smell this: Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess body oil spray

On July 30, 2013 by theseventhsphinx


Estée Lauder’s Bronze Goddess fragrance has been coming up in a lot of lists of best summer fragrances*, and I am in complete agreement, particularly wrt the body oil spray (which I find richer and longer lasting than the eau fraîche skinscent). This is summer in a bottle. Imagine a nostalgic suntan lotion smell–an old school Coppertone kind of smell–then remove all of the harsh-smelling chemical elements, amp up the coconut, and add a summer flower bouquet. What you get is a creamy base of coconut and vanilla (kept from being too sweet with some subtle vetiver and sandalwood) layered with a variety of citruses, lavender, and delicate white florals: jasmine, magnolia, orange blossom**.

*This one being the best I’ve seen. I am so often in agreement with Guardian beauty columnist Sali Hughes. Her videos are great, too, extremely knowledgeable and well researched. And sensible. I like sensible people.

**You can see all the notes and more on basenotes, which is a great resource if you’re not already familiar.


They re-release it every summer with the Bronze Goddess collection so the packaging and formula may vary slightly from one year to another. I have smelled it the last four years running, though, and it always smells great (and essentially the same) to me.

There is nothing heavy-handed about this. It is light, effortless, sunny and fantastic. The notes that really stand out on me are coconut, vanilla/amber, and jasmine, all with the lightness that indicates citrus, too, without feeling explicitly like citrus at any given moment. Be warned that it does smell rather like suntan lotion, only really luxurious suntan lotion. I like the smell of suntan lotion anyway. It may smell different on you (some report a cheap vanilla ice cream effect, try everything on your skin first), and for some it’s not interesting enough…but who cares about smelling interesting if you already smell great? I like a complex scent as much as the next perfume maven but there is something to be said for smelling, simply, good.

reading: wine, wine, wine, perfume

On July 28, 2013 by theseventhsphinx


This is seriously what I am reading.

The Diary of a Nose, Jean-Claude Ellena – Ellena is the in-house perfumer for Hermès, and behind a number of fragrances I admire and enjoy: Hermessence Vetiver Tonka, Cartier Déclaration (more on this later), Voyage d’Hermès, Bigarade Concentrée, Different Company Osmanthus, Terre d’Hermès edp, the list goes on. If you are curious about the art, skill, theory, philosophy, etc*. behind perfume, this is an interesting little book, though I admit not as interesting as I had hoped (or maybe I just wish it were longer – it is much shorter than it looks). I like his more technical book better, Perfume: The Alchemy of Scent, though I warn you it is extremely technical.

*Here, for the interested, is a good New Yorker article about the process behind creating the Hermès fragrance Un Jardin sur le Nil.

Wine Politics: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters, and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink, Tyler Colman

Perfect Pairings: A Master Sommelier’s Practical Advice for Partnering Wine with Food, Evan & Joyce Goldstein

Essential Winetasting: The Complete Practical Winetasting Course, Michael Schuster

The World Atlas of Wine, 6th ed., Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson

I have decided to be a bit serious about wine. Wine suits me, and being serious about wine suits me better still. Took a tasting course and enjoyed it so much. The act of parsing out the notes is exactly parallel to assessing a perfume; all a matter of attention, concentration, and recognition (and, the most challenging, expression).

on the nails: the lizard look

On July 27, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

I still only do my nails rarely, so far, even after acquiring no small amount of nail stuff. I am quite slow, and need a large chunk of time, and just want to take it all off if I’m dissatisfied with the results. Stamping especially is not for the faint of heart. I find it can be meditative, though, provided I am more or less qualified to do what I’ve set out to do. I have to concentrate enough that I can’t really focus on anything else, such that I seem genuinely to have nothing in my head except for the abstract sense of attentiveness.  And even if it doesn’t turn out, who cares?

If it does turn out, I can stare at it all the time/it distracts me (and begins to become intolerable as soon as it begins to chip).

I admit it is sometimes a strained relationship.



This is OPI Jade is the New Black (really like this on its own) over a base coat of OPI Nail Envy, layered with the Pueen10 plate  snakeskin motif stamped in China Glaze Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. OPI RapiDry between coats.

It is bordering on questionable how much I’m into snakeskin right now.

white linen

On July 25, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.

– Epictetus c. A.D. 55 – c. 135^

What is not to appreciate about linen pants? Particularly white ones in the summer. Loose and light, casual yet polished.




Victoria’s Secret bikini top and linen beach pants, Pearls of Joy 9-10mm studs*, Breil Milano watch (thrifted), python leather cuff and wayfarer-style sunglasses (eBay), gladiator sandals, on the nails: OPI Jade is the New Black, on the lips: Tom Ford Wild Ginger.

I really like large, chunky pieces on my wrist(s), lately. Where by lately I mean…always.

*If you haven’t seen my pearl stud size guide, you can check it out here.




[coconut water w/ seltzer, mint, lime]


fashion history: the MFA Hippie Chic exhibit

On July 23, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

Last week I went to the MFA with GeekOutsider to see the Samurai exhibit (which was very cool, and inspiring style-wise in its own way). Imagine my delight when I realized there was a concurrent exhibit on 60s and 70s fashion, Hippie Chic.

I found this so inspiring. Here are some highlights.

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OK, what do we take away?

We need:

more color

a lot more color (both in the sense of great riots of color in a single piece and of a single bold solid color for a piece, ex. the solid red buttoned dress)


feathers, somehow (that massive blue coat is Marabou feathers – YES)

nontraditional suits for men and women (are you seeing that olive and black skirt suit??), but especially men

renaissance homages (the yellow renaissance dress with the embroidery and the gorgeous draping has to be my favorite)

hooded cloaks (the gray and black cloak was another I loved)

awesome boots (with the stars?!!) – awesome boots are timeless (this was GeekOutsider’s favorite look, in the teardrop swing with the casual corsetry)

imposing collars and cuffs (that red Russian coat with the black fur trim…)

style fusion – take anything you want from anywhere in history. I was amazed by the Louis XIV get-up, which is to me completely cute and desirable. Those little calf-length pants with diamond edging! I could wear those. I could wear those right now. Current fashion incorporates features from many eras, it’s true, but I think almost always in a very small, minor or diluted way. Returning to these eras in an undiluted form can be extremely refreshing – not incorporating them entirely, which is the realm of costume (though it can be a fine line, between costume and attire, and one it is fun to blur), but incorporating them in a way definitely and authentically; truly balanced fusion.

The exhibit is up until mid-November, and a general admission ticket gets you in. You can go for free on Wednesdays after 4pm….