object is strictly a visitor. Much as I would like it, she will not tolerate being worn as a stole.)

Because while Miss Tusk is happy that she is renewed and refreshed, she is also jealous. I'm cheating on her with another black handbag.

Donald J. Pliner quilted black patent leather. Oh, the love...

Like most things of this sort, I really wasn't looking for it to happen. But I was in the store and I saw him peeping out at me from a low shelf where he was the only one left and it was love at first sight.

I'm leaving for New York in less than a week (No, I haven't done my practice pack yet, and there is creeping anxiety about that.) and he is sooooo coming with me. This bag is perfect for traveling -- big enough to take on a plane with a bunch of stuff including my paperback copy of "Bleak House," (I'm on a Dickens kick these days) and also big enough to carry into the city for the whole day. When I go to New York I stay with my best friend Kelly & her family at their place in Westchester. It's only a 20-minute train ride into Grand Central, but it does mean that once I go into the city, I stay in -- I don't go running back & forth, and therefore I need a day's worth of stuff with me. So I need a bag that can hold a fair amount of goodies -- any makeup I might need to reapply by the end of the day, a book to read on the train, etcetera, and there's plenty of room in this darling with the delightful bonus being that the thing is light as a feather. The straps are nice & wide so that they'll be comfortable to carry for hours, and while it's big, it's not cavernous and opens wide enough so that I can see pretty much the whole bag at a glance. No purse spelunking!! Hooray!!!! (I loathe and detest having to rummage around in a bag to find my wallet or cell phone or whatever. Not elegant.)

It zips up completely to make it nice & secure, but when I'm only doodling around Austin running errands, I can just tie those two leather thongs in the middle, which keeps it from gapping but still allows me full and quick access.

A word about access: a couple of years ago while I was working in a retail establishment here in Austin, I was chatting with a customer who was carrying a Chloe Paddington bag. Said customer was... well, she was ridiculous on several levels, not least because you could tell she was extremely proud of said Paddington, a handbag which has always left me completely cold. While we were talking, her cell phone began to ring from deep within the recesses of her bag. So, she tried to get at it to answer it. Problem was, she had actually locked the heavy brass padlock that is the gimmick on the Paddingtons (and adds to their already-substantial weight) and she couldn't get it open. I stood and watched this excruciating exercise in fashion enslavement as she fumbled with the key for so long that eventually the phone stopped ringing as her voice mail took over. Pitiful. I understand that we don't want folks able to reach in and grab our wallets & whatnot, but she was in a very small and UN-crowded Austin clothing store, for crying out loud, not toting a brick of hash through Turkish customs. (The dingdong lock is ornamental, sweetheart, and yes, I know it comes with a key, but exactly how secure do you think it's supposed to be when the key is hanging next to the lock?? On the other hand, she couldn't get into it and it was her bag, so I guess it's more effective than I would have thought.) The moral of this story is: a purse, when all is said and done, should be something that makes your life easier, not a test of your manual dexterity or hauling strength.

But back to my new love. In general, I'm a big fan of bags from Donald J. Pliner. They're beautifully-made Italian leather for the most part and while they're not cheap, they're not the kind of crazy-expensive that makes your husband want to divorce you or your financial advisor sit you down for a good talking-to. (Above-mentioned Paddington is going for about 1800 clams these days. That? Is insane.)

So. I'm taking the Pliner to New York with me. I feel a little bad about this. While I simply adore my new bag, I actually feel guilty about not taking Ms. Tusk when up until now she's had such a perfect travel record. I think I will feel wistful about her, tucked into her flannel dustbag in the handbag cupboard, while her rival Mr. Pliner & I are gliding through MOMA. I'm glad I did something nice for her like touching up her scuffs -- maybe it will soften the blow a bit. And I promise to take her out to a nice dinner just as soon as I get back.

Photos: Style Spy

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Monday, April 16, 2007

See Under: Irony

May I present Miss Hilary Duff?

Her new album is entitled "Dignity."

Commence the eye-rolling.

And do you know what really grates my cheese? She's wearing my shoes!!!!


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Friday, April 13, 2007

Wherein Style Spy Wonders If There Is A Support Group for People Like Her

You know what takes up too dingdong much of my time? Sorting through tights & pantyhose.

Style Spy's tights-&-hose drawer, which is also my gloves drawer. Have we talked yet about my accessory compulsion?

Seriously. Every other item of clothing I own I can just grab from its resting place in drawer or on hanger and throw it on & go. But with tights & pantyhose there's the unrolling, then the careful feeding of the hand through the leg to check for runs and things, then the putting on... If you're like me, your tights & hose break down into categories:

1: Suitable for wear, no reservations
2: Suitable for wear if stained bottom of foot is turned to underside
3. Suitable for wear in boots (perhaps a stain or a rubbed-fuzzy place on the ankle from being previously worn in boots, either ankle- or knee-high) & skirts, but otherwise fine
4. Suitable for wear in boots & pants -- basically just a control top with legs
5. Why the hell didn't these get thrown out when I took them off?

I would like to be able to afford to instantly toss a pair of hose the moment there was a hint of trouble, but since I have not yet achieved Maharani status and good hose are not cheap, I am forced into a maddening frugality.

There are, of course, subcategories & variations on all these. Not to mention the other categories such as opaque tight vs. sheer pantyhose, control top vs. non-control top, sandalfoot vs. reinforced toe, thigh-high, fishnet, etc.

(Any non-crossing-dressing male presently reading this is saying a silent prayer of thanks for his Y-chromosome right about now, I'd imagine. Or maybe you're just all just saying a silent prayer of thanks that you're not ME.)

At any rate, aside from the more obvious categories (These are black! These are nude!), the problem is that most of this information is not readily apparent until the offending garment has been unrolled and stretched onto at least one leg. All women know the teeth-grinding frustration of dressing for an occasion and being pressed for time to begin with, struggling mightily into a pair of fabulous control-top pantyhose that not only make your legs look fantastic (because we didn't plan ahead & start the self-tanning regimen a week ago), but have the control top that is essential to keep the killer dress from looking like you've got a bunch of puppies stuffed into your underwear, only to find that voila! There is a runner from mid-thigh to toe. There's five minutes wasted, and now you're all sweaty to boot.

The kiss of death.
(But you know what's really weird about these? They're sold this way!!)

Again, maybe this is just me. But I doubt it.

So I've decided. This weekend, come hell or high water or the distraction of an as-yet-unviewed DVD full of "Battlestar Galactica" episodes, I am going to figure out a organizational/identification system for my hose. I know it sounds dangerous, but I'm just crazy enough to do it, and when I've got it worked out, I'll share it with you all. See? My compulsions benefit everyone!

But if anyone already has a fool-proof method, I'd be happy to give it a test run and then publicize your genius. 'Cause, y'know, I've got better %$#! to do this weekend, honestly...

Also up this weekend -- re-dyeing my black handbag! My big box of goodies arrived from the Shoe Shine Kit. I was like a kid on Christmas, I tell ya, ooh-ing & ahh-ing over my new creams & ointments.

(Yes. I KNOW I am a freak. I'm at peace with it.)

I am delighted with my metallic polishes, I've already spiffed up one pair of shoes quite nicely, thank you. I'll let you know how the bag turns out. Wish me luck!

Photos: Style Spy,

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Friday, April 6, 2007

Wherein Style Spy Cowers in Terror

Someone explain these shoes to me:

(Balenciaga -- Balenciaga!!! Oh, the mind reels! Oh, the heartbreak!!-- Fall 2007)

I don't understand them. I don't like them. They hurt my feelings. They frighten me. They are the hideous bastard offspring of the unholy coupling of a ski boot and a plastic stripper shoe. They should never have been allowed to see the light of day. They are dangerous abominations of nature. What were they thinking?? Didn't any of these people read Frankenstein???

No good can come of this...


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Thursday, April 5, 2007

Flutter, Flutter

Small good thing:

Max Factor Lash Perfection Mascara. This stuff is Da Bomb. (Are we still saying "Da Bomb"? Someone ask a teenager for me.) It's got one of those newfangled plastic bristle brushes instead of a spoolie, which makes for really nice definition, it doesn't clump. (Although it feels a little weird to apply at first -- slightly prickly.) Plus, it's hearty -- I'm a woman who never leaves the house without at least two or three creams of various sorts on her skin (moisturizer, foundation, sunscreen) and by then end of the day this still isn't smudgy. (I don't wear waterproof mascara because I wear contact lenses.) Look:

(Actual unretouched photo. It's not a great photo, but I'll have you know that getting this was no easy task and I'm very, very sorry you weren't all here to witness the comedy. Note: when attempting to take close-up photo of own eye, disable flash first. Blinkblinkblink.)

Best of all, the stuff isn't pricey. Under 8 bucks for great mascara. I have a tester of a Chanel mascara that goes for about three times that and I don't like it any better than this stuff. Now, I'm funny about what I'll spend money on. I think we'll all agree that I'm capable of spending what some would consider obscene amounts of money on a pair of shoes without batting a (well-mascara'd) eye. In the makeup arena, I'll splash out for foundation, because I think if your skin doesn't look good, nothing does. I'm also a hopeless lip gloss ho - a complete sucker currently for the YSL glosses which are, I'll freely admit, stupidly expensive. (They're just so pretty!!!) But when it comes to stuff like mascara, reason (or just plain stinginess) kicks in. I want to buy it at the drugstore. And this one -- I can! No trip to the mall just to buy mascara; I can pick it up along with my orange juice and toilet paper.

Try it & tell me what you think!

Photos:, Style Spy

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Spit & Polish

Well, I was poking around on the web this weekend looking for solutions to my black bag problem when I found this terrific website: The Shoe Shine Kit. They have about a squillion shoe care products there that I never even knew existed -- I got very excited.

This is probably going to sound a little insane, but in general I am frustrated with the lack of choice in my shoe care products. There are your basic Kiwi polishes at the grocery store, sure, but what about stuff for patent leather? What about when you need to re-dye a pair of shoes or your favorite handbag?

I have a thing for polishing my shoes. I actually kind of love to do it. No, I'm not huffing shoe polish, but I do like the quiet, repetitive nature of the activity -- I find it meditative, like ironing. Most of all, though, it reminds me of my father. Dad used to polish his shoes pretty regularly, and the smell of the polish combined with the gentle ksssh-ksssh, ksssh-ksssh of the brush going back & forth over a shoe is a very vivid memory for me. He would spread out a few pages of newspaper on the carpet, unpack the box of supplies, line up his shoes and go to work. (My dad was neat to the point of semi-OCD. In my entire life, I never saw an item of his clothing lying on the floor, and his shoes were all arranged in pairs under his dresser, toes pointing in, heels lined up.)

But aside from the connection to my D.O.D (Dear Old Dad -- how he signed all cards & letters to me), polishing my shoes gives me a lot of satisfaction. It's a small, easy-to-do thing with big benefits. Nothing ruins the overall look of an ensemble faster than shoes that are in disrepair. I don't care if you're wearing $800 Louboutins, if they're worn on the toes or scraped on the heels they look like dookie. There's no excuse for scuffed shoes, in my opinion, it is definitely one of the Seven Deadly Wardrobe Sins.

Of course, you can always take your shoes to a reliable cobbler for polishing, but why not try it yourself? Which brings me back to the nice folks at Shoe Shine Kit. Available for purchasing is this little bag o' goodies:

Shoe Shine Kit -- $42.00

It comes with all the basics you need to get started and a choice of polishes. Of course, me being me, what I covet is this:

Executive Shoe Shine Kit -- $125

Lots of bells and whistles, and I just love the cunning little box.

But aside from lots of good shwag, what the Shoe Shine Kit has is people -- to wit, a very nice lady named Janet who, along with her husband Michael, runs the site. These folks have a lot of experience in shoe biz. I asked Janet about my scuffed-up black handbag and she responded (almost instantly, mind you) with the following:

I would use the Tarrago Dye to touch up the places where there is scuffing, and then use Lexol Conditioner on the whole bag after the dye has dried.

Well, okay, then! I'll be ordering some of that stuff. I'll also be ordering some polish for these:

and I'm very excited about that because I love (adore, worship, whatever) these shoes but have never seen metallic polish anywhere else. Janet also recommended some products to spiff up a vintage snakeskin bag I have, and at present I have an e-mail out to her asking her about the best ways to care for patent leather. I'll keep you posted!

Here's a little assignment for you: go look at your shoes. How are they doing? Are they dirty? Scuffed? Do the heel lifts (the little black plastic things on the bottom of the heels) need replacing? Do the soles (heaven forfend) have holes? A good cobbler can make an abused pair of shoes look like new. I have heard some people complain that repairing a favorite pair of shoes can cost as much as replacing them. So? You're going to have to replace them anyway, right? Factor in the time spent shopping and the frustration of trying to find something that fits and that you like as much as the ones that you've already worn to pieces and it's probably worth it.

Give your shoes a little TLC. Be good to your shoes, and your shoes will be good to you.

Photos:, Style Spy

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Sunday, April 1, 2007

Prom on Planet Poledance

So I'm trolling around on the web doing some research for a post to be named later when I come across this:

on And the name of said... garment (I can't in good conscience call this a dress) is: White Lace Sexy Prom Dress.

Prom dress?

PROM dress???????

In what universe is this an acceptable ensemble for a prom?? Is said prom attendee graduating from Skanky Ho High? Is she Paris Hilton's daughter??? My god, back in my day, yes, the prom dresses were bad. But they were If-There-Were-Helium-In-Those-Sleeves-She'd-Be-Airborne Bad, not For-Five-Bucks-Extra-You-Get-To-Keep-My-Panties Bad.

Yes, friends. That is me, next to the bride, in petal pink taffeta circa 1983. Not a prom dress per se, but I didn't go to my proms because I was the Weird Smart Girl in high school (and Weird Smart Girls don't date until they get into their 20's and all hell breaks loose). I was, however, a bridesmaid for my friend Roy Beth the summer after our freshman year of college -- the one and only time I have served in such a capacity. Roy Beth was the captain of my high school drill team, of which I was a member -- we were Golden Goblinettes together, and I still have the blue & gold pom-poms to prove it stashed away at my mom's house. (And I'll have you know -- I saw Roy Beth in 2002 at our 20-year reunion, and she and Eddie are still married. How cool is that?) At any rate, I think this conveys the early-80's prom dress zeitgeist pretty accurately.

But back to Prom on Planet Poledance... just in case the white version of the dress is too... virginal, they do offer it in other colors:

As though that helps.

Seriously -- I know there's a lot of bad clothing out there and I have mostly come to terms with it. I know that there is a whole industry built upon designing and selling clothes that can make the most corn-fed gal-next-door look like she's shacked up with Harvey Keitel in a purple suit somewhere.

But ladies... do not take it to the prom. That's just tacky.

Photos:, Style Spy

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