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

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tips of Terror: Halloween 2011 polish collections

Although Halloween is a little over a month away, my Halloween themed nail-do's have already started--in full throttle. This is only appropriate since Halloween is my favorite holiday.
"Why?" you may ask. Because I get to dress up, of course!! And the same goes for my nails; they get to look outrageously fancy too :) Fortunately, I can get away with starting Halloween nail craziness at the end of September; people might not welcome my sexy bride costume as enthusiastically a month ahead of time. So, to be sure your spirits are primed, your nails are ready for a haunting good time, and you're in the know of some fab hocus pocus polishes, here are collections from Sally Hansen, OPI, and China Glaze. Also, take note of the links to some amazing polish blogs, several of which are phenomenal resources for polish swatches, new collections, nail art, and giveaways.

Spun for You; Hot Wired

Wish Nets; Ghoulie Girl


The above images are from The Fresh Fiends, a beauty and lifestyle blog you don't want to be without! (They recently covered Lush's Dream Cream, one of my favorite creams that does an amazing job at moisturizing even the most sensitive skin, as well as covering OPI's America collection; they've won my endorsement!) These Sally Hansen's Salon Effects Nail Polish Strips for Halloween available for online purchase at Ulta for $10 each. And don't be shy to cut up these nail strips for a more unique presentation or mix and match for some outrageous Halloween fun. Try Spun for You on the bottom 2/3 of your nail with Numbskull on the top 1/3 if you have longer nails or try Ghoulie Girl on the left or right 2/3 of your nail with Hot Wire on the other 1/3 of your nail for a to-die-for combination. And, just in case this isn't enough DIY, play around with cutting up the strips and incorporating them with your own hand-painted designs; a striping polish could do wonders for accenting the design! For example, a purple and orange vertical stripe on the left side of Spun for You would be a fun pop of color. There are so many possibilities for these, you could easily have 3 weeks of fun creating different designs!

OPI Spookettes: He's My Boo, Mummy Knows Best, I Only Date Werewolves, Zom-body to Love (glow-in-the-dark)
OPI Pair'em Scare'em: Zom-body to Love, Black Shatter

Spookettes and Pair'em Scarem are this year's Halloween packs from OPI.  Swatch and Learn covers these polish packs, getting into the nitty-gritty details. Unfortunately, these polishes (excluding Shatter) do not seem to be sold individually, so I'm hoping I'm just not in-the-know and OPI will release full-size individual bottles! I'm excited to see what the orange looks like compared to other oranges; I have this slight obsession with finding orange and blue colors that are just the right shade, brightness, and intensity. Do note, the mini bottles have mini brushes--fab for nail art, but not as easy to use for regular application as OPI's pro-wide brush that's in their full-size bottles. Below is a swatch of Zom-body to love from Nails in Nippon that shows its opacity.

OPI's Zom-body to Love by Nails in Nippon

Last, but not least, is China Glaze's Haunting Halloween collection, pictured below. Check out The PolishAholic and Fashion Polish for some great swatches of the colors in this collection. My personal favorite from the collection is It's Alive, a glitterific murky golden green.

China Glaze Haunting Collection

With graphic goodies, glow-in-the-darks, and gorgeous glitters, these Halloween 2011 collections are just dying to draw some ghoulish attention to your tips. Halloween is the one holiday where almost anything goes, so take it over-the-top! It's that time of year for some wicked nails!

Friday, September 9, 2011

10 little canvases

If you've been following my blog and are a near and dear friend of mine, you know that I've been on a water-marbling nail art kick, and I'm slightly addicted! However, after perusing Nail Trends from the Fall 2011 Fashion Week Runways, discovering Nails Magazine, and signing up for Nail Art Gallery, I've been inspired to switch up my water marble with a planned design of my own creation. But let's first review some of my favorite ideas from the runways for this season!

From the Prabal Gurung runway show

Above is an Asian-inspired design. I'm not sure how the artist achieved this effect; I am going to experiment to see if I can duplicate it. This is a very artsy and sophistocated look while still being fun, different, and very interesting. Although you could try this look with any color combination, I'm particularly fond of the black on white; the contrast emphasizes the design and the simplicity of the colors adds to the sophistocation.

Nails by Kristina Estabrooks for designer Jen Kao

Aside from the awesome effect of the above mani, these nails are an excellent example of the perfect almond-shaped nail. This nail shape is almost impossible to pull off with shorter nails, and I have been trying to grow mine out to achieve this heavenly elliptical shape; it is definitely one to be noticed and loved. The squoval for long nails was for yesterday, ladies.

My nails done by me, neon aztec chevron design 

The above picture is a nail art designed by yours truly! It came from the madness inside my head :)  I confess I am not half as skilled as many of the artists who create nail art, but I am practicing and learning. This design was not very difficult to execute; the most challenging part is making sure you have nice crisp 90 degree angles and making sure it's symmetrical. The nature of the design, being symmetrical; dividing my nail into thirds; and having the same chevron angle repeated, add to the cohesiveness of the design and its flow. Several of the elements play off of each other, something important to consider when creating your own nail design. At the end of this post, I have included directions for how to create this design.

There is much more nail art to come! I also want to tell you about several exciting nail blogs I've discovered and are my current go-to's for everything polish, especially upcoming collections. So stay tuned for some more nail news within the next couple of days!

Directions: Here is an outline of the steps if you'd like to replicate this design. Of course, as with any nail design, you're best to complete each layer of polish on all 10 nails before moving to the next layer/design element. Due to the translucent nature of the neon yellow, after my base coat I applied two coats of white polish to make the neon yellow pop and look opaque. The next step was to create the upside-down pyramid in periwinkle (Essie Lapiz of Luxury). Start with the brush that comes in the bottle and make a line that extends about 2/3 of the way down the middle of your nail; it MUST be the middle!  Square off the end of the line to look like mine in the picture. For the "steps" on either side of the middle column, use your brush painting horizontally. Begin your horizontal line about the distance up the middle column that your column is wide and over to the left or right the same distance, painting to the same point on the opposite side of the column, making sure your line is parallel with the bottom edge of the first column and lined up straight across your nail as in the picture. It is easier for your eye to judge the distance painting left to right, imagining creating two equal sides of a square for each "step" on the left and right of your nail. Shape the corners so they are 90 degrees and repeat the process for the last set of "steps." Fill in with periwinkle to the tip if necessary and make sure you let it dry! Next, place neon pink dots (Essie Pink Parka) using the end of a bobby pin since I do not have a dotting tool. Make sure the bobby pin has little heads that are the right size to put dots centered on each step. Start with the middle column, then do both sides, making sure the dots are lined up with the pyramid design and each other, and finish by applying dots on the last "steps". I applied the navy wedge shape with the brush in the bottle, angling the brush to mimic the angle of the pyramid design and making sure the tip of the wedge starts almost 1/3 the way down my nail (the navy color is from Sally Beauty Supply but has been discontinued). Finish with Sally Hansen Mega Shine Extended Wear Top Coat. Make sure you wait for each layer to dry; this is a lot of nail polish!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Out with the old...out with the new?

I hate to be a negative Nancy, but every once and a while there's a trend that urges me to ask, "What are people thinking? Do people really like this?" Of course, this distaste of mine for certain trends is based solely on my opinion. And I know there have been plenty of times when I have been challenged for my taste (in college, I had a gorgeous turquoise fur jacket, but my friends didn't think it was so phenomenal; they called me Sully from the movie Monster, Inc. At the same time, I don't think they know what haute couture even means...). What this all boils down to is that I am in no position to critique trends. But I'm going to anyways.

The Ugly Eye
I have seen this "evil eye" on cheap jewelry and nicer, designer jewelry. Really? I have no argument with this. It's like trying to argue with someone who is thinking illogically and who's argument isn't based in any reason or logic and it's impossible to show the person how illogical their argument is because the person isn't thinking rationally. I don't care which designers endorse this, I think it's hideous, and there are plenty of other symmetrical symbols to plaster onto jewelry that are more pleasing than an eye and still have some mystical or significant quality.

As in a scary movie: Return of the Bell-bottoms 

Since I'm on my soap box, I might as well get the ewww out of my system in regards to the return of bell-bottom pants. You ready? Ewwwwwwwww! I'm completely fine with the flare leg that starts at the waste and just has a nice clean line--all good. But the bell-bottoms? I just don't understand it. Yes, it's been a good 16 years since bell-bottoms were all the rage. In fact, bell-bottoms were the fresh trend when I was in 6th grade and coming into my own as a budding fashion-lover. Maybe it's because bell-bottoms were part of such a pivotal time in my own fashion timeline and that association is so strong for me that I have such a distaste for them now. Maybe I dislike them because for the past 10 years when they haven't been in style, people have been wearing them anyways. But, again, who am I to judge? I'm a die-hard fan of my skinny jeans and would wear them if it meant giving up my first-born. Bottom line: bell-bottoms don't do it for me.

Trend: Animals as Prints
 Marc by Marc Jacobs top at ShopBop $298

Lastly, animal-skin/fur pattern is not a trend. Trends come and go; animal-skin print has been fashionable for more than the past decade. I do not want to see this on another trend list! I look at trend lists for inspiration and something new. Let's just agree that animal skin prints are awesome and here to stay until someone makes an announcement that it's the Devil on Earth (in which case we can continue to wear it because, well, it's just that awesome). That being said, relish your animal-skin prints, and welcome the novelty of animals used for patterns or prints (as Marc Jacobs has with the above top). And when you see animal-skin patterns on a trend list, just shake your head and challenge yourself to come up with your own creative and original twist for fashion!

I feel much better since I have that off my chest. I am curious whether the majority of people follow trends because they like them or because they are solely what's "popular." Style is not about following or resisting what's in fashion. To have your own style takes confidence, personality, opinion, and hopefully risks. I'd like to think of my own style as having a solid, static foundation while at the same time as something that's in process and growing--and growth never happens without exploration and risk. You win some; you lose some. Going through your closet is sort of like reflecting on your life; there are things you love, a couple crazy pieces, items that were good while they lasted, some what-the-hell-was-I-thinking items, and also those pieces that will make their way into the next round. Have you ever heard your mom talk about that pair of jeans she can still fit into from high school? Everyone needs to decide which items are their "bell-bottoms" and which items are their animal prints, whether you're looking at your wardrobe or your life.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

If only loving men were as easy as loving shoes...

Last week I had a MAJ shopping spree (as Rachel Zoe would say! Speaking of which, did you catch her show last night on Bravo?!) and scored these Charles Jourdan heels! You're either going to love them or hate them. It wasn't a love-at-first-sight for me; it was an "ooo-what-do-we-have-here?!" I always love those moments, because it means I've actually foung something different enough and original that it stretches my design repertoire, challenges my evaluative skills, and contributes to my style identity depending on whether I love them or hate them. It was not very long before I decided that I love them! (If only it were so easy with men...) So, they were the highlight of my spree. I came home, jumped on Twitter, did a Charles Jourdan search, and a tweet from 3 hours before popped up, posting a link to here asking what people thought of my new shoes! Well, as you can see, they get a 2-shoe rating out of a possible 5-shoes. I love them so much I don't care what anyone thinks! People tend to like ordinary. Blahzay. Yes, I am a tad bitter, but all I need to do is look at my new shoes! And, what's even better? They're on MyHabit today for $129 instead of $295!
My new Charles Jourdans, available today on MyHabit for $129

Alas, there is some more exciting news re Charles Jourdan! Adrienne Maloof from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (of which I'm a fan and am definitely watching this season) has teamed up with Charles Jourdan and designed a line of shoes, available for pre-order on! Below is my personal favorite from the line, the Val High Heel in Rose. Every once and a while you'll see me rave about the sillhouette of a shoe; this is one of those shoes! So make sure you check out that fab side view!

Adrienne Maloof by Charles Jourdan at, Val High Heel in Rose $225

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Itty bitty but oh-so-cute!

Since I have a fatal attraction to cuteness, I'm automatically a fan of Harajuku Lovers. Tweezerman and Harajuku Lovers have teamed up and created a decked out matchbox with 12 mini files as well as some adorable tweezers, all available exclusively at Sephora. The Itty Bitty Files have one side of the file that is more coarse than the other for shaping, and the other side is finer for smoothing.

Harajuku Lovers Matchbox Itty Bitty Files by Tweezerman at Sephora, $4
The tweezers are available in two sizes, 3.75 inches and 2.75 inches. The larger size has a variety of patterns to choose from, each in a differnt color; there's one design for each girl in the Harajuku Lover's crew!  All of these items are limited edition, so pick up some unresistable cuteness and let Love, Angel, Music, Baby, and Queen bring some lovin' to your beauty needs!

Harajuku Lovers Designer Series Slant Tweezer by Tweezerman, shown in Baby $25

Harajuku Lovers Designer Series Mini Slant Tweezer in Gwen (Queen), $15
Harajuku Lovers Designer Series Mini Slant Tweezer in Gwen (Queen), $15
P.S. I've also heard a rumor of a Harajuku Lover's compact mirror, however it does not seem to be available online at this time :(

Friday, September 2, 2011

Dress to impress

After peruising the sale at Saks, I found three top-notch dresses that are worth a viewing, as well as closet space. Why these three? They're sexy, sophistocated, stylish, and each has a character of its own. If you're ready and willing to shell out a couple of benjys for one of these beauties, they're each available in a range of sizes and qualify for free shipping with code SHIPSEP. Underneath each picture, I've noted why I've chosen that dress and a jewelry styling tip. I couldn't resist pairing the second dress with a pair of earrings from Kim Kardashian's jewelry line, Belle Noel; the two together are just too perfect for each other!

Dress 1
Of Two Minds embroidered silk mini dress with fringe, $240
Aztec feel, fringe, would work well with bangles or a big cuff.

Dress 2
Halston Heritage mesh ruching dress, $227
Off the shoulder, short, and mesh long sleeves: perfect amount of skin! With fabric ruching should be very flattering. Would work beautifully with these earrings from Voyashop (also available in silver from The Trend Boutique):

Belle Noel at Voyashop, honey hexagon drop earrings in gold $22.50

Dress 3

Camilla and Marc Leopard leopard silk minidress, $322

Leopard print, cutout, defined waist, great with a statement cocktail ring.