the constant companions

On May 15, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

You know those fashion and beauty pieces you always wear hand in hand? Never one without the other? Always this liner with this lipstick, this skirt with those shoes, this jacket with that bag. The category of the fail-safe combo is one I find interesting for reasons I can’t quite pinpoint, like the way I love to watch people putting on lipstick. I’ve seen so many clips—hundreds and hundreds— of people putting on lipstick, and still I am interested to see how each individual approaches the task. It’s not like there is a great range of techniques going on…there are only so many ways to get color on your lips (I distinguish rather a lot of ways, actually, but still there are only so many), but something about the act, the ceremony of it, doesn’t get old for me.

Right. What was I saying?

I like to hear what others are combining, especially when they find the combination more interesting than either element. Perhaps it is the allure of a sum that is greater than its parts? Perhaps it has to do, too, with the concept of personalizing your style. In the commercial environment that makes thousands or millions of units of any item available, the item alone can only say so much about you – much as the brand would like to maintain the illusion that this ubiquitous product is your path to your unique you. It is the personal tweaks that customize the item and make it yours, what you wear it with, how you play it. For me this issue (let’s call it the cookie cutter issue) is directly related to the appeal of vintage, handmade, and antique pieces. I think I am getting off track again.

I love that moment when the pair first meet. For me it usually an instant aha moment, where each item knows it will never be alone again. A number of these inseparable pairs have jumped out at me recently, in particular a new one, my had-to-have-it scarab pendant and my custom Tahitian pendant.

The scarab I have on a long, delicate chain and I often pair it with some shorter pendant, the formula of a short pendant with a long one is not new. The Tahitian pendant is as simple as can be, a stunning teardrop with a simple loop finding on a box chain. It seems like this would be easy to come by but I had the hardest time finding a design as simple as I envisioned. In the end I asked the team at Pearls of Joy if they could show me some of their best drops in the size I wanted (10ish mm) and mount one for me. You may remember them from the gorgeous cherry Tahitian floating pearl pendant featured a good while back.

pearls of joy tahitian pendant theseventhsphinx

I was delighted with the result and wore the pendant alone for weeks when I first got it. The look is so clean and plain, structurally, but then the pearl, if you are near enough to speak to me, is dazzling, with beautiful peacock overtones, green in some lights, violet in others.

One day I had the idea to add the scarab…

tahitian pearl pendant and scarab theseventhsphinx

The two have be constant companions ever since.

Just wait ’til they meet the Tahitian studs I splashed out for in the Mother’s Day sale…

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cart unity

On March 19, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I enjoy the process of shopping, whether physically or virtually adding items to the cart (and removing items from the cart, this also key), and find it especially satisfying when there is some harmony or narrative to the cart, as when, in the grocery store, purchasing ingredients that complement one another, seem conspicuously to belong with one another,* reveal precisely what you intend to make with them.

*Conversely, also deeply satisfying when they seem conspicuously not to belong with one another, when the cart contents are markedly odd and unexpected as a unit.

Not every vendor carries a sufficiently broad range of categories to make interesting juxtapositions, though, too, I’ve been pleased with certain combinations of just shoes or just paint brushes – it needn’t be a precisely logical harmony. It’s not that the items would necessarily be used together, though perhaps that might be the case, or it might be fun to imagine it as the case (say, a skirt and a pair of sunglasses), but more that they are aesthetically compelling together according to whatever quirky beauty-logic is currently reigning in my head at the time.

Here’s a recent J. Crew cart I found pleasing, somehow more appealing to purchase these items together than it would have been to get any given element singly.

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Here we have: two neutral silk camisoles, Garance Doré stationary, notebooks, notecard, Troi Ollivierre lipstick in Parker.

See what I mean? Love this largely cream palette with gold accents and that single pop of berry pink. I like the range of textures, too, metallics and silk, paper and cream. What would also have been fitting in this cart is these great cream and gold New Balance 620’s (really like their various brand collaborations, for the record, some great color combinations). Really similar to a pair I was jonesing for last year but couldn’t find from a vendor that would ship to the U.S.

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Only of course they are sold out of my size.

Hm. I’ll try to show some other examples later (do you like seeing what people buy? I’m often interested to know this kind of mundane data, and it’s not a bad way to learn about new products). Definitely doing some spring shopping at the moment.

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the custom palette

On April 30, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

While I have a lot of eyeshadow, I am still tempted by palettes (sometimes, once in a while), which have the timeless appeal of compelling, immediate* shade combinations. I wonder if I even care that they are eyeshadow, in a way. I suspect part of the temptation is the pure visual pleasure of certain shade combinations, a harmonious whole greater than the sum of its parts.

*The convenience and mobility of multiple shades built to work together in one small compact is meant to be a big mark for the pro column but eyeshadow isn’t one of those things I tend to carry around anyway, and I do not allow myself to use this as a personal selling point.

Usually, though, I really cannot justify acquiring them, as in the case of two that have been calling to me quietly, stubbornly, for the last year or more.

Charlotte Tilbury Dolce Vita

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This is about $65, which I could almost stretch to—so glowing are the reviews, so gorgeous are the colors, so unflagging is my interest—but Charlotte Tilbury’s line, relatively new, doesn’t yet ship to the US and can only be had through Selfridges, the luxe British department store now of Masterpiece fame (I find Jeremy Piven awful in it, incidentally). They will deign to ship to the US for about $50, which I just cannot see my way to paying.

I like the combination of colors so well here, though, the saturated russett, the shimmering bronze, the warm champagne, the rich earthy brown…I decided to approximate it myself, with a bit of poetic license. I found this little 4 pan, no-fuss Japonesque compact, and chose some individual shadows to populate it. And (perhaps the best part) gave it a name.

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Courtesy of a Sharpie gold metallic paint pen. I knew I’d need that one day.

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The Minx. L to R: MAC Soba, MAC Antiqued, MAC Woodwinked, MAC Smut

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The compact was something like $8 (with promo code, always with promo code), and it was around $10 for each shadow here (less for a few I found a deal on). I’m going to value this at around $45. It could have been less if I’d opted for shadows from SMH or Makeup Geek, say, around $6 each, and with pretty good reviews (though worthwhile to get reviews on individual colors under consideration, as quality is not consistent across a range – this goes for any brand, really).

Tom Ford Golden MinkNMC0Z2P_mz

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Stunning, but $78 at the moment, plus tax, and I just can’t quite approve it in the budget: an impeccable warm neutral palette with one of the best formulas on the market, buttery smooth pigmentation, unparalleled blendability….and no. I cannot buy this now.

So I bought these, in the Golden Mink spirit:
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The Golden Age. L to R: MAC Nanogold, MAC Tempting, MAC Era, SMH Taz

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This one could use some fiddling, I think. The first color a bit too pale? A work in progress.

For about $38? Something like that. Not exactly cheap, but acceptable (approve-able, do-able) to me in a way that $78 is not (for now…). It’s only a loose translation but one I like a lot, so what does it matter the point of departure?

One appealing aspect of these palettes is that I could switch any of the colors out for others (I have several shades in the bronze/gold/burgundy range, and any number of successful combinations might be made, a fun color exercise). I also could have gone to an INGLOT counter to do this for around the same price, which I was tempted to do, and which I reserve the right to do at some point in the future.

There’s an undeniable appeal to this kind of customization, and it’s no surprise that the consumer industry is leaning more and more toward incorporating the hand of the customer. You entirely sidestep that unfortunate scenario in which you pay for a palette but only intend to use some fraction of the colors, tolerating the duds and writing them off in the cost-benefit analysis. Basing your selection, even if loosely, on an existing palette you admire, is a way to capitalize on the knowhow that went into the color selection while injecting a bit of your own style; these colors are going to work, and they’re going to work especially well for you.

 

cashmere & leather

On November 30, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

Certain combinations become more than the sum of their parts: Champagne and oysters, Roquefort and Sancerre (which I urge you to try), hot cocoa and whipped cream, pretzels and dark chocolate…cashmere and leather.

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I am no avid proponent of cashmere, generally preferring softer cotton blends, but it is warm and in this crewneck sweater I found a price/texture/color combination that I like. I do like a crewneck.

IMG_9942So…cold…

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These color combinations are a flaunting of the oft-repeated guidelines not to pair navy or brown with black. Can anyone fail to notice that black and brown are in fact phenomenal together? That black and navy, too, can be entirely pleasing? Along with navy and any shade of gray? Navy and any other blue? Navy and taupe?

By all means, match your shoes to your belt if it comforts you, but these things really must be determined on a case by case basis.

IMG_9956Express jean leggings, AllSaints leather jacket, Everlane cashmere sweater, J Crew silk camisole, Steve Madden pumps, faux fur collar (eBay), fingerless mittens (eBay), Pearls of Joy 9mm studs. On the lips: Lipstick Queen Saint lipstick in Berry.

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gold & taupe

On April 2, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

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Gold and taupe are so good together. Take, for instance, China Glaze polish in Fast Track.

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[Observe my semi-competent nail painting, which is all about advanced clean-up, it turns out. The China Glaze is layered over Revlon’s Elegant, which is nearly the same shade only without gold flecks.]

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A comparable combination was, I thought, Urban Decay’s 24/7 liner in Baked and Rimmel’s Scandaleyes pencil in Taupe. On the lips, Rimmel’s Spotlight Beige lipstick. The pearl studs are from Pearl Paradise, the pearl and jade ring is an antique, the other a class ring. The shirt is from the Gap (thrifted).

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Taupe is a kind of unusual eyeliner choice but I like these muted, tawny shades so much. The taupe on me hovers on the verge of lilac and the cool tone is entirely distinct from something like a light, warm brown, though I would put that in the same easy, wearable category. The effect is definite yet understated, at once casual and polished.

These are combinations I appreciate.