The Fashion Blahs

Friday, June 30, 2006

I'm having one of those weeks where I hate everything in my closet. I'm not sure if it's because I've caught a bad cold and the only clothes I want to think about are jammies. Or maybe because I'm on a self-imposed no-shopping (okay, low-shopping) regimen until I save some money, which is really, really no fun. In any case, I'm feeling generally frumpy, and I hate when that happens.

I'm pretty sure the only thing that will cheer me up is this really adorable dog pillow-making kit ($22) from Fred Flare. Or maybe a change of scenery – I'm leaving for a few days to do some travel/work, which will only require thinking about which cute sundress to pack. Which is about the only decision my NyQuil-addled brain can handle at the moment. See you soon.

Hey, It's Your Last Dress of the Day!: Lewis Cho boatneck

I don't normally shop Kitson – no matter how much their URL asks me to – but I was just clicking through and did really like this navy dress ($195) from newish label Lewis Cho. (They didn't have a good full-length version on the Kitson site, so here it is in cream from the label website as well.) Very simple shape, but with enough of a twist to stand out. Just how I like it.

Dress of the Day, Part 2: Target Garden Dress

It's a special day, kids. Because I don't want you all to become poor because of me, there is a second dress of the day today aimed at those of you on a budget. And for those of you – like me – who should be on a budget. Um. Anyway. It's the Isaac Garden Dress from Target, $34.99, totally cute, in both black and navy:

I wanted the navy, but they didn't have it in my size (or what I assume my size is… a massive amount of peanut butter sandwiches consumed while sick + weird online shopping size issues = rampant size confusion. But fingers are crossed.) So. Yes. I bought the black. For me, the best thing about Target is that – unlike Zara or Topshop or Forever 21 or most other lower-priced retailers – they don't have it here in Singapore, so I don't have to worry about showing up at a party and seeing nine other girls in the same thing.

Via slave to target, by the way. And now, back to my bed.

[Update] I just received this dress, and I am really disappointed. So, it's being demoted from a Dress of the Day to just a Dress.

Currently Inspiring Me to Make a Sandwich

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I love inspiration boards. Or, more specifically, I love the Ikea magnet boards over my desk that allow me to justify purchasing a lot of extraneous stuff. (For example: Mike: "Uh, why do you need all these Dada art postcards?" Me: "Duh, it's for my inspiration board! It helps me!" Mike: [slightly dumbfounded, pays for postcards].)

Mine (snippets seen above) is currently featuring a lot of photos from Andre Kertesz (whose exhibit I saw and loved at the ICP last year), photos found at Chinese flea markets, and Sasiko paper doll magnets from Playground!, my very favorite store in Bangkok. But I'm thinking it needs a bit of sprucing up, and love the idea of Frau Liebe's Paper Plaisir ($18), a little bag filled with completely unique vintage paper goods. Kind of like an inspiration board in a bag:

There's also a flickr group devoted entirely to photos of inspiration boards, which are quite fun for a click through.

Dress of the Day: Rachel Pally jersey dress

Today's dress of the day is from Rachel Pally's Fall 2005 collection, but it's a style that I've been seeing *everywhere* lately (including the Topshop maternity section. Why is it that I always love everything in the Topshop maternity section? It's always a bunch of pregnant women and me, browsing around.) Anyway, I actually own this dress – mine is a nice pumpkin orange – and it one of my favorite purchases ever. You can wear this with flats and a big tote and it's very "professional worky." Or you can wear it with a little shiny purse and very high heels and – as long as you don't fall over – it's very "let's go party." I've seen a variety of versions out there lately – just look for an empire waist tie and tunic-style neckline – and I have to say, go forth and purchase. You will not regret.

Possibly The Reason My Bag Is Always So. Incredibly. Heavy.

I sometimes worry that I'm going to be one of those women whose stacks of old magazines fall over and trap her and she's only discovered weeks later when the neighbors get worried because all of her cats are making a big fuss. Of course, I don't have any cats (yet). I'm not sure if this should be a relief or a concern.

Still, even horrible thoughts of me eventually brought down by my own unstoppable magazine consumption haven't done much to curb the tide of glossies that flood our mailbox every month. They fall into the following categories:

Must-read the second they arrive, no matter what:
Lucky, Vogue, Elle, Domino, US Weekly, Teen Vogue

Peruse at my leisure:
Dwell, Harper's Bazaar, New York, DestinAsian, W (whose gigantic size prohibits a lot of carrying around)

Just added recently and very excited about that:
The Daily Mini, Blueprint, Tank

Purchase when I'm feeling particularly frivolous:
UK Vogue, Nylon, Wallpaper, Vogue (Australia) Entertaining + Travel

Wish I could keep up with:
New Yorker (approximately six issues behind at this point; growing into daunting stack on bedside table)

Of these, I keep the entire issue of Lucky, Vogue, Teen Vogue and Domino, and the rest get stripped of their best articles/ pictures/ products and filed into binders every few months or when the stacks appear capable of seriously maiming me, whichever comes first. But, because I'm a firm believer that one can never have too many magazines, I'm always on the lookout for more. (For example: currently intrigued by Dazed & Confused; kinda missing Glamour; desperately wishing Selvedge wasn't so darn expensive.) If you have any thoughts, must-reads, or teenagers selling reduced-priced subscriptions, please send 'em along.

Unless There is Some Sort of Cool New Store No One Told Us About…

I did think it was really cute the other day when I got a very nice e-mail reply from Monday's bag o' the week pick Jocasi – I assume written by an intern or something – to let me know their bags were available at Anthropologie, Henri Bendel and "Fred Seagull."

Spreading the Love

If I could steal a store and make it my own, it would be Cog & Pearl in Park Slope, Brooklyn, which is full of so many beautiful things that my bank account has a heart attack every time I'm within ten blocks of it. Their website now promises that an online store is coming in September. (!!) Which is not quite soon enough for me, but does provide a little time to stockpile some money.

If I could be any fashion blog in the world (besides this one, of course), it would be fashionologie, whose little bio is so cute that if I were five, I would totally ask her to be my friend and share a cookie.

And! If I could have any shoes right now, it would be the intriguing-looking LD Tuttle Trix sandal (on sale for $210). Or maybe the Tara Subkoff for Easy Spirit canvas boot, which is $360 (why, Easy Spirit, why?) but looks like it could go with anything, anywhere, in nearly any temperature.

Really, We Tried to Come Up With a Some Sort of Flower-Related Headline But Our Brain Is Fried

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I'm escaping the computer for the next day or two and venturing outside to interact with actual humans and do some real, bill-paying work. (Gotta support the shopping habit somehow.) To celebrate my extraction from the clutches of the Internet, some nature-inspired pictures for today.

From left, floral dress from Spring 2006 collection of London-based Serbian designer Roksanda Ilincic; illustration by Japanese artist Yoko Ikeno, originally for a t-shirt from Paul & Joe; image from an oldie but goodie photo essay from from Slate, Fashion Photography: A Decline in Pictures by Karen Lehrman. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Dress of the Day: Philip Lim 3.1 sweater dress

Of course, I would never leave you hanging without a dress of the day. And so: It's never, ever too early to start thinking about what you will desperately want this fall, especially if there's any chance scoring a vintage version from a thrift shop before everyone else swoops in. Right now, you want to be on the lookout for sweater dresses. To get you focused on "cold…brrr...wool…", here's today's pick: Philip Lim 3.1 sweater dress ($456) from great online shop La Garconne. The slouchy suede boots are also amazing, no?

Sadly, we in Singapore are going to have to sit this trend out, as it's approximately 88 degrees here year-round. That seemed like a really good thing when we were deciding to move here, but now I'm anticipating some intense wool withdrawal come October.

Dress of the Day: Safe by Rebecca Turbow

Monday, June 26, 2006

Inspired by yesterday's already beloved Anamika Khanna coatdress, I'm going to feature a great Dress of the Day all this week. Today I'm switching styles entirely and loving this mod turquoise circle dress from Safe by Rebecca Turbow ($180). It would look great with little ballet slippers and a fun clutch, and – unlike, for example, all the white eyelet out there right now – you could definitely add black tights and a turtleneck and wear it all fall as well.

Judging Books By Their Covers and Other Fun Stuff

Among my biggest shopping weaknesses (just after clutch purses and vintage coats) are design books, which I buy at an alarming-to-my-bank-account pace (just arrived: Designers on Design by Terence Conran and Max Fraser). A trick I've learned to stave off the inevitable poverty is to buy cheaper, used copies from Amazon Marketplace sellers, which are generally in good condition but often have some wear and tear to their covers. I then recover them with great wrapping paper (the stack above is my inspiration, and here are some handy instructions), and can just plop them in a big pretty pile on the coffee table.

For the paper, I always shop the sales at stationery brand Prints here in Singapore. I'd also suggest anything from Chicago-based Snow & Graham (see a range of products here) whose distinctive prints (below) are going to be decorating my next big book purchase (which is already on its way: Speck: A Curious Collection of Uncommon Things, about $5 through the Marketplace). An even cheaper alternative: Ikea sells rolls of glossy wrapping paper in bright, bold solids — a good balance to a bookshelf of busy patterns.

Trend I Can Get Behind: Headbands

I had picked up some inexpensive shiny plastic headbands months ago, thinking they'd be great to pair with vintage dresses for a cute retro look. So it was really quite disappointing that every time I put one on, I always looked more like a dorky 5th grader than the epitome of 50s chic. However, I think I've finally come around again to the idea. Based on their celebrity following — finally, a good example of Hilary Duff's hair looking cute! — it's pretty clear that headbands are going to be huge this summer.

The secret to pulling off the headband is to wear it with your hair pulled back in a ponytail or messy bun (remember: you want to go for Audrey Hepburn, not Soccer Mom). I'd skip the pricey versions that are starting to appear now in stores -- you know we'll all be sick of them by fall. Mine were about $2 each from a local accessories store and are a pliable, shiny plastic but they're still pretty cute. Or! Try a simple silk ribbon or printed scarf (which can almost always be found for a buck apiece at thrift stores). Voila.

A Public Service Announcement: Project Runway 2

I'm not kidding when I say that the TV here is just terrible and I never get to see any of the good shows until long after they're done. Which might explain why I've had today obsessively marked in my calendar for months: Project Runway Season 2 is now out on DVD! I watched season 1 last December in a somewhat ridiculous Project Runway binge (stopping only to eat, go through the motions of basic socialization with my family, and complain animatedly about Wendy Pepper), so I'm already prepping for a similar sequestering as soon as it arrives. Doritos will most certainly be involved.

And! Just in case you missed it a few months ago, here's a hilarious interview with my personal hero, Tim Gunn.

Our Big Blank Wall is Just Sitting There, Mocking Me

So the debate rages on over what to do with our big white wall. My all-around good-taste barometer, Kevin, suggested the very cool Wallpaper by Numbers by Jenny Wilkinson (above) but then immediately discredited his opinions by giving Hilary Duff's Elle cover hair an enthusiastic yay. (I'm shocked! Is it a guy thing?)

This weekend at the Scandinavian design bonanza that is the Style: Nordic boutique here in Singapore, Mike and I both loved the very graphic black and white Mazurka fabric by Froso and thought we might buy a few yards and stretch it onto a frame to make some big wall art (not unlike what you're seeing below in the red/white version). At least I know that when I get tired of it, I can channel a little Maria from the Abbey and turn it into pillows or something.

A Good Excuse to be Really Lazy

I kinda completely love these stamp mugs, which leave behind cute designs instead of ugly cup rings. Via swiss miss.

Quite Possibly the Most Fun Package Day Ever

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Don't you love how a single piece of clothing can make you so happy? Saturday morning might have witnessed the best fun package day in history. When I was in India attending their fashion weeks back in April, I was able to put in some personal orders with my favorite designers. (*You* try showing restraint around racks and racks of beautiful clothes.) On Saturday, the first big package arrived: A silk trench coat by Calcutta-based designer Anamika Khanna, whose rich, textured fabrics are really gorgeous.

Anamika creates her own fabrics – sometimes using up to 10 different processes and applications – so you won't find similar pieces anywhere else. Her cuts are simple but classic, like fitted trench coats and scoop-necked dresses. And her attention to detail is impressive, whether it's linings or buttons or belts (oh my!) . When the package arrived early Saturday morning, I immediately ripped it open and tried on the coat over my pajamas. (And then, went straight to the patio to take pictures for all of you to see – I'm really starting to wonder what the security guy who sits across the road is thinking of me these days.)

That's the full-length view above – it's technically a trench coat, but can be worn as a dress as well.

Teardrop-shaped appliqués cover the lower half:

The lining inside is a vintage-style floral, and it just peeks out at the collar:

Even the belt and sleeves are really cute:

Anamika also shows at London Fashion Week, and her pieces can be found at Harrod's. I've got two more dresses coming from her in a few weeks time, and then I'm going to force Mike to take me somewhere nice so I can display them properly. [Sighs happily.]

(If you're interested in contacting Anamika Khanna, just e-mail me for her details.)

Too Cute to Miss: Mozi Designs

I'm completely smitten with Mozi Designs, a great Australian brand with tons of cute housewares and other fun things. I think a few of their boldly patterned tea towels (above) could be just the right thing to spruce up my kitchen (or maybe even used to sew together a cute totebag, if you're feeling extremely ambitious). And now that Cat is going out of business with her iPod Cozy store, I'd have to suggest one of Mozi's printed neoprene iPod holders (below) to keep your mp3s safe instead.

Their site is full of adorable gifty things, including plenty of new bird-centric patterns. (Since we're all in agreement that birds are this year's skulls, right?) One tiny problem: There isn't a list of retailers or a way to purchase through the site. I've sent them a note asking for info on how to buy pieces from their collection, so I hope to update with some good news shortly. Trust me, my kitchen *needs* these towels.

[Update] Those of you in the U.S. are out of luck for now, as Mozi isn't sold there yet. But feel free to live vicariously through us here in Singapore, where various pieces of the line can be found in stores like Anthropology in Holland Village, Eggthree on Erskine Street and -- coming soon -- Sky Pilates in Liat Towers on Orchard Road. The rest can be bought through their local agent; just e-mail me for her details.

Bag of the Week: Jocasi Parax Moon

So I decided today that the Margaret Nicole cable-knit clutch (um, $150) from the other week is now officially our very first Bag of the Week recommendation, and that I'll start featuring one highly covetable bag every week until I say otherwise (or, more likely, finally just run out of money). Of course, I'll probably actually be featuring several Bags of the Week, because it's impossible to stop at just one, but at least one great selection is always guaranteed.

So now, Mondays are Bag of the Week day here. Golf claps! And here's this week's pick: Jocasi Parax Moon Small, about $175 through their site [also available in a larger size and in black].

I saw this bag over the weekend at Eclecticism, a funky little boutique at the Meritus Mandarin hotel mall here in Singapore that sells both local and imported brands. The salesgirl was all like, "Jocasi is a totally cool accessories line from London." And I was all like, "oh, I know"… because I read Bunnyshop and she's totally on top of these things.

Still, I wasn't expecting the leather to be so soft, and the buckle accent to look really cool. (At least in person. The photograph really does not do justice.) And! The handle is also adjustable, so you can lengthen it to be long enough to wear across the chest like a cute messenger bag, or shorten it up so it tucks just under your armpit. Versatility = yay.

Your Homework: Bridesmaids Dresses

I was recently thrilled to be asked to participate in my first wedding, which will take place next May [jumps up and down with excitement; small girly squeal]. The bride also enlisted me for a little bridesmaids dress-hunting help. Now this is not exactly an area I am particularly familiar with (my own wedding will undoubtedly be something along the lines of a Vegas free-for-all, for which I will be able to justify several great designer outfits. Wedding dresses are nice and stuff, but I'd rather spend my money on Prada!) Still, I am taking my bridesmaid responsibilities seriously – nobody likes a bridal party slacker – and have been doing some scouting around.

Realization: Finding cute bridesmaids dresses is *hard*, even when you've established some simple basic criteria (non-strapless, non-pastel, non-outrageously expensive). Mega-bridal sites like The Knot and do compile bridal party dress suggestions – but thousands and thousands of them. Trust me, once you've clicked past your 85th fuschia satin halter dress (yep, there's apparently still a humongous market for fuschia satin), you're ready to hang yourself with a color-coordinated chiffon scarf.

The other slightly tricky thing is that there are six of us bridesmaids for this wedding, so buying cute dresses from a regular store – which is what I would normally suggest to escape the glut of shiny pastels – could get problematic in trying to coordinate.

At best, I could come up with this, which is kinda pricey but which I love:
Vera Wang tulle gown, $330:

(Incidentally, I have to say that Vera Wang's Maids collection – created for bridesmaids, but really just a line of formal dresses – is a great source for black-tie attire. My favorite formal dress is a simple floor-length black Vera Wang dress that I've worn to a bunch of fancy functions. Even better: If you happen to, say, get a wee bit tipsy and spill wine down the front, it's likely no one will be able to tell.)

I also suggested something like this:
J. Crew Avery silk long cross-backed dress [but in black], $295

I also think a tea-length dress is very often overlooked, and can be very classic and pretty:
Vera Wang Bobinette high-neck dress, $260

Really, if it were MY wedding, I would be tempted to go with this:
Diane Von Furstenberg Jolie Empire-Waist dress [but in black], just knocked down to $165:

But… the bride requested floor-length. Apparently, church and knees do not mix. I am still desperately coveting this dress for myself, however.

I think the bride's ideal bridesmaid dress might be something like this, but in black and floor-length (and my suggestion would be a long, contrasting cream silk ribbon at the empire waist):

And so, a desperate plea! Can those of you with Actual Wedding Experience suggest any stores or sites to check out? Comments or e-mails would be highly appreciated.

West Coast Shopping

There's been some great press coverage of the new Diane Merrick store in L.A., which had its official opening party last week. I had a chance to stop by and see the shop just days after it opened in early May, and it really is very cool. I'd met a buyer for the store, Maggie Wachsberger, during India's fashion weeks, and she picked out a great selection of designs from emerging labels like Sabyasachi, Rajesh Pratap Singh and Tarun Tahiliani. Those pieces are just starting to show up in the shop now, so if you're L.A.-bound anytime soon, definitely stop in and take a look. [And keep an eye out for the store's website, which says it's launching soon...]
Diane Merrick, 7409 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, phone: 323-930-0400

Very Exciting Things Are Happening Here at Fashion is Spinach HQ

First, we went and got our very own professional hosting service so we could stop pestering John on his lunch breaks. Then we updated our links list (at right) so it is now chock full of good sites – check 'em out! And then! Mike was clearly embarrassed that we were unable to take a decent, well-lit picture of the cute stuff around the apartment, and went and built a lightbox this weekend so we could do our very own product shots. Isn't it purty?

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Because it's Friday, and because I was feeling a little experimental with the Photoshop this morning, here's a little collage of random things that make me want to smile and/or shop. From top left: adorable kitten from Cute Overload, thick mittens from Brooklyn Handknit; ocean silhouette duvet pattern by Dwell bedding; really cute hot water bottle on fluffy white bed, which I can't remember where I found. Yay.

How to Look Like a Yoga Expert Without Really Trying

In order to correct my current title-holding status of Most Inflexible Person in the World, I started yoga class at the Como Shambhala center here in Singapore earlier this week. (I can barely touch my shins, let alone my toes, but you've got to start somewhere, right?) I really like my teacher, despite the fact that he used me as the class example of what not to do about seven times. Which is about six times too many, in my opinion. Still. Baby steps.

I figure, if I can't look cute actually doing yoga, at least I can look cute while waiting around in the lobby for class to start. And so, I'm on a quest for fun yoga clothing – starting with this Nike Guru Shrug. It's a little different than the hippie-chic look I was expecting to embrace, and yet, I'm really drawn to it. Plus, maybe if I wear it around enough, no one will suspect that the last time I was able to touch my toes was sometime around 1987.

My Second Dream Career…

…once I learn to sew, at least. But Coquette has turned me on to the Red Dress Shoppe, which makes and sells clothing from vintage patterns. Seriously, how cute is their 1940s Couture Dress (above)? It's only $119, and the most expensive thing I've seen on the whole site.

If you're in the market for vintage sewing patterns yourself, my super sewer friend Nida always highly recommends Rusty Zipper. They have an enormous vintage clothes selection as well, for those of you who are less sewing-inclined and require more instant gratification.

I Couldn't Be Prouder If I Had Written It Myself

The hilarious duo of Cat and Tamar have gone ahead and launched Fashion Binge, bringing their ultra-creative fashion sense to the masses. (Seriously, Tamar has been known to sport full-on leopard-print jumpsuits. The girl has guts!) Stay tuned for the latest New York styles, regular biting commentary, and completely original lingo.

I think this would be a good place to note that -- like me! -- if you scroll your mouse over their photos, you'll see a little comment about the photo pop up. I know how we all enjoy hilarious comments!

Owl Keds: A Love Story

Subtitle: I think I am now designer Eleanor Grosch's biggest fan

Having become completely enamored with my owl Keds, I thought I'd check out some more work of their designer, Eleanor Grosch, the founder of Pushmepullyou Design in Philadelphia, and general creator of Really Cute Stuff. You might recognize her cool rock posters (for sale on her site) for bands from Rilo Kiley to Death Cab for Cutie. She also has a bunch of animal-focused art prints that would make great wall decorations, especially for kids' rooms (they're only $20). And finally! She's also done a few t-shirts, including this one for Wilco. Rock on.

And now, I promise this is the end of gushing about my owl Keds. For today, anyway.

Ridiculous Trend Watch: Starbucks Chic

According to the local paper, the kids in Europe are now using those cardboard coffee cup holders as cuff bracelets. Has anyone actually witnessed this? And, more importantly, did you do your part for fashion and at least give them a discouraging eye-roll?

Happy happy

So it's my friend (and website benefactor) John's birthday tomorrow. I thought that rather than post an embarrassing picture of him (as I am occasionally wont to do on people's birthdays), I'd post one of my favorite photos from his website instead, in keeping with this site's appreciation for pretty things and all.

Ahem. Just don't think the rest of you are getting off so easily.

Everybody in Stovepipe Jeans!

Beloved UK-based fashion brand Topshop is coming to New York as early as next spring, according to yesterday's NYT. (Of course, there's currently a mini-Topshop boutique at the very cool-sounding Opening Ceremony on Howard Street near Broadway, but it's just not the same as one of their massive, trend-packed stores.) I suspect that this development might make Topshop a little less exciting for me, since it's the one thing I can get here in Singapore that I can't buy back home in the U.S. Still, I hate to be selfish. Supermini-dresses for all!

Turning Japanese, I Think I'm Turning Japanese

I had meant to post a fun picture of the vintage kimono I bought a few weekends ago (only $6!) from my favorite secret vintage kimono store here in Singapore, but that was before last Thursday's kimono-finding frenzy. And so, here are pictures of them all. I need to get them cleaned, but then I'm definitely going to start wearing the long ones around town coat-style (above). I really think they're going to spruce up my basic jeans-and-tee ensembles, don't you?

I also found this short jacket-style one, which I love:

Some of them, I'm hoping to eventually convert into cute wrap dresses (but first, I have to advance to the actual sewing part of sewing class):

The bold, 70s-style prints are my favorites:

This classic one is actually a small child's-sized kimono, which I'm going to hang on the wall:

Speaking of Vintage (as I Often Do)

I miss a good thrift find (kimonos are about all I can come by nowadays). My twice-a-year trips to America don't really cut it, and even then, I'm hindered by buying only what I can carry back (or, um, hide away in my parents' basement for later). For now, I'm living vicariously through a variety of Flickr vintage group sites recommended by decor8, including the Nifty Thrift and Vintage, the Only Way to Shop, where people submit pictures of them wearing their coolest vintage finds (like this awesome polka dot-rainbow dress someone recently posted, above). It's not quite as much fun as thrift shopping myself, but still very fun.

We'd Hate to Disappoint 25 percent of Our Fans

There was quite a good response to yesterday's mascara post. As in, I got one fun e-mail about it. (But, current research shows that I have about four regular readers, so that's a quarter of my fan base! And that's pretty good!) My readers (okay, reader) were also wondering if I had a suggestion for pressed powder. And why yes, yes I do! So this has inspired my first installment on Beauty Products I Use and Would Actually Recommend to Others:

Pressed powder: I don't use foundation, even though all the magazines say I should and that I'll never get pretty, glowy, even-toned skin without it. But you know what I hate more than not having pretty, glowy skin? Weird makeup streaks on clothes and other foundation-related mishaps. Plus, foundation always makes me sweaty and uncomfortable. And so: No foundation.

But no one wants shiny skin, so the pressed powder is where it's at. Lately, I've been sticking to MAC Studio Fix because a) it's very light and b) those nice, persuasive MAC salespeople will help you find the right color for your skin. My main problem is that, especially in a hot humid climate like Singapore, it's so light I sweat it off in about an hour. Prior to Studio Fix, I was a big fan of Origins Silk Screen Refining powder, which is slightly heavier and keeps you non-oily for much longer. My main problem is that their color range didn't quite match my skin tone, so it sometimes looked kind of funny-cakey. But I'm thinking about returning to the store and seeing what they can do for me now.

(I suppose it should be noted that from time to time, I feel the need to dabble in a little foundation, and so at those time, I mix a little bit of Cover Girl Clean Makeup liquid foundation – which is oil- and fragrance-free – into some of my regular moisturizer. I apply it after I've already put on an initial layer of moisturizer, and it generally makes me a little more even and dewy, but not pancake-y. It can still come off on clothes, though, so be careful.)

Blush: I'm a daily user of Passport Nomad Anywhere Color in JFK (that's the name of the shade), a light cheek cream that comes in a cute little stick. It's a little pricier, but one stick seems to last forever. Really, I think the cream blush is the way to go – it looks so much more natural and even (that is, as long as you rub it in properly). When I really want a lot of color, I use Benefit's Benetint, which gives a great rosy flush but a) has a slightly weird rose-like smell, like you're rubbing grandma's closet on your face; and b) comes in a nail polish-style applicator, so if part of the bottle breaks – like mine did – it's a huge pain. Still, recommended for really rosy, glowy cheeks.

Face masks: I always come back to Kiehl's Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub, which is a quick, light exfoliator/mask that always seems to make my skin a little brighter. And! The best thing about Kiehl's is that you can always just pop in and ask them for a sample, so you don't have to commit to the $25 tube without making sure it works for your type of skin.

Comments? Questions? Suggestions? We are committed to helping 100 percent of readers, so the other three of you should feel free to respond.

Fun Package Day! Fun Package Day!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

On the way home from yoga today (I'm generally fitness-challenged, so it's kind of fun to say that for once), I got a call from Mike. "I think you're going to want to stop by my office on the way back from class," he said, partly because he knows me too well, and partly because I don't think he wanted to lug home today's bonanza of mail. Because there was not only brand-new issues of Dwell and The New Yorker and US Weekly and Elle (an aside—Hilary Duff's 70s-style hair: Yay or nay? I say nay, but Mike says yay. These are the kinds of riveting discussions that we have during the course of the day.) There was also my new owl Keds! And they are really, really cute. I took them for a spin on my patio so you could see for yourselves.

And here's that Hilary Duff cover so you can judge for yourself, if that is something you would like to do:

A Weekend's Worth of Birthday Outfits

So, it was my birthday this weekend. Hurrah! One of the best things about birthdays is that you get to wear your most colorful, bright, poufy outfits and no one can tell you otherwise. Think Birthday Girl, circa Age Six.

And so, I chronicled my birthday dress choices this year for all of you. (On my way out to the patio – where the best light is – Mike says, "Are you taking pictures of yourself out there?" Me: "Yep, for the blog!" Mike: "Oh. I thought maybe you were becoming really narcissistic or something.") Um. Yes. Well. But let's have a look anyway:

To your left, Friday's fancy-dinner outfit: Vintage striped dress from Park Slope Flea Market (my birthday dress of choice for the past five years, it should be noted); with vintage clutch, also from the Slope Flea Market; gray satin ribbon around waist; the Great Zara Shoes.

Middle, Saturday's running about town/soccer watching outfit: Dress from beloved vintage store Hooti Couture in Park Slope; oversized basket tote from shop in Bali (straining under the weight of my camera); chunky wooden bracelet, also from Bali; beloved Reef flipflops.

Right, Sunday's brunch outfit: Tailor-made party dress ordered from Wendy at Ya Shi Tailor Shop, #03066 Ya Show Market in Beijing (Palm Beach-y fabric from the terrific Dong Jia Du fabric market in Shanghai); vintage vinyl clutch from Delaware Goodwill; those Zara shoes again!

Not pictured: Sunday night's t-shirt and gym-shorts–from-11th-grade outfit, which I wore again all day Monday during the recovery from the birthday weekend.

An Endorsement: Really Amazing Mascara

I am not much of a beauty product junkie; truthfully, I probably don't use enough of the stuff. And when I do, it's usually a) things people have given me for free; b) things the MAC people have convinced me I need because they are really incredibly persuasive at that store; c) things from Kiehl's, because I love them.

Despite those limitations, I do like most of my regular beauty products, but a good mascara has always eluded me. My eyes (back in the pre-laser eye surgery days, at least) always become irritated by those little mascara flakes. Plus I cry a lot, necessitating a supreme waterproofing formula. And even once those aspects are solved, I never end up with the thick, dramatic lashes like the advertising promises. Usually, I end up with anemic lashes and embarassing undereye smudging that makes me look sort of deathly ill.

Really, I have gone so far as to bookmark intense web discussions on mascaras to see if anyone has a breakthrough suggestion. So far, they have led me to buy a pricey tube of Lancome Definicils and it was really disappointing.

I am telling you all this because I want you to understand the true affection I now feel for my new L'Oreal Volume Shocking mascara. It's got two parts, you see: First, you brush on some thickening lash primer and then, apply one sweep of the mascara topcoat, and voila! Actual thick lashes! The results are really quite impressive.

(I accidentally got the non-waterproof kind, so I follow up with a coat of the Galoshes side of Lingerie & Galoshes for Lashes by Urban Decay, an extra waterproofer that I bought because the company founder once called it "surf-proof." It really probably is.)

And! In my first Freebie Giveaway, I have one extra brand-new, nonopened tube of the non-waterproof L'Oreal Volume Shocking mascara. Quick, send me a note and it's yours.