Valentine’s gift guide

On February 1, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

There is certainly a cheesy, overcommercialized aspect to Valentine’s Day but it’s true too that there is a lot of cute stuff to be had, and I don’t mind a certain degree of sentimentality. I can genuinely like it, even.

Here are a few pieces I would love to be given, and I’m sure I’m not the only one:

1. a luxurious red lipstick

Lipstick Queen Silver Screen Lipstick in Have Paris, maybe, or Le Metier de Beaute Maraschino

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2. pearls

Because, pearls. But also how charming are these akoya heart drops?

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3. a cookbook

I’m really into Mediterranean fusion cookbooks at the moment. Enjoying _Plenty More_ and definitely want to have a look at _Ottolenghi_.

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4. fancy lip balm

Always good to pave the way for kisses, no? This natural, nutrient-packed offering from Tata Harper caught my eye recently.  Be True lip treatment. There’s a tinted version as well.

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5. liquor, in conjunction, glassware

I don’t know about you, but I love being given alcohol. Champagne, especially. Say it with champagne! Better still, say it with champagne glasses. Really, really tall ones…

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6. the scent of roses

I always enjoy Tea Rose, a simple, bright citrusy rose fragrance from The Perfumer’s Workshop. It’s so inexpensive, too. I find it layers beautifully with any number of other fragrances, and especially like to use it to brighten or soften various masculine favorites of mine. Alternatively a lot of L’Occitane’s rose scented products are lovely, also their peony products, peony being much like rose in character but a bit softer and, in a pleasant way, harder to identify. I like the hand creams.

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7. gourmet ingredients

Gourmet herbs, spices, salts, things that come in beautifully packaged jars…I can’t get enough of that stuff. Surprise me.

8. a locket

I’ve been susceptible to the Victorian charm of lockets for as long as I can remember. I’m always looking for interesting vintage ones (I haven’t found one yet, in all this searching, but it’s one of those searches that’s been going on for years, off and on), and like a lot of different styles, from miniature hearts to oversized ovals. This chubby Tiffany’s gold heart has that classic (plain), clean (really plain) look I like. Lockets can be cheesy but, you know, it doesn’t have to be like that.

27679161_927308_EDIt’s unoriginal, I suppose, to give someone a necklace with a heart on it…but honestly I think necklaces with hearts on them are appealing. A dainty chain, a dainty heart*…maybe solid, maybe studded with some stone** or another. I can’t go for those swoopy, stylized hearts but a plain, shapely heart, sure.

*something like this tiny platinum heart, for instance

44870_main**case in point, the diamond heart necklace Lena Dunham wore in her recent Elle cover, speaking of Tiffany’s. I find that piece so beautifully sized and the shape of the heart appealing as well, curvy and proportional – there are many unfortunate heart attempts out there, as far as I’m concerned. Making a mental note to try to get my breasts to do this thing Lena’s are doing here. Imagine with a pearl pendant? Nothing not to like there.

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What do you think? See anything you like?

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sick day

On October 17, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

“The loose hair strands of beautiful women don’t have to be combed.”

                                                                — Rumi

Have a cold. Feeling like:

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Here’s my going to get orange juice ensemble.

IMG_6217I can’t believe we got up from our nap for this.

Madewell jeans, thrifted shirt, Libeco Home linen scarf (linen a great weight for early autumn), Skagen watch. Actually really liking this ultra-sheer lipstick, Lipstick Queen’s Medieval, about which not surprised at all given that it is the darker cousin of my can-do-no-wrong Jean Queen and was on top of this recommended by Lisa Eldridge in her gorgeous natural Downton Abbey makeup tutorial (ft. Laura Carmichael, Lady Edith), which: worth a look.

I put a little on my cheeks as well (a great success, texturally), and that’s all we’ve got going on here today.

On the bright side, I wore my new kicks.

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New Balance Stadium Jacket 574s. Really liking this quite green shade of turquoise since last summer or so? Or since forever or so.

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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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endless summer

On May 20, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

It’s strange how fully I (and we, as a culture, it seems) fall for the myth and the romance of summer given how, at least here in the Boston area, summer is a horrible, humid stretch of days during which one attempts to stay in the air conditioning as often as possible. I am miserably hot for the better part of summers here, if I think about it, a fact I seem conveniently to forget sometime around January, and fail to remember until June. It’s really only nice for a few days here and there, and usually only part of those days, before and/or after a sudden, unforeseen downpour.

I still feel the consumerist desire to kit myself out for the mystical stretch of the year that is summer, however. I want to be prepared for the impending vacances (I am not scheduled, at the moment, for a single day of vacance, reader), the long, languid soirées (ditto soirées), the sangria and mojito filled late afternoons (I will be working through virtually every one of those afternoons…).

Still I read such articles as ’10 summer must haves’ and ‘5 best lipsticks for summer’*. I want to wear orange lips, too. I really do.

*ALTHOUGH one is always taking in more data than one needs, and carefully over-preparing for hazy impending events. So…not necessarily a waste of time. Not entirely a waste of time/money.

This is to say, I am living in a fantasy wherein it seems I need to prepare for a life that doesn’t quite (at all) coincide with what is realistically (even just based on the statistics from last summer) going to happen. Really it is likely to be like a lot of the rest of the year, just inconveniently hot.

Yes, but! I could go to more parties this year! I might! Be invited to more! And then actually go!

I could.

I might.

I’m considering it.

So I probably need a new dress. A new bikini, clearly. And some lipstick. And, like, special summer moisturizer, and better legs, somehow. Suddenly my legs won’t do at all?  I need which products to mollify the gods of summer?

And somehow all the stuff I did and got for last summer and the summer before that (and the summer before that…) do not quite cut it?

Summer is such a genius cultural myth, capitalism-wise. I will give summer that. Even seeing through it, I genuinely fall prey to some of this marketing. Some of it overlaps with basic optimism about life (it’s optimistic to hope to go out, to plan social events, and to plan for the trappings of those events), and in some cases I just want the kind of stuff I want all the time, and the season provides a fresh context in which to want it. And in some cases it overlaps with common sense, like needing lighter clothes for summer, or sunscreen.

I like the kind of beauty looks that always crop up around summer, sheer, natural looks that tend to focus on looking healthy and fresh-faced. They hark back to the 60s and 70s concept of the American beauty, when the fashion magazine industry had just sprung up to document a world of fashion, and American models were known for their overflowing good health, athleticism, and a preference for natural (or natural looking) faces.

What I’m leading up to is: I bought some summer lipsticks.

And they are excellent.

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Lipstick Queen’s Endless Summer collection has a sheer, emollient formula like that of Jean Queen (the formula I wanted their Saint lipsticks to have, and they don’t quite), which I’ve already mentioned liking so well.  I think this kind of transparent formula, its texture hovering somewhere between a cream and an ointment (shea butter-based), its pigmentation unassailable, is effortless, foolproof. I think it’s on par with Chanel’s Rouge Coco Shine formula, and at a better price (if fewer colors). Want to get someone a gift of lipstick? Get them one of these (especially Jean Queen, which is a dark, I would say universal pink). Or one from Chanel.

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Stoked is a gently orange-toned tomato red, and Perfect Wave is a blue-tinged bubble gum pink. Stoked is the winner for me, but orange reds often are.

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Oh, OK. Here are some swatches.

I like the name, too. Endless Summer. I have summers that live on persistently in memory like this, seeming not to fade or lessen in their significance over time. Ready to be turned to, returned to, at any moment.

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I really like this packaging, too. This metallic orange  is beautiful.

I would wear these all year round.

 

P.S. For the record, I prefer autumn.

 

the pendant

On March 17, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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I recently got this pendant hanger, which allows one to hang any pendant from any chain (within the size range of the hanger). How clever is this? It’s shaped like a twisted eternity symbol and can be easily attached and removed. This pendant is a random one with a medieval look, and my favorite pairing with the pearls so far. This pairing would be at home with a much more formal look, is one thing I like about it, making a nice contrast with a casual look.

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Love me a bit of houndstooth, love me a bit of python.

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This creamy python print behaves effectively as a nude on me (which comes across better at a distance, or out of focus), just with a bit more interest. This 3″ height is quite friendly, too, I find, without looking kittenish.*

*Not that there is anything wrong with looking kittenish, but it is a different thing entirely.

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Zara wool houndstooth blazer (thrifted), Express jeans, Pearl Paradise necklace (18″ 8mm strand), J Crew vintage v-neck tee, Nickels python pumps (thrifted), Mulberry Roxanne bag (thrifted). On the lips: Lipstick Queen lipstick in Jean Queen. Also wearing a Japonesque Color blush I’m liking a lot, and will mention properly soon.

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Elbow patches!

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