NARS Audacious lipstick: Vera

On September 22, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

You know that feeling when you get to the cash register and the total is less than your rough mental calculation? The simple appeal of unexpected good news? I had something like that feeling when I tried on the NARS Audacious lipstick in Vera for the first time.

NARS audacious lipstick in Vera

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This is a beautiful lipstick formula, for the most part, extremely pigmented and creamy. [Check out Temptalia’s overview for an idea of which shades to avoid here. It’s a shamelessly massive collection of 30 lipsticks.] This is a lovely deep burgundy shade, bold and saturated. I put a shade like this on and think, simply, yes. If only I could be so effortlessly pleased with more purchases. No doubts, no debating. Just yes.

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Paired here with MAC blush in Loverush, a plum shade given to me by the beautiful Marianne when we were getting ready one night and I admired it in her makeup stash. One of my favorite ways of losing and acquiring makeup. Hi Marianne!

For quick comparison, here it is (far right) swatched with (L to R), Lancome Rouge in Love 391N Fiery Attitude (long-time favorite) and MAC Rebel lipsticks. Distinctly ruddier than either of those more plum shades, Rebel is more sheer. That said, the effect of this color is similar, namely a vivid lip that offers an impression of darkness while maintaining a punch of brightness.

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This is not quite dark enough for full-blown oxblood territory* (it’s on that path, though), and remains in the color category of, say, a spectacular bruise. And of a lot of warm-toned red wines. It is still under the umbrella of an earth tone, for me, is a large part of this shade’s appeal (in a way that the plum tones are not). There is a presence of brown that I find anchoring. This is like the red equivalent of a nude lipstick, maybe, in my brain. Especially in its muted, blotted form it looks…not natural, but not so far outside the boundaries of natural, either. Perhaps the word I’m looking for here is the often drab ‘wearable’, though I’m comforted that many would contest the characterization. There is a purple element to it as well, too, so it’s a versatile shade.

*For which I have acquired the shade Olivia in this same line, a stunning oxblood. Fully autumn-worthy. Love that name, too (also really like the name Vera, incidentally). Going to have to get to that later.

Fades gorgeously, btw, and is very english rose when worn as a faintly smudged-in stain, which is a technique I highly, highly recommend trying out with dark/darkish lipsticks. Smudge it on with your finger (don’t want precise edges), blot nearly everything off, and see what happens. For that, though, the exact shade hardly matters, and nearly every red-like lip thing medium to dark in concentration will do something nice.

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plaid & leather

On November 3, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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This is MAC Living Legend lipstick, from their new The Matte Lip collection, much blotted. Their matte formulas are not my favorite (neither my favorite matte formula (NARS velvet matte lip pencil) nor my favorite MAC formula (creamsheen)), they can be patchy and drying at their worst, but they are mostly good (you have to asses on a case by case basis, not uniform in behavior, which is usually the case anyway no matter the brand). For the right color, more than good enough.

[I’ve only just noticed how well it matches my bag! This is what happens when you consistently go for the same shades regardless of context.]

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I like the plaid contrasted with the leather here. Especially such a bright plaid with black leather.

This is not a bad formula for an interesting outfit: put together two very different outfits, each reflecting a uniform aesthetic, wear half of one and half of the other. Or put together three, or four, and so on.

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This is an Essie polish in Dressed to Kilt, a dark blue-toned red from their fall 2014 collection. Once you find a red lipstick you like, try to find a nail polish in that color (or vice versa), odds are good you’ll like it on the nails as well. I should do a post trying to match a lipstick to this. Don’t let me forget.

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Allsaints leather jacket, J Crew oxford plaid shirt (I kind of went to town in the J Crew fall sale…you’ll see), Express tuxedo leggings, New Balance Stadium Jacket sneakers, Free People tote, double-sided faux pearl earrings (eBay, originally a Dior design. Quite cool, I think, though maybe better to wear only one at a time).

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autumn lips

On September 29, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

It’s time for some autumnally dark, properly bold lips.

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There is sometimes concern, when it comes to dark lips, that it can make the mouth appear smaller. It can (and often does) do that, but I think the contrast given in return can more than make up for this. In my case, having no cause to worry about appearing mean-mouthed anyhow, my mouth seems even larger to me, if only because attention is being drawn to it. I often have a similar debate when considering eyeliner under the eye – it can close up and shrink the eye, so the question becomes whether or not the overall effect is worth this drawback.  Perhaps it shrinks the actual eye but enlarges the perceived eye, resulting in a net gain. Or perhaps it doesn’t create any optical illusion of size or spacing but does something else interesting and worthwhile.

With such lips, a simple dark brow is often my preferred path. I didn’t really want to put anything on the eyes at all once it was on, and have only an ultra natural coating of mascara. I especially like bold lips when they seem like an easy afterthought, a vibrant touch to an otherwise unmeditated look.

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And mustard heeled huaraches. Of course.

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 Here’s the kind of deep v I’ve been meaning to wear all my life. The key here is this Topstick mens grooming tape, very sticky double-sided tape meant to work with skin and textiles. Meant for hairpieces, I guess? But I can see all kinds of applications. This is keeping the shirt where I want it. My new favorite wardrobe tool.

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This sublime bordeaux lip is thanks to Julie Hewett Sin Noir lipstick, really a phenomenal color. This is a full-on application but it can be blotted for a softer berry stain. Reminds me a little of Tom Ford Black Orchid but a bit brighter (I think?), and not as creamy in formula. The Noir collection is excellent, not inexpensive but it performs (and great gold packaging). Being a bit waxier than some of my favorite formulas (ex. Lancome Rouge in Love, Tom Ford, MAC creamsheen, Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy, NARS Audacious) helps it to last that much better, so it’s a fair trade-off.

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I’ll have to share some of my other favorite lip products in this wine-worthy shade range. There are many.

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the turtleneck dress

On February 10, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

While I love a sweater dress, a turtleneck dress now and then trumps it for me. Isn’t it a bit old-fashioned to like turtlenecks? I’ve been a devotee since grade school, when I wore what were surely hideous ones (prints!).  I like to have my neck covered? My neck is easily cold?

I think it is simpler than that. I think I’ve just always thought: those look cool.

And I basically still think that. At least I’m consistent.

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Well, it’s not meant to be quite so tight. I’ve been eating lots of popcorn.

I rather like it, though. A strange blend of conservative and ever so slightly risqué or gauche. And it is meant to be tight…

The balance of conservative and sensual* inspired the austerity of this ultra-tight, drastic side-part bun.  Here again is that just-below-the-knee length I like so well.

*reminds me of the crop top in this way.
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Dress from asos, Cole Haan pumps (thrifted), Breil Milano watch (thrifted), Mulberry bag (thrifted).  On the lips: MAC huggable lip color in Love Beam.

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autumn palettes

On September 29, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

There are two eyeshadow palettes I’m particularly looking forward to using for autumn, I think you’ll immediately see why.

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The Sleek Sunset palette has those warm, rusty tones I’ve been banging on about for ages, and a great Mediterranean blue (if you want to try that bold pop of blue under the eyes à la the Marc Jacobs show, which I definitely do*). Nicely priced, too. The Dior Earth Tones palette (discontinued now but there are similar ones) is a lovely example of those muddy olive and burgundy tones I like so predictably every time I come across them. Rather staggeringly priced. Beautiful in application, though, quite a sumptuous formulation, and I’m feeling no pangs about it.

I never get tired of browsing great masses of colors, individually or in combination, and deciding which I like best, which I am drawn to the most. I think I will not disclose how long I spent trying to find the Dior palette once it had been chosen. Or once it chose me, as it so often seems.

*Experimentation is salutary.

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If you’re curious, I’ll likely apply them with one or more of these favorite eye brushes.

IMG_7421Top to bottom: Sigma tapered blending brush, MAC 217, bamboo bdellium 785 (best value blender here, and so soft, though the Sigma brushes are well priced, too), Paula Dorf sheer crease brush (current favorite), Sigma E20, essence of Beauty crease brush (from the little drugstore crease duo), e.l.f. contour brush, e.l.f. eye shadow “C” brush (this is such an incredible value*, I think the blush brush is fantastic, too).

*essentially I believe in spending over $10 for a good blending brush (once you use a good one you understand that you aren’t going back to whatever you did before…however you don’t need this many. Only one. Or, for convenience, two, where one stays largely clean throughout the process for additional blending while the other deposits the color. Oh, just go watch Lisa Eldridge, OK?), but not for a flat shading brush.

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All kitted out like this, you’d think I’d wear eyeshadow more often.

I intend to work on that.

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