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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!