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Friday, November 12, 2010

Sex Symbols for the Intellectual Girl

My top 5 "I'd Do 'Em" List!

5. Liam Neeson. Who WOULDN'T do Liam Neeson?! He's allllllll man (as seen in Rob Roy). Unafraid to take controversial roles, he plays historical figures with grace and intensity. Top must-sees? Rob Roy, Schindler's List, Michael Collins, and Love Actually.

4. Barack Obama. We haven't had such a suave hottie in office since Kennedy. He may be too centerist for my liberal sensibilities, but he's tried. He's had a hell of a job cleaning up Bush's mess, and now he's going to have to fight harder. He most likely won't win the next election, unless the Fascists Republicans royally fuck up to the point where people won't vote for them (we can only hope), but we can support him to the best of our abilities while we still can. And kudos for picking an awesome wife!

3. Jon Stewart. I think this is a given. He's SUCH a silver fox, and he's also sane - something we rarely see in the media these days. A man who's intelligent, vocal, and hilarious?! Bring it.

2. Daniel Radcliffe. I know, you're probably thinking "The Harry Potter kid?!" Well, if you've seen him in Equus - and I have, TWICE - he is most assuredly *not* a kid anymore. He's a brilliant actor who's got an insanely awesome future ahead of him. I admire his avoidance of falling into the bratty child actor trap, his intelligence, his thoughtfulness and philanthropic tendencies, and his taste in music is SUPERB. Love him! And, I think he's beautiful, despite his short height. Must-sees - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (my fave of the series), David Copperfield, and December Boys.

1. Matt Bellamy. The man is Apollo incarnate, I am 100% positive. There is even a Facebook group called "Matt Bellamy doesn't play guitar, HE HAS WILD SEX WITH HIS GUITAR"... and it is SO TRUE. He's the lead singer of my favorite band, Muse, and their music is an aphrodisiac to any girl with an above average IQ. His voice sends shivers down my spine with it's ethereal vibrato, and I either get all hot and bothered or teary-eyed (or both at once) when I listen to their music. Their latest album, The Resistance, was inspired by 1984 and Confessions of an Economic Hitman. LOVE! I've seen them live 4 times, and honestly if I were independently wealthy, I would quit my job and become a full-time Muse groupie. He gets docked points a few points for currently dating Kate Hudson (ugh), but his ex, who he was with for 8 years, was a psychologist, so... clearly Blondie is just a rebound girl. I can forgive that. 

Who are on your top 5 list?!

Friday, August 27, 2010

What, what, WHAT are you doing?!

Ok, first of all, if you HAVEN'T seen Sassy Gay Friend, watch it immediately!

It's also irrelevant to this entry, other than the title. Heh.

No, this rhetorical question is referring to 1) Gretchen on Project Runway season 8 and 2) me this week. 

1) Bitch, please. Tim Gunn had it absolutely right when he told her and her team off at the end of this week's episode - she's a narcissistic bullying liar. And, her clothes are dull. Your "luxe" collection was ugly and boring, nothing fit anyone well, no one's design aesthetic (OTHER then Gretchen's and Ivy's) came through, and the color palette was a hot mess. Also, throwing Michael C under the bus? NOT COOL. Out of 8 seasons of this show, in which I have NEVER missed an episode, I have never seen anything like the steaming pile of bullshit she shoveled on to the judges this week. 

Tim Gunn is ALWAYS my hero, but I gave him the slow clap after his speech this week! I heart you, Tim!

2) And speaking of bitch please, um... I have been eating like shit this week and it's making me upset. If I keep going this route, none of my clothes will fit in a month. I've worked really hard to get over my compulsive eating issues, so I'm pretty pissed at myself. Oh well, the weather is nice - I just need to have a healthy, calorie-conscious breakfast in the morning and go for a walk or bike ride. No problem, right?

No, this isn't really fashion related, I am just venting. 

Other sadness from my week - got a pair of Marc by Marc Jacobs pumps from DSW online this week for a total steal, and had to return them because the sizing was all wrong. WTF? 

I did finally get around to finishing Mad Men season 1 - I can see what all the fuss is about! Loving it! Though my food issues this week were scarily similar to Peggy's, and hearing all those guys bashing her made me feel like my (Freudian) superego coming to life through my TV speakers. 

Ok, done with my bitching and moaning. At least it's Friday!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Nina's Top 5 for Fall

On Target's styleboutique blog, Nina Garcia posted her "Top Five Fall Fashion Trends."

Some of these I can take or leave, and as I said in a blog recently - it's all been done already, so when is fashion going to pull out some NEW tricks?! Sure, I like animal prints, military jackets, and luxe fabrics as much as the next girl, but... Yawn.

I just got my September issue of Vogue this weekend, so I'll be interested in checking out what the high-enders are touting for fall this year. 

What are *your* thoughts?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bargain Hunting, Part I: The Basics

NOTE: Some of these stores are only in the US, but I will be talking about some worldwide or UK chains when I get to other topics. :-)

Ok, so I won't lie, and I won't even be modest - I have a black belt in bargain-hunting. That's partially out of necessity (recession, student loans, blah blah blah), and partially out of spending time with my sister who I freely admit is my deal sniffing-sensei. Ironic, because I was her fashion guru - she used to wear nothing but free t-shirts and track pants... but that's neither here nor there. Lesson? You can learn something from everyone you know, even if it's what *not* to do.

I'm planning to write a series of entries about this - first, the basics. Then individual entries on shoes, accessories, clothes, and finally, housewares/decor.

I won't even bother denying that I'm a name dropper. I'm not going to apologize for it, either. I used to feel like a shallow heel caring about that shit, but I don't anymore. And I will tell you why - ANYONE who has ever tried on a pair of designer heels knows that they just make you feel different. Sexier, more confident. It's an addictive feeling, and as someone who has struggled with low self-esteem my whole life, I can say that every little bit helps. And typically designer clothes are made better (and believe it or not, more ethically), which is an added bonus.

So how does a girl with a very modest salary have a closet full of designer shoes and clothes? 

I'll tell you! (Because I know you're just DYING to know...)

The key to bargain hunting is about planning and strategizing to optimize your shopping time. I won't lie - a good trip out usually takes several hours, and visits to at least a few stores, so save it for a dull evening or a weekend. Take a buddy with you if possible - s/he will be able to tell you if those pants suck, and laugh with you over the ugly old lady shirts (or even uglier 80s throwback day-glo fingerless gloves). You'll also have someone to have a coffee with at Starbucks when you take a much-needed break.*

There are 5 basic words/phrases you should always have in your mind when out on the prowl:

5. CLEARANCE (it's definitely worth mentioning twice)

So, rule #1 - ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS hit the clearance racks/tables FIRST. This definitely does take time and patience, but let me give you some examples of the crazy deals I'm gotten by investing time in this. $350 Givenchy wedges? I got them for $60. $248 Ellen Fisher pencil skirt? I got it for $15. And $120 Ralph Lauren sweater? I got it for $5. And that was NOT from a second hand store (er, not that I'm dissing the Goodwills of the world - I got a Diane von Furstenberg suitcase at Goodwill last summer for $8, and it was in super good shape!).

Best places to hit the clearance racks (in my experience) - DSW, Stein Mart, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Macy's, Target, Kohl's, JC Penney, Old Navy, and New York & Company. Honorable mention goes to QVC (see Rule #5 for online purchasing/shipping), Nordstrom Rack, and Saks Off 5th.

Rule #2 - BEFORE leaving your house for your excursion, check the web (and your junk mail pile, both in e-mail and your snail mail) for coupons. You can get some crazy good deals this way. For example, if you get a $25 off $75 coupon from New York & Company, and THEN hit the clearance rack, you can get A LOT for your $50. It all goes back to strategy. Some places will even send you coupons that are more like gift checks - you get $10 off with no spending limit. I get these from DSW all the time - you get $10 off any purchase, and you can just spend $10, and basically get a free pair of shoes, unlike my previous example where you have to hit $75 in order to get the savings.

Rule #3 - Sales are great, but proceed with caution, and be careful not to get carried away. When you are a seasoned bargain hunter, you know that certain stores (*coughcough* Target *coughcough*) usually put things on clearance after about a month. If you can be patient, that sweater that was marked down 30% will likely be down to 50 or 75% off within a few weeks. Sales are usually most effective when combining with coupons. Believe it or not, you can usually combine sales with coupons - just be sure to read the fine print. As much as it SUCKS, you really can get great deals on holiday weekend sales - especially at Kohl's and Macy's! Black Friday, Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Memorial Day weekends are all great times to hit the sale racks... if you can tolerate the madness.

Rule #4 - Sign up for any and all free rewards programs, because that will entitle you for special sales, extra coupons, and sometimes even cool things like birthday gift coupons! My favorite store, Anthropologie, is not exactly a recessionista's friend (well, at least not when it comes to apparel), but I do always treat myself to something from their sale table during my birthday month, because they send you a 15% coupon (I know it's not much, but hey - it covers the damned sales tax!). And DSW? A $5 gift check!

I will give this warning - do NOT sign up for a store credit card unless you are a) super duper uber responsible and/or b) know without a shadow of a doubt that you can pay off the whole thing by the next billing cycle. My sister is awesome at using her store credit cards to get even *better* deals (she was a math major in college, and can figure this crap out in her head in seconds), but I am way less confident than she is with this, and tend to avoid this particular method.

Rule #5 - When shopping online, always try to get free shipping! OR, combine orders with someone to split the shipping. If you're buying something from an online source, check to see if you can make a return to the store in person instead of shipping it back at your cost. If you can, sometimes you can get free shipping by hitting a spending amount (for example, I think Old Navy's's is $50), then return the cardigan you don't want at the store. You get the free shipping and that item you really wanted without breaking the bank on UPS. Or USPS. But as with sales, read the fine print first on the return policies! I try to reserve online shopping for stuff I absolutely MUST have (either because they are practical, or because I just can't imagine my life without it ;-)), and stick to in-store shopping as much as possible.

Rule #6 - Check the warehouse clubs (Costco and Sam's)! They don't usually have clearance (but always check!), but you can get cheap basics - I've gotten 3 Calvin Klein tanks for $15, Kate Spade sunglasses for $35, and a London Fog trench in cherry red for $35! My sister has gotten Nine West jeans for under $20. Also, I ALWAYS get my glasses prescriptions filled at Costco because of their amazing designer frames selection - I got $400 Fendi frames for $99!

Added benefit to all this? It is a serious calorie burner! I once used an exercise calorie burning calculator that estimated a 4 hour shopping trip burned about 750 calories. AWESOME.

*As a bonus, I'll throw in my Starbucks money-saving tip! Instead of getting a flavored frou-frou latte/mocha/macchiato, get a regular coffee (hot or iced) with a flavor shot, and add plenty of milk or half & half. The savings add up, believe it or not! Also a breakfast sandwich from the Bucks is a cheap alternative to a bigger lunch out.

So... where have you found your best bargains?!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Jeggings. Hmm.

This is one bandwagon I'm not entirely sure I want to jump on. 

In case you've been living under a rock, in a cave, on Mars, etc., you've heard of one of this summer's fashion phenomenons - the bastard child of leggings and jeans. Essentially, they are just stretchy skinny jeans. 

I don't really get the point. I *will* give props to Lane Bryant for having these available in plus sizes while they are actually still on trend. The problem? Plus size girls really don't look good in them unless they are going under something and not worn solely as pants. They simply aren't very flattering to our figures. (Yes, I definitely am including myself in this.) If you plan to wear them, you might want to stick to the darker shades, as they have a camouflaging effect. But, to each her own, I suppose. 

That said, I do wear leggings. Usually only under skirts or dresses, but I do admittedly wear them, so who knows. The jury is out. I don't violently hate them, but I am not overly enthused by them either. Why you don't just wear skinny jeans if you like the look is beyond me... Comfort, maybe? But it's rare that fashion loves a trend that's based on comfort alone. 

I don't know. I'm just a bit baffled by the whole thing, I think. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I Hate Work Trousers (and Racists)

Rant of the week: I hate work trousers!

So, I think I've already explained in my posts that 1) I live in the Midwest, and 2) I'm not exactly the skinniest bitch in the world. And as such, I. HATE. work. trousers. (Have I said this enough to hammer the point in yet?!)

Let me elaborate on points 1 & 2 -  I have a limited store selection in which to buy said trousers, and even fewer styles look good on me. Would I bitch about trousers if, say, I could fit into a YSL Le Smoking? Hells no! (I'm ignoring the cost issue here as this is entirely hypothetical, and it is therefore irrelevant.) Instead, I usually resort to Target and Kohls for work trou. We don't even have a Torrid, or a Macy's with a decent pants selection!

That is not even to mention that fashion in the Midwest, or at least in my place of employment, is not exactly Le Smoking appropriate, even if I did own one! It would be like a peacock in a flock of pigeons or something - awkward and comically absurd. (Note to any colleagues who read this: I am not referring specifically to our office, I am talking about the entirety of the campus!)

Um, EW.
I currently have 4 pairs - black (these are the least offensive - the fabric is very nice, as are the cut and length, and I don't feel like a complete shmuck wearing them on the weekend), brown (oh dear gods - not only is the color atrocious, but they are too short to wear with heels!), gray (not *so* bad), and a small black & white plaid print. Note that I did not mention khakis here - I REFUSE to own anything that looks like a frat boy vomited them up. I would maybe invest in *tan* trousers made of a decent fabric, but I have yet to find a pair I like. 

I'm really more of the jeans or pencil skirt type. I like to pair jeans with dressy tops/jackets and heels, and pencil skirts with more casual tops and flats. But sadly, I can only wear jeans on Fridays.

And while I'm on a ranting spree, I also hate racists. Check this shit out: "There's a Battle Outside and It Is Still Ragin'". 50s vintage fashion? Awesome. 50s vintage discrimination? DEFINITIVELY OUT.

WTF, man?! Seriously, what the hell is wrong with this country? Everyone is going out of their fucking minds. We've socially regressed about 60 years in the space of a decade (and yes, I blame you, Bush administration). Unbelievable.

/end rant.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I want to *be* Marion Cotillard!

No, seriously. Just got my hair chopped so that I can emulate her in July's Vogue. It *sort of* looks like this, right? 

She's just so fabulously awesome! I also want her wardrobe in the Vogue spread. I am IN LOVE with that Nina Ricci get-up!

And speaking of Marion, if you have not yet seen INCEPTION, go see it. Here's the thing: I really liked it. It's absolutely visually stunning, the concept is interesting, and the performances (Ms. Cotillard especially!) are really top-notch.

I do NOT think it's a perfect film  - at least a half hour could be cut from it, the ending is trite, and it doesn't feel as original to me as everyone is raving it to be (a little too Vanilla Sky meets The Matrix, perhaps).

However, it is one of the best films I've seen this summer, and as much as I enjoy a good action and/or kid's blockbuster film, it's nice to have something a little more intellectually-driven. And hellllllllllo, Tom Hardy!! Hope we'll be seeing a LOT more of him in the near future.

But, back to Marion. ;-)

She's an Oscar-winning actress (if you haven't seen La Vie En Rose, well... I can't talk to you ;-)), a fabulous singer (have you seen her in Nine?!), and apparently a foodie. Gotta love that. And she has class in abundance.

Who *wouldn't* want to be Marion?!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

So much fun...

If you're a lit-freak like me, you will enjoy this!

I Write Like...

It analyzes your writing style, and tells you who you most emulate. I was THRILLED by mine:

I write like
Margaret Atwood
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Album of Note

I finally downloaded Karen Elson's album (after reading about it in both Vogue and Nylon last month), The Ghost Who Walks. BRILLIANT.

She's a model and Jack White's wife. The story goes that she was afraid to let him hear her tunes, so she would sing in the closet. He caught her, made her play for him, and thought it was brilliant and so forced her into the recording studio. (How romantic.)

But, seriously, it's lucky for us that he did because this album is just stunning. It's beautiful, eloquent, and sort of hypnotic. She's got a very interesting audio aesthetic, clearly inspired by many sources - she's British, and there's a touch of that sexy rock sound that only the Brits can pull off to some of the tracks. There's also bit of an homage to her guitar-genius hubs, and some good old Nashville sound thrown in for good measure.

Favorite tracks: "The Ghost Who Walks," "Stolen Roses," "A Thief At My Door," and er... all of them. Do yourself a favor, and get this one - you will NOT regret it!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Homage to D.C. Style

In honor of our upcoming national holiday, I thought I would talk about fashion in our capital city!

So, I was in D.C. this week for a work conference, and I felt sadly under-dressed (though in my defense, it was 98 degrees F when I arrived). My mother calls it a "formal" city, though that's not quite how I would describe it. I would say it's a very "political chic" city.

Now, there are two sides to this coin. On the one side were the impeccably dressed and coiffed thirty-somethings who made me feel like I was in a burlap sack, despite wearing perfectly acceptable work trousers and great colored tops. And fun jewelry (one thing I would never be caught dead without). And ladies, HOW do you keep your makeup from melting off?! PLEASE share!

On the other side were the severe, boxy-cut and unflattering suits adorning women wearing no makeup, who just looked frumpy and sad.

But regardless of which camp they fit into, suits are, of course, the order of the day in this town. And for good reason! In that same conversation with my mother, she lamented America's general state of sloppiness, and I agree 110%. My point in all of this is that more places in the U.S. should adopt suited couture. If you're not into the Hillary Clinton Look (love ya, Madame Secretary, but yikes), check out this super sexy YSL suit for inspiration!

I must say that D.C. could use a little injection of L.A.-inspired accessorizing, though. The pearl studs are seriously dullsville (though I like the Jackie O. necklaces). And take come color cues from our beloved Michelle Obama - she is one woman unafraid to rock some bright colors in your orderly city. (And by the way, how hot is this pic?!)

They also have a commonality with Parisian women - an enviable superhuman ability to walk miles upon miles of city sidewalks in heels. I adore heels and have many, many pairs, but the last time I wore heels around D.C., my feet were just torn up.

And speaking of Parisians... if you really want to rock the ultimate in political chic, look no further than France's first lady, former model and AMAZING musician, Carla Bruni! While you're at it, pick up her album, Quelqu'Un M'a Dit - it's brilliant.
Maybe that's not terribly patriotic of me, but what can I say? Great style knows no borders! I'm all about international diplomacy. ;-) Besides, Michelle did top Carla on French Elle's best-dressed list. So, there.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Um... about a decade late on this one, guys!

This morning, MSN featured a Glo article called "A Modern Take On The Past", in which they say "this season is all about great, retro looks."

Hasn't that basically been the fashion theme for the last decade?! 

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore our crazy, new millennium approach to beauty and fashion, which is In with the Old, and In with the New. And while you're at it, In with Clashing Them Together! What's more fun than that?! (Especially for someone like me, who hero-worships old Hollywood and frequently references those looks when it comes to wardrobe inspiration.)

Glo features: 

80s: neon with leggings (or "jeggings," in this case), or a smoky eye and nude lip

70s: punk hair and blue eye shadow, or the Mary Tyler Moore flip out

60s: bouffant, beehive, or black eyeliner and a bun

40s: red lipstick (also featured in Vogue this month)

20s: finger waved hair, or a Gatsby bob

With the exceptions of neon yellow nail polish and a mohawk, I have worn all of these at least once during the last decade. 

Not that I'm saying I'm ahead of the curb here, but what I am saying is that this is old news.

I am wondering if this decade's obsession with the entirety of the 20th century's fashion trends is some kind of weird cultural nostalgia for the pre-digital age. Or maybe it's just a lack of imagination in the fashion industry. 

I know, I can't *really* talk - I have absolutely NO idea what to expect in the next 20 years. Will we start wearing alloyed android suits or something? Will we throw back to hoop skirts and corsets? (Hmm... possible, given the terrifying increase in conservatism in this country right now...)

No clue. I sound sort of hypocritical here, but truthfully I don't mind going on mixing all of these fun oldies indefinitely. I just don't know that it's sustainable.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Causes are Cool!

Being an activist is not only good for your self-esteem and confidence, but it's good for others, which is sexy! It's THE ultimate style statement, championing causes that you care about. 

If you're on Facebook (and don't lie, I know you are!), then check out these causes:

Dove Self Esteem Fund -  The funds go to the same organization as Pledge of Empowerment listed below (Step Up Women's Network), but I cannot stress the importance of raising self-esteem issues in young women. Their "Campaign for Real Beauty" is all about celebrating the unique beauty inherent in all of us! What's more awesome than that?!

Pledge of Empowerment - Bayer is donating up to $50,000 ($1 per person who joins the cause) to Step Up Women's Network to help create opportunities for young women, and celebrate the advances to women's rights since the introduction of the Pill 50 years ago. AWESOME.

Boycott BP -  This oil spill is the most fucked up shit I can imagine, and BP has handled the whole thing HORRIBLY. I've always been an environmentalist (I started a neighborhood recycling club when I was in the 5th grade), but since this wretched disaster, I've tried to be extra conscious of wasting energy lately. Boycott these assholes and their subsidiaries! This Cause has shockingly few members, so join up!

Stop Global Warming - In this vein, join The Alliance for Climate Protection's cause!! I think this one is self-explanatory.

Feel Your Boobies Foundation - Gotta join just for the name! Breast cancer awareness is this cause's thing. I hope it's yours too!

For more on Facebook Causes, click here! And... happy non-profiting!! ;-)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Personal Top 10 Essentials List

Keeping in vogue with my fashion gurus is a constant aspiration of mine, ESPECIALLY Tim Gunn, who is one of my personal heroes! I love, Love, LOVE him!

Several (so-called) experts have put out great books on style in the last five years or so, including the ever fabulous Tim, Nina Garcia, Clinton Kelly... the list goes on. I have read many of them, mostly out of curiosity about what they label as "wardrobe essentials." ALL fashion books seem to have a "Top Ten Essentials" list, and I sort of became obsessed with comparing them all.

I'm not going to talk about them all here, because that would boring and repetitive, so I'll reference my two favorites: Tim Gunn's A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style and Nina Garcia's Little Black Book of Style. Though both books are a few years old, their advice still holds and likely will forever (proving that style and class are here to stay).

Tim's List

Nina's List

And now... *my* list!

10. Leggings and/or tights in various colors: sorry Tim, I know you hate leggings, but this is the one piece I will argue you on. Let me tell you that it is super fun to wear purple ones under your basic black to work! You still look chic while pumping a little energy into your wardrobe du jour. Plus, as a girl who is NOT a twig, these can be necessary for comfort, if you catch my drift.

9. Signature piece of jewelry: you don't have to wear it *every* day, but it's that piece that is uniquely yours that you often get compliments on. It can be some crazy, ginormous earrings you bought in Morocco, a diamond right hand ring for you luxe-lovers, or perhaps a funky watch. I have two I consider my personal "signature" pieces - one is a silver claddagh ring that I wear in honor of my circle of friends that I studied abroad with in Dublin (we all wear one), and the other is an antique scarab bracelet that was a gift from my mother. I'm also generally acknowledged to be an earring junkie, but there isn't one particular pair I wear more often then others.

8. Well-fitting foundation garments: aka, your undies. It is IMPERATIVE to wear a bra that actually fits. What's the point of having great clothes if your breasts look lumpy? Also, watch for panty lines with your bottoms, and I will throw in here an additional essential (in my opinion) - shapewear. I have 3 different kinds myself, and I use them all regularly. They just help smooth your silhouette, and are therefore a girl's best friend. This is regardless of your body size - I have a friend who is a size 4 who wears them.

7.The classic LBD: EVERY girl needs a little black dress. They work for weddings, nights out on the town with your boy OR your girlfriends, work, and hell - even funerals. A truly multi-function piece. It should be impeccably tailored, not too short (or too long, for that matter), and comfortable. In order to have fun with this, try to find one with a unique cut or seaming. And accessories make this outfit!

6. Pencil skirt: ok, this may not be on *your* essentials list, but it is DEFINITELY on mine. I own 4. A good friend of mine once told me that it doesn't matter how big you are or what body type you sport, if you believe that you can pull it off, you can, and so it went with my first pencil skirt. At the time I was much heavier than I am now, and I still rocked one (or 3... whatever). A pair of pointy-toed flats or ankle strap pumps and some red lipstick, and you feel like you walked straight out of a Marilyn Monroe movie! Or off the set of Mad Men.

5. Tailored blazer: another great multi-functional piece. You can wear it with work trousers (blech - I hate work pants), skirts, or jeans. You can even wear them with tailored shorts and look great. There are many varieties out there - my two favorites are the riding habit style, which has three pockets, and the boyfriend blazer which is long and covers problem areas (read: my bum).  Make sure it's nipped in at the waist and not too boxy, though! Whether you're a size 6 or a size 26, you want it to accentuate the curves, not look like a football player.

4. At least one great pair of high heels. If you *do* only get one pair, be sure they are comfortable (yes, comfy heels DO exist, contrary to popular belief), sturdy, and in a neutral color you can wear with lots of stuff. Black is always great, of course, but you can think outside the box on neutrals - a lot of metallics (bronze, gold, and silver) are also great neutrals, so think about those when investing. And I mean it when I say "investing" - you might wince when you pay that $100, but you won't be wincing when you wear them. I'm just sayin'. A suggestion is Cole Haan for comfort - he makes a line that is padded with Nike insoles. Sofft and Naturalizers are also good ones.

3. In line with the previous, a great pair of ballet flats is ALSO on my essentials. I wear these when I go shopping on the weekends, and to work when my feet hurt from too many days in a row of wearing pumps. A lot of people wear flip flops out and about, but I keep hearing Tim Gunn in my head yelling, "DOWN with the slobification of America!," and so only wear them around the house or *maybe* an emergency grocery run.

2. At least two nice shells/ dressy camisoles. You can wear them under blazers and cardigans, layered together with jeans, etc. They can be dressed up or down, can be sexy or sweet, and can keep you cool when it's a bazillion degrees out with a humidity index of 110%. (Much like it is right now...)

1. JEANS. And I don't mean baggy, holey ones with raggedy cuffs (though those can have their place... for yard work). I mean tailored, dark wash demin that fit like a glove. You will look like sex on a stick when you pair them with heels, a belted blouse, and some killer earrings for a night out. You can wear them to the mall with a ribbed tank and some ballet flats. You can even sometimes wear them to work (we have jeans day on Friday in my office). You can wear them in any country, in any climate, and for any activity and look awesome.

Ok, so there you have it! What are your top 10?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Music Reviews!

There are always a ton of albums that come out on Tuesdays, as I'm sure you are aware. Next one I'm excited about? The Canadian band Stars's newbie Five Ghosts, available on June 22nd. Last week, I picked up (and by "pick up," I mean downloaded because I have an obsessive love affair with iTunes) Grace Potter and the Nocturnals' new self-titled album and the Eclipse OST.

My description of Grace Potter? Think Joan Jett meets Dolly Parton filtered through Lucinda Williams. I like the album a LOT, especially the opening track "Paris (Ooh La La)," which is just fun and catchy. Good road trip music if you're driving through open country in the sunshine. It's the kind of thing I like to listen to in the car in the summer, but I'd probably stash it away once the temperature dips below 60. Know what I mean?

And as for Eclipse, I don't care if you're Team Edward, Team Jacob, or Team Twilight SUX, this is a fucking great album!! It was on repeat on Hot Lucy (erm, that's the name of my iPod - long story...) all weekend. I don't know *who* does the music selection for this series, but they deserve an Oscar for "Best Music Taste of All Time." I mean, what is NOT to love about an album that includes Muse, who wrote a new song just for this album (my favorite band on the earth, and were LOOOOOONG before the neo-Buffy vamp craze - so there!), Florence + The Machine, Band of Horses, The Bravery, Sia, Vampire Weekend, and Beck?! Do yourself a favor, and spend the few extra bucks to spring for the Deluxe Edition - it's worth it.

And though it's not new last week, I am also going to give a shout out for Mumford and Sons' album Sigh No More (came out Stateside in February this year) because I'm going to see them live tonight! LOVE. It's a bunch of British guys who sound weirdly yet awesomely Irish, make amazingly beautiful and minimalistic music videos, and write great lyrics. Track of note is #5, "White Blank Page," though they're all fantabulous.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Summer ≠ License to Bust Out Tramptacular Wardrobe

First, a rant:

Look, I really understand. You have great gams and want to show them off. I'm not stopping you!

But trust me when I say the rest of us (and yes, this does in fact include men - at least the ones I know) don't really care to see your butt cheeks hanging out of your hoochie shorts, even if you *think* we do. I don't care how toned it is. This goes double if they are PINK gym shorts from Victoria's Secret - letters stamped on your ass is like a sorostitute calling card. Just don't do it. And rolling the waistband down?! Tacky, tacky, TACKY.

Now, I'm the first person to say, "If they don't like it, they don't have to look at me." (This is usually in the context of arm flab.) However, there is a not even remotely fine line between tank tops and ass-revealing ho shorts - it's more like a gaping abyss.

Remember when I said that style reveals more than just your taste in clothes? It also reveals how much you respect yourself? Dressing like you walked off the set of a rap music video shoot - or out of Paris Hilton's closet - does not scream R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  NO ONE will take you seriously in that getup. It looks cheap, stupid, and trashy. Especially when your pocket linings are hanging out in the front. Come on, are you serious with that shit?! Whoever started that should be put out of her misery.

I don't even have a problem with short shorts. Or mini skirts, for that matter. Hey, if you've got it, flaunt it. Just do it with a little class, please. /end rant

Some ways to work it: pick high quality fabrics instead of distressed denim; sport high waistlines, red lipstick, and a wavy 'do for a cute retro pin-up girl look; top with an uber tailored jacket or blouse.

All that said, here are some summer trends I am on board with!

*Cat Eye Sunglasses

I LOVE these - I had some in high school, and I wish I had kept them because they're back! They are fun, flirty, and oh-so-50s. In the picture is Norma Kamali herself wearing some of her own design (I COVET!)... but for a less pricey version (those retail about $250), try "Jackie" by Fossil ($55) or "Cateye Sunglasses" by American Eagle ($16).


If Florence Welch and Amadeus Mozart had a fashion love child, it would be the poster kid for this look! It's Viennese Classicism meets the 60s meets Metropolis.

J'adore! Or maybe I should say "ich liebe"?

For inspiration, check out Marc Jacobs Spring 2010 Collection and Florence + The Machine's music vid for "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)".

"And how do I get this look without dropping $1,000 for a pair of ruffle and pearl trimmed silk shorts?" you might ask. (I must say, I truly envy you if you don't have to ask this question, because you can just go to Saks and buy the real deal!)

When I'm channeling my inner Hapsburg courtesan in the Real World, I typically choose to wear well-fitting jeans and pair it with a simple romantic blouse, perhaps pastel or white with puffed sleeves, hair clips or necklaces embellished with pearls, and pumps of some kind.

To the right are some examples of budget-friendly, wearable ways to interpret this trend from the closet of Yours Truly! And only two of these pieces cost me over $25 - any guesses? A pompadour bang and some pink lip gloss could finish off the look.


Creepy disco-light coffins known as tanning beds *shudder*? OUT.
Not looking like Leatherface by age 45? IN!

Sunscreen is a girl's best friend when it comes to looking younger longer, especially if you are naturally fair.

My personal favorites:

Philosophy's Shelter - SPF 30 specifically formulated for your face. It's non-greasy, and smells like lavender - what's not to love?? I use it everyday as a moisturizer in the morning.


Laura Mercier's Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20 - The spf isn't ideally high, but it wears like a light foundation, giving beautiful skin coverage. I like the oil free myself, because I have a distinct T zone that just looooves oily stuff in the summer, but the regular is also nice if you don't have that problem (lucky).

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock with SPF 85 - I'm sure you've heard that using anything over SPF (insert # here) is pointless. Well, my doctor told me that's bullshit... in not so many words. So, I use this! It is AWESOME. I travel to India twice a year for my job, and I have yet to get a sunburn there when I wear this. It's somewhat sweat proof, though you might need to reapply if you're doing intense outdoor stuff. It still feels kinda "sunscreeny" (if you know what I mean), but it's still lighter than most. I don't typically wear it on my face unless I plan to be outside all day at a park or something.

Read more about the serious vanity health advantages to using it at the American Academy of Dermatology's page on the topic.

While I personally don't bother with self-tanner (I happen like my porcelain, I-stepped-out-of-a-Victorian-novel look), and therefore cannot give well-informed product recommendations, if you want the glow without the cancer, I have heard good things about those spray tan places - just don't have a Ross moment, ok?

P.S. I know this is formatted strangely - I'm still trying to get used to Blogger's m.o.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Yes, smart girls like to be trendy too!

I'm sure you're thinking "'The Intellectual Girl's Guide to Style'? Really? Sounds like a pretentious load of shit to me."

You might be right. I have been called an elitist snob in my time (see also: nerd/dork/Webster/pain-in-the-ass... courtesy of my younger brother). On a nearly daily basis, my siblings will tell me to "dumb it down." Side note: they also tell me not to refer to them as "siblings" because they find the word demeaning (well, that's the gist - they don't actually use the word "demeaning"). What the hell? Do other people find this word insulting in any way? Feel free to explain it to me if you do - I am mystified.

But back on topic: here's the thing - smart girls are severely under-appreciated by American pop culture. We're often caricatured as ugly glasses-wearing, sexually-repressed, mom jeans-buying, dictionary/encyclopedia-regurgitating prudes. Or slutty librarians.

I, however, like to pride myself on being somewhere in-between those things. As do many of my very brainy, not to mention extremely stylish and sexy, friends. And we don't WANT to dumb it down.

Merriam-Webster defines an intellectual as "an intellectual person.” Not helpful. I actually prefer the Wikipedia description: "a person who uses intelligence (thought and reason) and critical or analytical thinking, either in a professional or personal capacity." Am I a genius? Well, I'm no Einstein, but according to a sketchy online test I took once, I do have the same IQ as Dickens... does that count?

No, in all seriousness, I call myself "Intellectual Girl" because I think it's high time we start applying some damned common sense to the world we live in. My vision for this blog is really to explore more than just fashion trends, though I have plenty to say on that subject. I'm sure many of you are with on me on general confusion surrounding the *whys* of many modern pop culture phenomena (for example: Lady Gaga. And the re-emergence of neon orange lipstick), the strange generational gaps between Gen X, Gen Y, and the Millennials, and the increasingly nebulous cultural lines being blurred by tech and economic - driven globalization. Not to mention the terrible environmental crises we're facing - the BP oil spill makes me die a little inside every time I think about it, and that's just the tip of the proverbial ice berg.

I think style is about way more than just your clothes, though that's certainly an important (and fun!) part of it. It's about all-around self-expression and staying true to your essence. It's about how you carry yourself and how much respect you have for yourself. And it's about your passions, as they are the motivation behind your drive to clean-up the planet, use only organic skin-care products, listen to Muse, plaster your room with Escher posters, accessorize like a master stylist, read Jane Austen, learn to play the cello, study abroad, shop religiously at the DSW clearance rack... whatever. They are what make you tick, and therefore have an inherent influence on your style!

I'm a pretty normal girl, with maybe slightly larger than average body proportions (like most Midwestern girls) and blessed (or cursed, depending on your perspective) with a natural wanderlust and intellectual curiosity. I read like a fiend, everything from Nylon to Vogue to The New York Times, Salman Rushdie to J.K. Rowling, Eckhart Tolle to Stephen Colbert. I love clothes, music, film, art, food, biking, Facebook, writing, museums, traveling, Greenpeace, cable television, and shoes. And jewelry. Ok... I just like a little bit of everything.

I'm not even sure this blog will ever get read by anyone other than myself, but I recently turned 29, and I'm feeling an increasing pressure to figure my shit out before the big 3-0 strikes. After years of wallowing in self-deprecation and abusing myself with an eating disorder, I finally woke up one day and realized it's actually pretty great being me. I hope that I can encourage other people (of either gender and of ANY age) to have that same epiphany.

But I can't deny that with increasing frequency, I find myself asking the question, "Now what?"

Of course, I could also ask myself the question, "Why the hell would anyone want to read my crazy ramblings?" I mean, I don't read that many blogs, so why should I expect anyone would want to read mine? (For more discourse on this, see "The End" by The Pop Culture Initiativeit *looks* like it's about the LOST finale, but in reality it's about our modern culture's obsession with "Immediacy," and it contains some great commentary on social media.)

I don't have the answer to this, but I do hope that maybe in this blog you'll find someone you can identify with - I mean, I know plenty of normal girls who listen to fucking great music, are obsessed with Project Runway and accessorize like pros (I have been told by a neutral source that I'm one of them...), but who still care about politics, quality literature, and the environment.

So welcome, and thanks for reading my ramblings! I'll let you decide for yourself if I'm an elitist snob or not, but if you stick with me, I promise I'll eventually get around to actually talking about fashion. And everyone's favorite thing: bargain-hunting!