Monday, June 30, 2008

Head in the sand

Lately I find myself craving an ostrich bag, especially in a funky color like mustard or coral. I find the subtle polka-dot pattern of ostrich very intriguing. So, I've gotta ostrich totally inhumane and ugly to boot, or is it kinda cool?

[ Fontanelli black ostrich Italian leather tote bag, $295 ]

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Imitation is...

...the sincerest form of flattery.

Top: Three-Two-One Drops at Anthropologie ($98)
Bottom: My newest necklace, crafted of sterling silver hoops and lapis lazuli briolettes.

I've had this quartet of stunning lapis briolettes for awhile now but wasn't sure what to do with them. When these earrings popped up on Anthropologie's website a few days ago, I had an "a-ha" moment. I'm quite fond of the resulting necklace. It puts my favorite color - a vibrant, rich blue - right where I want it.

Anthropologie's jewelry is a great source of inspiration at the moment. I've also made a silver version of these Prospector Hoop earrings:

However, I improved on the design by using leverback earwires. Lost earrings are no fun.

Lastly, the design of these Metronome Earrings intrigues me very much:

They are very sculptural, but make the wearer look very breezy-glamorous. They are great in gold, but the local bead store only carries those little nugget beads in silver, so I my try the design with pink and orange spinel or some other colorful gemstone in a warm color.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

No, I will not swap my clothing with you.

Within the past couple weeks I've been invited to not one but TWO clothing swaps. It seems that San Diego's entire female population suddenly wants a crack at my sweet, sweet threads. Or, more likely, the economy sucks so much that people have foregone shopping in favor of raiding their buddies' closets in the name of thrift, environmentalism, hipsterdom, and all else that is good and holy.

Clothing swaps make me uncomfortable. First, my wardrobe is hardly a goldmine of designer duds, and I don't think anyone wants faded Old Navy tees or Paris Blues jeans with mustard stains. I'd hate to see everyone's disgusted expressions as I upturn my grocery bag of discount clothes, interrupting their polite exchanges of mint-condition Tory Burch and Marc Jacobs.

Second, you actually have to wear the stuff you get from the swap, because - hello! - you got the duds from your friends/coworkers who you see on a regular basis, if not every damn day. Dear reader, I cannot handle that kind of pressure.

Third, I'm a little squicky about wearing someone else's cast-offs. I can buy stuff at thrift shops because I always tell myself that the original buyer was a Russian socialite who bought the item and never wore it. But when I'm wearing Lola From Accounting's old sweater, I know it's from Lola. Lola smells weird and probably doesn't have a clean apartment. Do I really want to wear her clothes?

And lastly, I've been regularly purging my closet, so many of my cool-but-mostly-unworn clothes have already gone bye-bye. So what do I contribute? The black Victoria's Secret negligee an ex-boyfriend gave me?

Clothing swaps: good in theory. Minefields in practice.

However, if you've had positive experiences with a clothing swap, I'd love to hear about them. Perhaps you can convince me to trot out my Old Navy and Paris Blues cast-offs after all.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Umbilical cord...or Ethernet cord?

Tonight, after the shine wore off of Judge Judy and George Carlin clips, I set about rehabbing my computer a bit. I have a slightly ancient but incredibly agreeable Fujitsu Lifebook - a sleek little workhorse of a computer, really. I'll make it last forever if I can (whereas I was secretly relieved when my last computer - a Sony Vaio - was stolen. But I digress.)

First, I cleaned off my desktop. I love a clean desktop, as well as the swoosh! sound of emptying the recycling bin.

Next, I dug around in my folders, discovering many old items (the complete contents of the personal website I ran in high school and a bit into college? A hundred pictures of my cat? Oh yes!) before deciding whether to burn them onto a CD, keep them where they were, or send them to the (swoosh!) recycling bin.

Next, I found a blank CD and backed up some recent files. It's quite amazing to me that since I graduated from college, the number of important files I'm saving on my computer has dropped to nearly zero. Partially, it's because my computer is now mostly used for pleasure. But I've also shifted much of my data storage online. Photos go onto Flickr, for example, and all my inane ramblings get saved to Blogger. Score!

Then, I dug around the huge spindle of CD I have in the credenza. The CDs contain everything from old family photos to newspaper articles (I was a very prolific journalist back in the day) to movies like "Clueless" and "Moulin Rouge."

What I was really looking for, of course, was my old sociology classwork - in particular the paper - the culmination of ten weeks' worth of field work - I plan to include with grad school applications. I've looked for the hard copy, graced with an A+ from my professor, in my dusty old files, to no avail. I was hoping and praying I hadn't done something stupid, like deleted the electronic copy. Y'all can breathe easy, because I found the paper, along with all of its associated notes (which I typed, of course, several times a week while completing my field work). I'm still holding out hope I can find the hard copy, though. Why in the world would I have thrown away an A+ paper?

Also, my poor old workhorse of a computer needs a new fan before it burns either itself or me, and I want to scrub it a little before I take it to the repair place, because I know what those technicians do to peoples' files (summary: they examine them, laugh heartily, and save the really embarrassing stuff to their own machines.)

Anyway, consider this your friendly reminder to back up your files, clean your desktop and maybe even run Ad-Aware while you're at it. God, I'm a nerd.

The funniest NYT street style slide show you will ever see

Saggy pants in their natural habitat.

Bill Cunningham discovers that - gasp! - young men sag their pants. You can see their undies! And they wear shiny belts, too.

Ten years ago, I was in eighth grade and this was already an issue. Teachers would give boys bits of string or twine to wear when they came to class with saggy pants. Even as a teen I thought the look was stupid. It's still stupid, but it's got pretty extraordinary staying power.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Forever Chic Endorses...

Here's a fun little exercise, courtesy of Wende. If you were a celebrity (not saying you're not already a celebrity...but...ya know), what products or companies would you lend your name to, without fundamentally changing who you are at this very moment?

(Disclaimer: I bear no responsibility in case you have a negative experience with any of the following.)

ForeverChic endorses...

1. Clothing/Footwear Retailers:

Nordstrom,,,, Shopbop and Zappos

These six are the gold standard of retail, as far as I'm concerned. (Note that five of the six are exclusively online outlets...take THAT, brick and mortar!) Nordstrom made the list because their customer service (both in-store and online) is top-notch and shopping in their stores is always a pleasant experience. Similarly, Zappos and Tobi made the list mostly because of their out-of-this-world customer service (after you buy something at Tobi, a real person sweetly emails to ask how you're enjoying your purchase. It's the cutest thing ever. As for Zappos, well, their commitment to customer service is well-documented.)

2. Other retailers:

Trader Joe's

Not that Trader Joe's advertises at all, but if they ever decide to , I hope they would call me first. I think my grinning mug would fit quite nicely in one of their Fearless Flyers.

3. Consumer products:

Blinc Kiss Me Mascara, Supersmile toothpaste, OPI nail polish

All are products that I use and love. All are pricey compared to drugstore versions, but you get what you pay for. (note to self: replenish supply of Supersmile.)

4. Companies/brands:

MAC, Netflix, Costco

Sure, MAC makeup is known for being popular among drag queens, and plenty of people have a beef with Netflix, but together, these companies allow me to watch movies and TV shows on my computer while sporting flawless eyeshadow. And that, my friends, is as good as gold.

As for Costco...well, there's something vaguely distasteful and uniquely American about buying a metric ton of M&Ms at one time (along with 88 pounds of dog food and a cartful of books you'll never read), but Costco treats it workers extremely well and passes savings onto consumers without resorting to thuggish tactics like Wal*Mart does. Also, their hot dogs (Hebrew National) are delicious. And I don't even eat beef under normal circumstances.

Honorary Mentions:

C&C California

My love affair with elbow-sleeve C&C tees is well-documented, but many of the company's styles are pedestrian and uninspired. If they could add more interesting, flattering styles while maintaining the current quality of their duds, I would be more eager to associate myself with their brand.

Craigslist and Etsy

Neither of these sites seem to advertise, and the idea of a celebrity lending their name to either is a rather confounding idea. But I will say this: I love to buy and sell shit; Craigslist and Etsy make it quick and easy to buy and sell said shit, and for that I adore them. Even if 90% of the offerings on Etsy are precious, useless doodads that should never see the light of day.


I love cats! I love dogs, too. But cats! They're so furry and warm. But cats get lots of bad press. They need to reinvent their image. Refine their message. Redirect the conversation. If any domesticated animal needs a celebrity endorsement and slick advertising campaign, it's cats.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pretty rocks are forever

Warning: wanton materialism and shiny objects ahead.

Above is the lion's share of what I bought at the gem show yesterday.

After I took the picture, though, realized I'd forgotten the include the strand of huge amethyst nuggets, so I took the opportunity to photograph them along with some of my favorite finds. From top to bottom: the amethyst nuggets, apatite rondelles, iolite rondelles, spinel rondelles, and pink amethyst concave briolettes. The iolite rondelles were a great find because iolite is usually a dark navy blue, but these are a light blue - almost like tanzanite, but cheaper. As soon as I uncovered this iolite at the booth, several other people who were browsing also jumped on it and bought a strand or three. I started a trend!

Going into the show, I knew I wanted to buy as much multicolored spinel as I could get my hands on, as well as pink amethyst concave briolettes. Both proved very hard to find. I only found ONE seller with multicolored spinel - and she only had gem-grade stones at $75 a strand. What the hell, though...I love spinel and can do a lot with just one strand.

As for the amethyst, I looked and looked but no one seemed to have it in pink, much less pink concave briolettes. Just as I was about to leave the show, though, I discovered a whole new room of sellers (egad!). I gravitated toward a booth that had THE most stunning strands of top-quality gemstones, including strands of huge pink amethyst in various cuts, including concave briolettes. Oddly, though, there was no one manning the booth. I continued manhandling the strands as a man came up and quoted me a price of around $100 for the strand of amethyst. I enthused, "I've been looking for pink amethyst in this cut the entire day! No one else has it!" Just for that show of enthusiasm he knocked the price down to $72. Way to go, me.

The fair was held in a convention center-type building with a maze-like layout and room after room of sellers. Comparison shopping was near impossible, as prices were generally not marked. Sellers would often yell out prices to people as they touched particular strands. For example: "That's our last strand of green tourmaline! Nice quality! Only $22!" (I bought that strand, by the way.) Some sellers were annoying: one guy must have thought me an idiot or a newbie, because he kept yelling out "aquamarine! Rock crystal! Smoky quartz!" as I looked at strands - and trust me, I was well aware I was looking at aquamarine, rock crystal, and smoky quartz. Many other booths were staffed by entire families, with teenage children seeming just as knowledgeable about gemstones as the parents.

In addition to gemstone sellers there were people selling ready-made jewelry, chain, findings and supplies, and Swarovski crystals. There was a booth filled with nothing but amethyst, and one random booth selling cashmere scarves (it didn't seem very popular).

Even on a Friday afternoon/evening, the fair was pretty full (at 3:30 that afternoon, the parking lot was entirely full and I had to find street parking), but it wasn't crowded or frenzied - often there would be only one or two people browsing a booth at any one time. I'm truly frightened at how crowded it must be today - and hot! I think I made a wise choice in going yesterday.

So, that's a little sneak peek inside the bazaar-like atmosphere of a gem show. Even if you're not a gem nut like me, I'd encourage everyone to check one out if they have a chance. Seeing so many expensive, brilliantly cut rocks in one place is, frankly, a huge mindfuck.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Baby's first gem show!

I just got back from the gem show (I got to go today since work ended early). What an exhilarating, eye-opening, awe-inspiring experience. And an expensive one, too, but I'm thrilled with what I found. I have never seen so much glittery magnificence in my life, and I certainly haven't had the chance to touch it, examine it, juggle it in my palm, haggle over it (I love haggling!) and then -- holy shit! -- take it home.

Pictures to follow!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The black dress in two flavors

$170 (sale) at Bluefly
This dress is linen and has twisty straps. And it could be dressed up or down. Because we all transition from school to work to parties at the Chateau Marmont with nary a chance to change, ya know?

$143, Revolveclothing
Tube tops are sort of tricky, I suppose, but it's the detailing at the hem that really gets me. Moreover, there's not too much detailing, avoiding the whole "doily run amok" effect.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Handbag heaven

I'm really into totes right now. I like to multitask (i.e. drink a smoothie and a beer at the same time), and you just can't do that while gripping a satchel in your sweaty little fist, ya know?

This baby also comes in brown and black, in case you aren't digging the mushroom color. I, for one, would die of happiness if it came in magenta or purple or some other off-the-wall color.

[ Hype tote, $237 at Bluefly ]

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cluster madness!

I'm really into clusters right now - big, exuberant clusters of colorful beads that recall roses, peonies or decorative poufs made out of tissue paper. The jewelry I've made recently (and by recently I mean yesterday and this morning) all incorporate clusters of little rondelles.

First up, we have these "blush" earrings. The idea was to create something subtle and small, but interesting. They remind me of the pink peonies my cousin had at his wedding last weekend. I love how the spinel (the little pink stones) are all slightly different shades of pink.

This next pair of earrings incorporate moss aquamarine briolettes. I initially made a necklace out of the briolettes, but wasn't thrilled with the result, so I dismantled it and made these earrings. The steely blue beads remind me of clouds right before a storm.

Lastly, we have this Big Daddy necklace incorporating a huge rock crystal briolette, smaller rock crystal rondelles, tanzanite briolettes and spinel rondelles in varying shades of plum/pink. I've already tweaked this necklace about 50 times and might adjust it yet again. Maybe it would work better with just a simple chain rather than one that incorporates rock crystal rondelles?

Next weekend, there just so happens to be a gem show coming through San Diego! I'm frickin' excited. I've set aside a few hundred dollars and have assembled a mental shopping list of beads that I'd like. I've never been to a gem show before and I'm not sure what to expect, but at least a few sellers are sure to be offering some nice gemstone strands, right?

[ All "inspiration" pictures courtesy of - except the peony picture, which I took myself.]

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dolce Vita on!

I happened to be browsing's new arrivals and came across Dolce Vita footwear, including these flat brown boots for $66 and the Mary Janes above for $75. Is it just me, or are Bluefly's offerings (especially in accessories) getting better and better?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I ate yogurt before posting this

Funny commentary on the marketing of fancy yogurt to women.

Forever 21: taking over a mall near you

An interesting tidbit from Women's Wear Daily: Forever 21 is positioning themselves to be a mall anchor store within four years.

It's telling that Forever 21 is growing aggressively, even in this crappy economy. It gives the masses what they want: cheap, stylish clothes. In addition, this news signals the end of the era when only department stores could be mall anchors. Department stores have largely fallen out of favor, especially among teens. They're huge and stodgy and not fun or streamlined in the way that Forever 21 is. Forever 21, unlike department stores, has an ever-changing stock of trendy merchandise, young employees, cheap prices, and a hip image. And Forever 21 is friendly to young people, in the sense that teens can hang out , gab as loudly as they want, and not be thrown out.

I remember the first time I shopped at Forever 21. I was a college freshman, and there was a Forever 21 in the (upscale) mall near school. I gorged on the offerings for awhile, before realizing that the items tended to shrink or disintegrate in the wash. Still, some of my closet staples are from the store: a great stretchy pencil skirt, as well as a great pair or shorts and some of my favorite necklaces. As soon as I learned to be picky, and look for cotton blends, my Forever 21 shopping experiences became much more fruitful over the long run.

The story of Forever 21 fascinates me because it's a story of meteoric, uninterrupted success. Also, I love how Forever 21 has fantastic designers working for them that rip off hot designer items and bring them to the masses before you can say "lawsuit." Forever 21 has won the hearts of the nation's young people in a way that department stores were never able to do.

Even as someone who's on the older side of Forever 21's target demographic, I welcome this news. I'm much more likely to find something I like in a Forever 21 than, say, a Macy's or JC Penney. Plus, even if I don't find anything I like, I enjoy Forever 21's frenzied, festive atmosphere, though the long lines for dressing rooms sometime make me want to tear my hair out.

Monday, June 9, 2008

I climbed through this window: UPDATE (not really)

Anne in Reno had many excellent questions regarding my journey through a small window in a non-stretch vintage minidress. Unfortunately, my answers are sure to be unsatisfying:

Did you ever find out what happened?

No. My best guess was that my landlord popped in to check something (he was working on the building's plumbing around the time of the incident.)

Was somebody really in your apartment?

That's my best guess, unless the deadbolt locks itself.

Also, if they locked the deadbolt from the inside, how did they get out?

Good question. My best guess is that my landlord has a key that locks it from the outside; or, the same key I have (which he must also have) can lock it from the outside, but I'm unwilling to test this theory because I don't want to have to crawl through the window again.

So, yeah. The apartment manager never answered my voicemail, and (this is gonna sound weird) my landlord is a cool guy and I don't want to create tension by confronting him about going into my apartment. I know it's illegal to enter a tenant's apartment without notice, but he didn't disrupt anything and locked up on his way out, so I'll let this one slide.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

This wedding cake is deee-licious

I'm off for a three-day weekend of wedding festivities. It's the first time one of my cousins from my mom's side (the globe-trotting, free-wheeling, hippie side) is getting married, so I'm both excited and really curious as to how the next three days are gonna go down. Anyway, adios!

(Also, it is an outdoor wedding. I hope the squirrels aren't hungry.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The case of the $48 T-shirt

One day, years ago, I was browsing some musty Marshalls or Ross store and happened to find a C&C California scoopneck tee like the one above, in deep teal. Being unfamiliar with the brand, I was attracted by the color (my very favorite color, for those keeping track at home) as well as the luxurious soft fabric and the flattering cut. It's become one of my favorite tops.

As far as I can tell, C&C California shirts are woven from the hair of magical ponies. The fabric has a smooth, brushed feel, doesn't pill, and is heavier than other T-shirts. The colors are to die for, and the styling is cute: I love me a scoopneck and an elbow-length sleeve.

Anyway, in the spirit of finding out what works for me and doing more of that, I bought the tee above (in electric blue, of course), as well as the "Vavoom" tee (the V-neck version) in a pretty grape purple. This comes after realizing that many of my "basic" tees are stained, ugly, too short, etc. and should probably go in the trash, pronto.

(And yes, $48 is a lot for a T-shirt, but my teal C&C California shirt has shown exactly zero signs of wear in the couple of years I've been enthusiastically wearing it, so...good value. Yeah.)

I do not have elephant feet.

The eggplant-colored flats finally arrived from Shopbop. Beautiful? Check. Well-made? Check. But do they flatter my feet? Nah. I can see why some people insist that peep-toes are the devil. I'm willing to say that a peep-toe high heel is fairly flattering, but a peep to flat is pushing it a little.

Le sigh. Back to the "fun-colored flat shoe" drawing board. However, I did gain some valuable knowledge from this exercise: Ash-brand shoes are wonderful, except when they're supremely ugly.

(Seriously? A satin sneaker high heel? That's practically a crime against humanity.)


Via Facehunter - the first street style portrait to catch my eye in a long time. Where, oh, where did she get her thigh-highs? They must have stirrup styling because her toes are bare.

(I've loved thigh-highs since Alicia Silverstone rocked them in Clueless. If they come [back?] into style I just might die of happiness.)

Also, I need a strapless dress with a sweetheart neckline.

And oh! The coat!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hopping on the DIY train

This necklace from Anthropologie called out to me, but it didn't say "buy me" as much as "DIY me."

If my experiments yield any sort of meaningful results, you'll see them here.

This has so many possibilities. Clear stones plus black ribbons, for maximum drama. Yellow stones with blue ribbons. Multicolored stones with white ribbons.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Julia Child necklace

Recently I read a biography of Julia Child that briefly touched on Julia's fondness for "going whole hog" and encouraging others to do the same. I like this idea very much. Julia Child didn't accomplish what she did by being timid or doing things halfway.

Thus, I dub this necklace the Julia Child necklace. I ordered 75 headpins thinking they would be distributed across a variety of projects, but this necklace used up nearly all of them. See what I mean about going whole hog?

All materials (save the silver wire and chain) were ordered from Etsy sellers.

I uploaded more pictures of the necklace to my Flickr photostream.