Sunday, April 27, 2008

Thailand and tourmaline

Today, while jetting around the San Diego harbor with my parents, I had the epiphany that I need to live in another city for a few months, and that city shall be Bangkok. Thai food and culture have long fascinated me, and for some reason living in a huge, hot, traffic-jammed metropolis (one that's not LA) sounds peachy right about now. And for some reason a city like Bangkok doesn't intimidate me nearly as much as, say, Paris or Milan would - perhaps because Thai culture isn't fetishized in America as much as the French or Italian cultures are?

Anyhoo, I figure I'll go next December (after I turn in grad school applications) or next May (after I get my acceptances back and have a chance to visit schools). I favor the latter plan because it's a bit cooler in Bangkok during the wet season, but...well, many details have yet to be hammered out, as you can probably guess.

And speaking of of the city's residents (a Scottish ex-pat) sells great beads on etsy, and her fantabulous prices and quality finally got me to buy the tourmaline I've been wanting, as well as some bargain moonston. Hmm...perhaps I will sell my jewelry to fund my trip to Thailand!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mmm, blue Slurpee

I'm fighting a wicked hangover at the moment while waiting for my parents to show up for the weekend (side note: black olives are a pretty excellent hangover food). In the meantime, I am ogling gemstone beads on etsy as usual. I'm jonesing for some tourmaline (green and pink are my faves) but I'm always shocked at how little tourmaline you get for lots of money. I guess it's a pretty rare and valuable stone. Still, I may buy some at some point because the range of colors is just so spectacular.

I also noticed some neon blue apatite. The seller of these stones writes that they are all natural. Crazy that this electric blue naturally occurs in nature! They remind me of blue Slurpees. Ok, that's not a very elegant comparison but you get the idea.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Unleashing my inner hippie

I spent all day on Sunday hanging with friends at the Earth Day festival at Balboa Park. It was great seeing all manner of hippies, stoners, punks and goths out to play. When I moved here from NorCal I was shocked at how homogeneous everyone seemed to be. Nice to know that freaks do exist in San Diego County (I say freaks in the nicest way possible).

I left inspired by all the uninhibited, colorful fashions and personalities I witnessed. A few years ago I probably would have left the festival irritated by all the outlandish, "look at me" get-ups, but time has granted me the maturity to notice the good while ignoring the bad.

Looking back, I wish I would have pulled people aside and snapped pictures of them. I got a few of paparazzi-style shots, but didn't think to actually ask all the snappy dressers to pose for pictures.

Anyway, after all the hippie-dippiness I found myself back at home, tired and sunburned and shopping for beads on Etsy as usual. Rather than faceted gemstones, I gravitated toward these earthy pebbly moss agates. I bought 32 inches worth, and plan to wear them as a simple double- or triple-stranded necklace (the stones are smaller than the picture might suggest). These pretty agates have all my favorite colors: sea green, teal, inky blue, and kelly green, with hints of olive and lime.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Things I Love Thursday

Will the Cougar Ace be saved?!

This week's been busy and a lot of fun. As usual, I've been glued to Google Reader (how did I survive before it?!) and have found lots of fun things to read, look at and think about. Here are some highlights of the week...
  • This Wired article, about a group of total badasses who travel around the world saving huge ships from sinking, among them the Cougar Ace (above) which is loaded with $103 million worth of Mazdas. A riveting read that makes me wish my life had an element of danger. Well, weaving through downtown on my bike is pretty dangerous/stupid/exhilarating, but that's about it. [via]
  • The news that my sis is going to MIT for grad school! Yippee! Oh wait...this means the bar is set high. Damn you, overachiever big sis!
  • These ker-razy handmade trophy heads on etsy. Pricey but oh-so-cool. [via More Ways to Waste Time]
  • These thought-provoking images of animals + opulent interiors. [via This is Glamorous]
  • The sunshine and wonderful smells of blooming flowers...I can't walk or ride by bike anywhere without getting a whiff of something delicious.
  • My new vintage reversible skirt from Ramona West Vintage. It's just different enough to give my wardrobe a shot of interest. I wore it out last night (aqua side showing) and got lots of compliments.
  • This red, black and gray outfit worn by Ranna of Only Shallow. I love the mix of hard (leather jacket) and soft (feminine elements like the red dress). The cool structured bag and classic T-straps don't hurt, either.
  • This arrangement of floral-inspired objects by Ez of Creature Comforts. I'm usually not a huge red/pink person, that red trench to die for, or what?!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Another day, another bead crush

Etsy has some fantastic bead sellers. They undersell my local bead shop (duh), and often offer smaller quantities of beads rather than standard-sized strands. It's a wonderful world, I tell you. My Favorites list is swelling by the minute.

Perhaps my bead lust will calm down a little after my initial shipment of beads arrives, but I highly doubt it.

Lapis lazuli

Black spinel

Mystic black spinel

(I'm not sure which type of spinel I like better - the mystic or plain black. I love how metallic and glittery the mystic spinel looks, but I can see it looking a bit cheesy. The natural black is a bit more mysterious and subtle. Opinions?)

Monday, April 14, 2008

I shoulda been a gemologist...

Now that my jewelrymaking endeavors are finally panning out, I figured I needed supplies. Ooh! An excuse to buy glittery jewels! And you know me - I don't do anything halfway - so I went for the real deal. Real gem-quality stones. I like my money where I can see it, ya know?

All goodies are from bestbeads, an etsy store that, for a person like me, is downright pornographic. Here's what I got:

Four of these mossy aquamarine pear briolettes:

A seven-inch strand of rhodolite garnet rondelles:

And the crowning jewels...15 of these multicolored sapphires.

I only hope that I can do these stones justice when I make them into jewelry.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Adventures in vintage, part 4

I keep telling myself that buying vintage online is risky business because of sizing/quality/condition issues, but it hasn't stopped me yet. Here are two items I couldn't resist snapping up this weekend:

A 50s nylon slip. I love slips, and this is one of the cutest I've ever seen. Slips are awesome because they are good for four things:
1. wearing under dresses and skirts
2. loungin'
3. sleepin'
4. seducin'

Anyway, the slip is from etsy seller shrinkle, who I discovered via Shrinkle also has this handmade 50s apron for sale, which is so flippin' cute I couldn't bring myself to buy it because I would cry if I ever got food on it.

It's blue! It's aqua! It's...a reversible skirt! I was actually going to look for similar skirts at American Apparel, but this one is waaay cooler. I bought it from ramonawest, who offers a really well-chosen selection of vintage items.

That necklace is wearing a necklace!

I walked to Amonite (the bead store earlier today to buy a clasp for a broken necklace. I walked out after signing up for a beginning jewelry class, buying a new set of pliers, 2 feet worth of silver chain, a spool of silver wire, and more. Dammit! Or should I say...awesome? It's high time I actually learned proper jewelrymaking techniques and worked with decent materials. I've been limping along for years, and have very little to show for my lame jewelrymaking efforts because I usually end up throwing out my pitiful creations.

Anyhoo, using some of my new supplies, I made this:

I think it's pretty great, considering I had no idea what the hell I was doing. Working with good materials (a beautiful piece of aqua jade bought here and three brand-new sets of pliers) certainly helped. I may double up the chain because stone is so big and heavy, but besides that I'm pleased as punch.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Adventures in vintage, part 3

It's hot as hell today, but that didn't keep me from going thrifting as planned. Here's what I ended up with:

A raisin-colored shirt (not vintage, obviously), a fantastic beaded clamshell evening bag, and some shell beads and leather cording from Amonite (the bead store). Clearly, I had shells on the brain.

The clamshell bag was from Flashbacks, and they had a great selection of vintage clutches in the style I love. Vintage vinyl bags don't do much for me, but I adore the beaded ones that were most commonly made in Japan (this one was made in China, but it's the same idea). It's entirely possible I will keep going back to Flashbacks and buy out all their beaded bags one by one, because I can't get enough of them.

Here's another shot of the clamshell:

It's going to be great for evenings out when I like to travel light, as well as cocktail parties, weddings and the like. Ooh! So excited!

And, for the sake of historical accuracy, here's a vintage top I tried on in a store called Rags. The asymmetrical style grabbed me. Once I had it on, I realized the style reminded me a bit of the marching band uniforms we wore in high school.

I kinda dug the style but I think we can all agree that the bright peachy color is wrong on me, yes?

Here's another garment I tried on. I couldn't stop laughing/crying long enough to take a picture while wearing's from the 80s and has that triangular shape. The sort of shape that gave me linebacker shoulders. It also hit at the strangest spot on my midsection. Sorry, but I think 80s silhouettes are beyond ridiculous.

Anyway, for the clamshell bag alone, I call today's shopping trip a rousing success.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Adventures in vintage, part 2

My neighborhood is chock-full of thrift shops, highly selective vintage shops, and everything in between. And you know what? I never check them out.

I'm not sure why this is. It's partly because I think most junk shops sell, um, junk, and I have no interest in junk. I like shops that sell higher-end vintage stuff, but they are often sort of snooty, unwelcoming places with prices to high for me to stomach and few items that actually fit my lifestyle.

Anyhow, drunk on the success of finding a great vintage dress on etsy, I set out to explore the neighborhood offerings a bit. I got let out of work early today, so had a bit of afternoon to spare.

Not-so long story short...I was pleasantly surprised.

First stop: this place. It's run by the local Catholic church, but you'd never guess from the sign, would you?

Inside the store, a black-and-white checked skirt caught my eye. The label said "Valentino, made in Italy." Umm...THAT Valentino? Anyway, it was a smidge too small. Same for a camel-colored Neiman Marcus skirt. They were both beautiful pieces...if I had it in my heart I'd try to sell them for profit. You know, like the assholes on etsy and eBay I like to rag on.

Next I stopped into Wear It Again Sam, which looks like this:

They sell glorious, mint-condition artifacts of yesteryear, and the prices reflect that. it's more like a museum than a store. They did have some reasonably priced silk scarves and clutches/small purses, though.

Lastly, I popped into Flashbacks:

Flashbacks has an annoying atmosphere, and vintage clothes are jammed right next to crap from Target and Forever 21 that people sold to the store for beer money. However, since I can appreciate vintage goods AND Urban Outfitters Circa 2005, it's not so bad. I almost hate to say it, but I found several awesome things here, and plan to go back tomorrow and buy them. Look at me - instituting a waiting period on purchases! Aren't I responsible?

There are scores of other charity and vintage shops in the neighborhood that I have never explored despite living in Hillcrest since August. Needless to say, my mission tomorrow is clear.

Adventures in vintage, part 1

In the past, I thought that selling vintage stuff on Etsy was a big ol' racket. Scouring junk shops and flea markets, buying all the good stuff and selling it for profit on a site that's designed to help small-time artists get a leg up? Umm...ok. Take it to eBay, please.

I've come around, though. It's thrilling to be able to search for a specific term like "vintage boots size 7" and have a great selection of relevant items pop right up, rather than sorting through racks of clothes, shoes and accessories in some dark, smelly shop lorded over by a persnickety shopkeeper. Granted, I sometimes enjoy sorting through the mounds of crap at thrift shops, but I appreciate order and efficiency, too.

Maybe I'm just smitten because the 60s minidress of my dreams was lurking on etsy, in a store called mapetiteamy.

You'd think that a gray sleeveless minidress in gray in such a timeless style wouldn't be too hard to find, but you'd be wrong.

Here it is. Twenty-five bucks, plus $14.50 in shipping because it's coming from Canada.

Here's to hoping it fits--I think I have a good handle on my measurements, but you never know.

(Needless to say I found a lot of vintage goodies on Etsy to share with y'all. They are coming, so stay tuned!)

DIY headbands

The clothes in the latest Anthropologie catalog didn't grab me much but I loved the styling, especially the messy up-dos anchored by headbands that looked like they were made of leather cord.

After brainstorming a bit I realized that my ugly vintage dress (the one I mentioned at the end of yesterday's post) had thin, superfluous straps made out of leather. I cut them off (why yes, I do like to mutilate nicely preserved vintage pieces) and made them into a double-strand headband.

The technique is incredibly easy: you can use two elastic hairties to make any ribbon-shaped thing into a headband. (The tutorial's here.)

Just lace two hairbands together and tie or sew the ribbon-shaped thing in place (I elected to simply tie the leather onto the hairbands, as that allows me to take the whole thing apart or adjust the size.)

Et voila! A double-stranded headband made of salvaged materials - dismantled at will, and with absolutely no hard bits to dig into my tender noggin.

Glaring omissions

I'm aware I didn't do a "Things I Love Thursday" this week. Trust that I loved plenty of things, but all my evenings this week were filled with various engagements. Don't you hate it when real life gets in the way of blogging?!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Superstars, expected and unexpected

The most unexpected accessories and items of clothing garner lots of attention and compliments from the people in my life. There's often a disconnect between what I consider my most flattering, unique and attention-getting items, and what other people tend to notice/comment on. (Of course, I also have a theory that people - women especially - sometimes comment on the items they like the least, but I may just be paranoid.)

First up - some items that get tons of attention and compliments, which I didn't anticipate when I purchased them.

The item: A gingham-and-leather clutch/wristlet by Gentle Fawn I bought at Karmaloop on impulse because it was cute and $14.

What people say: "How cute! It's so you!"

The item: Purple patent leather T-straps (second from the left)

What people say: "They're so fun! I love the color!"

(needless to say, these shoes ARE distinctive, but I had no idea they would get so many compliments/comments. I got several comments the very first day I wore them.)

The item: Royal blue drape-front cardigan from Anthropologie

What people say: "Where did you get it? Is it warm?"

(my theory here is that people comment on the cardigan because it's a wonderful color on me. But I may be flattering myself.)

The item: Mundi pocketbook from Marshall's, which is starting to look the worse for wear (it's the leftmost item in the picture, obvs)

What people say: "Is that Marc Jacobs?"

Second - items that I bought knowing they would be well-received by the people in my life.

The item: Yellow Nine West tote

What people say: "How pretty! It looks like Marc Jacobs!"

(I love the Marc Jacobs comments about my bag and wallet. I had no idea these items resembled Marc Jacobs stuff when I bought them. Also, I only own one actual Marc Jacobs item - a canvas tote that was a gift. I never get comments on it.)

Third - items that I would expect to get way more comments than they do.

The item: Necklace made from a bit of vintage brass nouveau (purchased from Portobello on etsy)

I love this necklace and wear it all the time. It's asymmetrical and I find it pleasingly weird, but I suppose people don't comment on its much because they don't know what the hell it is, and are afraid to ask.

The item: Diesel leather jacket

This is an obviously pricey item and something much different from what I usually wear; so far, people seem to look me up and down without making a comment about how slick and badass I surely look. Of course, the jacket's still new and I haven't worn it that much, so time will tell.

(This post would be a lot more exciting if I wore more vintage items. I find that vintage clothes get tons of compliments - or, at the very least - puzzled looks - especially if they're pleasingly ugly. I have a butt-ugly vintage dress I bought in Hawaii, for example. It's a tight tube dress made of velveteen with a yellow-and-black plaid print, with black fur at the bust. I used to wear it to midnight showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show as a teen, and strangers would always ask me to pose for pictures. Its ugliness combined with the tight fit make it a real attention-grabber. Anyway, I want to have an Ugly Clothes Party so I can wear the dress and see all the hideous crap hiding in my friends' closets.)

Anyone else find that people love to comment on things you wouldn't expect?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Life without Ross is too sad to contemplate

After eating lunch at my desk I went for a wander in downtown SD. I was glad I did, as a cornucopia of good stuff awaited me at Ghetto Ross.

First up: a neato headband. It's flexible plastic made to look like carved wood, and I slipped it on right in the store to make sure it's comfortable. I may spray-paint it gold, silver, or some other color, but only after I get tired of the wood look.

Next up - the sunglasses. Bleach-blonde sorority girls in UGG boots and Juicy sweatpants have largely ruined large, bug-eyed sunglasses for the rest of us, but these shades make me happy like no other pair ever has (ok, ok, except for the white-with-pastel-polka-dots pair I had as a child), and isn't that the whole point? To wear stuff that makes you happy? They seem very Jackie O to me, but I'm probably just making that up.

Monday, April 7, 2008


If I've learned anything in this last year, it's that I thrive when I have a project. Sometimes my projects are silly (watch all episodes of Scrubs in order; develop a great skincare routine; amass an enviable shoe collection). Sometimes - not often enough - they're a bit more lofty.

My new project is, of course, getting into grad school. Nothing excites me - or scares me - more than the prospect of getting my PhD. I have no doubt I will enjoy every minute of it.

While completing my undergrad degree, I didn't know that grad school was right for me. I enjoyed my studies tremendously, but I harbored the goal of going into journalism - and my extracurricular activities (freelancing and working at the student newspaper) reflected this goal. Now, of course, I work in marketing - Journalism Lite. I've proven that I can earn good money and live on my own with only a bachelor's degree under my belt, and I have a job that many people covet. Still, I want nothing more than to give up my current career and immerse myself in academia once again. That's what I've learned during my career thus far.

I've already written down all the baby steps I need to complete to accomplish my new goal - starting by speaking with a grad school adviser at my alma mater's Career Center (which I will do a week from today).

From now on, my life will consist of meeting with professors, researching schools, writing personal statements, and the like. And I couldn't be happier. I have a measurable, hopefully realistic, goal (get accepted to at least one PhD program) and I have broken down all the steps I need to complete to get there.

For the first time for quite a while, I have a three, six, and 12-month plan. It feels wonderful.

I tell you this for a few reasons. First, sharing this goal with other people makes it real. Second, because this is a fashion blog, and it's entirely likely I'll be thinking a bit less about fashion from here on out. Well, that may not be true. Thinking and writing about style is comforting and fun for me, and I will always make room for the (often frivolous) things that bring me joy - because without them, I would be a crabby shell of a person.

So...if anyone has any tips for getting into grad school, or surviving once you're there, I am all ears. My plan is to study Sociology, by the way, though I am also considering Gender Studies or Social Work.

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Purging day

Today, I took two grocery bags full of clothes to a local charity shop. Some of the items I'd worn little, if ever; others I'd worn quite a bit. Some had been pretty expensive when I had originally purchased them.

Part of me feels guilty for all the hundreds of dollars I'd spent on these clothes. But then I remember that 18-year-old me didn't have the same sort of style that I have now, nor the knowledge of quality garments, flattering proportions, and smart shopping. Plus, there's the fact that an 18-year-old student does not, and should not, wear the same clothes as a 23-year-old professional. These clothes, for the most part, served me well at a certain point at my life, but for now they're best passed onto someone who will appreciate them.

Of course, the act of purging these garments makes me want to purge even more. I'm still enamored of the idea of paring down my wardrobe a bit. I will never force myself to pare down my shoe collection very much, as constantly rotating my footwear constitutes about 80% of the fun of my everyday dressing, but as for blouses, jackets, and the like - less is more.

On this note, I've been surviving on two pairs of jeans for the past two weeks or so. The weather hasn't been warm enough for skirts or dresses, so I've been alternating my dark pair and my medium-wash pair. If anyone's noticed that I wear the same pair of jeans every other day, they haven't told me, and I've found that my tiny jeans wardrobe has encouraged me to play more with hairstyles, footwear, accessories and silhouettes.

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Things I Love Thursday

A scene from "The Business of Being Born"

Um, this is gonna be more like "THING I love Thursday." Because, well, this brand spankin' new Netflix subscription is AWESOME, and if you ever hear a news story about a woman becoming one with her couch, that woman will be me. Because Netflix is awesome.

So far I've only gotten one DVD in the mail ("Roger & Me"). Because, frankly, Netflix's unlimited streaming video service is enough to keep me sated. My favorite genre - documentaries - are especially well-represented in the insta-play lineup. First I watched "Word Wars," about the world of competitive Scrabble playing.

Then I watched "The Business of Being Born," in which Ricki Lake gives birth in her bathtub (just to pick one highlight). That film is chock-full of surreal moments, but all in all it left me thinking that giving birth is actually really badass, and nothing to fear. Which is a dramatic departure from my previous stance of, "push a baby through my what?!"

Then, I found that episodes of The Office are also available to watch instantly, so I'm happily working my way through episodes from Season 3 I haven't yet seen. They are quite amusing, though it's sort of weird to come home from work, eat some dinner, and then watch a TV show

Anyhoo, that is my life. Work is insanely busy, the weather here is perfect, my thighs are constantly sore from biking so much, and I am a happy camper. A happy camper who watched Ricki Lake give birth in her bathtub. Thanks, Netflix!

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Three -- no, four -- takes on this season's crazy, sometimes ugly, footwear

1. NY Observer
2. Jezebel
3. NY Times (I feel compelled to point out that the shoes in this slideshow are termed "creative," but that many of them fall into the "ugly" or "just plain crazy" category)
4. UK Telegraph (great video, if only for the juxtaposition of whimsical designer shoes with practical business attire)

My theory, shamelessly stolen from a Jezebel commentator: designers (Prada, Chloe, et al) are pushing the "shoe as status symbol" thing -- and an ugly, distinctive shoe effectively communicates that its wearer has dropped a lot of dough on designer footwear. Seen as a marker of wealth (not taste), an ugly shoe is just as effective as a pretty one.

The whole phenomenon's a little abstract to those of us who would die before dropping $800 on a pair of shoes. However, if you will allow me a bit of snark, this trend toward hideous, increasingly exorbitantly priced designer shoes will make easy work of separating the style mavens (worthy of emulation) from the fashion victims (worthy of disdain).

Edited to add the Telegraph TV video

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