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Friday, July 27, 2007

My Top Five Travel Must Haves: Clothing Edition

So by now you all have read all about my beauty must haves. Here's the list of clothing to complement them. This list is going to differ a little from the beauty favorites in that this is a general list of articles of clothing that will take you everywhere you need to go. While I will mention my personal picks for each piece, since clothing is notoriously difficult to fit and we all have vastly different body types, I'll leave the individual fit preferences up to you guys. These are just the items that I think every suitcase needs.

Well-fitting tanks in differing colors:
I have tons of old navy ribbed tanks in different colors. They're super cheap on sale (2 for ten bucks, hello!) and they're modest enough to wear to work, without being frumpy and high necked and boring. And it's easy to throw on a hoodie or cute cardigan when it's cold and still be stylish. They're just so easy and cute and cheap, which is my absolute must for any wardrobe staple.

A pair of dark rinse blue jeans, and one in a lighter rinse:
Jeans are pretty much universal where ever I end up traveling. (and I've been to a lot of places.) I would recommend the classic pair- straight-legged or slight boot cut, just below the navel, and well fitting- because it never goes out of style. The dark rinse can dress everything up, and the lighter rinse is great for action-adventure days (hiking, horseback riding, open-air market shopping.) Plus, you always want to have more than one pair of pants. Trust me on this.

As far as brands go, everyone has their own brand that fits them best, so check out zafu.com and truejeans.com for a better idea of brands to check out.

Comfy chic flats:
I know, I know. We've all wandered around Europe in our Converse. I mean, David Tennent wanders about the Universe in his. But the fact still remains that Converse are a tomboyish shoe if you're a girl, and really don't have that much cushioning. It's a hard habit to break, but someone has to advocate for the flats. Otherwise we're all going to be wearing Converse by 2020 and the cute shoe industry will die up and my BC flats with the one inch wedge heel actually have better cushioning than my Converse. Yes, I said it.

Now go find some cute shoes, you crazy hipster. (and put down the leggings, for pete's sake.)

A good sundress can take you from day to night with a minimal of accessory changes. You want something that is comfortable and flattering, and for one-stop casual dress shopping, I've yet to find a store better than Charlotte Russe. Every time I walk in there, I find a cute dress to take home. It's gotten to the point where I have to stop walking in there since I currently have more dresses than I wear on a regular basis (yeah, I totally dress like a tomboy most of the time.) But they're so cheap yet adorable. I just can't help myself.

A light-weight hoodie, and a cute cardigan:
And finally, where would you be without a good sweater? Fashionwise, I should just be advocating for the cardigan, which is a super versatile piece- chic during the day and night- but my little Northwestern heart demands practicality. Who wants to drag an umbrella everywhere? Not me. And hoods also come in handy when you're trekking across windy plains and you don't want to mess up your hair completely.

And don't forget to pack your accessories!

image from http://www.charlotterusse.com/.

Monday, July 23, 2007

So You Dress Like You Dance

I may be risking death, or at least a severe scolding, with this post, since feelings on this topic still run strong. (Just ask the Go Fug Yourself girls!)

So. Leggings. (Kati screams somewhere in the distance.) I admit, I kind of like them... when done right. It's hard not to go to dance classes twice a week and watch the other girls and how they incorporate leggings into their daily outfits. I would often wear mine under my jeans all day, then whip off my pants once I got into the classroom. But other girls would wear them under skirts, under short dresses, all sorts of cute arrangements. And because they were dancers, it was okay! The leggings were absolutely necessary!

And now they're trendy. They've been trendy for a while, but now that it's nearly fall again (sigh), it's time to start thinking about leggings and opaque tights again. The tights, at least, aren't going away. And with every store stocking cheap tights, it's really worth thinking if this is something you want to (gasp) invest in, because there's nothing worse than getting a run.

So, like Susie Bubble's post on figure skating fashion, I say this: go to the source. Go and buy the real thing: dance leggings and dance tights from brands like Danskin and Capezio. They're extremely sturdy, keep your legs warm, and won't snag on your nails when you pull them on. There's also the amazing option of "convertible" tights, with a reinforced opening at the arch of the foot -- you put your foot through the hole, roll up the excess fabric and voila, footless tights! I found these excellent for wearing underneath jeans as well -- roll down the fabric and slip your foot back in, and then put on your shoes. No one can tell you're not wearing "normal" tights!

At about 22 dollars for a pair of Danskin capri leggings and around 12 dollars for a pair of tights, they aren't as cheap as other trendier options, but they won't break the bank and, as always, you get what you pay for. Or, if you feel a little more adventurous, there's always American Apparel, which are still strong and good (great for layering under jeans in the winter, again), especially if you're doing it more for a fashion statement, but are a little more expensive.

But please, please, PLEASE: if you're wearing leggings or footless tights, please don't substitute them for what I call "official pants". Please keep them under your skirts or your dresses; if we can see your gluteal muscles or your pantyline, and we're not in dance class, consider putting on a pair of real pants. Please.

image from dancegear.com

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My Top Five Travel Must Haves: Beauty Edition

One of my good friends is jaunting off to England for a couple of months, and while assisting her in wardrobe selections over the weekend, I started thinking about what clothes and beauty products are essentials to me, and would get packed in my own suitcase no matter what. I am a total low maintenance girl, and usually, these five picks are all the product I wear on a daily basis. Yeah. You heard me. This is it!*

In no particular order:

1. Purity Made Simple Cleanser
This is a recent addition to the routine. I've avoided cleansers for years, because every single one made me break out. I felt like, "why bother? I'll deal with the once a month breakouts and skip that step." But every so often I'd get the desire to try again. Everyone is so adamant that washing your face is deathly important and just water won't cut it. Which, by the way, it will- But this stuff is better. I use it every morning in a shower, and there was a huge difference in my skin this month. I feel like one of those clearisil ads- clean, clear and under control.

2. Lush Moisturizers (Celestials for face, Dream Cream for body)
It's no secret that I love Lush. I have mild eczema, which for me means moisturizing every day, unless I want scary rashes and red patches. No thanks! But until my friend Jennie introduced me to Lush three years ago, I had the hardest time finding products that a) moisturized enough, b) didn't have a ton of irritants, and c) didn't leave that icky greasy feeling, and d) I liked the smell of. Celestials smells like vanilla frosting, (yum!) and the only time it gets greasy is if I put way too much on and it's hot outside. It really is my favorite.

3. Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock
I'm all Northern European Ancestry, all the way back. Which means I burn like a lobster anytime I get near the sun. Luckily, I'm not all Irish so I do eventually tan. But in the meantime, who wants to look like a lobster? Not me. This stuff is the best. I don't break out using it, the sunscreen smell is really faint, and it rated top of the Consumer Reports sunscreen test this year for protection. It's kind of expensive for Sunscreen, but Target often has it on sale, and seriously? I am wearing it everyday now because it doesn't make me breakout. Not getting skin cancer is worth it.

4. Softlips Chapstick
Softlips has been my go to chapstick since I was a Freshman in high school. It's comparable to Burtsbees or Natural Ice chapsticks- fun and tingly, but it comes in a slim tube, which is great for stuffing in girly tight pockets. They've also just boosted the SPF to 20 from 15, so everybody wins. And they make a French Vanilla flavor, which will forever endear them to me.

5. Boots no.7 Tinted Moisturizer, Boots no.7 Longer Lashes Mascara (tie.)
I don't use either of these every day, but I use them often enough that at least one of them needs to make it on the list. I like the tinted moisturizer to cut down on redness if I've gotten a little too much sun- or for a little added sunscreen protection if I don't want to use the Neutrogena that day. And as I've blogged about before, Boots no.7 Mascara is my absolute favorite mascara. It's not great for super-intense eye looks, but it's perfect for everyday, and won't clump or smear off even on your lower lashes.


And of course they're British, which means all their products suit my complexion really well. Good work, Boots.

Next in the series? My summer wardrobe staples that would go in my suitcase no matter what.

Where to buy: 1 can be found at sephora.com, 2 can be found at lush.com, 3-5 at your local target.

*Obviously I have just outed myself as the worst beauty blogger ever, and will be banished to posts about tv and music from now on.

Images from sephora.com and drugstore.com

Monday, July 16, 2007

Make me your own!

No big secrets here: I'm a fan of Converse. I've had numerous pairs over the past several years, dating back to rocking them in elementary school. I tend to go for the lo-top Chucks, since I am always late and shoes tend to be the last thing to go on, and the hi-top just takes a little too much effort when I'm already running out the door.

I'm also a fan of making things my own. As a kid, I owned at least one pair of canvas slip-on sneakers that I attacked with fabric paint (both puffy and non); in one of my first "wow, Goodwill is cool!" purchases in middle school, I found a pair of Chuck Taylors with handpainted flowers on them, and added colored pony beads to the laces. The beads eventually wore off from me dragging/stepping on my untied laces, but hey -- customized!

Imagine my glee when I discovered that you can customize your own Converse at Converse.com. You can pick different colors for different sections, change the color of the stitching, racing stripe, and rubber sides, and even have a phrase of your choosing added to your shoe. I tend to go for the Product (RED) shoes, since a. supporting research for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria is important, and if you're going to buy shoes, buy shoes that make a difference! and b. the red eyelet is really awesome (shallow? yes. true? also yes). Plus it's a really good last-minute gift if you make up a card that says "I will buy you your own pair of custom-designed Converse sneakers!", and then pay for the recipient's shoes.

They ask you to allow for a few weeks before you get your shoes, but I received mine much more quickly than expected, which was excellent because I always like getting things earlier than anticipated. They tend to be around $60, which is, of course, more than you'd buy for a regular pair at the store, but they are custom-made to your specifications, after all, and if you buy the Product (RED) ones, part of the money goes to the Global Fund. (If you would rather use your money to give directly to a charity, then by all means, do so -- but if you are looking for spiffy new shoes, it certainly doesn't hurt to have some of the money going to charity, either. And again, the red eyelet is awesome.)

Not only do they have Chucks available to customize (hi-top, lo-top, and laceless slip-on), but you can also do your own Jack Purcells, One-Stars, or skidgrip slip-ons! While my custom Chucks have taken me from New York and Europe, I can't help but think that custom skidgrips will come in pretty handy when I take off for Japan in September...

image from zappos.com

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Searching for the perfect...

I admit to not being super-creative with my sartorial choices. Despite admiring the amazing outfits on Gala Darling and Susie of StyleBubble and buying a new tripod for the express purpose of taking pictures of my outfits, I am still dragging my heels on the matter. I buy really awesome things and just don't seem to get around to wearing them.

In addition, I tend to be very picky about things I buy. I can't just have boots, they have to be The Perfect Boots. I have several pairs of wedge sandals from last summer's quest for The Perfect Wedge Sandal. This summer, I've already succeeded in finding The Perfect Boots (thank you, eBay!) -- brown, not too pointy, slightly slouchy, the right heel shape, can be worn over skinny jeans. The quests for The Perfect White Vintage Dress and The Perfect Sun Hat still continue. I've also got high hopes for the long sundress that American Apparel is going to release soon, so cross your fingers that I'm not disappointed there.

But since I've been so boring lately, I can't help but eye the awesome hand-silkscreened skirts from Made With Love by Hannah, particularly the Apple-Pickin' skirt in Granny Smith. I also love the April Showers skirt, complete with rick-rack trim and big fat tulips. With these bright skirts, I can wear whatever boring top I have (and I have a lot of them) and let the skirt speak for itself. I'm definitely going to pick up one of these skirts sooner or later, but until then, I might just be boring a little bit longer...

image from madewithlovebyhannah.com

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