Tag Archives: standards

The Basic Beauty Essentials Everyone Should Have—For Real

There are a lot of fun items involved in beautification, there’s lipstick, eyeliner, deep conditioners, toners, and hundreds of other “important” things for you to buy and use, but sometimes it’s the simpler items that are essential. You always keep them stocked, you use them more than pricey products, and they’re available at your local drug store. It’s not usually that exciting when you re-stock them, but if they ever stopped making any of these products (god forbid) you know you’d be really upset. If I run out of any of this stuff, or lose any of these tools, I have to make a rush visit to the drug store to replenish ASAP.

A lot of these items also have multiple uses, they’re tools, honest to goodness tools, just like hammers and nails. Who needs a pliers when I have a cuticle clipper? I’ll never forget working at MAC and listening to one of the very masculine stock guys going on and on about the wonders of nail polish remover and how it could erase sharpie marker. He was impressed by the untold usefulness of beauty products, and so am I, most women have an arsenal of tools disguised as beauty products sitting on their bathroom shelf—we’re savvy like that.

Hair elastics are about as essential as it gets if you have hair past your chin. I’m a Scünci girl, Goody is alright, but I don’t find them as well made. I like the no damage elastics without any metal on them, and they’re strong too. Hair elastics have many purposes, I never have rubber bands so they end up being used for a multitude of things, like bundling pencils or keeping shutters closed, oh yeah, and putting your hair in a ponytail too.

Scünci Elastics, Medium Black, $2.69 for 28

My hair is a battle ground for hair accessories, only the strong survive. My strands snap hair elastics like nobodies business and they laugh at silly little hair clips. I’ve tried dozens of hair claws and clips, so when I found these heavy-duty, no-slip gripped clips, my hair finally met its match. They still break sometimes, but they stand up to my hair like nothing else. They’re also essential for keeping curtains closed and you can clip them all over your bathroom so you always have one on hand.

Scunci No-Slip Grip Jaw Clips, $3.19 for 2

There is always one of these looped over my bathroom doorknob, if you have bangs or even long layers around your face, you need one of these to push your hair back when you put on a cleansing mask, or just wash your face everyday. I treat them like crap and they always end up looking ratty, but you can throw them in the wash, and whenever I lose them I realize how much I need them, especially if I’m in need of a bang trim.

Scunci Hairband, Assorted Colors, 5 for $5.69

One of my favorite things about beauty supply stores is the huge tub of bobby pins you can get for like, 2 bucks, so cheap and they last forever. Unfortunately when you can’t make it to a real beauty supply, you have to settle for the slightly more expensive (but still pretty cheap) Conair or store brand bobby pins. If you’re growing out your hair, or you like to wear up-dos, you need bobby pins. They’re also great for cleaning up nail polish in the corners of your nails, unlocking doors, and so many other little things.

Conair Brush Styling Essentials Matte Minis Bobby Pins, Black, 60 for $1.29

Ok, so this one is hard to use as anything but soap, although Wendy does try to re-attach Peter Pan’s shadow with a bar of soap, but mostly I just love this stuff because it’s extra gentle and I have very sensitive skin. I try to get someone with a BJ’s membership to buy it for me or let me tag along on a trip because they have it there in bulk. I’ve been using it forever and it never disappoints in making my skin soft and irritation-free.

Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar, Antibacterial, $4.49

A cardinal rule of skin care is “don’t touch your face”, and it’s really true, my skin has gotten so much better since I started following that rule, I should have listened to my mother when I was teenager. If you must pop a pimple or squeeze a blackhead, use this loop, it’s worth the $9.00 to keep your skin clear and satisfy the urge to pop. It looks like a torture device, and you can go a little squeeze-happy with it, but it’s a great thing to have on hand when you need it, always clean it off with some rubbing alcohol (another essential) between uses too.

Tweezerman Skin Care Tool, $8.99

These are an ultimate essential product, I actually buy mine in bulk at Costco, but I’ve tried these Johnson’s wipes and they’re good too. I know that Terrence Howard thinks they’re essential for other reasons, but they’re great for cleaning out your makeup cases, and they can be critical for makeup application. If it’s hard to get a straight line on your eyeliner, or if you screw up and need to wipe it all off, you need some of these babies on hand.

Johnson’s Baby Hand & Face Wipes 25 for $2.99

I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t wash my hair that often. It takes literally six+ hours to dry and it doesn’t get greasy very quickly. So when I shower I need to protect my hair from the water, otherwise the steam has a field day creating frizz. I like these Goody shower caps because they’re super cheap, brightly colored and they last a long time. My fiance things that shower caps are hysterical, which is why I’m considering ordering one of these immensely silly caps from Urban Outfitters, because he’ll get a kick out of it, it’s fun—and who cares? You’re in the shower anyway!

Goody Shower Cap Large, $1.49 or

Urban Outfitter Shower Caps, $8.00

This tool is probably the most essential of my essential products. It’s meant for clipping cuticles and it does an amazing job with its super sharp edges, but it’s also great for clipping the tags off clothes. To me, it’s a standard do-everything tool. I use it to open stubborn products and I pretty much use it as a pliers most of the time, I have a toolbox with a legit pliers, but this guy works better for everything. I’ve had mine for about six years and it’s still pretty sharp, I think I might send it back to Tweezerman for a sharpening and re-aligning though, because they let you do that, so it’s worth the investment too.

Tweezerman Stainless Steel Cuticle Nipper, $24.99

We all need a nail file sometimes, especially in a nail emergency—this is a no-brainer. I’ve also used them to sand wood, but I’m weird, I use a lot of these products for art projects. These Trim boards are the way to go. I’ve bought cute nail files with hearts and patterns on them, and they’ve given me cuts under my nail, seriously—those things can be dangerous. Stick to these, they’re effective, last a long time, and the price is right.

Trim Salon Boards, Grit Heavy Duty/Medium 2 for $2.29

Ok, so now I want to hear about your essential items, I’m sure I’ve left some great products out, but I think it’s different for everyone. These are items that are either very cheap, or last forever and are used often, you can get them at the drug or beauty supply store, and you always need them, extra points for products with multiple uses! Let’s hear what you got!


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Filed under shopping

Beauty in the Movies: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains

I am in love with this movie, but not too many people are familiar with it because it got a raw deal, and that’s a huge shame. There are so many reasons to appreciate this film, the iconic fashion, the kick-ass make-up, the power and angst of these girls, amazing punk music, and much more.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains stars a 15-year-old Diane Lane as Corinne Burns, a frustrated recently orphaned teenage girl who in an effort to get the hell out of her small town, enlists her cousin (Laura Dern) and younger sister (Marin Kanter) to start a punk band. The three join a tour run by “Lawn boy” (Reggae artist Barry Ford) a Rastafarian with a mission to make enough money to save a musician friend of his who was wrongly imprisoned. The tour consists of two other bands; aging rockers The Metal Corpses who wear Kiss-like stage makeup and rest on the laurels of their one hit, and The Looters, a group of young cockneys, three of which are played by legendary punk musicians—Paul Simonon bassist for The Clash, and ex-Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook. The Stains are put on the tour to ease tensions between the two other bands, but Corinne has bigger plans. She shows up for their first gig in tights, boots, a see-through blouse, and awesome hair and makeup, despite her band-mates leaving the stage and the audience heckling her, she makes an impression when she reveals herself to the audience shouting “I’m perfect! But nobody in this shithole gets me, because I don’t put out!”.

After grabbing the attention of local newswoman Alicia Meeker with her message of “don’t put out” which Corinne describes as meaning “Don’t get screwed, don’t be a jerk, don’t get had”, The Stains start to gain a following. Their fans call themselves “skunks” and put white streaks in their hair like Corinne. They range from adolescent girls to their original fan Ms. Meeker, who trades her 80s power suits for bright colors and red eyeliner. The lead singer of the Looters, Billy (Ray Winstone), is also taken with Corinne, and after rejecting his advances, she finally gives in to him. The rest of the film features a lot of angst, revenge, teen girls, and of course more punk music, but you should really just see it for yourself, because despite the plot holes, this movie is iconic and damn awesome in so many ways. Unfortunately, the studio didn’t agree—it wasn’t commercial enough, so they held the release, re-titled it (the original title was “All Washed Up”), and tacked on an MTV music video ending in which the punk-rock Stains have turned peppy and look more like the Go-gos, bouncy, fluffy hair and all.

This film was made in 1980, that’s before Spinal Tap, before Cyndi Lauper or Joan Jett were mainstream, and before there were any all-female rock bands prevalent in the United States. This movie was ahead of its time. Lady Gaga and Corinne have virtually the same everyday attire—black tights, black underwear, heels and maybe a sweater. It’s still rare to see a character like Corinne in a movie, watching her gain and quickly lose—the upper hand with her love interest is pretty amazing. She can be a pouty brat, but she also has incredible ambition and knows how to take care of herself—even though she’s just a girl.

It’s obvious that the movie industry has changed. We attack Miley Cyrus for doing a sexy lap dance off-screen, meanwhile in 1980, at barely 15, Diane Lane has shower sex scenes, shows her boobs and ass, and plays a character who openly showcases her sex-appeal. Let’s look what happened to Diane Lane—she’s a successful, Oscar-nominated actress with an amazing career under her belt, and she seems pretty damn well-adjusted. Then there is Laura Dern who, despite towering over all the girls in the film, was just 12 (TWELVE!) when this movie started filming, she had to be emancipated from her mother, but she seems to have turned out pretty well too. This film showcases how different teenage girls are from their male peers. At 15, you’re a woman, you may be awkward and have no idea what you’re doing, but the world sees you as a woman and it makes you mature pretty fast. We like to pretend in this country that until you’re 18 you are a child, and that’s simply not true, teens and adolescents are equally engrossed in our world, love, hate, sex, drugs—they know all about it, whether some people want to believe it or not.

This film is about commercialism, gimmicks, and obviously the music industry too. Corinne has a good message, and it appeals to young, angry girls and grown women as well. Sadly, to the men around her who don’t understand the appeal, it just comes off as a shtick, and well that might be part of it, it’s not everything. Corinne is a pissed off 15-year-old girl, and she uses her body and her angst to rally other women who feel the same as her. The character of Corinne is a multi-faceted one, Diane Lane works perfectly, because if she weren’t vulnerable she would come off as too angry and bitter, it’s the moments where she seems like a scared girl that you really feel for her character. By the end of the film, Corinne has bought into her own image, and later she lets herself believe it was the only thing she had going for her, at 15 she’s already been eaten up and spit back out by the industry. But it wasn’t just the make-up, the hair, and the outfits, there was something else, something that appealed to women, something strong, maybe the men around her just couldn’t see it, or maybe they were threatened by it, either way, it was much, much more than just hair.

I feel kind of out of practice with my makeup artistry recently, but while I was watching this movie I decided I just had to try out the look. I used MAC blush in frankly scarlet with a MAC angled brush to do the points on the eyes. I used Maybelline Line Stylist Eyeliner in Black Sparkle eyeliner to get the fine under eye line, and I finished off the eyes with Covergirl Lash Blast Mascara in very black. On my lips is MAC lipstick in Russian Red. It’s not my best work, but it was fun and it was 1:00AM.  I also read that they used a stencil in the movie and I did this freehand—so HA!

I’m trying to look angsty here, it’s not working out too well.

I’m a skunk!

My Fiancé did this one, yes we’re PhotoShop nerds.

Try the look out for yourself, and then send me pictures! You know you want to!

Maxmara coats WHITE
538 GBP – matchesfashion.com
More Max Mara coats »

fishnet tights
$15 – usa.frenchconnection.com
More French Connection tights »

tube noeud – Page 7
nikkograff.centerblog.net


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Filed under Beauty in the movies

Beauty grab-bag: Purple Power

The theme of this post is purple, maybe you love it maybe you hate it, but to me, it’s awesome. I’ve heard purple described as a “juvenile” color before, and it pissed me off. Try telling the royals that purple is juvenile—it’s their signature color, ok? To me, Purple always felt edgier than pink. It’s can be girly, but it can be regal, and it can be dark and gothy too. I love all shades from lavender to eggplant, I like it on my clothes, I like it on my eyelids, I like it on my nails, it can be a neutral or it can be a statement, and since it’s comes from mixing blue and red, it’s flattering on pretty much every skin tone.

Sephora tells me Purple is the hot color for fall, and I’m like “duh!” that’s why I chose it for my wedding!

Here’s a blueberry pie I baked this morning, I thought it looked really purple and pretty as I was making it, it doesn’t look as purple when it’s baked, but I look forward to eating it anyway.

Also my future sister-in-law, Alison, sent me this beauty finds story, and it involves purple shoes so it applies! Here’s what she says:

“It is a sad day when you realize that you might have to start wearing actual shoes again, time to bid farewell to the carefree days of flip-flops and sandals. I have so much trouble finding fat shoes that don’t pinch my toes or gape at the sides, that was until I wandered into Nine West, I was hoping to find some sandals on clearance for next year but instead I found these great suede flats an amazing price. They were marked $24.95 but if you buy 2 you get one pair half-off, so for less than forty bux, these comfortable, cute shoes are all mine”

I might have to seek those babies out and try them! Don’t forget to send me any beauty buy suggestions and I’ll feature them, we want to see what you buy, especially if you get it for a good price!

I’ve been obsessively looking for a cute pair of purple flats to wear at my wedding reception once I inevitably get sick of (or fall off of) of my 4 inch heels. Here are some I’ve been looking at:

These are from Frye, and while I love Frye boots and sandals, I’ve never had good luck with their flats for some reason. If i got them I’d have to start breaking them in ASAP,

They’re on Zappos for a steep $148

These are from Yoox.com (which I’ve never ordered from) and they’re cute, but still a little pricey at $98 and of course you never know if they’ll be horribly painful!

These are from blowfish and are available on Zappos for $40.00—but would they be comfy for dancing?

Or of course I could just go for these, because I already know they’re comfy, still $40 though.

Anyway, purple is super hot this fall, so I’ve put together a polyvore collage of pretty much anything that’s purple and cute. Also check back here tomorrow for Beauty in the movies this week we feature the cult classic Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains, it’s a great movie and it’s gonna be good!

perfect purples by justinez featuring Alexander McQueen dresses

Womens Miso Ruffle Pants
4.99 GBP – republic.co.uk
More intimates »

Propose a Toast Heel
$35 – modcloth.com
More pumps »

Julie’s Dainty Purple Flower Ring
$17 – fantasyjewelrybox.com
More rings »

Echo Purple Candles
$6.95 – crateandbarrel.com


32″ Lavender Swirl Paper Parasol
$6.50 – asianimportstore.com


OPI Rumple’s Wiggin’
shareasale.com


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Filed under acceptance

Whoops! Elle Actually Does Care What I Have to Say

There is some back story to this post, it all started with one of my first posts on this blog. I wrote about a letter I sent to the editors at Elle about how pissed-off I was about a piece of advice given by their resident advice-giver, E-jean. You can check out the original post and the letter I wrote to the editor here. You can also check out the angry rant I wrote after I received the July issue of Elle, and not only had my letter failed to be included, but there were zero negative, or even lukewarm, letters printed at all. As you can tell by that post I was pretty annoyed at Elle and fed-up with magazines in general. So when I received my August issue, I tossed it on the coffee table without glancing at it, and there it sat—until yesterday.

I had a lazy Sunday, I was blown out from attending Meatfest the day before, it’s an annual BBQ and ode to succulent, fattening, tasty meat held by my sister and her boyfriend. I ate a “bacon explosion” which consists of bacon, sausage, and cheese, all rolled-up, covered in spices, and smoked until delicious. I ate lamb chili, and tried hard to forget I was eating baby sheep because it was so damn amazing. I ate a lot, and for the occasion I made cornbread covered in bacon, and I ate some of that too.

Anyway, I overindulged, and I spent the next day recovering. My day involved a few accidental naps, some aspirational internet shopping, and a lot of in-depth vegging. It seemed a good time to finally put a dent in the accumulation of magazines on my coffee table. I grabbed the August Elle, and after reading the same old crap about Drew Barrymore and some boring stuff about home hair color, I flipped to the “letter to the editor”, or “mail bonding” as they call it, page to see if they had any less-than-positive readers this month. A negative letter caught my eye, and I spotted the name “E.Jean” and thought “Alright! At least someone got to have their thoughts about this lady put in print”. As I continued reading the letter sounded strangely familiar, and I almost fell off the couch when my sluggish meat-infused mind put it all together and I saw my name in print. I squealed, and then I thought “whoopsie! Maybe I should have held off on my little rant”.

Here it is, highlighted in pink, click the image to view it larger.

I can’t say that I’m not a bit embarrassed, but I’m really glad they printed my letter, so thanks Elle! That being said, I stand by most of my rant, but I may not cancel my subscription just yet because I’m still a total sucker for pages like this:

Pretty isn’t it? A good makeup collage can mend all wrongs (well not really, but it doesn’t hurt). Makeup is the only thing in the pages of Elle that I can even remotely afford anyway, so I have to hold on to something. I’m super psyched that Elle published my letter, and I hope that if enough people continue to speak their minds, I’ll actually be able to relate to some of the stuff they publish. For the moment I can say that I enjoy looking at the cosmetics pages, and maybe one day Elle will catch-on that most of the women who read their magazine would like fewer items that are “Priced upon request” and more that are available at say Forever 21 or Macy’s.

As for Ms. E. Jean, I still think it’s about time for her to retire, and if Elle needs a new advice columnist—well, I’m currently available.

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Beauty in the Movies: Reality Bites

Welcome to the mid 90s, when you didn’t have to have glossy hair, a svelte body, or perfect clothes to be attractive. When grunge ruled, and MTV was actually interesting. I was only nine in 1994 when Reality Bites came out, which in some ways has made it more nostalgic for me, because although I didn’t understand half of it, I thought these characters were so damn cool that they made a permanent impression on me. Years later as I was watching it again, just after graduating from college, it was strange because even after having seen it dozens of times, I could suddenly relate to it.

Reality Bites is the quintessential Gen-X film. The story centers around a group of friends who’ve just recently graduated from college (although one of them dropped out) and are living and working in Houston, Texas. Lelaina (Winona Ryder) was the valedictorian of her university and is an aspiring video artist, Vickie (Janeane Garofalo) is a promiscuous retail manager at the Gap, Sammy (Steve Zahn)—well I’m not sure what he does, but he’s gay and struggling to come out to his parents, and Troy (Ethan Hawke) an unemployed genius who thinks he has all the answers.

A love triangle sits at the heart of this film. Lelaina and Troy, who’ve been long time friends with obvious sexual tension often leading to hostility, form the first two points. The third point is occupied by yuppie TV producer Michael (Ben Stiller) who also directed the film. Lelaina is stuck between a stable, successful guy who obviously likes her, and a moody (but sexy) friend who is hot-and-cold towards her. The film also deals with AIDS, homosexuality, growing up, figuring out who you are, and of course falling in love. Those are all big issues, but they’re dealt with in a natural and human way, the weight of the issues isn’t thrown in your face, and if it is, it’s followed by a laugh.

There aren’t too many movies that touch on art and its meaning. When the documentary Lelaina has been passionately working on for years is given the MTV/Real World editing treatment by Michael’s TV station, she is not only disappointed in him, but devastated that something with so much meaning to her was butchered and reformed into something both embarrassing and unrecognizable. It’s an unfortunate result of having your work recognized, others often forget that artwork is an extension of a person, and not a thing to be corrupted in order to fit a need.

Ultimately a lot of this film revolves around which guy Lelaina will choose, but it’s the details that make it great. There are tons of cameos—David Spade, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Renée Zellweger, and Anne Meara (Stiller’s mom) to name a few. Swoosie Kurtz is perfect as Lelaina’s big-haired, Texan mother, wearing one of the most amazing shoulder-padded, puffy-painted T-shirts I’ve ever seen. This film is ripe with excellent 90s fashion, from Vickie’s lunchbox purses and 60s mini dresses to Lelaina’s grungy shirt-dresses and mary-janes. We also get to see just how gorgeous Winona Ryder is, as she spends most of the movie in baggy t-shirts, unflattering pants and very little makeup, while still looking enviously beautiful.

The depictions of friendship in this film are incredibly frank—the fights, the fun, it all feels true to life and the actors pull it off really well. I especially love the relationship between Lelaina and Vickie, it doesn’t come off like we are being forced to believe these people are friends, it’s just obvious that they are, even when they’re mean to each other. Janeane Garofalo manages to give her character depth without turning into a cliché. The scene in the diner where she discusses her fear of testing positive for HIV is both really funny and really moving. Reality Bites is basically just a romantic comedy, but the supporting characters lend a charm to the story, they take it down a notch while still remaining three-dimensional characters. Without Vickie and Sammy telling Lelaina to get her ass off the couch and stop calling Latoya Jackson’s psychic friends, you wouldn’t have much of a story.

The film has an awesome soundtrack too, U2, The Knack, Juliana Hatfield, Lenny Kravitz, and of course Peter Frampton. The scene featuring the Knack’s My Sharona is one of the most iconic in the film, and who could forget the Lisa Loeb song Stay and the accompanying video which ran on MTV Constantly. Ethan Hawke actually discovered Lisa Loeb, and the use of her song on the Reality Bites soundtrack propelled her song to #1 before she had even been signed.

I can’t think of any other film that captures the fears and struggles of the post-college years as well as this one. It’s probably one of the most difficult times in life. You’re supposed to be an adult, but if you’ve been in school your whole life, it’s a major shock when you’re thrown into the real world and told to sink or swim. Things have only gotten worse with the recession, and the kids who have just graduated from college this year have even fewer opportunities to get started in their chosen field. You come out of college with a whole lot of (often useless) knowledge, a huge pile of debt, meager life skills, and no idea what you want to do with yourself. Even if you do have an idea of what you want, you have to figure out how to do it, and in the meantime everyone keeps asking you what your plans are. Come to think of it, that pressure isn’t just reserved for recent college grads, but everyone.

I’ve heard people talk about how annoying this film is, or how whiny or pretentious it is, and yes, I can see it, but I think that’s part of the charm. It’s sort of implied that the audience has one-up on these characters. They’re 23, but they think they know everything, they’re incredibly smart, but they haven’t lived at all, and all of them are remarkably naive. I’m not really a Ben Stiller fan, but one of my favorite moments in this film comes when his character offers perfect, and funny insight into Troy’s personality by using a reference to Hamlet’s Yorick monologue. While Troy is all abstract thought and irony—laughing at all the people who care so much, he’s the joke, because nobody wants to be around him.

Over the course of the movie all the characters learn a major lesson; they don’t have anything figured out, but it’s alright, because neither does anyone else. Part of growing up is learning that you don’t have control over anything, and the only real power any of us have, is over who we decide to be.

This era is having a revival right now, so if you want to get the look check out the fashions below. Have a great weekend, eat some good food, have some fun, and please tell some people about this blog!

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Filed under Beauty in the movies

Beauty Grab Bag Fun-Time

Looks like this might become a regular post. As I spoke about yesterday I’m feeling the wedding stress, and also it’s just fun to post about random things together.

Last week I brought you Winston the cat, this week I bring you Maru.

Maru is from Japan and if, like me, you’re an internet cat video aficionado, you probably already know him, but his videos never fail to be funny and adorable. You have to watch until the end to see his astounding box sliding abilities, it’s worth it, promise.

Box Jumping!

Alright, I have another little treat today, my friend Jessica has a good beauty buy to share. Here is a pic of her loot.

Here’s the story in her words:

“I got it at Bendel’s—was planning on just buying powder in a summer heat makeup emergency but they talked me into Fig body souffle, debuting exclusively at Bendel’s this week. Then to my surprise—all the stuff on the right came for free, pistachio scrub, lip gloss, foundation primer, a travel size mini powder of the one I bought, in a cosmetic pouch.

I love everything—and my favorite is the scrub it smells ridiculous. I will totally buy it again. They got me, and I’m glad!”

God I love free samples too, and this is an especially good set. I should point out here that I want to encourage (really encourage) people to send in their good beauty buys, because I know you have them, and I want to see them, and so does everyone else! They don’t have to be from Bendel’s, they can be from the drug store, or Sephora, or wherever you are surprised and delighted by something—a deal, or a product, or whatever, and send pictures!

While we’re on the subject of cosmetics, here is a new launch I’m very excited about. Combining two things I love, MAC and Disney villains, check out the MAC venomous villains collection!

These collections aren’t available until September 30th, and I’m a little disappointed that Ursula from The Little Mermaid didn’t get her own collection, I mean come on! The dude from The Princess and the Frog gets a collection, but no Queen of Hearts, or evil step-sisters either—seriously?

I am however jazzed for the Maleficent collection:

And the Evil Queen too:

I’ve loved the Disney Villains since I was a kid, I always thought they were more interesting than the princesses—well except for Ariel. When I was in 10th grade my friend Kevin bought me this mug at the Disney store for my Birthday, and it’s still my favorite mug!

Also, it’s August which means Fall is coming. So recently I can’t stop thinking about cute jackets and boots, it always happens this time of year. Here is a quick collage from polyvore. I really want a new fall jacket, I want one every year though, here are some cute options.

I don’t want summer to end, but I keep getting little flashes of how nice it feels to be cozy in a  pair of boots and socks, or maybe it’s just that I still wish I could go back-to-school shopping every year, or maybe it’s because fall is my favorite season. Whatever the reason, I love picking out cute new fall clothes, even if I can’t buy them, they’re so fun to look at and dream of jumping in piles of leaves!

Meet me back here for Beauty in the Movies tomorrow when we head back to the 90s for Reality Bites, grunge is SO hot right now—and don’t forget to send me your beauty buys if you’d like to have them featured! Don’t be shy!
Autumn boots and coats by justinez featuring TopShop

Waterfall Jacket
110 AUD – generalpants.com.au
More Don’t Ask Amanda jackets »

Joseph mega check tweed alcor jacket
95 GBP – flannelsfashion.com
More jackets »

Quest Blazer
$100 – modcloth.com
More blazers »

We Who See Lace-Up Boot
$128 – urbanoutfitters.com
More We Who See boots »

Frye Dorado Riding at Zappos.com
$498 – zappos.com


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Filed under cosmetics, shopping

The Stress of Weddings

I’m getting married in 79 days. Writing that feels scary. I feel like it wasn’t too long ago that I had months to plan, but now it’s all come down to these last 79 days and suddenly I feel like each day flies by in an instant.

When I first got engaged everyone kept saying, “oh you must be so busy with the wedding” and “you’re probably so stressed out” and I kept wondering what the big deal was, it seemed so easy. We were so ahead of the game, we got engaged in June, I had my dress ordered by July and the venue booked by August, all that done with more than a year to go. There really wasn’t much to do after that—until now.


I know I’ve done a few other posts about weddings, but I can’t help having them on my mind, and in less than three months I’ll be married and I won’t obsess over them anymore, promise. I hate that I’m obsessing over this wedding at all, but it becomes a huge part of your life and for at least a few months, it occupies most of your thoughts. It had seemed so far away for so long that I can’t believe how close it is now, and it’s pure anticipation from here on out. In the next couple weeks all those final arrangements are being made and people are going to be asking me a lot of questions about things I’m not sure I know the answer to. For example, “what color would you like your chair covers”? I actually asked if I could just have the chairs without the covers, but you can’t, so I don’t really care what color they are. Details like that don’t worry me, I know all those trivial little details won’t really matter, and if they do matter to someone, I’m glad it’s not me. I’m more concerned about the weather, or nervously laughing during the ceremony, or not being able to walk in my shoes.

There is also all this stress about changing your name, I’m not sure why some women chose to keep or change their names, but needless to say it’s an incredibly personal choice. Since I am one of seven granddaughters, with no grandsons, I always thought I’d keep my last name. I like it, and it never occurred to me that I would want to change it. In spite of all that, I think I’m going for the hyphen, because I like my last name, but I like his too and it just feels right, much like the way it felt when we decided to get married in the first place. It will however involve paperwork, which brings me back to the stress.

When you’re involved in a wedding there’s a whole bunch of stuff to keep track of, and it’s not that these things are terribly hard, there are just a lot of factors working together. You have people coming from all over, you have to arrange a hotel, and transportation, and of course the guest list and seating chart. If you can afford to hire a wedding planner that’s fabulous, but if not, it can become a full-time job. While some of us can shake our heads and think, “that’s crazy, when I get married I’m doing ___ or ___”, you never really know until you start researching and planning for yourself. Trust me, these things can snowball, that’s how they work. Not to mention that even uttering the word wedding gets you charged extra on everything from flowers to music, people know there is money in weddings, and even a restrained event can cost you dearly.

People don’t seem to understand how expensive weddings are, especially in and around big cities. Getting married in Manhattan, or even the outer boroughs, can cost double what it would anywhere else. When we first got engaged I thought we’d have one of those beautiful little weddings you see in Real Simple or on Theknot.com, you know with ball jars as vases, mismatched table cloths, and everything handmade from etsy or by someones mom. I thought “we’ll be thrifty, we’ll be simple and different—do a buffet, rent a tent, it will be sweet”, and  you know what I discovered? It costs twice as much to have an event that appears laid back, quirky and handmade. Maybe if you have a lot of land, or a lot of people willing to help, you can do it on a low-budget, I’m not sure. I was shocked to see how much less expensive it is to have your wedding at a catering hall, and that’s what we chose, because I can’t spend all my time stressing about this, and I don’t want anyone else to either. It might not be a custom experience, but I’ll know that the people we’re trusting to hold our wedding have done this before and do it all the time, they know what they’re doing, and I don’t.

Getting married itself is stressful enough, all the pressure that “wedding culture” puts on to it just adds fuel to the fire. Even if you walk down to city hall and exchange vows in front of witnesses, it’s still a stressful event, because it changes your life even while things stay the same. The ceremony is deeply significant, whether you have a big party or not, that moment you exchange vows you’ve entered into something new. My name will change, all the sudden—boom, new name. I’ve seen it on facebook, and in the office, one day someone is Jane Doe and the next week she’s Jane Smith, or Jane Doe-Smith, and even though it’s the same person it denotes something has changed. In my post about my incredible bridal shower, I spoke about how the wedding craze that consumes America loses sight of what weddings and marriage are all about, I think the same thing happens when you get caught up in the planning.

I’m really excited to marry my fiancé, and I can’t wait to celebrate with all my family and friends, there will be so much mirth, so much enjoyment in just 79 days, I can’t wait. What I need is to keep telling myself that the stress will pass, and things will fall into place, it will be perfect in its imperfection. The favors won’t be elaborate or custom-made, the cake won’t be gourmet, and some people might think the ceremony is a bit different, but all that stuff doesn’t matter, because as long as all the big stuff comes together—we’ll be married at the end of the night, and that’s the least stressful part of all.

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The Mythological “Perfect Bra”

Last week I wrote about boobs and how frustrating it can be to walk around with them attached to you. Breasts can be a constant burden, and in order to deal with them, somewhere along the line, the bra was invented. Compared to its predecessor, the corset, a brassiere would appear to be far less constricting and vastly more comfortable. Unfortunately though they’re still a constant source of torture for most women.

The way I see it, there is a holy triad of awful-to-shop-for items; jeans, bras, and bathing suits. The only reason I find bra shopping the least painful, is because I’ve pretty much given up. No, I haven’t been going bra-less, (though I would if I could) I’ve just settled for a brand that’s alright, and I deal with it. I’m sick of everyone from shop assistants who are toted as “miracle workers”, to Oprah telling me what size bra—and what kind of bra I should be wearing. Especially when after spending way too much money, and way too much time obsessing over it, I still haven’t found a bra that works for me. I’ve tried Victoria’s Secret, Olga, Bali, Natori, Calvin Klein, Wonderbra, Wachoal, Lilyette, and dozens of others. I don’t expect miracles (it’s underwear for god-sakes!) but I would like ample support, and not to feel like I’m wearing a torture device everyday.

I’ve been measured for bras three times. Once it was in Paris, which resulted in a purchase of one of the prettiest bras I’ve ever seen, but also hands down the most itchy and painful. Maybe in France you’re just supposed to suck it up and deal with it, or go bra-less. I’ve been told I was a 38B and a 32DD and neither of them were anywhere near comfortable. The variation in those sizes has led me to believe this whole thing is just a ploy to make money. I’m not sure if Oprah is in on it, but I’m disappointed in her. It’s not easy to find a good bra, and it’s not cheap either. I’ve found myself very frustrated while watching Ms. Winfrey expound the wonders of getting your bust measured, because it used to bring me hope, now it just pisses me off. The 32DD that I purchased actually bore welts into my back, I couldn’t believe it. I knew I wasn’t a 32, I had never worn less than a 34, but I let that saleswomen convince me that I had been misguided all my life and that with one $45 purchase everything would change. When you get measured, I swear they always tell you you’re a dramatically different size than you’ve always been, that way you get excited and buy a new expensive bra—it’s devious. I’ve learned my lesson and now settle for cheap, comfortable bras that don’t fit perfectly and require many wardrobe adjustments and, forgive my language, it’s a total pain in the ass.

The perfect bra is elusive, maybe you’ve never found one and are constantly in search of it, or maybe there was a bra somewhere in your past that seemed so flawless you constantly seek to find its match. It’s depressing that in order to appear “decent” women have to invest large amounts of money in a garment that is both painful and difficult to find, wouldn’t it be nice if they were subsidized? The real problem is we’re just all too different, no two breasts are ever the same, sometimes even if they’re on the same body.

My breasts are two different sizes, that’s a very personal and uncomfortable thing to admit, but I’ve learned that as women, we don’t talk about this stuff enough and if we want our voices to be heard (yes, even if it’s about bras) we need to speak up. So I’ll admit, one of my breasts is a C/D and the other is a D/DD, it’s not even noticeable, but it effects bra shopping and I know for a fact there are other women who have this problem. Tons of people have two different sized feet, so yeah, some of us have the same problem with boobs, that’s life. It’s also just one of many problems women encounter in search of a good brassiere. Some of us need a bra with extra padding, or thick straps, or generous coverage, or maybe we’d like one that actually managed to look somewhat attractive and didn’t make wearing scoop neck tops impossible—and heck, maybe some of use would like all those things at once.

A bra has to be form-fitting, it has to be precise or you get pinching under your arms or spillage over the cup, and then there are straps that slip or bands that rub. After years of wearing bras, and trying them on and being measured for them, I’ve come to this conclusion; we needs bras in more sizes, and those sizes need to be more available. I know it’s expensive, I know it’s hard, but I also know there is an enormous market for it—North American women spend $16 billion a year on bras, for real. I know so many women (myself included) who have sunk at least hundreds of dollars into the search for a perfect bra without success, so someone needs to start researching (any architects out there?) and come up with a new system, because I think this one has failed.

Bras distribute the weight of the breast in such a way that the pressure ends up on your back and shoulders. Even if you don’t have large breasts a bra can contribute to shoulder and back pain, there’s also research which shows wearing a bra may actually make your breasts sag faster, because the pectoral muscles atrophy from lack of use—I don’t know if I buy that one, but maybe I’ll start working my chest muscles more often, just in case.

Wearing a bra makes me feel more pulled together, I feel rebellious if I leave the house without one, but I’m not sure whether that’s because I’ve been wearing them so long, or that it actually feels strange to have my boobs out there with no restraint. I often feel bad for my breasts, all smooshed into a skin-tight garment, tucked and squeezed until they fit a shape utterly different from their natural appearance, it seems unfair and I think they deserve better.

Do we need bras, or do we wear them to appear appropriate? I understand the need for modesty in everyday situations, but why do they need to be so painful? I’m still waiting for the solution. I currently have the same bra in several different colors, and most of the time I feel like I’m popping out of it, but if I go up the next size (either cup or band) it’s way too big. I’ve worn supportive bras that lifted and separated my breasts until they were no longer recognizable, and no longer looked sexy or attractive with the added bonus of making it impossible to wear even modest necklines without bra peek-age. On the other side I’ve had bras that made my breasts look great, but also looked risqué even under a t-shirt. The search for the perfect bra may never end, but I continue to hope for that miracle invention, a bra that supports, pads, and comforts, while also appearing attractive. It shouldn’t be that hard, because boobs are pretty damn sexy all by themselves, and maybe we could work with that.

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Filed under acceptance, health, shopping

Beauty in the Movies: Volver

Pedro Almodóvar’s film Volver, like most of his films, is straight up brilliant. This man knows women, he knows how they interact with each other, how they live, and cook, and laugh, and try, and he obviously loves everything about them. Beauty in the Movies is all about putting a focus on films that feature strong female characters and celebrating how dynamic and interesting they can be. In Volver we are swept up in the relationships of three generations of women, their passion, their secrets, and their strength. It’s a film about life, death, and the past that can come back to haunt you, even if it’s long since been buried.

Volver begins with two sisters, Raimunda (Penélope Cruz) and Sole (Lola Dueñas), along with Raimunda’s daughter Paula (Yohana Cobo), cleaning the graves of their parents in a small village in La Mancha Spain where their elderly Aunt still lives. Despite their Aunt being senile and unsure of who they are, they find her house well maintained and even find packages of freshly made food labeled with their names, leading them to believe she can’t be as bad as she appears. After discussing their Aunt’s state with the woman across the road, Augustina (Blanca Portillo), who also informs them of the disappearance of her mother, they head back to their lives in Madrid. After returning home from La Mancha with Paula, Raimunda finds her husband, Paco, has lost his job and is drowning his sorrows in beer and football on the couch.

A few days later Raimunda, upon coming home exhausted from work, finds Paula waiting for her at the bus stop in a state of shock. As they return to their apartment Paula breaks down and tells her mother that her father, Paco, after insisting that he wasn’t her father, tried to rape her, and in self-defense she stabbed and killed him. In the midst of all this, Raimunda receives a call from Sole informing her that their Aunt has passed away and they must return to La Mancha for the funeral. Sole is forced to attend the funeral on her own as Raimunda refuses to go. While in La Mancha Sole hears the townspeople discussing “un fantasma”, or “the ghost” that had been haunting their Aunt up until her death. Augustina tells Sole that the townspeople, including herself, have seen and heard their Aunt talking to their dead mother, Irene (Carmen Maura), and it’s said that she took care of their ailing Aunt in her senility. Augustina explains that this is common when a person who dies has unfinished business; they return to put things right before they can rest. When Sole leaves La Mancha and returns to Madrid, she is shocked to find that the ghost of her mother has stowed away in her trunk, and she has come with suitcases, prepared to move in with her. Remembering what Augustina has told her, she knows she must figure out what her mother has come back to do, and she must keep her mother’s presence a secret from Raimunda, who she knows would never believe her. I’ve already given away too much, but obviously this story is told with far more elegance and humor than I could ever convey in a brief summary, so you’ll just have to go out and watch it for yourself.

Volver doesn’t pass the reverse Bedchel test, which means it has very few male characters, and none that are complex. It’s OK though, because it’s very clear that the story is about this family, so rather than spend time fleshing out male characters that don’t serve the story, the plot concentrates on the characters who are important, and they just happen to be women. Unlike films like Fried Green Tomatoes or a League of their Own, both of which I obviously love, Volver doesn’t scream “girl power, yeah!”, it’s just a great film with incredible characters and the fact that they’re women is simply part of the story—not the point of the story.

I hate that we even need the Bedchel test, and I have some favorite films that don’t pass it, and that doesn’t make them any less valid as outstanding films. The test is important though, because it draws people’s attention to the lack of female characters in movies, and it gets people thinking about why that is. When we start seeing more American movies that center on women the way that Volver does, in that there isn’t a big deal made about this film being “about women” they’re just people with interesting stories, then we’ll know we’ve really come far—and I’m not talking about independent films, I’m talking about mainstream cinema.

Penélope Cruz used to annoy the hell out of me until I saw this film. In Volver she plays a character worthy of Sophia Loren, and looks every bit the part, Almodóvar even gave her extra padding around her butt to reinforce the robustly feminine character of Raimunda. She plays the entire story teetering on the verge—but not in an obvious way. You never lose the sense that this woman has struggled and is still struggling, but she pulls it together and takes care of everyone around her. She is so mesmerizing and natural in this film you can’t help but feel for her and also want to look just like her. Her wardrobe is made up of pencil skirts and low-cut tops with cute sweaters and comfy looking espadrilles, I love that her clothes look affordable (but not cheap) and a bit worn, it instantly gives her character personality. She manages to look like a real working mother who is stressed-out and disheveled, while still appearing incredibly feminine and sexy.

The climax of this film isn’t a car chase, or a death scene, or a big party, it’s an emotional climax, and not one that happens with a lot of screaming or tears. The passion is definitely there, but it’s quiet, and that makes it all the more powerful. How many movies have a climax which is just a conversation between two people? A secret may be revealed yes, but the characters already know about it, so it’s the audience who are surprised. Volver doesn’t follow a formula, but it also doesn’t go out of its way to break any either. The camera pushes in on a group of people, you watch the events that unfold around them, and when everything that needed to be shown has been shown, the camera pulls away without much fanfare, it’s a very organic way to tell a story.

Death is a major theme in this film, but even more so it’s about the cyclical nature of life. Both the title Volver, which means literally “to return”, and the use of the famous windmills which the women pass as they drive back and forth to La Mancha, are direct references to the rotation implicit in life. In the world Almodóvar gives us, death is very much a part of living. The superstitions in the small town and the acceptance the sisters take to those superstitions as they experience them for themselves, play a large part in the story. While watching this film you believe that yes, death is painful—but it isn’t as devastating if we see it as part of the cycle. When death is so much a part of living that the boundaries bleed into each other, we can allow ourselves to believe whatever helps us cope with what could otherwise be a complete tragedy, and who can’t say there is some comfort in that?

So, if you’re like me and you wish you could dress like (and then look like) Penélope Cruz in this film, with her seemingly effortless sex appeal, take a look at some of the pieces below for inspiration.

Have a great weekend everyone, and if you like this blog, please don’t forget to tell people about it!!

VolverFashion Trends & Styles - Polyvore

Volver by justinez featuring Old Navy

Convertible Tote
$90 – yesstyle.com
More tote bags »

Cross pendant
570 GBP – uk.tiffany.com
More pendants »

Apron
15 GBP – habitat.co.uk


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Breasts, Boobs, Jugs, Knockers, Whatever You Call ’em—Let’s discuss…

This post was originally going to be about bra shopping, but I decided to make it more basic than that, because as much struggle as I’ve had shopping for bras, I’ve had a lot of trouble just dealing with breasts too, and I have to talk about that first. This subject might seem a tad vulgar to some, but it shouldn’t, because we all have them right? I mean, even men have boobs, so there really shouldn’t be any shame in talking about them, especially since most women have spent a portion of their lives thinking about having them, or not having them, or how to keep them from sagging, or why they grow, or shrink, or provide nourishment, or become infected with disease. Our breasts and our relationships to them make up a large part of being a woman for a number of reasons.

I’m busty, I developed pretty young, I am embarrassed to talk about it, but when I think about it, that seems silly since it’s something I had absolutely no control over. When I was ten my mom finally bit the bullet and told me I needed to start wearing a bra to play soccer, and I know she was long past due in that conversation. I was trying pretty hard to ignore my chest, especially since I was the only girl I knew with visible breasts at that age. It’s why I could never relate to Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret., it’s why I hated that book, particularly because I kept being told to read it. I hated stupid Margaret and how she thought boobs and periods were so great, because I wanted nothing more than to make them both go away so I could go back outside with my super-soaker and play until the street lights came on.

By Jr. High School I had started wearing a minimizer because I was embarrassed of my chest. Finally, I just said “screw it”, and at my ninth grade promotion dance I wore a delightfully goth brocade dress with insane cleavage, and I was proud. That is until I actually got to the dance and saw my peers, then I covered myself with a shawl for the rest of the night, but you know, it was still a statement for me at the time. I wish I had thrown off that shawl and made no apologies for my risqué ensemble, but I wasn’t there yet. I’ve gone through phases of showing and not showing cleavage and usually I feel more comfortable showing less. After working in an office for a few years I learned that if a woman shows cleavage, she is unfortunately not taken seriously at all. Which sucks, because if I saw a woman rocking some cleavage at a meeting I’d think “damn straight, wear that low-cut top, you look awesome!” but at the same time I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing it myself. I know I’d feel the same way about a man who came in wearing incredibly tight pants, I think it’s great, but it’s not for me, and why should I care what someone else wears anyway?

It drives me nuts when people talk about boobs being distracting, because first off—control yourself, and second off, if you can’t look at a woman’s breasts and focus on what she is saying at the same time, you don’t only need to work on your self-control, you need to work on your multitasking. I can do it, I think women check each other out all the time, but then you look away, do it covertly, quickly, and be respectful. If I wear a low-cut top I know some people are going to look, and I’m not going to get pissed off about it, because we tend to hide our parts away so often that when we do show them, people stare, and I understand that. But you can also be polite, there’s a difference between a cursory glance and a glaring, perverted, unapologetic ogle. I hate when I see a girl in the subway tugging at her shirt to hide her cleavage, but that’s why I don’t wear low-cut tops. I hate that there are some people who think showing skin is an open invitation to stare, that it somehow forfeits basic courtesy.

When I do wear a low-cut top, I’m usually not doing it to be sexy, most of the time I do it because I have a cute new dress or top and I just don’t want to wear a camisole under it. Maybe I don’t have one that matches, or it just ruins the line of the dress, or it’s a million degrees outside, or maybe I’m just sick of it! If my boobs are prominently displayed, especially if it’s out in the city, I usually end up regretting it, because I don’t feel comfortable, or I don’t like being stared at. And I’m not saying “oh woe is me, I’m just so beautiful people can’t look away”. If you have ever taken the subway late at night (or even during the day) in any large city, you know it doesn’t take more than a crack of cleavage or a normal knee-length skirt to incite pervy stares.

Obviously a lot of women would like larger breasts, some get implants, or padded bras, and I’m not complaining here, I love my breasts, but it’s other people’s reactions to them throughout my life that have altered my feelings for them. I do like the way my cleavage looks, so maybe I’ll try to show it off more, because why not? I hate that us well-endowed ladies are taught to be embarrassed so early in our lives. I’ll never forget walking down the street in Manhattan with my parents when I was around eleven years old and having a guy shout out “can I get some fries with that shake?” I didn’t even know what it meant, but I knew to be mortified.

I always wonder if women who get implants feel more comfortable showing cleavage, maybe it’s just a personality thing. I hate that I let what I wear be dictated by other people’s reaction to my boobs, but that’s what is considered “decent” and as much as I try not to give a crap what others think, sometimes I just don’t want to deal with worrying about it, so I cover up. I know other women have these problems, I’m sure that small breasted women have this problem all the time too, because it extends to all of us, and it’s not just our breasts either. Somehow showing your body in our society has become an open ticket for tactless torment, and not just by men, there are plenty of women who see showing cleavage as brazen and slutty, and I’m not sure why, I just wish it would stop.

So what’s the solution? Should we all just show what we want, ignore the stares, and screw what everyone else thinks? Should we cover up to avoid uncomfortable ogling? I think it’s a personal choice, but I wish it wasn’t a choice that was so powerfully influenced by the reactions of others, and I can’t help but hope one day it won’t be.

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Filed under acceptance