girl about town

On July 3, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

A vibrant pink lip pairs so well with florals.

floral summer dress

MAC girl about town lipstick

Madewell mira pumps

Love this sage green suede.

Anthropologie straw hat

Straw hat from Anthropologie, pumps and belt from Madewell, thrifted dress. On the lips: MAC Girl About Town with Lipstick Queen lip pencil in Hot Rose as a base (great pairing). Wearing the Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation in 123, which is fantastically like skin, and Stila convertible color in Tulip on the cheeks. MAC Rosemary & Thyme eye pencil under the eyes, a really pretty mossy sage green with a bit of shimmer. MAC brow set in Bold Brunette on the brows, which is a few shades darker than my actual brows and SO GOOD. Just what I was looking for as far as a natural-looking (and quick/easy) way to distinctly darken my brows. Dark brows and blonde hair are so great anytime, but especially for summer.

floral summer dress

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earth tones

On July 21, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

“Luxury is aggression dressed as fashion.”

                                — Handbags, Anna Johnson

Here’s one of my ideas of an ideal summer ensemble. Loose and light, ultra comfortable (as in the photo I was recently distracted by).

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I could wear earth tones every day.

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So, this is a (pretty good) replica of Vuitton’s Sofia Coppola bag.

It doesn’t often happen that I am interested in a high-end designer item, not in the ‘willing to fork over my money’ kind of way, anyway (just in a ‘how inspiring’ way). Usually it’s moot because I don’t remotely have enough money to consider it. I liked the design of this bag so much, however (and for so long. I rarely like bags, only very recently do I even own multiple bags), that I was open to that shady category, the replica. I feel no disloyalty to Luis Vuitton, as they have not lost a sale…I was never going to spend $7,000 on this bag, so this is all happening a little outside their reality (intellectual copyright is still very slippery in fashion, a difficult topic, but the pricing of luxury brands is also a difficult topic). I did look around for something similar, actually, but none of them were as nice as this replica, which is, in fact, quite nice. It is, satisfyingly, about exactly as nice as it should be.

The cachet of luxury items is by turns interesting and troubling to me. They are, to the cognoscenti, walking price tags; subtle or perhaps not so subtle announcements of superfluous wealth. There is something aggressive and potentially gauche (if not outright tacky) about this. Especially when the items are being worn not because they are loved for themselves, but because they are on trend.

In the best cases, though, they are truly sublime objects, beautifully constructed out of impeccable materials. So there is something aggressive about them either way, but there can also be about them something ultimately tasteful, reflective of excellent taste.

Even what is now a kind of middle market, the $50-80 pair of pants, say (even given that a savvy shopper would almost never pay the full price), I would not call inexpensive. That is not inexpensive to me, anyhow. It is difficult to be stylish on a true budget (remembering that this book had a lot of great ideas about it, though). Or, it is not difficult to be stylish (given a bit of time to slowly accumulate good pieces), but it is difficult to be stylish in a variegated way, to have many solid style options. One must be very resourceful and invest a lot of time to find pieces made of good material that have been treated well, designed well, cut well, which, in many cases, at least at some point in their existence, were relatively expensive. Good clothes shouldn’t be inexpensive (someone somewhere was woefully underpaid, if they are…and likely even if they are expensive this is still the case…), they should be an investment.

I do like the French (at least, most famously French) concept of a minimal, versatile closet, some 10-15 carefully curated pieces that can be mixed and matched endlessly with different accessories to provide variation….but I like too many things. I want to look like too many kinds of people. I completely agree with the virtues of this concept but I cannot fully embrace it with my style so in flux. Maybe one day. My closet does need culling.

Ahhh. This is why I have no money left.

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This is Nars Taj Mahal blush again. So good.

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The necklace is various incarnations of jasper, which is quite a chameleon and has long been a favorite stone of mine.

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Camisole from asos, lounge pants from hush, Anthropologie Amentum sandals, obi belt from Viktor Sabo, Breil Milano watch, bag, bracelet and necklace from eBay. On the lips: Lipstick Queen in Jungle Queen, a beautiful, sheer poppy orange-red. [The packaging is a stunning dragonfly green and it’s beautifully done all around.]

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on the menu: cardamom-infused tapioca pudding

On January 16, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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I’ve always enjoyed tapioca pudding, one of those simple desserts my mom would make whenever there was milk that needed using. Then, too, I like all of the desserts traditionally garnished with nutmeg. This is particularly rich and fine East Indian nutmeg, which makes all the difference (and the bowl is fitting, no?).

I used a classic recipe from the Fanny Farmer cookbook (a favorite) with the adjustment of steeping crushed cardamom pods in the milk as it heated. Lovely. Next time I think I’d throw in a handful of coffee beans to steep as well.

all the gold things can stay

On December 27, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

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One of my favorite side-effects of the resurgence of vintage and retro aesthetics is the old school packaging popping up here and there. If lipstick is good, lipstick in a weighty gold tube is better.

A great example is this Albeit lipstick I mentioned briefly before (wearing here). Estée Lauder’s Mad Men collection has the same vintage look, as does Charlotte Tilbury’s new line. What can I say? I like the color gold. I agree that one can have too much of it and that it is sometimes tacky beyond redemption…but there it is. I want it. And it’s festive in the bargain.

A great formula is key, of course, but packaging is part of the experience. Even if the act of using the product is private, as I think is more often the case for our generation (fading is the image of the woman pulling out a compact to touch up in public), still each element adds its weight to the whole, marking the difference between the perfunctory and the ceremonial. Naturally it feels special to use objects we find beautiful, and their beauty helps us to be mindful of our task. More appreciative, maybe. If we have chosen truly to our taste. It is the case for me, when I choose truly to my taste.

Elizabeth Arden, Estée Lauder and YSL have always understood this. Michael Kors had the right idea from the start with his new collection (we agree about the supremacy of gold, Michael and I). Props to biodynamic brand Dr. Hauschka for their satisfyingly luxe packaging, and it’s not as metallic but I quite like Clarins’ packaging, too.  Once in a while Revlon releases one of their retro pigments in vintage packaging and I keep waiting to run into one. Certain designer brands, too, do limited edition packaging once in a while that I think really lovely (think Givenchy, think Armani). Tom Ford, though he doesn’t go full-on with the gold, has that Midas air about him, everything he has a hand in glinting in the light.

I find value in that sensation of using something special. Often I wouldn’t think of these objects as especially important to me or tangled in sentiment (if so it is a sentiment that begins and ends in their aesthetic appeal), rather as influential when directly in use. I think I take it to something of an extreme, and want every object in my little empire of possessions to feel special, purposeful, chosen. Really a lot of them do, though. A lot of them are. It is perhaps not too unrealistic a desire.

winter lips

On December 7, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

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I like that people seem to be more open to lipstick, and especially bold lipstick, in the winter. I support that.

Here are some of my favorites just now, in a range of fall/winter shades. [Though I would wear these colors year round. Rather I do, or will.] While I see the logic behind the seasonal shift toward a darker palette —as the environment grows dark and somber so do our clothes and the colors we find compelling and suited to the season—I see choosing bright colors as a natural reaction against this trend and a great way to be unexpected, playful. As much as I need the plums and the burgundies (and I do need them, oh yes), I also need a respite from them.

In my mind this makes complete sense.

I’ve been sporting both brights and darks, mattes and shines, with a selection of pigmented and sheer formulas.

Pigmented formulas first:

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L to R: Rimmel Apocalips in Big Bang, Revlon Cherries in the Snow, NARS Funny Face, Lancome Rouge in Love Fiery Attitude (wearing here), MAC Dubonnet (wearing here), Albeit Vermillion, Rimmel Kate Moss Kiss of Life, MAC RiRiWoo, Tom Ford Narcotic Rouge (wearing here)

While I love orange in the summer, I think fuschia makes a great bright lip for winter, from the floral pop of Revlon’s Cherries in the Snow to the rich bordeaux of Lancôme’s Fiery Attitude (again, for the record, I love this formula).

The internet is full of blogs dedicated to swatching, which is my way of telling you that I am not going to do it because I don’t want to (so I would never do a truly good job, you see? It’s better this way). For now, trust that these reds are all completely different. I would also include MAC’s Brave Red here, only not pictured because mine melted a little, and Revlon’s Black Cherry, not pictured because I can’t find it. Now that I can’t find it I really, really want to wear it. Right now.

Pleased to find that the Albeit lipstick I picked up in the Anthropologie holiday sale is lovely. Creamy, beautifully pigmented, Vitamin E, cool vintage gold bullet, etc (wearing here). And RiRiWoo, though I was suspicious of the hype, is awesome. Awesome, people. The reigning red of the moment (wearing here).

On to the sheers:

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clockwise from top left: Revlon Balmstain in Crush, Lipstick Queen Saint in Berry (wearing here), Revlon lip butter in Fig Jam, Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Esprit, Almay Liquid Lip Balm in Candy Apple

Sheer formulas are what I tend to carry around in my bag,  beloved for their quick and easy application and general compatibility with a slapdash approach. I like all of these formulas but especially the Lipstick Queen Saint lipstick* and the Chanel Rouge Coco Shine. So smooth, such a uniform slick of color, such pleasant texture. If you want to give someone the gift of lipstick, I suggest you give them Lipstick Queen in Jean Queen or a Chanel Rouge Coco Shine. These formulas are that rare combination of stunning and friendly.

Or you could get them RiRiWoo, if it hasn’t sold out again already.

*A cool concept. There are two lines: Saint, with 10% pigment, and Sinner, with 90% pigment.

I like the Almay liquid lip balm, too, which is kind of a cross between an ointment and a gloss. Some of the other colors in the range look horrid but this one is natural and nice, sheer but with a distinct tint.

OK. Go forth and brighten thy lips.

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