Friday, December 30, 2011

Festive Fingertips

With my birthday, Christmas, and New Years within two weeks of each other, I have feverishly been working on my fingers! For a while, I've wanted to grab about 15 polishes and go wild with different patterns on each nail, while still maintaining some continuity. I finally did it! Here is the result:


My Holiday Nails, done by me (left hand)


I used a regular brush for all of the stripes, except for the very thinnest green and red, for which I used a striping polish. Since I don't have a dotting tool, I used a small bobby pin for the dots in the above picture (my left hand) and a flattened end of a toothpick for the dots in the below picture (my right hand). Do not be mistaken; this took considerable time!


My Holiday Nails, done by me (right hand)


I started by randomly painting each nail either neon mint (Color Club's Twiggy), bright matte red (bottle pictured: Essie's Lacquered Up), a cream white (OPI's Peace Baby), or a light foil silver (NK Nail Enamel's Satin Silver). I'm particularly fond of this shade of red by Essie, Lacquered Up; it is perfect for any time of the year. Another polish to note is OPI's Lucerne-tainly Look Marvelous, a heavy gunmetal foil color-- a must-have staple for any polish wardrobe.

Hope you enjoy your holiday and are excited for the new year! Happy Polishing!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Birthday Nail Bling

Last week, I celebrated my 27th birthday! Of course, aside from party and outfit planning, creating some crazy birthday nails was also a top priority. After much experimentation, I decided on the simple design below; it was very easy to execute, worked perfectly with my dress, and packed a ton of party glitz!


My V-Bling Nails, done by me


Below is the sexy little birthday dress I squeezed into, because, as you know, it's all about the dress. So, the dress came first, followed by the nail design. The two really went together quite perfectly!


Ruched taffeta leopard pencil dress at Bebe, $179


Back to the nails! I used polish, a polish striper (polish with a long, thin brush), tape, and LASplash Cosmetics Nail Art Glitter to create this look. For some very impressive nail designs that use tape, take a look at the Nailside.


LASplash Nail Art Glitters

I used only one color of glitter, Trickery, which is the pot of loose glitter in the middle of the upper row in the picture (above). The below picture is a close-up picture of Trickery; it looks more neon in the photo than it actually is.


Image from

Steps
Preliminaries
After shaping my nails and applying a base coat, use two 1/2 inch pieces of tape to create a V on each nail (each piece of tape covers the part of the nail that is painted black). You do not want the pieces of tape to touch each other at the vertex; you want just a teeny bit of space between them so there's a space for glitter. (You'll notice in the pictures of my nails that the black sections never actually touch).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Guide to Good Gifting

With the holiday season here, a gifting post seems appropriate. The first part of this post is dedicated to fundamental guidelines for gifting. The second part lists some of the best online boutiques and resources for finding the perfect gift for, dare I say it?, anyone on your list.


*

Buying gifts for people is easy; selecting gifts that aren't cookie cutter items, are in your price range, and the person likes, can be a time-consuming challenge. At the same time, shopping for the people who bring something to your life can be very fun and should be enjoyable. The whole idea of gifts is, obviously, about giving. In its most virtuous form, the act of giving a material gift is symbolic--thus the expression, "It's the thought that counts." What the gift symbolizes will vary, but ultimately it surrounds the relationship between yourself and the person to whom you are giving. That being said, in some ways, a gift is only as valuable as the thought (and relationship) behind it. However, the thought behind the gift does not ensure a "successful" gift, since, in the end, you're left with a material good. More or less, the best gifting encompasses both the thought and intent behind the gift, as well the material good itself.

Below are some guidelines for gifting, along with a couple of ideas that aren't overly cookie-cutter to get your imaginative juices flowing.

Guidelines:
1. Buy for the person to whom your gifting!
This is obvious, but it frequently goes awry. Think about the interests the person has and his/her likes. The best gifts are not the ones that are expensive, but the ones that the person would want for him or herself (duh). 1.) The person will feel special because you thought of the person, and the gift reflects your knowing each other and the relationship. 2.) The person will be excited about receiving it. 3.) It saves that awkward feeling of "ohhh, something I really don't want and now have to keep." I'd much rather have a coin purse I love for $10 than a $200 bag I think is ugly or something I'm never going to use. My advice: consider the person's taste, what they have in his/her home, the person's activities/interests, and the person's lifestyle. These suggestions should provide you with some direction and ideas. Obviously, if a person loves and collects candles, go with a unique candle. Otherwise, candles (and picture frames) fall into the category of cookie-cutter items and should be avoided.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Giving Bergdorf Goodman Style

Although I have not blogged much about it, I have a great passion for animals, as well as for fashion. So, you can imagine how excited I was to discover that Bergdorf Goodman supports the Humane Society of New York! As if that weren't enough to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, this video, "Unleashed," just took it one step further. I hope that, aside from tempting you with some Bergdorf fantasies, "Unleashed" brings a smile to your face and inspires you to not only love our four-legged friends, but most importantly to give back in some way--whether by rescuing an animal in a shelter, taking a stray you find to a shelter or your vet, or gifting supplies or donating money to an organization that helps animals. A very sincere thank you to Bergdorf Goodman and all whom help to improve the lives of all innocent and dependent animals.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Birthchild: Funhouse Plaid


My creation



Plaid Funhouse Nails
My nails, done by me



How it happened

I'm sure you've seen Juicy Couture's fall/winter campaign, with traditional colors and plaid punctuated with brights. (Below, I've included a few images and items that give an idea of this look.) A few months ago, I spied the perfect plaid mini from Abercrombie. I waited dutifully (and anxiously) for it to go on sale, and I scooped up this find at $30 compared to an original $80; it now has a home in my closet! (There's also a picture of it below.)

JUICY

Look from Juicy Couture Fall 2011 Lookbook
Image from BecomeGorgeous.com
Link and Ribbon Necklace, Juicy Couture $98
Large Pave Link Bracelet, Juicy Couture $78



ABERCROMBIE MINI

Plaid Mini, Abercrombie $80


Just having bought a bunch of nail polishes and wanting to use them all, I decided to use Juicy's campaign and my plaid skirt as inspiration for creating a design that used as many of my new polishes as possible.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Case in Point, Clutch in Hand

As I mentioned in a previous post, my handbag wardrobe consists mainly of totes and clutches--totes by day, clutches by night. Unfortunately, the clutch I'm dying to own sold out before I discovered the little treasure. So, I'm continuing my hunt, probably to no avail. Once I see a particular something I fall in love with, nothing else ever seems to measure up to my original find and strike my fancy in quite the same way. However, there are still tons of fab clutches out there, and here's my pick of some of the best and most original!


Kristopher Kane neon pink and blue aqua gel-filled PVC clutch, Net-A-Porter $720


In case you hadn't noticed, I love patterns, colors, and almost anything outrageous, so it makes sense I'm attracted to this piece of work! This clutch is a never-ending display of designs! I have to admit, I know few people who are capable of having interesting enough conversation to rival the fun I'd have playing with this art; this clutch promises entertainment wherever you go. This disguised toy reminds me of something I would have had in my little, plastic, keep-Ashley-entertained suitcase when I was 5 years old. Of course, this is way more chic than my plastic yellow suitcase or anything in it. Although the pink and blue is my favorite color combo, this clutch is also available in green, red/orange, deep purple, and brown/blue.

DVF Tonda geo-pattern clutch, Matches $477



What a great clutch. Don't just wear this with black, white, and cream. Pair it with marigold, cobalt blue, dark olive green, emerald green, gray, or brown. Of course, with some of these color combos, you'd have to be sure to get it just right, or you'll look like a hot mess. I've been increasingly aware of the use of skins and have committed to not wearing fur anymore. Unfortunately, pony hair falls into this category. And I'd hate to think of the poor little innocent pony that was killed, slaughtered, and cut up for my bag. So, I love the pattern, love the colors, love the design, and love the texture, but maybe Diane could opt for a faux material next time?


TopShop tan embroidered leather clutch, $50 


So if I'm not okay with fur, how is leather any different? I guess it's not, but this whole no-fur thing is new to me, so I'm adjusting; Rome wasn't built in a day. The detailing on this bag, the embroidery and whipstich leather edging, is typically seen on much more expensive items. There is great continuity with the design of this bag, and the bright colors are an unexpected twist for this style, which makes it more interesting and modern. Even the snap is a small detail that adds a lot to the effect of the bag, adding some contrasting shine and offering a center. Another plus: I could see this bag as having potential for every season.



Anya Hindmarch metallic woven leather clutch with tassel, Net-A-Porter $550


I believe this clutch has been out for a while, but I don't think I've covered it previously. This clutch is so versatile, it would take too long to count the ways. Metallics are great because they go with so many colors. With the style of this bag, you could wear it with jeans and a white t or a sexy little cocktail dress. This bag is probably going to wear better than a clutch covered in solid leather because the weave will not show scratches as easily. I could easily see this as a smart investment piece. And, with all that discussion, I didn't even get into how amazing this bag looks! Or mention the tassel! #tassel love!


Rothko Fring Clutch, TENOVERSIX $260


The description of this clutch does not include dimensions or material, one of my pet-peeves with shopping online. However, this does not detract from the high-impact fringe that makes this clutch scream party-fun! The minimal design of the clutch part of the bag works perfectly with the ostentatious fringe, making this bag more versatile than you might expect. At this time, this clutch is only available in honey (tan); it's the black that really accents its style and puts this bag on the list.



Mabel metal hard case clutch, Reiss $170


I confess, I am reliably attracted to anything that's shiny. This seems to be large enough for a phone, lip gloss, and credit card--and, really, what else does one need? Seemingly made of metal, as opposed to a having a metallic coating, this clutch might be susceptible to scratches and dings, but should obviously resist stains and wipe clean very easily--a major plus if toting it along to the bar. Also, since it's metal, it will go with almost any color scheme, but the black bead will limit its use with pastels. The ribbed texture makes this clutch easier to dress down and go with a chic pair of jeans, while, at the same time, the clutch lends itself for use as an occasion evening bag. This is an item that gets an A for versatility and high marks for originality and its glam-factor.



Jil Sander two-tone leather clutch, Net-A-Porter $750



Statement bag=love. What a fabulous contrast of a bright, brown-toned red with an electric cerulean! Jil Sander takes color-blocking to a whole new level. And, of course, the white loop handle serves as the perfect white accent, front and center. This clutch screams to be noticed, which means your outfit must be designed around this clutch. This is not a grab-your-bag-and-go type of clutch, but it is definitely a spotlight piece that's sure to win your heart this season and for years to come.



There are 7 of my top clutches at the moment (under $1000), although of course there was a much larger list with which I started! As someone on a budget which greatly restricts purchases, I try to buy one nice clutch a season that is a quality piece, fun and original, somewhat durable, versatile, and fresh but classic. A good addition to your wardrobe will be wearable beyond one season and have an element of eternal style. I hope I've added some clutch lust to your day!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Spirits Spirit!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, so you can only imagine my excitement to create and execute a nail design that screAms Halloween! I couldn't guess the amount of time I have in researching swatches, shopping for colors, deciding which colors and shades to use, and then trying to incorporate glitter, patterns, and a wicked fun treat--which ended up being my own hand-made nail decals!



Trick-OrTreat: Scared Sweet!
My Nails, done by me

Of course, I have to point out that these are my natural nails (minus my pinky nail) in a somewhat-stiletto shape, with which I am thoroughly in love!

I did the background diagonal freehand, used a black striper for the stripes, and created the ghosts and candy corn using nail polish on a plastic bag and then cutting them out/peeling them off. I'll add a link later for this latter technique.






Background orange: Revlon Tangerine
Purple: Revlon Royal Cloak (part of their fall Masquerade collection)
Glitter: Kleancolor My Rightful Throne




And, the last step, applying the decals and top coat to get the finished result!




Boo! Happy Halloween!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nailed it

For the past few months, I've been trying to grow and shape my nails into the ever-popular and loved/hated stiletto nails. Of course, some pretty fab nail art and colors are in order to compliment such an extreme shape--so here are my attempts to do some awesomely loud nails. Since these are my natural nails, you'll be able to see the transition from more regular almond-shaped nails to a more pointy shape. (My apologies for the sub-par pictures!)





My nails, done by me: double pattern line
Hard Candy Beetle and Essie Pink Parka  

I wish that I could have captured Hard Candy Beetle better. It's a very rich duochrome. See fab swatches of Beetle here on Polish or Perish. This design is probably one of my all-time favorites since each nail is different and each has a background design (in Pink Parka and Beetle) and then a top design (in neon yellow) based on the background design. For the lines, I used a striping polish.  


My nails, done by me: 7 minute special
Funky Fingers Riot and Funky Fingers Silver Scale


A video on You Tube by Colette, "Crackle/Shatter Polish Comparison," shows some different ways of applying crackle polishes to achieve different effects (skip the first part and start the video 5 minutes and 50 seconds). I tried a variation of the chevron application to get this above effect and used a decent amount of polish on my brush. You can see how my ring finger and index finger are slightly different; I used slightly more polish and thicker application of Silver Scale on my ring finger and less on my index finger. Funky Fingers polishes dry in a snap and generally have a matte finish, so this has a top coat. You'll notice the crystal on my pinky finger; I thought one was a nice touch but a crystal on each nail with this design and nail shape would just be...well...tacky.

My nails, done by me: seahorses and treasure
LA Splash Golden Seahorse, Kleancolor Shooting Star 
Polish or Perish is my new discovery, and she's batting a thousand tonight! Check out her post on Kleancolor bottle pictures to see some of Kleancolor's best glitter polishes. No retailer around where I live sells Kleancolor polishes, and I just saw some swatches within the past couple of weeks. So, of course, I look up the Kleancolor website and am just overwhelmed by all the unique colors and glitters! These are gotta-have polishes! Don't get too excited at their $3 price tag becuase you'll compensate with shipping costs.

Last week I was at the mall, on a search for OPI's Spookette's during the last 30 minutes that the mall was open. I saw Halloween decorations in the dollar store, and decided to go into the dollar store and see if there was any fun Halloween jewelry, a decision that made me a little anxious and forced me to swallow my pride. Yes, I need to get over being a snob sometimes. Low and behold, I was very handsomely rewarded for my anti-snob efforts! Off to the side were 3 huge displays of nail polish. There it was, the very last display, 5 feet of Kleancolor polishes!!! After gasping and a brief survey of whether or not they had the glitter polishes, the next thought I had was, "Is a half hour enough time?!" I ended up only getting 10, sheerly out of feeling absolutely rediculous walking out of a store with more than 10 nail polishes. But, I'm slowly desensitizing myself and increasing my numbers!

Anyways, the moral of this story is 1. Don't be a snob--you'll miss out. 2. It never hurts to take a look--sometimes there's a gem where you least expect it! and (although I already knew this next one) 3. S&H sucks and all means of avoiding it can be worthwhile. (If you have a true aversion to S&H costs, check out my post of online retailers that offer complimentary S&H with not minimuns, Love Free S&H.)

As if I haven't spent enough time on this one mani, there's one more thing to cover. I made these wedges using tape. Check out The Nailside for some phenom nail art, many of which use tape. This girl is good! My favorite design is the V-gap Experiment, Part 2, but also check out her Explosion Design Tutorial, Katy Perry Mani, and rediculously awesome Outer Space Marble with loads of glitter and a matte finish.


My nail, done by me: swirls and studs
OPI Louvre Me Louvre Not
I used a bobby pin for the dots, and the rest was freehand with the polish that comes in the bottle. I used little silver beads on my middle finger. This nail design isn't fully complete, but shhhh...would you know if I didn't tell you? The blue is a duochrome with hints of pink/purple. It's a Maybelline polish that I bought recently and only afterwards discovered that Maybelline tests on animals, so I will not be purchasing any more products from Maybelline, no matter how gorg the product!

The Nail Buff has a list of creulty-free polishes that do not test on animals, as well as ones that do. Some baddies that test on animals, along with Maybelline, are CoverGirl, Max Factor, L'Oreal, Lancome, and Dior. Several common polish brands that don't test on animals are Zoya, Kleancolor, China Glaze, Hardy Candy, Nubar, Color Club, Orly, Piggy Paint, Wet N' Wild, Revlon, Butter London, OPI for Sephora, and Deborah Lippmann. Yayyy!!! There seems to be some gray area (with Essie and especially surrounding OPI, see Never Unpolished for a letter from Coty, owner of Sally Hansen, OPI, and Rimmel), but here are companies that do and do not test on animals according to daily updated lists from Peta. Vegan Beauty Review also has a list of the top 12 creulty-free nail polishes (you'll see OPI on this list as well). There are so many companies that are anti-cruelty and hundreds of polish colors to choose from that aren't tested on animals. 

According to several sources, including The European Commission, the European Union has mandated the cease of testing ingredients for products on animals by 2013 or testing the final product on animals. Also included in this law is the prohibition of selling products in the EU that are tested on animals in other countries.

The image below indicates products and companies that don't test on animals! (But not all creulty-free companies have this badge.) 




Monday, October 10, 2011

Shopping Cores: Wearability and Versatility

In my last post, I mentioned 11 cores for efficient shopping, which should yield a great and workable wardrobe. I plan to elaborate on these cores over several posts; the picture below, which always makes my heart go pitter-patter, will identify the posts that are a continuation of "My Shopping Cores." For some added fun along the way, I'm also including pictures of drool-worthy closets.



In this post, I delve into the first two cores, wearability and versatility. For each core, I provide examples that will hopefully better elucidate its concept, as well as some of my own shopping faux pas and the dire consequences. Hehe.


Wearability
Wearability refers to how likely you are to use the item in question. This overlaps with other cores (versatility, function, etc), but considers everything that would determine whether or not you would be likely to wear it. For example, you might find a sheer blouse that you love, but if you’re never going to wear it because it’s too see-through, its wearability factor is very low. It’s not worth the money or the closet space.
For example, unless you’re an A-list celeb, RHWOX, or a pageant princess, gowns are very low on the wearability factor. I bought a gorgeous gown a couple of years ago at Daffy’s because it was one of those must-haves (or I thought so for some reason—I’m drawn to impact pieces) and it’s still lying around, never worn. Wearability has much to do with many factors, including your lifestyle. My main activities consist of going to class, shopping, dining, volunteering, and going out. The part of my wardrobe I wear and what I have focused on buying this past year has been sweats, tanks, sweatshirts/wraps, totes, flip-flops, platform slides, and boots (casual activities), along with cocktail dresses, clutches, and mega-high heels—very appropriate for my lifestyle. Other cores that particularly contribute to wearability are comfort, durability, and function, which I will discuss in another post.

Khloe Kardashian's Shoe Closet
image from Voce "fez" o requisito?!

Versatility
Versatility can be viewed in two aspects: 1.) how well the item works for different occasions or purposes and 2.) how well the item works with other pieces in your wardrobe. For example, a pair of ordinary jeans works for a day at an amusement park, dinner, or a night out. They are highly versatile because they work in a variety of environments (aspect 1). You can also wear almost any top you have with the right pair of jeans (depending on the wash, fit, style, etc), which makes them versatile as far as how well they work with other pieces you have (aspect 2). I recently bought a bright yellow cashmere cami. It might be somewhat versatile as far as where I can wear it since I can dress it up or dress it down, but it won’t go with much of my wardrobe; it's highly versatile considering the first aspect and minimally versatile as far as the latter.


Glam Closet
image from Canadian House & Home

Coming Up

Next up on my list of shopping cores for a great wardrobe are durability and aesthetics, followed by quality, function, niche, availability, comfort, cost, and maintenance. Sadly, these posts will appear over the course of several weeks, but they will come! And, trust me, they will be well worth it!! I'm hoping my cores will forever change your approach to shopping and the utility of your wardrobe, as well as your satisfaction with it! 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Top Luxury Brands of 2011: Burberry, Fendi, Chanel, Gucci, Hermes, LV

Top Luxury Brands of 2011: Burberry, Fendi, Chanel, Gucci, Hermes, LV

2011 Top Brands composition by SugarSpiceStyle





Burberry stole the lead role for the brand with the most momentum, growing 86% in one year. In second place for one-year growth at 41% as well as second place for worth, Hermes came in at a brand value of $11.92 billion. And, last, but clearly not least, Louis Vuitton ranks as the World's Most Valuable Luxury Brand, outdoing Hermes by more than double with a brand value of $24.31 billion. Other fashion houses on the list include Gucci, Fendi, and Chanel. Rolex and Cartier made appearances, as well as the two luxury champagne and cognac labels, Moet & Chandon and Hennessy.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Shopping "Cores"

First, I'd like to apologize for the dearth of posts. I'm in graduate school for psychology and am in the thick of my third semester, which unfortunately means something has to give--and it's definitely not going to be shopping! I probably spend the amount of time shopping every week that some people spend on a part-time job; I am quite committed, immersed in the retail world, and have developed my own unique shopping habits.





From the book, Confessions of a Shopaholic

Unfortunately, my financial resources are extremely limited, which definitely interferes with buying (note the distinction I make between shopping and buying—I might save this for another post). At the same time, it requires that I am that much more of an efficient buyer. An efficient buyer isn’t limited only to the amount of money you spend on clothes or the number of items you buy, it extends to many other factors. Do not fret, I use these as guidelines and not my shopping bible. Exceptions are a big part of it! Shopping and buying has to be fun, and flexibility, whims, and treats all have their special place!


Paris Hilton's Closet, image from Decorpad


Before moving on to discuss what factors I consider to constitute efficient buying, I must interrupt and mention the overall like/love/must-have factor that occurs reflexively at first glance. (Brittany, this is for you: This liking/loving/must-have is analogous to Spearman’s g: it’s the overall picture, the composite factor; the reaction is thin-slicing in the world of shopping.) You feel that slight peak of excitement in your chest, and if you’re fully into the experience, might even let out a quick little squeal of excitement or a small orgasmic “Ohhhh!” We’ve all been there (okay, maybe not with the verbal exclamations…)—no inspection, no checking the price tag, you see a piece and it speaks to you; it was meant to be—it has to be! It has your name written all over it. You’re already bonding, picturing it in your wardrobe. You purchase your new treasure and walk proudly out of the store.


Some of my shopping bag hoard


Fortunately and unfortunately, the aforementioned probably doesn’t happen very frequently. This is when I turn to my “cores,” what I will call the main factors I consider when buying. The priority of each factor, or core, depends on the item in question for purchase. Therefore, the cores are not in order based on any priority. First, I will list each core, then elaborate on each core in following posts.

Note! I haven’t mentioned the fit of items in this list because it is the #1 factor that takes priority over all others. Fit, more than anything else, is your key to looking good and determining factor in deciding what to buy.

My Cores:

1.)    Wearability

2.)    Versatility

3.)    Durability

4.)    Aesthetics

5.)    Quality

6.)    Function

7.)    Niche

8.)    Availability

9.)    Comfort

10.) Cost

11.) Maintenance



Spearman's g factor analogy: the large circle is analagous to the overall like/love/must-have factor and the purple represents characteristics of each core (blue ellipses), part of which contributes to the overall like/love/must-have factor