Monday, March 31, 2008

My Loss Is Your Gain

The good news is: Weight Watchers works. Really, really works.

The bad news is: there are a lot of beautiful things in my closet that I cannot wear anymore.

Since the beginning of the year Style Spy has been diligently Weight Watchering, and that combined with an increased running regimen has led to some pretty significant changes in my physical self. The result of this is that I have some clothes that I can no longer fit. I'm not complaining, mind you, but some of this stuff I hadn't even worn yet. Oy. It's a little sad to see these things hanging there and know that you cannot help them to live up to their full potential. On top of that, there has been a steady trickling outflow of money on purchases that DO fit, so all in all Style Spy is a bit in the hole.

Before I post all these goods on an auction site, I thought I'd let my readers get first crack. I've created another blog to partner with this one called Style Spy's Closet, and I'm going to feature them there. Come on over, have a look, and if you see anything you're interested in, send me an e-mail. (All prices are before S&H.)

Here's a sample:

Ellen Tracy cerise-pink polished cotton shirtdress. Oh, this thing is so lovely. It has princess seams so it's very slimming, and godets in the skirt so that it's nice & swingy. It comes with a self-belt, although I have already removed the little thread carriers on the side seams of the dress. (I'm long-waisted, and the belt loops on dresses like this are always way too high for me.) This dress is lined and altogether beautiful -- so much so that I bought it even though it was a tiny bit big for me at the time. I have never worn this dress -- it is brand-spankin' new, even though I have already removed the tags. This is a size 10, and I find this company is fairly generous with their sizing. I think original retail on this dress was around $300. I'm asking $50.00, plus shipping.

There's more -- go check it out. More things will be added as time goes by, so stop in every now and again to see if there's anything you like. If you're interested in purchasing, drop me a line.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Pretty for Friday -- March 28

Completely random gorgeousness to send you off into your weekend...

If there were degrees of perfection, these would be rather high on the scale. Oh, what a lovely shoe -- and it takes some doing to get me excited about a black shoe. I'm not much of one for logos on clothing, but I do have a soft spot for that little dangling "D."
These are causing some difficulties with my breathing. Good heavens, what Olympian talent brought these about? I'm pretty sure these shoes would sing me lullabyes when I had trouble sleeping...

Have a good weekend, everyone!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Persistence of Pink

For reasons inexplicable to myself, I am possessed by the idea of pink patent shoes. What's come over me, I don't know. Not that pink patent shoes would be the worst fate to ever befall a gal, certainly, but I really don't know where this sudden craving springs from.

I've heard a lot of people say they "hate" pink. I don't get that. Phooey on you, pink-dissers! To my mind, wearing pink with impunity is one of the great perks of being a girl. Guys still have the whole "masculinity" issue when they wear pink, but we females can don this cheery color whenever we like and no one will think twice. And it is cheery. And fun and often very sexy. I'll grant you that pink done wrong can sometimes be a bit twee or saccharine, but done right it's just great.

Boutique 9 Women's Uandme D'orsay Pump

These are cute. Not exactly what I'm thinking, but still -- cute.


That Stewie Weitzman, he makes the best shoes. Here in the famous Weitzman "Quasar" patent, which I'm crazy about. I also dig the gold heel.


Kinda fantastic, with the combination of textures. I know nothing about this shoe designer, Max Kibardin. Anyone?

Scorah Pattullo Victoria Woven Sandal

A coral-y pink. Very pretty, and that sandal would come in awfully handy because you could wear it dressy or you could wear it for everyday, say with a nice wrap dress to the office. But I think I want a pinker pink.


Oh, my. Perhaps not.


These are remarkable shoesicon. Follow the link to the website so you can look at the zoom photos -- they're pretty amazingly detailed. But I think I want something a little more straightforward.


I'm very taken with these. The pink is a bit muted and not quite so childish, but still soft & very girlie. These win the prize for color, definitely. And at 150 bucks, they may wind up taking the sweepstakes. Really good.


When I saw these my heart began to race and I almost hyperventilated, because that right there is an HG shoe for me. These are a pink, single-strap version of the double-strap mary janes I own in robin's egg blue and black. I adore these shoes beyond reason, I wear them more than I even thought I would when I bought them, and if the day ever comes when I cannot wear them anymore I will mourn like I would for a lost relative. I wish I had bought more of them. Words cannot express the sorrow with which I inform you they are not available in my size. If, by some miracle, you wear an 8.5, do yourself a favor and buy these shoes immediately. You will never be sorry.


See, these appeal to me because they remind me of the Miu Mius, but by the same token I think I would come to resent them for not being the Miu Mius. They're like the rebound guy you date right after you get your heart broken because Guy #2 looks like Guy #1, but eventually it just all falls to pieces. Women are complicated, yes, we are.

Women's shoes: Lauren by Ralph Lauren Amaya - Fuschia patent

Oooh. Now we're talkin'. Those are great -- really perfect shape that will never go out of style. And very reasonable. Although a touch too fuchsia, still.


Inarguable. Now if I could only find a single pair of Loubies that fit me. M. Louboutin makes shoes for some skinny-footed ponies.

Okay, it's not often you hear Style Spy say the words, "too much," but these?

Are too damn much pink. Ouch. Don't look at them too long, you'll get a headache.

Women's shoes: Liz Claiborne Polly - Fuschia

These are also great, and a fantastic price.

These are not patent. But I think I could get over it. And unlike Loubies, Pradas always fit me like they were made for me.

Well, obviously I have some pondering to do. What do y'all think? Let me know if you find any pink patent shoes you think I (or you) can't live without.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Literature for Sniffers -- March 24

Smell may be the sense most difficult to write about descriptively. Part of the reason is that we give linguistic short shrift to our sense of smell. We have an enormous vocabulary for our visual sense, the sense we're most tied to and dependent upon. We've all heard the old saw that the Inuit have a raft of words for the substance we English speakers simply call "snow." I don't know if that's true or not, but it certainly illustrates the idea that we spend language on what is most important to us. We have very specific words for color (blue, magenta, ochre) and shape & line (triangle, spherical, zigzag).


(Mondrian's Broadway Boogie-Woogie)

It's possible to paint a very accurate portrait of the way something looks using words -- witness the amazing work that police sketch artists do.

Smell is also the sense that most people probably pay the least attention to. If you've ever played the "What Sense Would You Give Up?" game, you know most people choose smell, because they think it would be the easiest to live without.

Lastly, smell may be the most subjective of our senses, because it is so very person-specific. With the exception of the very most isolated or "primitive" people, in this day and age all humans have a shared vocabulary of images and sound, from movies and television, popular music, books and magazines, museums, education. We all pretty much recognize Mickey Mouse at this point in history, and we all know Elvis Presley when we see or hear him.


(Or not, as the case may be.)

Smell, on the other hand, cannot be transmitted except via an actual object. No one is broadcasting smells around the world. And so everyone's smell history, if you will, is completely different. Depending on factors like where you live, your ethnic background, your age, your occupation, and a squillion more, your smell history is specific only to you. Imagine the differences in the smell experiences between a person who grew up in Omaha compared to someone from Mumbai. Or Khartoum. Or Paris. Since no one can go everywhere and do everything, there are just some things you're never going to smell. I was in my 30's before I ever encountered the smell of kimchi and to this day my best description of its odor (besides "yech") is "Ummm, it smells like kimchi."
(Again I say, yech.)

And the whole thing is even further complicated by the issue of taste, of like & dislike. It's not hard to give a visual description of something without passing a value judgment, but the first thing most people say when describing a smell is whether they think it good or bad -- and there is a wide range of opinion on what smells nice or nasty. Take my above example of kimchi. I find that odor positively evil, but there's a good chance that if you're from a Korean family that smell has the same effect on you that the smell of freshly-made pasta does on me: it reminds you of comfort, family, your grandmother -- general goodness.

What all this boils down to is that it can be the very devil to describe the way something smells without referencing something it smells
like, and even that is only useful if the audience is familiar with Reference B. (It's not really helpful for me to tell you that L'Air du Desert Marocain reminds me a lot of Ambre Sultan if you've never smelled either one of them.)

So smell is tough to write about.

Unless, apparently, you're Tania Sanchez or Luca Turin. Their new book Perfumes: The Guide is a book about perfumes even a non-Perfumista can love because they write in clear, evocative, not-terribly-jargony English about one of life's most elusive and delightful pleasures -- the sense of smell.
The bulk of the book is made up of reviews, complete with star ratings and two-word genre classifications. If you're like me, the first thing you'll do when you get your hands on it is go straight to the entries for your most-loved fragrances to find out what they have to say about them. However, the first 50 pages are devoted to essays by Sanchez and Turin on perfume criticism and history, as well as thoughts on masculine vs. feminine scents and, especially if you are not a hard-core Frag Junkie like me, you should read these first, because they lay important groundwork for the reviews. Sanchez makes a wonderfully lucid argument for the importance of perfume criticism to the continued existence and growth of perfume itself: criticism of art -- discussion of art -- leads to greater familiarity with the art. "Would we go so often to the movies," Sanchez asks, "If we couldn't talk about them, if we had no clue whether a film might be good or not?" And the more we know about it, the higher will be our standards. "The perfume business will certainly fare better in a world of genuine public love than it would in a world in which everyone dismisses its product as nonsense."

Sanchez & Turin lead you gently through the history and chemistry of perfume, outline the main genres of the field, and impart some important practical information that will make embarking upon the Perfumed Path easier and more fun. And the reviews... oh, the reviews! Take this, from Turin's review of Chanel's 31 rue Cambon (5 stars, "floral ambery"), a perfume I adore:

I cannot remember the last time, if ever, a perfume gave me such an instantaneous impression of ravishing beauty at first sniff. There is an affecting softness, a gentle grace to 31 that beggars belief.


(It's expensive. But I'm going to have to have some. Beyond lovely.)

I had exactly that same reaction when I sniffed it (and still do, every time). And here is Sanchez talking about Ormonde Jayne's great Ormonde Woman (5 stars, "forest chypre"):

It has the haunting, outdoors witchiness of tall pines leaning into the night -- a bitter oakmoss inkiness, a dry cedar crackle, and a low, delicious, pleading sweet amber, like the call of a faraway candy house. Lulling and unsettling in equal measure, and truly great.


(You have to go to London to get it. Totally worth it.)

See? You want to smell that now, don't you? (Following the perfume-name links will make that possible.)

It's not all hearts and flowers, of course. Sometimes it's biting and often it's hilarious. I defy you to find me a book about perfume that will make you laugh out loud with such reliable frequency. Both the authors can deliver a killing blow with considerable dispatch. Take this from Turin about Iceberg Homme (1 star, classified as "sad shampoo"):

That's him all right. Now put him back in the freezer.

And perhaps my very favorite, from Sanchez, on cK IN2U Her (1 star, "fruity amber"):

OMG PU. Insanely strong fruit meets insanely strong woody amber. KTHXBYE.

Followed immediately by her take on cK IN2U His (also 1 star, this one "7UP amber"):


I laughed hard enough after that to be asked what I was reading. You can imagine the questioner's dubious look when I replied, "A book about perfume."

Of course, part of the fun of reading expert reviews is to have your own (superior) tastes confirmed, and so I was delighted to find that Turin loves Piguet's Baghari (4 stars, "orange chypre") as much as I do. Fascinatingly, though, Turin finds it a dark fragrance, whereas when I wear Baghari I feel enveloped in a nimbus of white light. See? Subjective. And, of course, sometimes there will be areas of disagreement. I do not find Hermes' Rose Ikebana (3 stars, "polite floral") "dull and effete." I find it zingy and energetic. So there you go.

It's a wonderful book. It shouldn't be missed. Regardless of how much you already know about perfumes and fragrance, if you're even remotely interested in smelling good this book is a valuable resource. And don't worry, the authors are not fragrance snobs in any way -- several of the most positive reviews in the book are of scents one can find in any department store -- some you can even find in discount stores. Turin and Sanchez can find you a good smell at any price point, and offer proof that perfume is our most affordable luxury. I don't see how anyone could read this book and not want to drop everything to immediately go out sniffing -- the authors' passionate enjoyment of good perfume is contagious, and by the time I'd gotten to the "D's" in the reviews I'd cast aside the notepad whereon I was writing a list of things I wanted to sniff or re-sniff and was simply marking entries with a highlighter. One new bottle had joined my collection within 24 hours of the book's arrival -- after reading Turin's paean to Bulgari's Black (5 stars, "hot rubber"), I marched myself up to Neiman Marcus and found myself bewitched.

(Seriously, go -- with an open mind -- and sniff this stuff. Wow.)

I am ashamed to say that I probably would never have tried this fragrance without this little nudge, so as far as I'm concerned, The Guide has already earned its keep.

Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez have not only written a delightful entertainment, they've performed a service that those of us who love perfume must be grateful for. Anyone who reads this book will be better-informed and more discerning. The bottles of dreck will stay on the store shelves. The perfume companies will have to bring their A-games if they want to compete. The world, hallelujah, will smell better.

Perfumes: The Guide will be released on April 10, but can be pre-ordered here.


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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lucky Thursday

Good googly-moogly, look what I just found:

Prada 321LS1P9594 (Women's) - Nude/Black Patent Leather

And they are on sale! Pretty darned on sale -- they're 40% off. These are the closed-toe version of
the ones I bought this fall, and these shoes are wonderful, you must believe me. They feel great, and they go with absolutely everything. I found these wonders here

Free Shipping @!

and when you factor in the free shipping, they're a bargain not to be ignored. The sizes are somewhat limited and this shoe is nearly impossible to find these days, so hop to it, people!

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spring In Your Step

It's the first day of Spring!!! Hooray!!! The end of dreary winter is within sight! And what means spring? Flowers! Blooms, blossoms, buds! They're Mother Nature's sex organs, issuing a showy, smelly come-hither to the birds and the bees; signifiers of all that is fecund and fertile from time immemorial.

Also, they're pretty.

Here's some stuff I found with flowers to celebrate the ol' vernal equinox. I know a lot of you out there are still trapped in winter misery, shoveling snow and swaddled head-to-toe in fleece and long johns, but worry not -- the end is near. Just focus on the pretty and dream of spring.


Oh, I love this. It's bright, it's graphic, it's swingy and a little vintage -- that's a dress I want to wear


And how adorable are these? So simple and sweet. They would be very wonderful with the dress above them.

If you're not up for a floral print, how about a floral texture?


This comes in a mink-y brown color, too, if the red is too much for you.

Malababa Leather Twist Ring

How fun. Very abstract little leather flower-ish thing. Also in black, for a slightly more goth feel.

From the woman who has mastered the abstract floral print (not to mention the dress), Diane von Furstenberg:

Diane von Furstenberg Jilda Cap Sleeve Wrap Dress

It's spring. It's time to treat yourself to a classic DVF wrap dress. You will wear it for many springs to come, I promise.


Love these beautiful saturated colors.

A couple of gorgeous floral scarves. Tie your flowers around your neck, your shoulders, your head, your handbag. Scarves are always a good investment.

Abstract floral fun from Nine West.


This is lovely, and very on sale.


I would call this color peony pink. Beautiful.


Really love this ring. That is right up my alley.

Nine West Women's Lovable Flat

These are absolutely adorable, come in several bright colors, and are by Nine West so they're very affordable. I'd buy two pairs, because these are the sort of shoes that you will wear to tatters and then weep because you no longer have them.

A floral scarf that made me gasp, it's so beautiful. I'm besotted with this thing.
From Valentino, always home to the loveliest floral prints. I'm going to have dreams about this scarf.

More abstract floral yumminess from Rebecca Taylor:

Rebecca Taylor Open Back Dress


Isn't that nice? I often find her clothes a bit twee and cutesy, but this collection seems to really be working for me.

I'm fascinated by these shoes.
Women's shoes: Camper Twins Cameo - White and black

On one hand, the mary jane flat thing usually strikes me as far too childish. On the other, that black & white pattern is utterly wonderful. These may be just weird enough to be perfect.

These are just instant happiness:
Women's shoes: Poetic Licence Margarita - Red

I've never been able to abide thongs just because I hate the way they feel between my toes, but these are wonderful enough that I might try to get over that.

Pour La Victoire Women's Katie Floral Flat
Great little flat in a bright, abstract floral.

Keds Women's Bliss Wedge

These are Keds!!!

Keds Women's Blossom Wedge
These are Keds, too! So much fun, and you know they'd be comfy.

I'm head over heels for this dress:

Rebecca Taylor T Shirt Dress

Whatever Rebecca Taylor was smoking/drinking/taking while she designed this collection, she needs to keep it up. This is just stunning. I love the color combination and the just-enough fuchsia sequins at the top. I would not, however, wear silver shoes with it. I think that brown color needs a gold shoe.

I hope your first day of spring is sunny and happy, everyone!

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