day to night

On September 4, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

Minimalist gold jewelry brand AUrate asked me, how do you transition from day to night? Great prompt. How to take a makeup or style look from day to night is such a useful tool to have in your belt, and one so often used, so relevant. It’s something I determine on a case by case, outfit by outfit, mood by mood basis but, thinking about it, there are a few underlying principles that simplify the process.

Let’s take this typical summer day look to start.

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A loose, high waisted pant, neutral color palette, casual bag and sandals, jewelry either small or natural in material (leather, bone beads), light, natural makeup. This lip is Colour Pop lip liner in Frida, so pretty. The blush is Becca Pamplemousse, a vibrant pink that adds instant life to the face. I love these linen pants, old school H&M.

This necklace is a constellation piece I picked up from an Ebay shop, but I like any dainty gold piece like this with a simple white shirt. Something like this clean gold bar necklace  is a great substitute (I appreciate that AUrate pieces are solid gold, which I splash out for when I can), which is the kind of piece it’s great to layer but which I also love alone, a slight glimmer to draw attention to the throat and collarbone, accessories in themselves.

For a day to night transition [if I am indeed bothering to change anything at all] I think about amping things up somehow. I often remove the more delicate or casual elements of the look and replace them with a bolder option. Sometimes, rather than remove, I’ll just layer more on. With makeup, where desired, I darken and intensify (or add where before there was nothing).

I like to change small things in a big way, and leave the big things as they are.

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Heels, an easy one. Shoes are a quick way to dramatically shift to the mood of a look. These heeled huarache sandals (Cole Haan) still feel summery but suddenly I seem a lot more dressed up, even though the basic foundation of a simple tank and trousers hasn’t changed.

Jewelry a little bigger, a little louder. Still in line with the look but with more weight, literally and figuratively heavier. That statement ring added in. Lips darker, blush brighter, eyeshadow (only wearing mascara on the eyes above, Amaterasu Silk Mascara combined with L’Oreal Clump Crusher) and liner. This is MAC Chili lipstick, a great rusty red, Becca Wild Honey blush darkening things up to balance out the lip, Charlotte Tilbury cream shadow in Bette to give a little interest to the eyes, and a purple Tarte liner under the eyes.

The liner is a little obvious, actually. I would have been happier here with the lip/blush/shadow only…but it’s fine. It’s getting the job done. A clutch in place of the tote. I’ll give my hair a shake as well.

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That’s pretty much it. I can fit everything I need to make the transition in my tote or even a medium sized bag; a few makeup bits I’d be dragging around anyway, some jewelry I can easily carry with me, a spare pair of shoes…nothing too tiresome or time-consuming, otherwise I wouldn’t do it.

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What about you, any tips to make that day-to-night transition seamless?

x

borrowed from the boys: aftershave balm

On June 25, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

There are a number of contexts in which I appreciate a masculine aesthetic, chief among them leather goods and fragrance. [And white button-downs.] A classic dopp kit with lipstick and highlighter in place of shaving paraphernalia makes for such a chic contrast. Some of that shaving stuff I’d like to keep, too.

aftershave balm

Piel dopp kit, Molton Brown Ultra Light Bai Ji Hydrator, Korres Vetiver Root Green Tea Cedarwood Aftershave Balm, Molton Brown Black Pepper edt, Nivea Men Post Shave Balm  

Aftershave balms can be a great option for any sensitive skin, often containing carefully curated, soothing ingredients that focus on hydrating and protecting the skin. The Nivea Men Post Shave Balm, recently popularized as a killer primer by the wonderful Dutch makeup artist NikkieTutorials, finally has this phenomenon on the radar of makeup lovers everywhere. Many of us, though, have been taking advantage of lines marketed at men for years. Aftershave balm formulas are often light and oil-free, with a natural-to-matte finish (the Nivea is especially matte) that make them ideal everyday moisturizers and great for diluting illuminators and foundations. They tend to be inexpensive as well.

An old favorite is Molton Brown’s Ultra Light Bai Ji Hydrator, which smells incredible. This is not your typical vague cologne scent but one with a beautiful floral element that is still firmly in the camp of western masculine fragrance (not that it would be bad if it weren’t, just saying it is). Great for reducing redness and soothing irritable skin. I love the contrast of lipstick or a bit of a done face and a masculine fragrance.

I recently picked up the Vetiver Root Green Tea Cedarwood Aftershave Balm from Korres, which has just released a number of new scents and products in the states. Another effective option, and a nice way to add a bit of scent to your routine, guys, those of you don’t like to wear cologne but wouldn’t mind smelling nice in some more understated way. The cedarwood is the dominant note here for me (I was hoping it would be the vetiver but it’s still nice). The super light yet lovely Black Pepper edt from Molton Brown I also recommend.

aftershave balm

These are not complex products, they just do a couple of things and they do them well. There is so much to be said for a reliable product like that, and I happily make space for such products in my skincare routine.

x

smell this: Guerlain Shalimar

On April 8, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

Shalimar is an established classic, designed in 1921 by Jacques Guerlain and still on the shelves. This fragrance has been reformulated at least once but the essential notes remain the same; bergamot, jasmine, rose, iris, opoponax, vanilla. This is a complicated fragrance with a lot of powerful ingredients, and not only a lot on paper – a lot in the nose as well. Smelling iconic perfumes is such a good exercise.  I think anyone who gets sufficiently curious about perfume will want to experience the old classics sooner or later, certain of them anyway, whether a true vintage sample or the nearest one can get.

Shalimar EDC

I have yet to have an opportunity to smell the original formulation and can’t speak to whatever butchery the reformulation represents, but to me the current interpretation has a lot to appreciate. Anecdotally (Wikipedia on perfume histories is an interesting rabbit hole) it’s the result of an entire bottle of the latest synthetic vanillin being experimentally poured into a bottle of Guerlain’s Jicky, and was launched as Guerlain’s showpiece for the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925, an art exhibit designed to show the pre-eminence of French taste and style that was the highlight of the early Art Deco period. There is a great history of Shalimar on The Perfume Shrine.

We are discussing the EdC here, as that happens to be what I was gifted recently. It’s strange, I have hardly ever been given perfume. My mom gave me a much loved bottle of Jovan White Musk when I was 13 or so, and my aunt gave me a not especially loved bottle of…what was it? Lady Stetson? (miles away from the awful tropico-chemical aerosol body sprays in vogue in rural Maine in the 90s, which I largely shunned for Vanilla Fields), and I’ve had a few lovely fragrances passed on to me, but I haven’t had that feeling of having a new bottle of perfume in a couple of years. I am so used to being the one who gifts fragrance, I forget it can be given to me, too. How nice it is!*

*Potentially…

I was delighted to receive Shalimar, not because I like it [I’d only smelled it academically in passing years ago, and had only thought about it as a forerunner, a foremother] but because it is iconic, a sound addition to any fragrance library. It’s clearly echoed in later orientals, later leathers, in powdery and floral scents, in ambers and vanillas and incense fragrances…so many of these it seems could not exist without Shalimar.  That said, I do like it, though perhaps this does not translate to wanting to wear it often.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Shalimar EDC

Shalimar EdC opens with a zingy lemon and bergamot (think earl grey tea) accord, really bright, with an insistent sour note like cedar and civet (think animal musk/sweat and cat pee). The animality is strong for me, though for some it takes a back seat to the bergamot and soapy powder (highly recommend browsing the basenotes reviews of Shalimar). This moves promptly -within a few minutes – into the soapy floral heart of iris (for me dominant) and rose, which rose is never fully extricated from that original citrus. There is jasmine as well but for me it is more ‘complex heady floral that you know cannot be only rose or only jasmine’. It’s so over the top to have jasmine and rose, basically the two most expensive floral extracts and Guerlain famous for using the best. Either alone is enough to carry the day, and iris too can hold its own*, so it’s already a busy concoction, and THEN.

*Guerlain’s Apree L’Ondee, Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, The Different Company Bois d’Iris – I find iris soliflore fragrances are the best way to teach your nose the iris note, irises themselves are not so helpful, the root being the relevant thing.

On the coattails of the iris is an equally prominent note of leather, with vanilla and tonka bean creeping steadily in. For me the leather is unmistakable, though some seem to read it only as a smoky vanilla, or more like incense. Some people don’t seem to read leather at all, which to me is baffling, but the leather is the illusion, a mirage made of musk, amber, incense, and powder. The resinous note is evidently the opoponax – a note I don’t really have clear in my brain yet but which is a gum resin like frankincense or myrrh (opoponax is also called sweet myrrh) that smells luxuriously of balsamic and honey. Supposedly. I get what I would call sweet (amber, vanilla) and sour (civet, cedar) leather with a backdrop of powdery iris and incense. As time goes by, and this is a defiant fragrance that hangs around for many hours, this cocktail softens more and more, with leather, amber and vanilla waxing as the sourness and florals wane.

Shalimar will smell naggingly familiar to most, as it is still selling and still being worn, for many it is the scent worn by their mother or grandmother. Then, too, it is the ur-oriental, and all orientals are reminiscent of it. It’s had a cult following for nearly a century, the house’s flagship fragrance; innovatively sweet and exotic for the daring 20s. In addition to selling steadily in the main formulation, has spawned several offshoots or flankers, which surely sell in no small part due to the gorgeous bottle they keep re-releasing with slight variations on the original Baccarat design.

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Make no mistake, to my nose Shalimar is old-fashioned. It should smell old fashioned, formulated some 90 years ago and, from my point of view, worn by people much older than myself. Then, powder to me nearly always smells old-fashioned, as do basically all orientals, orientals being amber dominant scents with rich ingredients like musks and resins along with (often eastern) spices and florals. It’s strong! Not in the brassy 70s way or the cloying 80s way, and not in the modern Tom Ford way, but in a complex everything-but-the-kitchen-sink way that a number of iconic fragrances from the 1910s and 1920s demonstrate for us (ahem, Chanel No. 5 (1919)).

The beauty of Shalimar today is that it’s at a point where it’s so old it can be new again. It’s a potent, grown-up fragrance, even in the relatively sheer EdC formulation, and I can see it reading fresh and interesting on a younger woman, say under 40. Not that age matters, but youth provides a great contrast with these notes. Worn with complete at-homeness as a signature fragrance by someone older is a great look for Shalimar as well.

It appeals to me especially in the rain (that’s the iris), and it smells about a billion times better on skin than it does on fabric. No spritzing the scarf with this one for me. I need to power through the civet-heavy opening to get to the leather/iris bit, which is the part I can appreciate. I encourage anyone smelling Shalimar to spray it on and give it an hour. I can see myself more realistically layering this with a musk I actually like to add interest (say the Kiehl’s musk oil, or this one I like that I found on Amazon), or with a straight rose (say Tea Rose, or another straight floral maybe) to add interest, such that the layering fragrance provides a new driving force and Shalimar a soft ambiance. A dominant leather could be a nice pairing as well. Hm. Let’s talk about Tom Ford Tuscan Leather later, which is perfection all on its own.

x

bottle image via pinterest

rough & tumble

On November 25, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

Rough & Tumble is an independent company in Maine making artisan totes and handbags (they sell some other things, too). Their concept is ‘rugged & understated luxury’, and I think they do it well. The understated luxury part resonates deeply with me, and the branding is clear and focused. They work mainly with waxed canvas and leather, creating durable bags with clean architecture and classic style.

rough and tumble hobo pack

I can’t quite remember how I stumbled across them now. Instagram, I think. Simple, beautiful leather goods consistently catch my eye, and I determined that their perfectly slouchy hobo pack needed to come into my life one way or another.

I got the medium size of the hobo pack, which I’m wearing in the previous post, for scale. I’m so pleased with the quality and style of this bag. I often lament how hard it is to find a handbag that isn’t woefully encrusted with studs and logos and general frippery. Seeing a bag like this, so wonderfully clean, is like a breath of fresh air. This style comes in a number of other tempting colors, like the pale oat color I wanted very much. It was definitely the practical part of me that decided on black, encouraged by the fact that nearly every other bag I have is some shade of brown.

I love brown.

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This is a thin lambskin with saddle details. The buckles here serve a genuine purpose, which I applaud, and the leather is luxuriously supple and soft. I treated it with a stain protector and it’s had no problems in the rain or getting splashed with mud on the back of my bike. I need a bag that can survive my life. Seeing how well it handles weather, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose one of the lighter colors they offer.

The pricing seems fair and I’m all around impressed with this brand. Lately I’ve been browsing their small pieces section (I will always check the subcategory ‘small leather goods’, and I will pretty much always find something I like. Ex. this tassel thing from Cuyana). Surely I could find a use for one of these little cross body bags or pouches?

Surely.

x

the gladiators

On August 16, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

Damn I love a gladiator sandal.

Free People Cypress gladiators

These are the Cypress gladiator sandals from Free People, which carries a bunch of appealing gladiator styles, if you’re on the hunt. This was the year I finally found the knee-high gladiator. No support in the footbed so some kind of supplemental padding is in order, at least for me, but I’m pleased with their badassness overall.

Free People Cypress gladiators

What is it about the gladiator? The ancient Greece connection, for sure. Basically those statues in the MFA? That’s exactly how I want to dress. Actually literally exactly. Sometimes.

Then there’s the encasement of the foot and possibly also leg, which can be pleasantly intricate or, equally pleasantly, simple, all while conforming to the shape of the foot (not masking or disguising the silhouette of the human foot but still enhancing it). The classic natural leather (or, these days, at least made to look natural). This kind of timeless design is invariably versatile, easily holding its own in a much more formal context. I don’t think I care about that, though…I just like them.

Have you seen designs from the brand Ancient Greek Sandals? Fantasy sandals.

[Then, also, Scandal.]

Free People Cypress gladiators

theseventhsphinx

Often I think my profile looks bizarre, I think because I hardly ever see it. Strange how different a face can look when you just shift the angle a little.

theseventhsphinx fotd

Quick face breakdown: Kjaer Weis Desired Glow cream blush (love), Becca shimmering skin perfector in Opal (also love, but I like a lot of other highlighters as well. I love highlighter. I should write a post about that…), Benefit Gimme Brow, Milani blush in Luminoso (a little too shimmery for some purposes but a lovely peachy coral, famously popular in the youtube/bloglands), Charlotte Tilbury Color Chameleon in Amber Haze (so easy to work with, a great eye crayon), MAC Cream in Your Coffee lipstick (a new one, so good! My new favorite neutral, more mauve than I expected it would be from swatches), Koh Gen Do Aqua foundation (so, so good for a natural, light-medium coverage, only detectable where my skin was too dry), Charlotte Tilbury pressed powder. I’m late to the powder party but I believe in the power of powder now. I still don’t always wear it, but I believe.

Oh! And a few individual lashes (Ardell, short bunches), which, at least in person, make a massive difference. Kind of a pain at my bottom-rung lash application experience level, but they make a difference.

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From the front, though!

Express hi-rise cutoffs, Madewell belt, Skagen watch, Free People sandals, the wooden earrings I think from a street vendor? Other stuff thrifted. A peasant blouse that isn’t too…forced, is hard to find, but so worth it when you do.

This look is quintessential summer to me: white shirt, jean shorts, great sandals, minimal accessories.

Free People Cypress gladiators, summer essentials

Skagen watch theseventhsphinx

Love how mannish this watch, yet not comically oversized on my in fact not-really-that-small wrist. I am often wearing one Skagen watch or another.

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