winging it

On March 31, 2014 by theseventhsphinx


I often don’t take the time to do structured eyeliner but I often like the look, and keep meaning to wear it more. I especially like it with an otherwise bare eye (except for some mascara maybe, but no liner on the bottom lash line), and I like it more still with an otherwise bare face.

I like gel liner and a fairly stiff angled brush for winged/cat-eye liner. This is MAC’s Dipdown gel liner, a dark brown, and a bit of a plum Tarte Smoldereyes pencil on top of that (these pencils are great, super soft and blendable).  There can be some trial and error getting the flicks more or less symmetrical but I tend to do what I can and clean up/shape them up after with a cotton bud. I really could not manage makeup at all without cotton buds.

I like doing a smudgier, softer version with a soft pencil, too, or just eyeshadow. Or doing it in gel liner first and running over with a pencil or shadow to soften (or hide imperfections in a substandard line). As for the philosophy of the flick, I think there are so many shapes that can look good (even a poor execution can look good with enough smudging, a smudging brush is a good investment), and it’s just a matter of practice.

Part of the reason I don’t bother with winged liner, I think, is because it seems like I have to put such a lot on for it to be visible. The flick has got to be pretty dramatic or it is just lost in the crease of my eye somehow. Then there is the issue of time. I really enjoy makeup, and enjoy the transformation and the playfulness of it, but I’m not always (or even often) willing to take the time. It’s an interesting piece of data: that I could look basically as nice as I please (as polished, as well made up, as presentable), if only I would take the time to do it. And I guess kind of interesting too that I usually won’t bother. It’s as if, if I know that I can look really nice, what does it matter if I do?* As if looking like you could look better is as good as actually looking better. Is this the key to the charm of ultra-casual, messy-chic looks? The emphasis on the quality of the raw canvas? [Which may itself be an artificial effect? i.e. no makeup makeup, or stylized disarray?]

*Which is a valid question. Which gets at the question of the motivation behind making any effort at all. Which is reminding me to reread bits of The Feminine Mystique, which I recommend highly.

But I digress…


These earrings are white glass cabochons made from tumbaga, and ancient alloy of gold and copper. Found them in a cool little jewelry shop in Harvard Square that carries handmade jewelry by Latin and Latin American artisans.


It rains in Boston. 

Kamik rain boots, Banana Republic trench (thrifted), Mulberry bag, Zara scarf. I really like this trench but I think I’ll replace the buttons with those of a darker color for more contrast.


Listening to this Herman Dune track, a good song for a rainy day:




storage: jewelry favorites

On February 5, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

IMG_1345I like to keep my frequently worn jewelry on little plates or salvers on my dresser, readily accessible and just as easily deposited at the end of the day. I mean daily or weekly favored pieces, which I cannot be bothered (and often do not wish) to put in a box or drawer.

I may have a few little trays going, one by the bed, one on the dresser – anyplace I find I would otherwise leave a pile. The selection of featured jewelry varies with my mood, what I aspire to wear, what I habitually wear*, and any number of mysterious factors. The plates, too, get switched out according to my whims, as any little tray or plate-like thing (saucers and more elaborate coasters can work well) will do. I find I like them to have a balance of plainness, such that the jewelry can be quickly discerned and picked out, and luxury, such that they are in themselves objects of beauty, but they may be any material,** and a range of sizes can serve.

*and other little items sneak in; safety pins, perfume vials, rogue buttons

**I’ve been absently browsing for a rectangular stainless steel tray to serve the purpose, as I like that look. Nothing strikes my fancy yet, though.

IMG_1344Here’s the plate of the hour, a beautifully glazed ceramic appetizer plate. In my eyes it was destined from the start to be a jewelry repository. I’m always wondering what other strategies people employ for such tasks. How are you solving the question of what to do with frequently used jewelry? Are you dutifully putting them away in their rightful places? For me that is so unrealistic as to be inconceivable.

surely I need more costume jewelry

On November 28, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

I’ve seen so many compelling pairs of earrings lately, I seem to be in an earring-search-and-acquire mode. Not just any kind of earrings, either. Big, flashy ones. Sparkly ones. In many cases gaudy ones. You know the earrings teenage girls and bridesmaids wanted in 1985? Those ones.

I’ve been searching for a series of highly specific abstracts; massive sparkly cushion cut something or other with drop finding, faceted double teardrops in some shade of green, textured gold spheres ca. 10mm, large hammered brass oblong dangles. I just have these VISIONS. I just have all of these IDEAS.

OK. Here are the beautiful ones I found when browsing Bluebirrrd Dreams Etsy shop for pearls (you’ll remember that the shop owner let me borrow some lovely ones). I seem to find all of the best things when I am looking for something else.


These are blue milkweed beetle (Chrysochus cobaltinus) wings, which have a gorgeous iridescent surface. Are they not fine companions for my scarab pendant? Hand-drilled and suspended on vermeil. Bold yet light and delicate, metallic yet organic. Lovely, lovely.

These got me thinking about my relative lack of flashy costume jewelry. Unacceptable! I thought. Must be remedied!

So, then.

Something like these seemed in order (mine are still in the mail):


Evidently Angelina Jolie wore a pair like this for the Oscars a few years ago and it’s been easy to acquire simulations ever since.  My thanks, Angelina.

And I got something like these (again, mail):

681f6f3a6c080fa0247646e6e48c749fThey are like a cross between a classic gold sphere and a disco ball. Festive, no?

And I’m still hunting for something along these lines, which I intend to be quite large indeed, though I can’t yet decide whether I prefer the square or diamond orientation, nor which color I want. I just know I want this rounded square shape and a minimal finding with no accent gems or flourishes.





images via pinterest

If I find a few I like inexpensively enough I suspect I’ll get a few variations. Studs, dangles, different colors, sizes, orientations. Something about this shape and cut is extremely appealing to me. Strange that one can feel a distinct preference for something so abstract as a shape. I like circles, too. Circles, squares, spirals. These kinds of affinities never seem like coincidences. They are the patterns within patterns that lead me to conclude: I am highly predictable.

Did you know that there are green amethysts? That’s on my mind, too.

And…I may have gotten a sequined skirt. A rose gold one. Possibly.

[If you are on the fence about getting a sequined skirt, you should definitely get one.]

I could blame it on a holiday party but this would be a thinly veiled excuse, and beneath me.

Speaking of holidays, happy Thanksgiving to those in the U.S., and thanks for reading.

earring storage ideas

On November 23, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

I usually like to display my favorite objects, or have them on some system of rotation such that I can see and appreciate them even when they are not strictly in use, even if they are not strictly useful. I am much more likely to remember to use them and generally incorporate them into my life, if I can see them.

[At this point it leads to more clutter than I would like, or not exactly clutter…a sense of being cramped. But there are larger storage issues at work, which so overshadow and influence this that it is a concern to save for the future.]


It must have been my mom who suggested stretching a loosely woven fabric over an embroidery hoop to store earrings, as I’ve stored my favorite earrings this way since I was a teenager. It’s great for dangling earrings. I like that they can be easily plucked off the wall to wear, and just as easily returned. Some less popular pieces that I like to look at (but rarely wear) are good candidates for this, too.

Several months ago now I had a sudden inspiration for storing studs, which I wear all the time lately. [The embroidery hoop method is only suitable for rarely worn studs, as it’s tedious to remove and re-secure them all the time.] I was looking for a ring display, actually, and realized that it would work just as well for studs (this one is black velvet). So pleased with it. I felt a bit brilliant really, when I hit upon the idea. Making small organizational discoveries like this can give me a sense of accomplishment all out of scale with the reality.


pearls, pearls, pearls, pearls

I have a jewelry box for the less favored pieces, or those that are perhaps lacking versatility or kept mainly for nostalgic reasons, but I like to have the things I wear regularly accessible and displayed in such a way as to offer choice as well as the motivation to vary that choice. Once in a while I’ll substitute in alternates from deep storage or rearrange to give different pieces pride of place. The effect of even small revisions can be surprising, causing whole new patterns of wear and preference. This is invariably satisfying and good.

the classic trench

On November 19, 2013 by theseventhsphinx


It is trench weather here, off and on. When it isn’t bloody freezing.



Banana Republic trench (thrifted), American Eagle jeans (thrifted), Calvin Klein Jeans pumps, pearl earrings from Etsy shop bluebirrrd dreams, Zara silk top (thrifted).

Yes, another look at these cherry blossom drop earrings, which  I liked so well.

While the shape of this trench is just right – minimally embellished, not too stylized, fitted, standard -, the color of the buttons is all wrong. They wash everything out. I have a plan to substitute superior, properly contrasting buttons, along with getting the shoulder pads out of this one blazer and hemming this one skirt. There is a pile. Wish me luck.