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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's Your Jam? for October 28th

Recently I started going to aerobics class at least once a week -- it's Mondays and Wednesdays, but I've only been going to Mondays on a regular basis (oops). My roommate, K., was talking up the class for weeks, telling me how awesome it is, and I dragged my heels for far too long.

Our instructor, M., is full of energy and personality with a CD booklet of remixes for working out, and if a particular song comes up, she'll shout mid-call-outs, "This is my JAM!"

So I've been thinking about what's my jam lately -- things that are rocking my world, things that make me happy, that sort of thing.

My jams for today:

- My aerobics class (of course), for making me get up, get out, and get active. I'm already seeing and feeling a difference in my body, which is awesome.

- Halloween! I'm always excited for Halloween, as you all know, but this year I'm planning on going as a stegosaurus, even though in my mind's eye of imagining my costume, I keep picturing myself as The Atrox. (Not as a lovely nymph, but hey.) I may also do a second costume, which is always exciting, because I've been invited to a Fancy Grown-Up Halloween party at a local museum, so perhaps my stomping around as a dinosaur would not be appreciated.

- The Ruth Reichl recipes for spaghetti carbonara and Aunt Birdie's potato salad. Delicious and easy! The worst part for me, seriously, was peeling the potatoes after boiling (instead of before). That and the onion chopping, which made me cry like crazy.

- CB I Hate Perfume in "Gingerbread". It's limited edition and only comes out at the holidays, so I'm still using last year's. It's the only thing I've been wearing to work lately (besides, you know, clothes) since it's warm, a little spicy, a little baked good-y, and doesn't punch people in the nose.

- Winona of Daddy Likey. I don't think I need to explain why she's the jam, but if you need a little nudge, you can read my Closet Confidential review on BlogHer.

What's your jam today?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Help Me Help My Hair!

It's my turn to ask you lovely readers your fabulous fashion-y opinions on my life--now, it's all about hair. I have a haircut scheduled for this Saturday at two o'clock at a new salon nearby with a stylist I've never seen before. It's a nice salon, Aveda-related, very swanky. I am pretty blase about cutting my hair, usually, I've gone pixie-short for many years and generally keep it at a chin-length bob or shorter. I do not cry over haircuts (there's no crying in beauty, ladies). I hate having longer hair on the back of my neck, and the longest it's ever been was in about the eighth grade, when my otherwise well-meaning friends convinced me to let it grow long like theirs and I ended up wearing my hair in two braids on my shoulders for the next year.

So, I need your help. I haven't had a haircut since August and it's time to jump into the dizzying waters of fashionable, ladylike haircuttery feet-first again. Despite my previous forays into Japanese straightening perms and many head-burns on the straightening iron, I am just not feeling the straight style lately. I have fairly curly hair that's only gotten curlier as I've gotten older (and more used to caring for it), so this time, I want a cute, retro-licious bob that will really work with my curls. Thus, I have made you all a gallery to peruse and tell me what you think!

First, my actual hair, on a recent evening when it was somewhat tame:

As you can see, I am no friend of the "just blow-dry it straight!" cabal that all hairstylists seem to be members of. I just can't do it, it does not work on my hair, it doesn't stay nice and straight and smooth.

My hair preferences: as mentioned above, the length in the back is really getting to me, and I have a lot of bottom layers that need to be taken up about two inches. I have a low hairline at the nape of my neck, so even though I love to have a cut that is cropped close at the neck, I hate to have to shave the back of my neck--it makes me feel like Neanderthal Woman of the Cave People. In the winter, it is nice to have a full head of hair to keep you warm, but I am very active and want something easy to care for, easy to keep away from my sweaty face when I go roller skating, running, or do pilates.

I love a 1930s bob, but when I try to pull that off I look like the daughter from Gosford Park:
When my various styling endeavors do work, I have big, lovely sausage curls and you know I love that Gothic lolita look to pieces. I have a larger forehead and a squared-off hairline in front, so bangs look fab and work really well on me. With my new black and white glasses (Face a Face!), I could go either super-dramatic and severe, or soft and classic, which can run to the frumpy side on me. I tried getting a straight-across, heavy fringe (love having bangs, but it is a huge hassle with curly hair) with curly rest-of-hair and it just looked funny, not romantic and gamine and chic at all.

Here are my ideas:
1. Keep the growing-out side-swept bang, which is at a length where the locks will curl nicely off to the side with a little help from a bobby pin, and get the bob shaped in a 1940s-ish style, to be slicked down and smoothed out to look fab, a la Mlle. von Teese--
How does she get her hair that deliciously black and that shiny? It's like staring at the dark of the moon, my goodness. Note: I am also thinking about going a shade darker than my natural medium brown color for a little change of pace.

2. Trim the bangs so they are wispy and side-swept, like the lovely Rachael McAdams below. Keep the curls controlled (ha!) so they are big and fancy:
I do like this look, and could probably achieve it with some work on a good day. She is the cutest, after all.

3. Go short, for a shape halfway between a pixie and a bob. This is something I've asked a stylist to do for me before, but I think it confuses them to no end. Ideally, it would look like this sans grey chunk in the bangs:

4. Go pixie-short, a la Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby. Jeanne did this a while ago and she works it like a pro, having very delicate features and excellent bone structure. As you can see above, I have a strong jawline and a pentagonal face. The last time I rocked the pixie hardcore was in high school and a little in college. It would be easy to manage, a bit severe but I feel like I could really be ready for a big, drastic change.

5. Just get a trim to clean up my layers and try another salon, if I don't like this new one, for a relaxer/straight perm treatment redux. This way, I could go back to the stick-straight Louise Brooks bob with bangs that I rocked for the first eleven years of my life. I know it's a good look for me and I find myself inevitably attracted to it. The problem--after going through the five-hour Japanese straightening perm in New York and it only lasting three months, I am hesitant to put my hair through another protein-damaging chemical-burning texture-altering process. I do love that style, though, I feel like an effortless fashionista without all of the hot flat-irons and the sad attempts at blow-drying my hair straight with a round brush.

What's a girl to do? I am in need of a major style change, something professionally acceptable but cute, fun, and flattering! Help!

Photos by Karen, others from www.latest-hair-styles.com.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Science Fair for October 12 - 18th

Eeek, it's a late Science Fair!

I was at APE with L. for most of the weekend, then at the Treasure Island Music Festival with Karen last night, so there was barely any computer time for me at all! (But it was fun!)

- Academichic covers comfortable yet chic shoes. (I know I've been living in my flat Palladium boots the past couple of weeks!)

- If you're in San Francisco this Thursday, come out to Velo Rouge Cafe for the very first Style Cinema SF night!

- Well-dressed San Francisco men abound at The SF Style's Man Morsel Mondays. (Points get docked for ciggies, at least in my book.)

- Halloween guides! Halloween guides! My most favorite thing of all! There's posts coming from What I Wore and The Coveted. I am so. excited.

- Karen and I are staring down some big looming challenges for a certain ladies-only contact sport this month (wow, has it really been a year since I wrote that post?), so I've been trying to commit the Rollergirl.ca Fresh Meat File to memory.

Have a great week! It's a busy one for me (so very busy!), but I will do my best. xoxo!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Everyday Earrings for Fall

everydayoreternal.etsy.com pyramid stud earringsWhen I went to New York, I did what I normally do -- I put together a little box of the earrings I planned on wearing with my various outfits, and I packed it into my suitcase.

That little box stayed in my suitcase the whole time, because all I wore were my new favorite earrings -- the pyramid stud earrings from everydayoreternal.etsy.com.

This is just another reason why Etsy is awesome. I'm still crazy about pyramid studs, and I thought, "wouldn't it be awesome if I could get some pyramids for my ears? Just little studs, nothing fancy. Straight up pyramid stud earrings", and that's what I typed into Etsy: "pyramid stud earring". Boom.

You can pick your metal for the earrings; I chose sterling silver, but shiny gunmetal or antique bronze would also be awesome. They're great earrings -- a simple statement stud, and a fun (and inexpensive!) way to incorporate rocker-chic into your look without overkilling it. I've gotten a ton of compliments on them, which means sometimes I have to explain what Etsy is ("where did you get those?" "Etsy!" "...?" "Well, it's a website...").

So in short: hooray for Etsy! Hooray for everydayoreternal.etsy.com! Hooray for earrings! Hooray for me still not being over pyramid studs!

Have you ever found exactly what you were looking for online? Somehow I feel it's much rarer than it seems, that I'm always flipping through everything forever before I ever find what I was really looking for...!

image from everydayoreternal.etsy.com

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Great Room Reorganization - The War Plan

I reached a major milestone last weekend -- Sunday the 4th was the first year anniversary of my moving to San Francisco and into my glorious and adorable apartment. I still love being in the city, I still love my apartment, and I'm stoked to be living my Big City Dreams.

That said, uh, one never realizes how much stuff you accumulate in a year. While I keep the main areas of the apartment nice and tidy (the kitchen, the living room, the dining room, etc.), my room tends to be a complete disaster. You know -- shoes everywhere, papers, tote bags, etc.

And since everyone appears to be moving and reorganizing right now (tis the season?), there are some really amazing posts going up right now, like Market Publique's post on shoe organization (and oh my god, look at all of those amazing shoes), Jessica's closet organization category at What I Wore... It's really lit a fire under me to get thinking about spiffing up my room and getting everything pulled together.

I started by creating a little blueprint of my room to give you an idea of what I'm working with. Behold the glory of my pixel-y art!

Bedroom layout diagram

Most of the furniture is staying in place -- the bed, the dresser, the nightstand, and the lamp. I actually have very little wall-space to place things against -- I couldn't put the nightstand between the two doors because that's where the thermostat and the light switch live, I can't put anything underneath the window because that's where the heater lives, and an entire wall of my room is the mirrored closet. The lamp can't move because the light switch turns a single outlet on and off, and that is the outlet the lamp is plugged into. (There is no overhead light.) So there's not really much I can do in terms of rejiggering the layout of the room and the furniture.

What I really need to do is reorganize all of my stuff -- I have two plastic storage drawer bin units, a la these Container Store guys, which are noted as "storage" in the wee blueprint above. One's got a whole lot of miscellany (plugs, make-up, hats) in it, and the other's got all of my nail polish and most of my knitting stuff. My make-up is scattered in several bins in my closet, in one of my storage guys, in bags all over my room (and my bathroom), and that doesn't include all of my face washes and lotions and potions, my perfumes, etc., which are pretty haphazard. I also need to organize the top of my dresser... and that's not even going into the dresser itself.

So what's the plan? The plan's to do a drawer-by-drawer and closet-panel-by-closet-panel reassessment, find new places for things, and maybe get some swanky organizing system going on top of the dresser. It'd be nice if I didn't have to buy stuff to organize my stuff, since the budget is a little tight, but I'm sure I can find the things I'm looking for at Daiso or Ichibankan, also known as MY FAVORITE PLACES IN THE WORLD. I'd also like a new duvet cover, but again, le budget is tight. (I *do* have the Amy Butler 'Feather Your Nest' pattern, though, which is intriguing! Although the last thing I need is a sewing project...)

Eventually I'll have pictures so I can show you my progress! But for now, I'm working on it. Also, I am a little embarrassed to show the "before" pictures. Because they would be terrible and embarrassing.

What are your tricks and tips to keeping organized? Do you have any websites or books or places that inspire you? I'd love to get some advice as I dive into this...!

image from periodicstyle.blogspot.com

Saturday, October 03, 2009

A Satchel for S.

Sometimes, our friends like to ask us for our fashion advice. They are too cute. Our reaction is always to the tune of, "Oh, what? I don't know...look at how I'm dressed, I look like a total mess today, I couldn't possibly--HERE ARE SEVENTEEN THOUSAND LINKS FOR WHAT YOU WANT. Go and shop, dear friend!" So obviously, secretly we love getting asked for our expert opinions, it's fabulous and you get to play stylist for an hour. Other than that, we're all business.

So, when our dear friend and reader Ms. S. (of the Big Apple) e-mailed to ask a favor, I was only too happy to oblige. S. says:

I'm looking for a leather satchel-type bag, probably around 13"x13". Minimal hardware, zipper or clasp top, clean lines, kind of vintage looking (or will look awesome once the leather is broken in.) Should be able to be worn like a messenger bag or handbag. Would like not to spend a month's worth of rent money on purchase.

Where do I find such awesomeness?

I understand the need for a functional, mininalist bag that CLOSES (i.e., not a regular canvas tote) to protect your wallet, sunglasses, house keys, and various baked goods safe from curious hands in the city. I was bad and basically went all around Tokyo for a year using only canvas bags until I realized it was time to graduate to a real, big-girl handbag, it was not pretty. I've never been pickpocketed that I know of, but my very safety-minded mother pressed the necessity of bags with zippers and hardware for closure since I was old enough to remember to take my purse with me outside. So, minimal hardware and zipper or clasp top should be easy, right?

Next: the satchel-type. What bag designers seem to be calling "satchels" are far too tiny for a working woman's use--they're like clutches with longer straps. I mean, seriously, high fashion designers? No one really carries clutches, FYI. Satchels to me are akin to doctor's bags, roomy enough to carry all of your essentials (sunglasses, wallet, keys, lip balm, compact, iPod, headphones, business cards, random matchbooks and band-aids in case of emergency, a book to read, and some pens) but not so bulky that it dwarfs you. Let's take a looser interpretation of the practical satchel and expand the search to include large handbags and briefcases, shall we? Just out of my own adventurous spirit. I've been keeping an eye out for a lady's briefcase that is both professional and AWESOME, not unlike this leather bow briefcase we saw at Baby, the Stars Shine Bright in San Francisco.

The vintage or vintage-looking leather requirement can cost a pretty penny. Like "distressed" denim, "vintage" leather is a big moneymaker for fashion houses--everyone wants to look like they've just had that awesome leather jacket lying around forever, since before James Dean made it cool, all nonchalant and a little edgy. Quality bags in vintage leather sell like hotcakes at the Goodwills and resale shops, so you know the hunt is on. I've been carrying around the sturdy nylon Bea handbag by MZ Wallace, which I nabbed for a song at Loehmann's last year, but the appeal of leather is perennial. (Sidenote: try to avoid buying leather sourced from Brazil, although it can often be difficult to tell where the individual components/materials of a bag are from, ranching for beef and leather in Brazil has widely contributed to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Heads up.)

S.'s price point is a realistic one--we can't all shell out a year's worth of grad school/college tuition for a handbag (looking at you, Posh!) every six months. Is it so much to ask for a great, functional fashion bag made of real materials at around $200? I don't think so. Let's see what we found for Ms. S.:

Most of these are running into the $200 range, which I think is a little steep, but they are all fabulous leather bags!

-Etsy seller RenaissanceArt out of sunny Santa Fe, New Mexico has your classic schoolgirl satchel. It reminds me of the fun, boxy red "randsel" backpack I carried as a little kid at Japanese kindergarten. (A quite interesting, brief history of the randsel bag pour toi!)

-For a more ladylike, yet rough'n'tough handbag that can carry a day's worth of books and all your junk, I love all of Rennes le Chateau's bags. I always have a problem with wearing out the straps of tote bags because I fill them up just a smidge too full and carry them for a little too long--they just snap right off of the bag, the bastards. Those leather "Annie" tote bags might just be the ticket...what do you think? I for one am sick and tired of having to repair my bag straps all of the time!

-Canadian seller EKAA has a great line of leather clutches and most importantly, the Graceful shoulder bag. Love the funky brocade lining! Fun lining is always a plus when your bag is all business from the outside and a party on the inside.

-Those with tastes running to the industrial and minimalist will enjoy this lovely chestnut-brown zip bag. It's almost steampunk in style, but being super long and flat, may end up in some awkward vertical stacking of books and personal accoutrements.

-Chii Designs from the United Kingdom has sweet-ass hand-stitched bags, their satchel is pretty sweet, but might be a little rough around the edges until it's all broken in to satisfy S.'s desire for the vintage leather look. It is, however, classic and simple in a rich, delicious color, can't beat that!

-Edinburgh's SodaKitsch also loves the classic, super-classy brown leather hangbag--how sumptuous is this? If you could buy it at Bendel's, you know it's what Blair Waldorf would carry to school.

Cheaper options, with more faux-leather:
-For a funkier, professorial-chic look, Rejoice Bags out of Riverside, California has this faux leather and tweed oversize bag that could double as a tote. It reminds me of a girl I knew in college who wore tweed suit jackets with elbow patches and a baseball cap every single day, rain or shine--only this is the touchable, nubbly feminine version of her look. Rejoice also has a laptop bag that's sold out but looks perfect for a back-to-school bag.

-I am a big, big fan of the "dapperly Dietrich" satchel on ModCloth, it looks like a functional, funky doctor's bag that you could keep a metric ton of goodies and secrets in. (It also happens to be featured in a Polyvore set I have waiting in the wings for a post on vintage nurse styling, so keep your eyes peeled for that, dear readers.)

Once upon a time, there was a Hideo Wakamatsu store here in Silicon Valley, but they suddenly disappeared from the mall one day--likely due to a very obvious lack of business. I was sad, their window displays were always inspiring and made me want to become a professional jetsetter. His bags are amazing (and crazy expensive), but they absolutely scream, I AM A PROFESSIONAL WOMAN ON THE GO! Jeanne just got a purse by him that is hella sweet, she may be able to give you a bit more insight on--that said, I'll bet you could find a good deal on one on eBay.

Our favorite discount department stores like Marshall's, Loehmann's, Nordstrom Rack, Filene's Basement, TJ Maxx, et cetera, are all kind of hit or miss in the bag department, but you may have luck if you prefer the tactile experience. Try the men's departments, they often have minimalist bags in good leather that doesn't look all schmaltzy like ladies' bags. I checked out Fossil's bag line online and their men's section of messenger bags is pretty fabulous. Ladies could definitely rock the plaid messenger bag look without a hitch during the fall and winter.

So, there you have it, the full list of leather satchel options I provided to Ms. S. Only time will tell which bag she chooses, if she braves the cold, dark shopping world of New York City to find an alternative, or relies on our internet shopping expertise to provide. As for me, I'm on a personal shopping moratorium until October 30th. All of my money is going to groceries and incidentals, I promise!

Photos from HideoWakamatsu.com, Etsy user SodaKitsch, and ModCloth.com

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