Saturday, March 29, 2008

The vicissitudes of Nordstrom Rack

Ok, perhaps this typifies the sort of disgusting consumption you've come to expect from me, but...these are just damn cool.

A couple of months ago, I went to Nordstrom Rack with some mission or other in mind. I quickly checked out the cosmetics department in case anything outstanding was lurking there, and noticed a few Smashbox limited-edition makeup brush sets, priced at $40. The packaging screamed that the brush sets were limited-edition and actually worth $180, but I decided that $40 was a bit expensive and I didn't need more makeup brushes anyway.

Fast forward to a week later; I realized that I wanted the brush set. I headed back over to Nordstrom Rack and to find that all the brush sets were gone (sometimes I forget how quickly Nordstrom Rack moves merchandise). I circled the department dejectedly for about 15 minutes, checking every nook in cranny in case they were hiding in some dim corner. I even checked eBay for the brush sets - no dice. I was pissed.

So, yesterday, I was positively thrilled to find the store teeming with dozens of the very same brush sets. I picked one out that was relatively unmolested (people do darn tragic things to merchandise that isn't swathed in layers of unassailable plastic, don't they?).

The kits may not actually be worth $180, but for $40 they are pretty darn slick. The bristles are snow-white nylon, and soft as a whisper. The handles are full-sized (I hate those dinky travel handles) and Lucite (ooh, neat!). They all pack into a rigid carrying case that has room for other makeup items. I'm so pleased, I'm tempted to buy some more sets to give as gifts, but I'm worried that not everyone appreciates makeup brushes as much as me.

Stuff like this is why I love off-price retailers. Wedged between ugly, badly made stuff, treasures lie.

(Also, as a fun historical note, I took these pictures at 2:30am this morning, drunk after a night of clubbing. Considering how wobbly I was, these images turned out quite well.)

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Found! Seychelles at Loehmann's

So, you know those Seychelles pumps-with-a twist I mentioned the other day? I found them at Loehmann's! At $49, how could I not buy them?

I'm often wary of light-colored shoes because they get dirty, often look like bridal wear gone wrong, and don't flatter the feet. These, however, make my feet look teeny-weeny; they're also ridiculously comfortable (though I have not yet danced the night away in them, but I'll keep you posted). Like in the photo above, they've been attacked using some sort of red dye, which gives them an antiqued appearance. It's a little weird but preferable to a gleamingly white shoe, in my opinion.

I'm pleased as punch but, as always, second-guessing myself. The question is, would I be best served by these, or the Nine West sandals below?
Perhaps I could order the Nine West sandals and see which shoe is more comfortable. That would be the reasonable way to go about things, at least.

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Hot wrinkled mess

Thursday night, while trying to fall asleep, I was seized by the urge to track down my stash of silk scarves. I hadn't seen them since I moved into this apartment in August, and panicked because I thought I might have lost them forever.

After digging in my closet for just a few seconds I found them - all crumpled into a little brocade bag, but otherwise intact. I gave them a quick iron, but they still have some flattening out to do.

The prettiest ones were gifts from globe-trotting relatives and friends. I don't know why everyone feels the need to buy me a scarf when they go to India or Japan or whatever, but I ain't complaining.

These will fit quite nicely into my spring mode of dressing. I like to roll them up for headbands, but I'm going to experiment with various around-the-neck configurations, and maybe tie them around a ponytail or bun.

From left to right:

1 - Japan via my aunt and uncle. Not actually silk, obviously. The Japanese version of a cotton bandanna. I like to roll it up and wear it as a headband.
2&3 - Actually belts from a pair of shorts and a silk bathrobe.
4 (top) - Japan via my aunt and uncle, I think. Absolutely stunning, but I managed to burn it a little while ironing it. Deep sigh.
5 (bottom) - India, via my friend. One of my favorites. The colors match nearly everything in my wardrobe.
6&7 - Random bits of silk I bought from a silk store's scrap pile and hemmed.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Things I Love Thursday

Oh's Thursday already?! This week's been flying by. Here are some things that put the cream in my coffee! Er...the lime on my salmon burger. Yes, that's more like it.

Style Bytes: A splenderrific fashion blog that I had not discovered til today! It's written by a gorgeous Scandinavian named Agathe who - get this - has an adorable petty piggy named Molvin! (Agathe and Molvin are in the pic above). Perhaps I will add a piggy to my brood when I have a home that allows them.

Flying Saucer: Another fashion blog that makes me squeal in glee. Written by a British university student. Oh hell, she puts the rest of us to shame. When I was in college, I was just discovering high heels, cell phones, and Forever 21, and I committed all sorts of fashion crimes.

Green nail polish: If Sally Bowles can rock it, so can I! For years, it seems, I've had this great polish that's somewhere between emerald green and teal. I don't wear it often, but I thought the other day, hey! I work at a place that will be completely accepting of whatever crazy nail polish, hair colors, or eye makeup colors I feel like wearing, so why don't I take advantage of that? Needless to say, I painted my nails green last night.

My new NYC blush in "Central Park Pink." I'd been using a truly ancient Wet 'n Wild blush that's fine, if a little dark (remember: keep your blush light and bright as possible!). I decided it was time for me to branch out and possible replace the Wet 'n Wild stuff. This NYC blush is muy's really finely milled and such a gorgeous delicate pink color. Why yes, they do sell happiness at the drugstore! For only a couple bucks, no less!

This article in the New York Times: Basically it explains that science has finally found proof fort the existence of a runner's high. Ah, I knew there was a reason I flit around like a happy little butterfly after an intense run or bike ride!

And, so you all leave this post with the best possible impression, here's another wonderful shot of Agathe from Style Bytes Does it take you back in time or what?!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The embellished flat, two ways

I can't handle too many fake flowers and buckles and baubles all gettin' up on my feet, but some embellishments are just right.
What have lasers done for YOU today? Given us the subtle cutouts on this shoe, for starters. These cutouts add a lot to the visual interest of the shoe without being too crazy or overwhelming. They may also help the shoe breathe, but who knows.

These are $41.99 at Piperlime, in gray and red.

OMG SEQUINS!!! Seriously, purple + blue is a very happenin' color combination, and despite being bedecked in sequins, I don't think these would be too attention-getting if they were peeking out from the leg of a wide leg trouser. Also, if you ever get stranded in a remote area, you could probably use these to catch the attention of passing aircraft.

These are $39.95 (!!!) at Anthropologie (!!!!). God, so tempting...

Spring Style MO

Inspired by - who else? - Gala Darling, I wrote out a little Style Concept designed to guide my spring and summer style choices. I'm really warming up to the idea to editing my wardrobe seasonally (because I can consciously set aside a good portion of my wardrobe and still have plenty to wear), as well as constructing a persona around my clothing choices.

Here are some examples of Style Concepts: one and two.

(Sorry I don' t yet have visuals to accompany this style concept - I'll compile them sometime when I'm not at work!)

  • Shoes will be considered jewelry; embrace metallics, interesting detailing/cutouts, and stilettos.
  • Save flats for sore-feet and farmer's market days.
  • Rely heavily on statement jewelry: my attention-getting vintage brass necklace, large sea-green stone necklace, and large dark-blue antique ring.
  • Avoid plain earrings, such as faux-diamond studs. Instead, wear drop earrings, but only when the outfit calls out for them.
  • Shiny and bouncy.
  • Embrace waves/curls, beach hair, and a laissez-faire shampoo schedule.
  • Use headbands, printed scarves/fabric belts tied around the head, and other hair ornaments with wild abandon.
  • Consider belting cardigans, tunics, and dresses to emphasize the waist
  • Jeans are skinny. This opens the door for floaty, voluminous pieces on top
  • Pair floaty skirts with more form-fitting tops
  • Don't be afraid of looser clothes, but wear voluminous pieces on the top OR bottom, not both
  • Florals and wild prints in a top or scarf (tied around the neck or worn as a headband or as a belt)
  • Royal/electric blue, purple, yellow, grass green, coral, white, gold
  • Use black as an accent only
  • Best color combinations: purple with yellow, blue with white or yellow/coral, green with gray and white
  • Unbuttoned or no-button cardigans for day (especially to add volume on top when wearing skinny jeans)
  • Dove gray leather biker jacket for night, especially paired with overtly feminine pieces like florals and floaty skirts
The attitude:
  • Energetic, spontaneous, fun, but not bubbly or cloying
  • Always snapping pictures, recording funny quotes in my Moleskine, suggesting spontaneous outings to the beach or park, and trying new recipes, restaurants and drinks
Points of interest/emphasis:
  • Shoes, shoes, shoes. Legs. Ankles.
  • Interesting things tied around the neck or on the head
  • The waist (in outfits where legs/shoes are not the emphasis)
  • Garments that move in an interesting way
  • Statement jewelery (especially necklaces) constructed of natural stones
Other thoughts:
  • Keep a pair of ballet flats in my bag during nights out, so I am not felled by my high heels and thought a wimp (or a bore) by my companions
  • Work on cultivating a layered look without adding too much bulk/warmth. Layer two thin tank tops over each other, for example, or wear a chiffon scarf to add interest to a solid-color shirt
  • Nothing stuffy or overly tight. If I must wear a staid pieces (a black pencil skirt, for instance), imbue it with fun and whimsy by pairing it with unpredictable, slightly impractical shoes, jewelry, hair, etc.
  • Embrace color, print and contrast
  • Apply makeup with a light hand. Wear sheer glosses rather than lipsticks, an easy dusting of petal-pink blush, a bit of white eyeliner to bring light to the eyes, etc.
Possible purchases:
  • Funky hats and other headcoverings for day
  • A rad pair of sunglasses (vintage, preferably)
  • Vintage slips/thin dresses to layer over skinny jeans and under a sweater
  • Interesting high-heeled shoes, especially in unpredictable colors like green, pink and yellow
  • Belts that fit the natural waist, or scarves that can be used for this purpose
  • High-waisted skirts
  • Something in fuschia

Monday, March 24, 2008

Wardrobe malfunction!

In this unflattering screengrab, ditzy right-wing mouthpiece Elisabeth Hasselbeck is shown missing an earring and flashing some bra on a recent episode of The View. She also appears to be wearing a gauzy beach cover-up, but that's beside the point.

This screengrab makes me laugh (Elisabeth making a feel of herself without even speaking a word? Capital!) while wondering whether The View's wardrobe people need stronger coffee or something.

[ full clip here ]

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Rockin' the prenatals

No, I'm not jonesing for a baby.

Last Saturday I trotted down to the blood bank for my usual blood donation, but they turned me away because my iron levels were a little low. They set me loose with a list of iron-rich foods and I munched on spinach and other goodies for a week. I went back yesterday, only to find that my iron levels were much lower. WTF? It could explain why I get light-headed sometimes, though.

Anyway, the lady suggested I start taking a a good multivitamin or prenatal vitamins; clearly my quasi-vegetarian diet is not doing me any good in the iron department. I'd heard that prenatal vitamins make the hair shiny and nails strong in addition to conferring health benefits, so I bought those. They taste pretty nasty (I chew vitamins because I'm a baby about swallowing pills whole), but if they can make me purdy while improving my health, I am IN.

I will sure to report back in case I start sprouting Rapunzel hair or crazy long nails.

(Consider this post a reminder to get your iron levels checked, because it's extremely common for women to have low iron levels without realizing it.)

Ugly? Maybe. Interesting? Sure.

Historically, I have fallen for footwear styles that are aggressively feminine. However, this season's footwear is all about chunky heels, gladiator sandals, and other styles that are more tough than sweet - often paired with feminine staples like floaty, floral dresses. I didn't get the aesthetic at first, but now it's growing on me. Say what you will about this season's shoes, but at least they're interesting.

Nine West Heech - blatant knockoffs of Balenciaga gladiator sandals which come in an array of colors. I like the idea of pairing these with a floaty dress or skirt, or a pair of skinny jeans. Camille of Childhood Flames has them in black and brown; paired with her long legs, they look aggressive, funky and sexy. See them in action here and here. I used to be categorically opposed to footwear that cut off the length of one's leg, but at least these wedges are a million times more flattering than flat gladiators.

Nine West Zanja - a streamlined cousin of the gladiators, in my estimation. There's something so refreshing about a sandal that's not just a bunch of skinny straps that cut into your feet.

BCBG Max Azria Imin - I hated these at first, but now I think they're genius. First, they combine dark blue and black, allowing you to wear them with black, dark blue, or a range of colors, really. Secondly, that little strip of yellow acknowledges the season without going overboard. Also, they cover up one's heel, which is nice because no ones has pretty heels.

Seychelles Wait For No One - A pump with a delicious twist, basically. I love the army green color and vintage styling.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

First shots of the skinny jeans

You saw them here first, kids. Excuse the greasy hair and pained expressions.

The lighter pair with my purple T-straps. If the crotch area looks strange, it's because the button fly is missing a button. They also need to be hemmed about 5" - I'm taking them to the tailor after I finish this post.

And with silver flats. A very casual look, but not too unflattering I don't think.

The dark pair with the T-straps. These are very tight around the ass/thighs, but not enough to bother me (they're a size smaller than the lighter pair). Also, they're obviously too long, but they're sort of cute cuffed - what do you think?

With a pair of summery wedges. I'm smiling because I feel tall.

With a pair of D'Orsays I never wear. I really like this look, actually, though a lighter shirt might work better with the light shoes.

So...yay or nay? Am I deluding myself that these are kinda great compared to swimming in bootcut jeans?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Are skinny jeans evil?

So...confession time. I just can't get too excited about jeans. I love my legs, but pants are just those things that fill up the space between a fun top and some knockout high heels.

Meanwhile, I've clung mightily to the notion that bootcut jeans are the most flattering. Women have hips, I reasoned, and some width at the ankle helps balance out those hips.

Consequently, up til now my jeans collection has consisted of bootcut jeans hemmed to accommodate flats, and bootcut jeans hemmed to accommodate heels. Yawn.

Enter the skinny jean. At first I thought they were just a passing fad, but they've now been in style for, what? Three seasons now? I thought they were ugly at first, and resisted even trying them on.

However, while in the sartorial rat race that is my workplace, I started realizing that all the women are wearing skinny jeans...and they look pretty awesome. You must understand that all the women at my company basically dress to impress each other. I work with the world's cutest, most well-dressed short curvy girl, a tall redhead ripped from the pages of Anthropologie, and various other fashionistas/Glamazons. I could do a whole lot worse than taking style cues from them. All wear skinny jeans.

I went to Ghetto Ross -- for research purposes of course. In between racks and racks of bootcut jeans, a few lone skinnies were hiding. I tried on two pairs of the skinnies and holy shit, both looked good. They make my hips and ass look, um, incredibly juicy, but what the hell? That's sorta cool, right? And I really like how they showcase tall shoes. Sure, having a stiletto peek out under a bootcut jeans is sexy, but why not show off the entire shoe if you're going to teeter around on heels all day?

Also, skinny jeans (or leggings, but this isn't about leggings) balance out tunics and voluminous tops, and this is a good thing.

Morals of the story:
  • I am incredibly slow to embrace new denim styles.
  • Skinny jeans are not evil, even if you have thighs and a butt and all the trappings of womanhood.

Ghetto Ross delivers

There's this Ross store near my work (i.e. in the heart of downtown), and it's very sketchy and grubby and I like to make fun of it and refer to it as Ghetto Ross. Except lately, I've actually been shopping there, and they have seriously good stuff.

Like this: a beautiful blue rayon scarf and an incredibly comfy pair of Nine West flats, each for around $10? Uh, yes please.

(Do you love the studs on the flats as much as I do? Also, do you agree that elasticized flats look absolutely retarded when they're not on someone's feet? Seriously, it looks like they're trying to eat themselves.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Things I Love Thursday

1. These bangin' pics of John Krasinki (one is above), via A Cup of Jo. He looks so dapper. Why don't guys ever look dapper anymore? LOOK DAPPER, DAMMIT.

2. My new Moleskine notebooks! I bought a small one and keep it in my purse for on-the-fly lists, thoughts, and notes. The big one is a private journal, and I've been writing stuff down like crazy before I go to bed. They instantly made me more organized - plus I can look back years from now and look at all the silly stuff I thought worthy of recording.

3. Farmer's market asparagus - mmmm. I bought a bunch on Sunday and was blown away about how flavorful, tender and delicious it was. When it was gone, I was so sad. Luckily, I can buy lots more! Yay for seasonal, local food!

4. This shot of Lindsay Lohan and gal pal Samantha Ronson. I luurve Lohan's expression of disgust and disdain, and the composition is very Hopper.

5. My blue scarf - it's such a pretty color, and great to have around in the cool, windy weather we've been having. And it was only $10 at Ghetto Ross!

6. This fabulous dining area on the Mid-Century Modernist. It makes me think about my wardrobe, actually, because I am not about prints, I am about textures: leather, lace, denim, patent, etc. And the picture is about the fabulous interplay of various textures.

7. This absolutely stunning woman, shot in Milan by the Sartorialist. Perrrfection.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Playing around with the auto-timer on my camera...

Hey! That's not too bad! Except there's a nice bit of table in the picture. Whoops.

Maybe if I stare fixedly at the camera, it will bend to my will.

I shall show the Internet I can be fun and frivolous!

Nutso Camera Angle Makes 5'4" Woman Look Like a Giant. Film at 11.

(at this point I hurriedly shoved some books under the camera.)

Channeling Napoleon with all my might.

If I pretend like I've totally forgotten the camera is there, will I look cool?

Not bad! But is that the camera strap at the edge of the photo? D'oh! FAIL.

So...if you have been wondering why I don't post daily outfit photos, it's because A) I wear boring, black and white outfits and B) I fail at the simple mechanics of self-photography.

Oh yeah and sources for my uber-chic (not really) outfit:
  • Headband, Forever 21 (it's actually a belt that came with a pair of shorts)
  • Scarf, Ross
  • Ancient white sweater, Express
  • Black tunic, BCBG via Marshall's
  • Ancient black pants, Ross or Marshall's (they are bootcut, but I tuck them into my boots because I. AM. A. REBEL.)
  • Boots by top American designer Michael Kors


200 posts! Do I get a medal or something?

Environmentalism gone wild

I nipped into Ross during my lunch break and bought a large red spatula - with all the cooking I'm doing these days, I realized one spatula just won't do.

As always, I refused a bag at the checkout, since I had my large-ish tote bag with me. I went to stuff the spatula in my bag and found that the generously sized spatula was, well, way too big for the bag.

So, if you saw a woman walking around downtown SD today with a large red spatula sticking out of her bag, that was me.

Sadly, I do shit like this all the time. In the absence of plastic shopping bags, I'll find myself juggling an antique lamp, loaf of bread, bunch of asparagus, pair of socks and a Jamba Juice - all at the same time. And then I'll reach into my pocket and find a little baggie full of pizza. Or I'll stop dead in the street because I need, NEED! some lip balm or my sunglasses, and my arms and fists are full of stuff. It's crazy, I tell ya.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy feet?

Ok, so I know I pledged not to buy any more shoes this year. However, I did not anticipate a wardrobe emergency.

My single pair of serviceable flats are gold Steve Maddens in fake leather (they're not as hideous as they sound, I promise). And therein lies the problem: fake leather sucks. They're mere months old, but with regular wear, they've begun to smell like a locker room.

A decent way to battle this problem, of course, is to wear them less often, stuffing them with newspaper between wears.

So, I dragged myself down to DSW, in search of a pair of comfortable leather flats - in a relatively neutral color that is not black, brown or white - that I can alternate with the Steve Maddens.

Before I got down to business, I had to sample DSW's delicious goods:

One of my favorite styles of flamboyant heels that I have long ogled on Zappos. They didn't have my size - otherwise I would have modeled them. In person, the heel is VERY thin and tall and sort of a weird shape.

An adorable leather Mary Jane made by Dollhouse. Very comfy and well-engineered. They come in black and brown also, but I sort of dug the blue. When worn with blue jeans in a similar shade, blue shoes give the effect of a longer leg. I liked these a lot and would have bought them, but for once I stuck to my mission of buying flats.

So here are the shoes I actually bought...

Sam Edelman flats in metallic green. The green is somewhere between forest green and teal, and the shoe has removable ankle straps and little silver cutout accents. The vamp is cut very low, so the shoes show a ton of toe cleavage - which has the effect of making my feet look a little bigger. I'm still not 100% sold on them, especially since I tried them with all my pants last night and found that they don't look all that great with most of them.

DSW also had the flats in black and purple. I sorta loved the purple , but talked my self out of buying them because I already have purple shoes (high-heeled Mary Janes). I'm sorta having second thoughts now, though - since I wear so many green/blue tops, purple shoes might be more wearable than green. Thoughts?

I also bought these little gel insoles. I heartily recommend them. What's nice is that they don't have adhesive on the back, so you can stick them in your shoes each day. I plan to wear them all the time, especially with flats (which often lack arch support).

The Sam Edelman flats are at Zappos (for twice the price of DSW, natch). I wish DSW had them in pewter.

So...should I return the green flats and go for purple? Or return them and keep searching for a different flat entirely? Or keep them, since I gravitated toward the green for a reason?

Biking to work, even if you're a high-maintenance fashionista

When people hear that I commute to work via bike, they usually say something like "Wow! That's so cool! But I could never do it because..." and then they rattle off whatever excuse pops into their head. Perhaps their hours are too long, or their office's dress code too strict, or their home too far away.

I have one thing to say to them: if this high-maintenance girl can bike to work every day, anyone can (well, not anyone, but you get the idea). Here's how to make it work.


You need to create a routine around going to bed, waking up, packing lunches, packing your clothes, and the like. You also need to figure out the logistics – where you will store your bike, what clothes you will wear while biking, etc.

My bike chilling in the foyer.

Also, get your gear in order. This means procuring a bike, keeping it in good working order, and learning how to ride it (including how to work all the gears). This also means buying cute and functional workout clothes and athletic shoes, a good helmet, bike locks, a backpack (in which to store your purse and work clothes while biking), and any other necessary provisions.

Cute, comfortable workout shoes are a must.


Many of us treat our cars like lockers; when you don't have the safety net of a backseat and trunk, things can get dicey. The key is to pare down your stuff and create a routine around packing your entire day into a backpack you can comfortably wear while biking. Here's a summary of the things I pack for my day:

Lunch: Bringing lunch from home is the true key to saving money and eating healthfully. I'm pretty lazy in this area, and depending on the other things in my bag, I don't always have room for a homemade lunch in my backpack. However, I can usually squeeze in a sandwich and a piece of fruit for lunch.

Rigid plastic containers (I like the ones that IKEA sells) are awesome for storing food and keeping it from being crushed on the journey to work. Also, many workplaces have fridges where you can keep goodies such as peanut butter, jam, yogurt and the like – just be sure to keep your goodies away from sticky-fingered co-workers!

Packing a lunch the night before seems like a good idea. I will never be organized enough to do it, but it seems like a wise solution.

Have jewelry, will travel.

Jewelry: I have picked out my favorite jewelry and put it in a little padded box that lives in my backpack. When I arrive at work each day, I just open the box, pick out a necklace, ring or pair of earrings that goes with my outfit, and voila! I'm ready to rock. At the end of the day, as I'm changing back into my workout clothes, I take off my jewelry and put it back in the box.

If, like me, you have a large jewelry collection, rotate the contents of the box, so you can enjoy every piece in your collection. But leave Grandma's pearls at home – if (God forbid) your backpack gets stolen or something, you don't want to lose any priceless heirlooms. If you wear a wedding ring, there's no reason you can't keep it on as you ride. Many earrings (lever-backs or studs) can be worn while biking, also. Necklaces too, but I hate the thought of my necklaces getting sweaty/dirty.

Shoes: I pack my work shoes in the smaller compartment of my backpack, to keep them from dirtying up my clothes and purse.

My backpack, waiting to be unpacked after a
long day. It's all there: shoes, jeans, shirt, and even some
light reading I enjoyed during lunch.

Work clothes: As I'm drifting off to sleep each night, I plan what I'm going to wear the next day. Then I quickly pack it in the morning. I don't advocate packing your outfit the night before, as your clothes will become more wrinkled/creased this way. You could lay them out, though.

Something warm: My workplace is cold. About once a week, I pack a neutral-colored cardigan in with my clothes. I slip it on at work as needed, then take it home to be laundered when it gets gross. Luckily, I live in a temperate climate where I rarely need anything warmer than a light jacket, both for outdoor jaunts and sitting in the office. If you aren't so lucky, I would recommend keeping warm outerwear in your office as needed.

Sunglasses and sunscreen: Sunglasses make you look sharp while protecting your eyes from UV rays. As for sunscreen – after using up a little bottle of makeup remover, I filled it with sunscreen, and take it wherever I go, since I burn very easily. I refill it as needed. When you're biking, be aware of what parts of you are exposed to the sun and slather accordingly. An oft-overlooked part is the hands: they get more sun than you think, and can age quickly.

Makeup and deodorant: Since I wait until I'm at work to apply face powder, my powder lives in my purse. Depending on how sweaty you get, it may also be a good idea to keep some deodorant in your bag so you can freshen up before you head into work. Obviously, I also keep other girly accouterments with me – oil blotting papers, a hairbrush, and lip balm/lip gloss.

Keep a scarf in your bag for greasy hair days.

Hair: While biking, I use bobby pins and a metal-less hairtie to get all hair off my face/neck. When I arrive at work, I usually just brush out my hair and wear it down, though sometimes I'll use the bobby pins/hair tie to do something more exotic with it. I recommend keeping a scarf/headband in your bag to wear in your hair when it's looking greasy or simply needs a pick-me-up. Scarves are wonderfully versatile, and everyone is bowled over by a cute scarf for some reason.

The Ride Itself

Ready…set…go! Here are some things I do to keep the ride safe and pleasant.

Enjoy the silence: It may be tempting to listen to music while pedaling away, but I don't recommend it. Why? It's important to be aware of the sounds around you – cars coming up behind you, for instance. Also, not listening to music helps you be in the moment – to enjoy all the sights, sounds and smells you don't experience when you're traveling the same route in a car.

Respect all traffic laws: Don't piss off pedestrians by riding on the sidewalk, and obey all traffic laws. Ride on the right side of the road, stop at red lights and stop signs, and so forth. Also, especially in urban areas, consider using hand signals to tell motorists when you're going to turn.

Be hyper-aware of the cars around you: Especially in the city, people tend to make turns without signaling, or will stop suddenly to parallel park. Sudden maneuvers can be dangerous to bikers if you're not prepared; luckily, you are blessed with a nimble vehicle (and quick reflexes, I hope) that can help you steer away from a a collision.

Focus, and have fun: Pay attention to your body, especially how your fitness level increases over time. Play around with the gears on your bike and find the one that's most comfortable given your fitness level and the terrain. Vary your route to and from work. Chat with pedestrians at stoplights. Drink in the scenery. Let your mind wander a little, while still focusing on what you're doing. I get some of my best thinking done while making my way up the hill toward home – not sure why, but I enjoy it, and look forward to it, though the uphill slog is rather punishing.

Words to the wise

Miscellaneous things I've picked up on the way that are especially relevant to high-maintenance women like me.

Plan outfits in advance. Periodically, devote an evening to raiding your closet and devising a bunch of outfits. (This is also a great time to identify clothes you don't wear, and to get rid of them). Create a lookbook - either in your head or by taking photographs of the outfits you've created. Sure, it sounds obsessive, a little advance planning saves future headaches. In the morning, you won't have the luxury of trying on six different outfits - you simply have to pack one. Thus, you need to know which pants go with which shoes, which bra goes under which top, and so forth. Speaking of bras...

Don't forget your bra. When packing my outfit in the morning, it's common for me to almost forget to pack a bra. Don't overlook this. Also, remember to pack those easily-overlooked bits of your outfit, like a belt, tights, socks, etc.

Be prepared for aches, pains and more. Especially when you first begin biking, your quads and butt will be sore. In addition, you may get a bit sore/chafed in the crotch (this goes away quickly, I promise!).

You will also be exhausted when you first start. You may want to go to sleep much earlier; you may also have a hell of a time waking up in the mornings. Don't despair – your body (and your schedule) will adjust.

You may also get cramps at other times during the day, especially in the evenings. I tend to terribly painful cramps in my feet and calves – taking vitamins and eating healthily helps fight them. Lastly, be prepared for the soreness in your legs/butt to give way to nice muscle tone, as well as overall improved cardiovascular fitness and nice, clear skin!

Little things that make biking all that easier and more pleasant

Having a secure place to lock/store your bike, both at home and at work: In the past, I brought my bike right into my place of work (a high rise downtown) and stored it in a closet steps from my desk. It was an ideal solution; then, building management announced that bikes were henceforth banned from the building. This was such a shock to me that I actually stopped biking for awhile. Now, I lock my bike in a parking garage under the building, using both a U-lock and a cable lock. Happily, in my apartment building I am able to store my bike in a secure foyer steps from my front door. Anyway, it pays to scope out places to keep your bike secure, as well as to invest in quality locks so you aren't distracted from your work by worry that someone is stealing your favorite mode of transportation!

Having a short trip: You have more control over this than you think. I lived in a suburb (far away from everything, really); then I got hired at my current job. For awhile, I commuted 30 minutes or so by car; then I moved much closer to my job, to a nicer, more expensive apartment in a great neighborhood – all with the idea that I could easily bike to work. It was a win-win situation for me: great apartment, great neighborhood, lower transportation costs. Living close to work makes my life easier in so many ways. You will be amazed by how much more happy and relaxed you are once you don't have to battle traffic in your car! Again, it's not for everyone, but if you're a young person just staring your career, why not try out a new neighborhood?

Working someplace with a relaxed dress code: I have the incredible luxury of working in a creative environment with no real dress code. However, not everyone is as lucky. Personally, I think fancy business clothes can handle being carefully folded/rolled into a backpack for a few minutes while you ride to work. Some people may have the option of keeping their clothes at work – in a locker room, for example.

Being an early riser: Depending on how far from work you are – and the traffic in your area - riding to work may not add that much time to your commute. However, packing lunches and clothes will add some time in the morning, since you pretty much have to pack your entire day into a backpack. It really pays to cultivate a routine that involves going to bed earlier, and waking up earlier. If you already find yourself with extra time in the morning, more power to ya.

Paring down your haircare routine: I know, I know…blasphemy, right? The key here is to figure out what works for you, but I will say this: it really pays to take the fuss out of haircare. For example, every third day I wash my hair, apply mousse and straightening gel, and blowdry it; other than that, I throw on a shower cap when I shower. It saves loads of time, and my hair looks better for not getting washed and blow-dried to death. When I arrive at work, I don't have to fuss with it. I just run a brush through it and I'm good to go. I urge everyone to do less to their hair – less heat-styling, less washing, less everything. You hair will perk up, I promise!

I keep my workout clothes right by my bed, so I can grab and go.

Finding superstar products: I'm no product whore (wait…am I?) but a few well-chosen products can make your bicycle-filled life much easier. In the realm of clothes, wonderfully comfy athletic shoes, attractive workout clothes, and a spiffy pair of shades will make you proud of your unorthodox commute (and will bring you admiring glances in the elevator).

In the realm of beauty products, an eyeshadow base keeps my makeup from sliding off as I bike to and from work – I favor MAC Pain in Bare Canvas, but Urban Decay Primer Potion is good, too. As for mascara, Blinc Kiss Me Mascara is the most no-fuss, non-irritating mascara I've ever tried, and doesn't budge - until I'm ready to take it off, in which case it slides off easily with a bit of hot water.

As for foundation, I'd say ditch it entirely. Biking in foundation isn't particularly good for your skin, though you could apply it once you arrive at work. I make do with a good SPF moisturizer and a dusting of loose powder. Exercise can help you skin clear up, and who needs a ton of makeup when you already have beautiful glowing skin, right?

A summary of my routine

7:30/7:40: Wake up, shower, and put in contacts. Put on makeup, except for face powder (this gets put on in the bathroom at work). Pack my purse, clothes, shoes and lunch into my backpack.

8:30/8:40: Bombs away!

8:50: Arrive at work, lock bike, and head up to my floor to change into my work clothes, pat on some powder, and take my hair down. Fold workout clothes and put them in backpack.

9-5: Work, or pretend to work.

5:00: Head back to employee bathroom and change back to biking clothes. Pin hair back and off my face. Pack work clothes into backpack and skedaddle.

5:20/5:30: Arrive home, sweaty and disgusting. Jump in shower for a quick rinse-off.

After shower: Unpack backpack; put clothes away (if they are still reasonably clean) or in hamper. Unpack shoes, stuff them with newspaper to keep odor at bay, and store them in appropriate place.

11ish: Hit the sack and mentally choose next day's outfit.

Yay! So that's it! Hope that was enlightening.

Here is some further reading about biking to work:

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The jacket in action

I think this is a first for me - actually posting pictures of myself wearing stuff I've bought. So, here is the new leather jacket in action. I cropped my head out because no one needs to see my goofy expressions.

Another angle. Aargh, those sleeves!
I'm going to get them shortened ASAP.

The jacket zipped up all the way. I guess I have a thick
neck or something, because this is not comfortable.

So there you have it! Proof that I actually wear the crap I buy. So...comments? Dig that jacket, or think it looks dumb? Think the fit is up to snuff?

And now I'm head out to a St. Patrick's Day parade...wearing ze jacket of course!

Colors of spring

When I got fitted for contacts I also picked out new frames, to be made into computer glasses to wear over my contacts. Because clearly my life wasn't quite complicated enough. I finally got the new glasses a few days ago, and realized their lime-green case matches with my teal wallet and yellow purse in a way that I never could have planned.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Nordie's offers free shipping - with a caveat

I was thrilled to learn that Nordstrom is now offering free shipping on online and catalog orders. However, I checked the fine print and it only applies to orders over $200. Boo.

With so many online retailers - Zappos, Shopbop, Tobi, Revolve Clothing, etc. - already offering no-strings-attached free shipping (and often free returns, too), I think it's only a matter of time before it comes the industry standard.

If I recall, studies have shown that online retailers see an immediate rise in online sales when they introduce free shipping - even if the cost of shipping is absorbed in the price of their products. Just saying "Free Shipping!" is a wonderful marketing tool, and a great way to build goodwill and loyalty among customers. To choose just one example, Zappos offers free shipping, free returns, and superior customer service, and they are one of the most beloved online retailers.

I would love love love if started offering free shipping. Currently, they do $7.95 flat-rate standard shipping, which is terribly insidious because I tend to put more items in my cart to "justify" the shipping cost (note to readers: don't do this)! However, on the flip side, I consider's flat-rate $2.95 shipping a steal. Three bucks in shipping doesn't bother me much at all, even if I'm only buying one item - though I'd certainly prefer it to be free.

Anyway, I hope other large retailers - Macy's, JCPenney, et al - take Nordstrom's lead and start offering free shipping on catalog and online orders. This may seem like a stupid move given the rising price of fuel, but consumers are spending less in this crappy economy. If these retailers want to keep sales up, they better give consumers every incentive to buy from them.

[ via lifeinaventicup ]

Quickie leather jacket update

So, the new leather jacket? It's good. Veddy veddy good. It's soft as butter (budda!) and fits great - except for the sleeves, which are a few inches too long (I'm hoping a tailor can fix this). I wore it out last night and a bit this morning, quite apart from looks, it's so comfy and luxurious I never want to take it off.

Of course, when I was out last night, a guy I had just met described me as "preppy" (while I was wearing the jacket). Aaargh! Stab me with a fork!

Pictures of the jacket in action may come tonight, but I'm the world's worst model, so no promises.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Things I Love Thursday

Ok, I'm trying out this "Things I Love Thursdays" thing (as pioneered by Gala Darling), because I can't always be crabby (or can I?) So, without further ado, here are things that are revving my engine:

<3 Farmer's markets and all the bounty of spring. I can't wait to hop down to Horton Plaza during lunch hour today and buy some fresh goodies! I especially love Plant Guy, who sells houseplants, herb plants, etc. He's really nice and sold me the coolest lipstick plant (which I haven't yet killed!).

<3 My new leather jacket! That I haven't unpacked yet, but Jesus, if it works on me I'm gonna wear that baby everywhere.

<3 "Hide and Seek" by Imogen Heap - one of my very favorite songs. Rich with subtlety and electronic goodness. I listen to it many, many times each day.

<3 Not dating! Yes, you heard that right. I gave up dating after realizing it was a waste of time and chipped away at my self-esteem. Who needs a guy, anyway? Between my friends, my neuroses and my adorable pet ratties, I'm all set! (Not to say that I would turn down Mr. Wonderful if he crossed my path...but I am just saying NO to awkward dates at Starbucks with boring guys I really don't connect with.)

<3 Giving up coffee! It made me tired and cranky at first, but giving up coffee (like giving up TV) gives me the ability to lord it over others, and I enjoy that. Hee!

<3 Biking to work! It leaves me joyfully exhausted, and I sleep like a baby. Also, my thighs/butt are already toning up nicely, and that's always a plus!

<3 The Photoshop Disasters blog - Hilarious and scary at the same time. Since I work in media/advertising I've witnessed a few Photoshop Disasters firsthand.

<3 Fashion Toast - A new blog discovery. Rumi is like the tall, gorgeous friend I don't have, and I love her totally unpredictable daily outfits.

Ooh, I'm in a better mood already!