Tag Archives: summer

Beauty in the Movies: Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead

Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitters Dead is one of the best movies ever, please don’t be misled by the title. Sure, if you like super serious movies where you get knocked over the head by meaning and intense emotion and all that, then fine, you might not agree, but if you were a girl who was growing up in the 90s, you probably love this film—and there’s no shame in that, only pride!

DTMTBD is like Working Girl for the 90s teen set, only kind of better because the fashion is way more fun. When Sue Ellen (or “Swell” for short) Crandell’s mom decides to jet off to Australia with her new boyfriend leaving her five children alone for the summer, at first they think they’re going to have the time of their lives. So it comes as quite a surprise when an old woman shows up at the door proclaiming to be their babysitter. It’s even more of a surprise when she drops dead leaving the kids with no money.

Sue Ellen soon realizes that, being the oldest, she’s in charge of her ramshackle gang of siblings for the rest of the summer. She and her burn-out brother Kenny (Keith Coogan) toss a frozen pizza to decide who will get a job and who will stay home with the kids. Sue Ellen loses the pizza toss, and soon finds herself cleaning fat vats at fast food joint Clown Dog. She quits pretty quickly, but not before meeting Brian (Josh Charles), a cute delivery-guy.

As a result of copying her resume straight from a book, Sue Ellen lands a coveted position as Executive Administrative Assistant at General Apparel West, making an enemy of the original candidate for the position, bitchy receptionist Carolyn (Jayne Brook).

Swell’s killer interview outfit and fake resume may have won her the job, but now Carolyn and her boyfriend (a greasy pre-X-Files David Duchovny) are determined to take her down.

Luckily Sue Ellen has the best boss ever, Rose (Joanna Cassidy) who not only can’t stand Carolyn but also gives us viewers the delightful phrase “I’m right on top of that Rose”, which to this day I still hear in my head when given an important task at work. Unfortunately 17-year-old Sue Ellen is in a bit over her head and things soon unravel, but not before an amazing work montage, beach romance, and some truly amazing 90s fashion.

DTMTBD has stuck around and remained in our hearts because it’s atypical for a teen movie. I love that Sue Ellen has a power-suit wearing female boss who is awesome and supportive instead of evil. It’s also great that while she gives herself her own “business” makeover, her younger brother is really the one who ends up going through a typical physical transformation—haircut, clean clothes, etc.

Swell was a fashion icon for me in my formative years, I still marvel at how she made harem pants and over-sized blazers look so effortlessly hip. Her awesome early 90s friends are also an inspiration, they remind me of the babysitters I had as a kid who I though were just the coolest. girls. ever. Side ponytails, teased hair, chunky jewelry, as far as I’m concerned they still look damn amazing.

Don’t be betrayed by the name, if for some reason you’ve never had the delight of watching DTMTBD, give it a try. It’s great this time of year if you’re working your butt off in business wear and feeling bitter about the tourists and day-trippers that surround you on your commute (I speak from very strong personal experience). It’s worth it alone to watch for the fashion show at the end, but really, whether she is wearing doc martens or shoulder-pads, Christina Applegate is just so damn wonderful. So crank up the AC, microwave some popcorn, and revisit a teen movie with style and charm that far exceed its title.

Beauty in the Movies: Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead

Maxi dress
$38 – topshop.com

Diane von Furstenberg sheer blouse
250 – net-a-porter.com

Off the shoulder shirt
$15 – alloy.com

Viktor Rolf slim fit blazer
$698 – lagarconne.com

Freda blue jacket
144 – matchesfashion.com

River Island long jacket
50 – riverisland.com

French Connection harem pants
women.fashionbeans.com

Forzieri black leather briefcase
$659 – forzieri.com

Dannijo silver cuff bracelet
238 – net-a-porter.com

Black earrings
$7.99 – amazon.com

NERIDA FRAIMAN vintage hat
259 – harrods.com

Ray-Ban ray ban sunglasses
€71 – my-wardrobe.com

Calvin Klein wide leather belt
$38 – zappos.com

Cuteberry floral scarve
$16 – yesstyle.com

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Summer Cravings

Some say January is the worst month of the year, with the post holiday letdown and freezing temperatures. February is just as bad, but at least has the decency to be shorter than other months. Then we have March, which I find the cruelest of all. March teases you into believing it’s spring. the sun sets later, the stores are full of pastel candy, and you keep getting e-mails about sandals and bathing suit sales. And then, just when you’re thinking winter is done, the assault of cold air outside snaps you out of your warm weather delusions.

Recently, I’ve been fantasizing past the spring and have jumped full force into daydreams of summer. You can probably expect more posts in which I complain about the weather and long for the joys of springtime. Also, once it’s summer you can bet I’ll be whining that it’s too hot. Anyway, just for now, here’s what I’ve been pining for these last few weeks:

I am so sick of dry cracking skin, every time I wash my hands all the moisturize seems to disappear leaving me with scary mummy hands and the need to slather on gloppy expensive creams. The same goes for my face, I can’t use soaps or scrubs at all, they reduce me to an ugly flaking mess. I long for the humid days of July when I can once again be lazy and achieve a dewy glow without having to spend time and money dosing myself in products. Sure, I’ll complain about my hair frizzing up constantly, but right now, unruly hair seems like a reasonable trade-off for glowing skin.

There are people who always wear shoes, even in the house, they wake up in the morning and even if they’re not going anywhere they put on shoes—it amazes me! My husband is one of those people, he thinks I’m the crazy one because I never wear shoes inside. As soon as I walk in the door I have to get those things off my feet immediately. If it weren’t considered taboo by society I would walk around barefoot all the time (and yes, I’ve stepped in glass enough to know this is not a good idea). I hate having my poor feet trapped inside heavy socks and constricting footwear all winter long, toes want to be free!

When it’s finally warm enough to liberate my trotters, the first place they’ll be going is into the sand. It’s not a far walk, just a block away actually, I could go right now. Unfortunately I would have to wear my parka and would probably catch frostbite and then be sad about it. Boo March.

Don’t get me wrong, I love apples, they might just be the most versatile of fruits. Apple pie, apple crisp, apple butter, apple strudel, apples with peanut butter—dear god please someone give me some strawberries! It’s so much easier to eat healthy fruit in the summer when it’s in season and delicious. I bought strawberries the other day and half of them were mushy and rotten after a day, then I felt guilty for buying fruit out-of-season and killing the environment all because I’m impatient. I’ll go back to apples for another couple of months and continue to daydream about strawberries, watermelons and avocados (especially when they’ve been smashed into a delicious bowl of guacamole).

Come to think of it, I’ve been craving summer food in general. Not only fruit, but BBQ, hamburgers, chicken wings, salads and being able to eat outdoors. I’m sick of soups and stews, and being too cold all the time to eat anything that isn’t piping hot. I can’t even tell you about the lustful cravings I’ve been having for ice cream recently. I have to remind myself that enjoying a bowl of creamy cold goodness will just force me to add yet another layer of fleece to my already bundled, freezing body.

Obviously you can wear bright nail polish anytime of year, but for some reason it just feels better to wear it in warm weather. Somehow whenever I wear bright pink polish in the winter I feel like I’m lying to myself. This season the beauty world is telling us that darker polishes are in for spring—like Chanel’s black pearl, but I’m not buying it. Give me brights (especially on my toes at the beach) and I’m a happy girl. Save the black pearls for Fall, or for Liz Taylor—since they’ve always brought her luck.

I’m not only craving flowers, but green grass and budding branches. The other day in the supermarket I found myself staring longingly at the flower section, which was kind of embarrassing. I was literally stopped in my tracks by a bouquet of zinnias. This time of year I find myself trying to remember what the trees look like with leaves and what it feels like to go outside without being wrapped in down. I can’t wait for the first crocuses and daffodils to poke their heads out of the dirt. They’ll be a true sign that winter is over and summer, dewy skin tasty food and all, is finally on its way.

Anyone else having summer cravings? Let’s hear ’em.

 

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Filed under cosmetics, health

Beauty in the Movies: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Sadly summer is coming to a close. This is the last Friday in August, so I thought (although it’s long since midsummer) featuring A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be a nice way to close out the past few months.

(click any image to enlarge)

I’m not going to get into the specific plot, because as with most Shakespeare, it’s complicated. Basically four mortals and a band of actors end up in the woods on a summer evening and have their loves lives unknowingly played with by fairies. If you want to know more specifics about it, read the play, or go here.

The two couples are played by Calista Flockhart (Helena), Anna Friel (Hermia), Christian Bale (Demetrius), and Dominic West (Lysander). The queen of Fairies, Titania, is played by Michelle Pfeiffer, and the king, Oberon, by Rupert Everett.  I personally think Oberon should be a bit more masculine and intimidating despite the title “king of fairies”, but Mr. Everett certainly doesn’t achieve either of those things in this role, so to each his own.  Playing his tricksy sidekick, Puck, is Stanley Tucci. And rounding out the cast supremely well as Bottom the ass, is Kevin Kline. Oh and if all those actors aren’t enough, the dad from Alf (Max Wright) is also in it.

All the performances are decent, some stand-out more than others, but honestly, I saw a production of this by Gorilla Shakespeare in Washington Square park in the 90s and those actors blew all these guys out of the water. Maybe seeing Shakespeare live is just always better. I don’t love this movie for the outstanding performances though, I love it because it’s effing gorgeous and I never get sick of the beautiful sets, costumes, lighting, and music. This is one of those movies I put on just for background noise, because it’s makes me happy and it’s beautiful.

This adaptation is set in Edwardian Tuscany, a bit strange, but it works in its own way. Some die-hard Shakespeare devotees were surely annoyed by it, but it actually suits the story pretty well. The plot involves escaping into the woods, outside the rules of the city, where there are no laws and no propriety, just nature and mischief. The Edwardian and Victorian eras were incredibly repressed and obsessed with decency and modesty, so juxtaposing the refined life of the characters with the wild world of the fairies works nicely. Why Tuscany? I guess because it’s pretty. The original play is set in Athens, Greece.

This adaptation also works because the play itself was incredibly popular during this era. The play was acted out as a major spectacle and the music, written by Mendelssohn, became wildly popular as well. In fact The Wedding March, used in most western weddings is from Mendelssohn’s overture for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It makes sense, because Shakespeare wrote this play as a wedding gift for a close friend of Queen Elizabeth I, and it was during the turn of the century that much of what we consider western wedding traditions came into practice, like the white dress.

I know this movie only kinda sorta passes the Bechdel test—but whatever. The test has flaws, and when a movie is completely about relationships and all anyone talks about is love, the whole test falls apart. There are many movies that should pass the test in spirit, but don’t technically pass it. The real purpose for the test is to get us thinking, not to limit the movies we watch and enjoy. It’s god-damn Shakespeare for cripes-sakes, even if the parts were originally played by men impersonating women, they still stand up as good female characters, far better spoken and developed then some of the cardboard cutouts we see in romantic comedies today.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, like most of Shakespeare’s plays, is overflowing with beautiful quotations, but I’ll just choose one and leave you with that. May you all have weekends (and lives) filled with fairy magic!

Studded Slip Dress
$50 – topshop.com
Slip dress »

Sleeveless Tiered Dress
$42 – yesstyle.com
Summer dresses »

Sheerlock Holmes Top
$36 – modcloth.com
Short sleeve blouse »

Victorianna Lace Insert Blouse
15 GBP – oasis-stores.com
Lace blouse »

Vanilla Skies Parasol
$50 – modcloth.com
Umbrellas »

Victorian Bloomers – White
$45 – ladiesemporium.com


Miniature Victorian Oil lamp
riverjunction.com


hair comb
luscious-locks.co.uk


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Post Bridal Shower Daze

My living room looks like a warehouse, there are empty boxes, ribbons and tissue paper which my cats have been enjoying as they rip it to shreds. There are Hawaiian leis and dozens of rolls of toilet paper (from our toilet paper wedding dress competition), there is left over carrot cake and huli huli chicken and I am sitting here in a complete daze. I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to have received so many beautiful things, and I have no idea where to put any of them—we have to buy more shelves.

While Chelsea Clinton was getting married upstate in Rhinebeck this weekend, down here in the southernmost part of New York, I was thrown an amazing surprise island-themed bridal shower. Though I’m sure Chelsea’s wedding was incredibly elegant and beautiful, I’m willing to bet we were having more fun down here. I was surrounded by generations of women (and a few men) who are all unbelievably kind, generous, and supportive, some of which have known me since long before I was a twinkle in my mother’s eye.

(my mom pulled the whole thing off, it was a perfect day!)

I sat there with my future husband on Sunday night, looking at the epic pile of amazing gifts we had been given and I just couldn’t understand what we had done to deserve them all. We made a big decision, we decided to choose each other as partners, and obviously that’s important, but so are dozens of other things. Starting a business, graduating from law school, moving to a strange country, these are all major life changes and accomplishments, and we should really be celebrating all of them. Deciding to marry my fiancé seemed so easy, I  can’t believe people do such wonderful things for you just because you’re happy. Looking around my shower it was easy to realize that weddings aren’t just about the bride and groom, they’re about all the people who love them. Weddings are way bigger than just you, and not because they’re expensive or over the top, but because it’s a happy occasion, and unfortunately, sometimes the joyful times in life are far outnumbered by the painful, and that’s why the good stuff is always a big deal.

(My friend, and bridesmaid, Jessica made me this gorgeous sign)

When we went around looking for wedding venues, the place we finally chose isn’t the hippest, it’s not slick, or cool, or modern, but it is welcoming, warm, beautiful, and has amenities like huge amounts of parking, and lovely clean bathrooms. Those might seem like little things, but while a wedding is a big party for you and your future spouse, it’s also really for your guests, and all the people who love you and come to celebrate with you. That’s not to say that if you want a small wedding at city hall you should go all out just because your family wants you to, but it does mean that you should consider all those people who are coming from all over the world, taking off time from work, dressing in fancy clothes, and giving you not just their time and love, but generous gifts too. My goal for my wedding is fun, my fiancé and I want to have a big party to give back to all the people who have supported us and cared for us throughout our lives, and I want them all to be happy and comfortable. When they look back twenty years from now, I don’t think people are going to remember if our chair covers were tacky, but they will remember if they had an awesome time, felt welcomed, and maybe danced their butts off too.

Weddings bring people together, they have for thousands of years. We need joy in our lives, with all the suffering and sorrow, it makes sense that when there is occasion to celebrate we tend to go a little overboard. Everyone has different opinions about what a wedding should be, to some it could be a simple dinner with friends, and for others it’s an event worthy of a lifetime of savings, either way you’re surrounded by your favorite people and the only goal is to witness your happiness and then celebrate it with you. When I think about the ban on gay marriage, or even marriages where families disapprove for any reason, I find it hard to understand how anyone’s joy can be seen as less worthy, how a celebration of happiness can ever be a bad thing, and how love can be contingent on who a person chooses to be with. If you love someone, a child, a friend, a sibling, how could you ever deny them the joy of celebration, and how could you not want to rejoice right along with them? I can’t think of anything more important.

(toilet paper wedding dresses; Tim Gunn would have been super impressed!)

(it’s called teamwork people!)

Before I got engaged I never fully understood why people got so misty over weddings, but now I know I’ll probably cry at every single one I attend. It’s not just two people getting up in front of everyone they care about and professing their love and commitment, it’s not that simple. A wedding (and all the excitement that surrounds it) is a true celebration of life, it’s the beginning of a journey, it’s a demonstration of love not only between the couple, but between family and friends. Watching all these women I know from so many different places come together to have silly bridal shower fun, I was surprised how deeply I was touched by it. So many of the wedding shows that are on today, Bridezillas, Say Yes to the Dress, Rich Bride Poor Bride, they all focus on the drama, and yes there is a lot of stress and drama that goes into getting married, but there is also a whole heck of a lot of joy and excitement, and I think we sometimes lose sight of that.

(yes I was made to wear a silly bow hat, but it’s pretty isn’t it?)

Today I feel exceptionally lucky, and eternally grateful. Even if there are parts of my life that cause me major stress and worry, I have some phenomenal people in my life, not only my fiancé, but so many more. I can’t wait to celebrate all the happiness in their lives, I’m prepared to go all out, just like they did for me, because simply being together is reason enough to celebrate!

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Beauty in the Movies: Steel Magnolias

This post has been long in coming, I have to thank Cecilia Ziko for the recommendation, but frankly I haven’t felt up to watching Steel Magnolias because I knew I would end up crying. I convinced myself that I had seen it so many times that it couldn’t effect me anymore, that I’d just watch it and since I already know what happens I wouldn’t be a total mess by the end. So the other night my fiancé and I spend a couple hours in 1980’s Louisiana, and between the two of us went through half a box of tissues (mostly me, but him too). I cried this time around more than I ever have, maybe it’s because I’m closer in age to Shelby now, or because I’m getting married in three months, or I’m just overly emotional, but it hit me hard. When you need to have a good cry, I can’t think of any other film that gets it done like Steel Magnolias, so I bring it to you this week for Beauty in the Movies because maybe you need a good cry, or maybe you just love it for the amazing female characters and the humor that they find even in the saddest of situations.

Steel Magnolias was originally a play written by Robert Harling based on his mother and sister’s endurance of life’s hardships with unbelievable strength (reading about that only made me cry all over again this morning). Robert Harling’s sister Susan was a type 1 diabetic, as is the character of Shelby, played by Julia Roberts in the film. Steel Magnolias opens on a Spring day in the fictional town of Chinquapin Louisiana, it’s Shelby Eatenton’s wedding day, and the whole town is in a commotion over the preparations. Shelby and her mother M’Lynn (Sally Field) are getting their hair done for the occasion at Truvy’s salon in the company of Truvy herself (Dolly Parton), Clairee (Olympia Dukakis) wife of the late mayor, and Annelle (Daryl Hannah), the new girl in town and a beautician at Truvy’s. The women discuss everything from recipes to wedding plans until Shelby has a diabetic episode, it’s one of the most powerful and upsetting scenes I’ve seen in a film dealing with illness. Shelby soon recovers with the help of some OJ and her mother’s care.

In the midst of the wedding madness we’re introduced to the cantankerous Ouiser Boudreaux (Shirley MacLaine) who lumbers through town dragged by her bewildered St. Bernard squawking at everyone she sees, including M’Lynn’s husband Drum (Tom Skerritt). That afternoon Shelby marries Louisiana lawyer Jackson Latcherie (Dylan McDermott) in a ceremony draped in her wedding colors—blush and bashful, or as her mother says “pink and pink”. While the town takes to the dance floor, M’Lynn expresses her worries to Jackson about Shelby’s ability to have children, and what the strain of carrying a child would do to her body. Shelby’s wedding is clearly bittersweet for M’Lynn, as she fears Shelby will ignore what the doctors have told her and choose to have a baby anyway. There is also an amazing armadillo cake, and this interchange between Truvy and Clairee:

Truvy: Well, these thighs haven’t gone out of the house without Lycra on them since I was 14.
Clairee: You were brought up right.

How can you not love these women?

After Shelby’s wedding the story jumps around in time, stopping at major holidays. First it’s Christmas, and M’Lynn receives the news she has been dreading, Shelby is pregnant. While everyone else rejoices, M’Lynn seeks solace in her friends, the only ones who can understand that what should be happy news, is actually devastating. I’m going to stop the summary there because if you haven’t seen it I don’t want to ruin it, but you should be prepared for some tears, so keep the tissues handy.

This film is filled with outstanding performances. Julia Roberts is both charming and authentic as Shelby, making her character so sympathetic it’s heartbreaking. Sally Field’s performance in one of the film’s final scenes is so moving I dare anyone to watch it without getting misty, and the supporting cast is obviously fantastic. This film wouldn’t be anything without Olympia Dukakis and Shirley MacLaine as the much-needed comic relief. Ouiser and Clairee are catty old bats who insult each other with fantastic quips at every other moment, but they also happen to be best friends, and no matter what they say, it’s clear they depend on each other more than anyone else. Dolly Parton plays Truvy with charming ease, and the woman sports pastel embroidered sweaters and mile high hair so elegantly that you’ll want to run out and get yourself some shoulder pads and clip-on earrings immediately. Daryl Hannah plays born again Christian Annelle with annoying perfection, but more than anything the magic is in the way these characters, and the actresses who play them, interact with each other to form a convincing and endearing group of friends.

What is it about tearjerkers? When done right a film can touch you so deeply that you can’t contain your sympathy for the characters, even if you know they’re just actors who go back to their glamorous lives after the credits roll. This film in particular touches so deeply because it feels real, Robert Harling lived this story, and so it doesn’t feel manipulative, it feels heartfelt. Harling even employed the actual hospital workers who were there with his family during their grief to play the roles of doctors and nurses. Even though it’s something you wouldn’t notice, it’s undeniable that the hospital scenes in this film feel authentic, and all the more painful because of it.

Sometimes you just need a good cry, and it feels so much better to cry about other people’s grief, maybe our own is too devastating. A film that can make you cry has touched you in some way, and even if it’s upsetting—it rattles you. You might not want to watch sad movies all the time, but every once in a while it feels good, maybe we crave the release without the reality.

The fact that this story was written by a man only makes it more powerful, because Harling bore witness to the strength of the women around him and obviously drew power from it. The title of the film comes from a line by M’Lynn as she’s talking about the agony of loss and how the men turned away from it leaving her alone to face the heartache, she says “Men are supposed to be made out of steel or something” and in that moment it’s clear that when it comes to heartache, these women endure loss by facing it head-on, no matter how delicate they may seem on the outside.

More than anything Steel Magnolias is about friendship, and how it helps us through grief. One of my favorite lines in this film comes when Truvy tells us “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion”, and I can’t help but agree with her. What I love about this film is that it delivers that emotion, just when you’re a blubbering mess of tissues and tears, these women make you laugh out loud, they remind you there is still life after pain, and it’s worth living for. Spend some time with these ladies and you’re left feeling that life has to keep on going. Even in the darkest moments, there is light somewhere, and sometimes all it takes is a good friend to show you where to find it.

Have a great weekend everyone, I hope you all spend it with some good friends, and don’t forget to tell them about this blog!

Here’s your shopping guide so you too can look like a southern flower on the outside, even if you’re tough as steel within.

Livia Floral Dress
$27 – delias.com
More dresses »

tea rose bow clutch
$12 – fredflare.com
More clutches »

Gardenia Studs
$4.80 – canada.forever21.com


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Perfect Scents

Scent is the strongest sense tied to memory. Catch a whiff of fresh-baked pie, or the shampoo a friend used in high school, and suddenly you’re transplanted back in time. You could see a picture taken at a specific moment, or hear a song that reminds you of a guy you used to date, but when you smell something—good or bad, it causes a visceral reaction unlike any other.

I have a sweatshirt that belonged to my grandfather, it smelled like him for years after he passed away. When I’d wear it, the scent would bring me back to the happy memories of planting snapdragons with him in his garden, or making gingerbread houses every December with my cousins in my grandma’s kitchen. I didn’t want to lose that connection to the past, and I feared that when the scent faded, the memories would fade as well. I can still remember those moments, but they aren’t as vivid, in some ways the lingering scent is like a crutch that eases you slowly out of grief. If by chance, we re-discover the unique fragrance of someone we loved, either from the perfume of a stranger, or from opening a box in the attic where the scent has been preserved, we experience that life all over again, it’s a bittersweet experience, and it’s why smell can be so meaningful.

I’ve had awful allergies all my life, it was a running joke that I couldn’t breathe through my nose for most of my childhood. I still feel like scent is the weakest of my senses, maybe that’s why I’ve always been so fond of perfume. When I was in Junior High I was all about body splash, specifically the Plumeria or Vanilla Bean scents from Bath & Body Works. To me, body splash is what teenage girls are supposed to smell like. The spray comes in plastic bottles, it’s icky sweet, and once the odor starts to fade what’s left is a not so pleasant chemical undertone—and that’s when you know it’s time to spray on some more!

If I smell Chanel Allure I am instantly seven years old, sitting on my mom’s bed watching her get ready as I wait for my favorite babysitter Tatiana to arrive with taped episodes of Kids Incorporated (she was the best). When I walk past someone wearing Navy perfume by Dana, I’m stuck in the nauseous heat of Miami in August, the smell mingles with the scent of dinner being served in the old age home where we’re visiting my grandmother. The smell still makes me sick — all I smell is nursing home food, it’s just part of the memory. There are hundreds of memories linked to scent in each of us, and when we choose a perfume it’s not just the pleasure of the smell, but it’s how each note makes a different impression on your brain based on experiences in your life.

Once I hit high school I started looking for a more mature scent, something in a pretty glass bottle. I went a little overboard when I discovered Poison by Christian Dior. It’s an incredibly strong scent and I layered it on, feeling mature, and mysterious, and dark. I still have a bottle of it, and sometimes I can’t help but spray some on just to feel the rush of memories it brings.

I think there are women who love perfume and women who hate it, I guess there are a lot of in-betweens too, but people usually have strong feelings about it in one way or another. On a job interview I was once asked by the woman I would be sharing an office with, if I would mind not wearing perfume, she was snapped at by her superior, but obviously she felt very strongly about it. I don’t think she could smell perfume on me, I usually don’t wear perfume to interviews, but I’m not sure what exactly constitutes perfume either. Do essential oils count? Some deodorants are really strong, even some hair products give off incredibly strong scents. Often when people hate perfume it’s due to an allergy, and I myself have had allergic reactions to perfume too. But humans have been dousing themselves with all sorts of aromas for hundreds if not thousands of years.

Perfume is such an intimate thing, there is a sensuality about it. The bottles, the way you mist it on, the gesture itself is romantic. There is a reason that a gift of perfume is meaningful. I’ve heard of lots of men who buy women perfume, but not too many who buy them moisturizer or eyeshadow. Scent in itself is sexy, pheromones, those chemicals in our sweat that another person may find alluring without even realizing, they’re scientific proof that humans are driven by their noses equally, if not more than, their eyes.

By college I was actively seeking out perfumes. I would go to Sephora, or Macy’s and spritz them on my wrists, my forearm, my neck, or any other accessible skin— because you have to try it on your own skin. The same perfume can smell different on every woman. Part of the beauty of perfume is that it mixes with your personal scent and they settle together, to work in harmony. I’ve tried on perfumes that I thought I would love based on the scent in the bottle, but on my skin they smelled awful. One of my favorite perfumes, La Dolce Vida by Dior, isn’t very pleasing sprayed from the bottle, but I love the way it smells on me at the end of the day.

Currently I alternate between two perfumes, Anna Sui’s Sui Dreams, and Lolita Lempicka’s signature scent. I also change things up with essential oils from C.O. Bigelow’s in Manhattan, and various other samples that I’ve collected along the way. I’ll never stop looking for new scents, you never know where you’re going to find them, but when you do, it can be like finding a whole new aspect of your personality.

What’s your signature scent? Do you hate perfume? Love it? How does it make you feel when you spray it on?

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Beat the Summer Gross

If you live in the New York City area, you’ve been either sweating your butt off for the past couple of weeks, or adding money to your electric bill by cranking the AC day and night. Earlier this month records were broken from Central Park to La Guardia Airport. Just this past weekend more heat records were set across the area, and we still have another 2 weeks of July. Even when records aren’t being broken, the temperature has been sitting at an average of 90 degrees each day, so it’s hard not to feel like this:

Maybe you’re one of those people who thrive in the heat, who soak up the suns rays with pleasure and feel invigorated by the sweat—if that’s you, I’m in total awe.

If you see a girl looking sweaty, angry, tired, sunglasses slipping down her nose, a halo of frizz around her head, blisters on her feet, and using her skirt as a means to fan herself, well that’s probably me. I was not made for the heat, I am of hearty eastern European and Irish stock, I flourish in winter and was born in December, heat and humidity have always felt foreign and unbearable to me.

What drives me nuts about the heat is that you can’t escape it, the air just bears down on you. When you’re cold you can add on more layers, drink hot tea, start a fire, snuggle up with a buddy, do some vigorous exercise—you have some (usually inexpensive) options besides turning up the thermostat. When it’s nearly 100 degrees outside and the air is wet with humidity, all you can do is turn on the AC, or bathe yourself in cold water.

What’s worse is dealing with the back and forth between superficially freezing places like office buildings or supermarkets and the baking heat of the outdoors, it makes you nauseous. Then you have the constant worry of bringing a sweater wherever you go, and having to carry it around since it won’t fit in your bag—and maybe you should just bring a bigger bag, ugh, frustrating.

I recently read in a magazine (I have no idea which one, I can’t keep them straight at this point) that around 75% of women feel more beautiful in the summer, I found that sort of shocking. I guess it makes sense when you think about it, people work out more because you end up showing off your body more, and if you tan then you feel better about yourself too. For me though, the summer means frizzy hair, shiny skin, visible sweat stains and eww—chafing.

Chafing is gross, and while it’s stigmatized as something that only happens if you’re overweight, it can happen to anyone at anytime. It occurs from sweating and rubbing and it can happen anywhere on your body. It can even happen on your feet when you’re wearing cute new sandals and decide that even though you haven’t broken them in, it will probably be OK to walk around the city in them all day—big mistake.

The summer makes me long for socks, and boots, and comfy sweaters, but come February it will be a different story. Anyway, it’s hard enough to bear the dumbing heat, but trying to look attractive on top of it—who even cares? Unfortunately there are also a lot of events in the summer; parties, BBQs, weddings, and when you attend these events you want to feel you’re looking your best. So, I’ve put together a list of a some products that help keep me feeling human when I can’t sit around the house in my underwear with the fan blowing on me.

If you’re going to wear make-up in the summer, you have to be prepared for it to slide off your face, so what I suggest is a tinted moisturizer with SPF because it’s very light and gives you sun protection too. Now the problem for me is that I’m incredibly pale, so even the “fair” shade in most tinted moisturizers is too orange for me. I don’t think I’m alone here, a lot of these products only come in 1-3 shades and people come in a lot more shades than that. Laura Mercier makes this one in a variety of shades, it has a nice light coverage, but is a bit pricey, there is also an oil free version available.

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, $42 for 1.5 oz.

I like to make my own tinted moisturizer by using my normal moisturizer and mixing it with concealer. This way you have control over how light you want your coverage to be, and it’s much cheaper. You can just mix it together on your hand and then apply it, or you can get fancy and actually mix it up in a container, just make sure it’s well sealed.

M.A.C Studio finish SPF 35 concealer, $16.50

Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 15, Fragrance Free, $11.49 for 4 fl oz

I’ve spoken before about my love of powder, specifically Lush dusting powders, but they’re $11.95 for 3.5 oz and in the summer I go through powder fast. I always keep this Johnson & Johnson powder on hand because it’s inexpensive and with the lavender and chamomile scent you won’t have to smell like a baby either.  If you dust yourself with this stuff after a shower you will stay smelling sweet and you’ll minimize sweat too!

Johnson’s Baby Baby Powder, Lavender & Chamomile, $5.49 for 22 oz.

Frizz is the enemy. During the summer months it can be completely unavoidable, but I’ve found that if I use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, a leave-in conditioner, and then while my hair is wet I work in an anti-frizz finishing creme, I manage to keep the poof under control. I also give my hair a blast of ice-cold water right before I jump out of the shower, it’s supposed to seal the cuticles and increase shine or something, also the cold water feels invigorating when it’s this hot out. I’ve also decided that the Fekkai glossing conditioner is worth the hefty price tag, because it really works. I’m still on a quest to find a conditioner that works as well for less money. That all sounds complicated, but avoiding frizz is a battle people!

John Frieda Frizz-Ease Secret Weapon Flawless Finishing Creme, $5.99 for 4 oz.

Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Shampoo, $35 for 16 oz

Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Conditioner, $35 for 16 oz

Nexxus Humectress Luxe Ultimate Moisturizing Leave-In Spray, $11.49 for 5.1 fl. oz.

Remember when I mentioned chafing? Yeah, it happens whether you want to admit it or not, and Aquaphor ointment is a great way to sooth yourself after you’ve fallen victim to the rub. I love this stuff, it is great for chapped skin in the winter, chafed skin in the summer, burns, small cuts, even bug bites.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment $5.99 for 1.75 oz.

This one is more for after you’ve been in the heat and you’ve forgotten your sunscreen and are now suffering from a painful and unattractive sunburn. When you get home from the beach or a walk in the park and notice that your skin is turning a brighter and brighter shade of pink each moment, you’ll be very glad you bought some aloe gel and put it in your fridge. My mom always kept a bottle in our fridge year round, and it remains to be one of the most comforting things for a bad sunburn, you can also just put it on if you’re really hot, anything helps right?

Up & Up Green Aloe Gel, $3.49 for 16 oz.

Lastly, but most importantly—put your hair up! Seriously, this seems like a no brainer, but when I see girls with their long hair sticking to the back of their necks, it instantly makes me feel hotter. I think sometimes we’re willing to sweat our butts off and be miserable to avoid ponytail bumps in our hair. But for real, this instantly cools you down, unless you’re lucky and can sport a cute short hair cut, then you have us all beat!

Goody Ouchless Hair Elastics, $2.99 for 14 pieces

I’d love to hear what other tips people have for managing to feel human when you really just want to seek out the nearest air conditioner. Please give me more tips, I need them!!

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Filed under cosmetics, hair, shopping