Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Unisex Lip Balm For Fall

The weather report forecasts more seasonable temps for the rest of this week, which means that your summer grooming routine will need a little revamping to keep up with the cooler fall weather. You'll need to moisturize more, and you'll definitely need to incorporate a lip balm into your daily routine. If you're looking for a balm that will keep your lips feeling comfortable all day and looking great without any residual stickiness, then Jack Black Intense Therapy Lemon & Chamomile Lip Balm SPF 25 is the one for you. It comes out of the bright blue purse-sized tube with a thick vaseline-like texture that melts into dry lips on contact, and the moisture-factor lasted without having to reapply for a good 4-5 hours. An added bonus is that its subtle flavor tastes exactly like a Luden's Honey Lemon cough drop -you know the delicious kind that you used to eat like candy whenever you had the slightest hint of a sore throat- soothing and delicious.

photo credit lip balm: http://www.sephora.com
photo credit Ludens: http://www.brands2liveby.com

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Scandinavians do it Better

I finally moved into my new apartment this weekend, and the house was total chaos for the better part of yesterday. Thanks to a late-night Ikea run last night my couch and chair are set up so that I now have a place to sit, the rug is laid out, the lamps are plugged in, and the space is actually starting to come together. However, there's still a lot of interior decorating left to do, which is my favorite part of the whole moving ordeal. I plan to make a trip to the store Just Scandinavian in Tribeca next week to peruse the vases, pillows, and other apartment accoutrements. It's like an upscale version of my favorite low-priced Scandinavian retailer (Ikea) with bright colors, comfortable furnishings, and eye-catching graphic prints. While some of the things featured on the website, like this chaise-lounge-style couch are prohibitively expensive for my furniture budget, I can splurge on this amazing pillow upholstered in Josef Frank fabric that will add some visual interest to my cherry-red Ikea couch. When it comes to unique and sturdily constructed bright furniture, I have to say that Scandinavians just do it better.

photo credit pillow and couch: http://justscandinavian.com

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Go Faux

Do you love the look of sumptuous furs, sexy snake skin, and curve-hugging leather but hate the indisputable animal cruelty factor? The answer is to go faux. You can have the luxury without the guilt, and these imitators are much less expensive than their real counterparts. See if you can figure out which of the items shown (trapper hat, purse, and leggings) are real, and which are faux. The answers are down at the bottom of the post, so no peeking!

Answers (& photo credits):

1.) Hats: The Fur Ear Flap Pom Pom Hat in brown is actually faux and can be found at http://www.topshop.com. It retails for about $37. The white fur hat is Blue Fox fur from http://www.fursource.com a
nd retails for $199.

2.) Purses: The bright silver purse is Chanel. It's crafted from leather, featured on http://www.bagborroworsteal.com, and retails for an obscene amount of money. The gray handbag is an Urban Expressions Snake Skin Woven Tote made from synthetic leather, and it retails for $58 in black, cream, and brown on http://www.baghaus.com.

3.) Leggings: The leggings on the model shod in heels are Helmet Lang Leather Skinny Pants retailing for $875 on http://www.shopbop.com. The leggings on the barefoot model are American Apparel Shiny Leggings in black eel. They are actually fashioned from Polyester and are insanely comfortable for your legs and your wallet, since they are priced at a mere $42 on http://store.americanapparel.net.

Russian-Tea-Room-Red Lipstick

One of the most elegant and memorable dining experiences that I have ever had, was when I went to the Russian Tea Room last fall for a romantic dinner for two. I had memories of the restaurant from when I was a little girl, and my parents used to take me there to celebrate special occasions. When I finally revisited the Tea Room as an adult, dressed in a formal black silk dress and heels, I was instantly transported to an elegant environment with Faberge-egg-like gilding, walls that were adorned with stunningly unique illustrations of costumes from the Russian Ballet, richly-hued oil paintings, and the signature sumptuous red leather booths. The Beast and I ordered an assortment of delicious delicacies including caviar, duck crepes with tart red cherries, and delicious hot tea served with sugar and raspberry jam. It was the most wonderful and unforgettable evening. When I was in Duane Reade a few days ago I came upon an unusual shade of red lipstick, and I was reminded of that night. The lipstick is aptly named Cherries in the Snow, and it is a striking shade of crimson that I was immediately drawn to. At first I was unable to discern why I had taken such a fancy to it, since a red lipstick isn't such an unusual thing. However, on my walk home I realized that Cherries in the Snow is the exact same shade of red as the leather booths in the Russian Tea Room. I quickly headed back to the drugstore and breathlessly ran to the Revlon lipstick display. Thankfully, my shade of choice was still there and ready for me to purchase. Since that day I have been wearing Cherries in the Snow constantly, and every time that I apply it I am reminded of that magical dinner.

photo credit Russian Tearoom: http://www.russiantearoomnyc.com
photo credit lipstick: http://www.drugstore.com

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Listening to My Inner Suze Orman

Spending is out, and saving is definitely in right now. While I do acknowledge that there are some things that you just shouldn't skimp on (like a laptop, a good quality hair dryer, and a Met membership), there are a lot of beauty, fashion, and art areas where you can cut corners and save some cash. Below are a few of my live-well-on-a-budget tips. When all else fails, listen to your inner Suze Orman.

1.) Get a Knockout Knockoff: We all pass by those vendors that sell knockoff bags on the street, but right now is a perfect time to actually get yourself one. You don't want just any knockoff though, you want the best. When buying knockoffs remember: the smaller the better (huge fake bags are totally obv), less is more where hardware is concerned (all that cheap metal only detracts from the beauty of your bag), go for a muted color (brights just don't have the same appeal in pleather), and just say no to LV and Prado. Insider Tip: The small imitation Goyard totes on 21st or 20th street ( I can't remember which) between 6th and 7th Avenue (closer to 6th) are amazing. I even scored an elusive white one there!

2.) Mix High and Low: There's nothing like the sparkle of a real diamond, but a real fake can be pretty eye-catching as well. When you mix real jewelry with either costume jewelry or imitations, it is nearly impossible to distinguish the cheap from the expensive. Once again make sure to go small and simple (you don't want an over-designed piece that's a dead give away), wear it with confidence (no one will know the difference), and remember my rule of thumb: for every two fakes you wear you must simultaneously sport one piece of genuine bling. Insider Tip: Pearls are one of the easiest jewelry items to fake. Also, check out emitations.com to satisfy your diamond craving for under $50.

3.) Pick Photos Over Prints: If you want to collect and display art in your home but only have a limited budget, check out photo galleries and antique shops for reasonably priced unique photographs instead of buying posters, prints, or repros of famous paintings. Not only will repros make your house look like a college dorm room, but they also don't have the potential to appreciate in value like a photo could. Find photos whose subjects and themes interest you, and always trust your instincts when choosing a piece. Often the first work you gravitate towards is the one that deserves a second look. Insider Tip: Check out the antique store between 19th and 20th street on 9th Avenue for vintage black and white travel photos. If you want to save even more money, take your own photographs and have them developed in sepia tones, ready to be hung on your wall and admired.

4.) Get a Library Card: This may sound obvious, but using your local library can save you a bundle on book purchases throughout the year and will also save you a lot of space in your home. Plus, recycling books is good for the environment. My rule is not to buy any book that I can find at the Public Library. Instead of heading to your local Borders or Barnes & Noble for vacation reads, go to the recent acquisitions section of your local library, and check out the hot new offerings in fiction and non-fiction. Libraries often have the best selection of cookbooks, fashion, and art publications available. If you know there's a book that you're interested in reading but your branch doesn't have it, ask the librarian if they can order it for you from another branch. Insider Tip: Try renting movies at your local library for free instead of ponying up the $5 for Blockbuster. Also, if you have books that you no longer want to keep, you can sell them to the Strand for some extra cash (if they're still in good condition).

photo credit ring: http://www.emitations.com photo credit woman shopping for Goyard knockoffs: Photo by: Hiroko Massuike for the New York Times. Appeared in the December 13, 2007 article "Carried Away with Imitation Luxury," by Ruth La Ferla. photo credit NY Public Library: http://www.wikimedia.org
photo credit dollar: http://www.faniq.com

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dress to Impress: Work Attire

Though some employees must wear suits to work everyday, others need to find clothing that is appropriate for a professional environment yet still stylish enough to wear to after-work cocktails. With these three staples from Anthropologie you can go from day job to night owl without having to change your clothes.

1.) Sophisticated Cardigan: This Swallow's Twitter Cardigan is reminiscent of vintage Chanel with its chicly tailored shape and boiled wool fabric. The pale gray hue matches easily with printed shift dresses and skirts, and it's a perfect layering piece to keep you warm on brisk fall evenings. Plus, it looks much more expensive than its $98 price tag.

2.) High-Waisted Skirt: Bask in the flatteringly lady-like high-waisted trend with this Golden Pinpoint Skirt. This gorgeous skirt is sure to become a staple in your wardrobe that you'll actually look forward to wearing. Details like shiny gold buttons and a ruffled waist make this look like a high-end designer piece, and the go-with-everything solid black wool means that you can mix and match this with any other item in your fashion arsenal to your heart's content.

3.) Brightly Colored Coat: The Treetop Coat is the perfect way to incorporate brights into your wardrobe without looking like a color wheel. The stunning emerald fabric and interesting mod-ish tailored collar and cuffs make this a truly unique and eye-catching piece.
All these items are available on anthropologie.com.

photo credit clothing: http://www.anthropologie.com

Found It: The Perfect Nightshirt

Little-House-on-the-Prairie-style nightgowns won't cut it, and you're tired of the perpetual sweatpants and college tee shirt routine, then it's time to invest in some chic nightwear. The perfect nightshirt is comfortable yet elegant and immaculately tailored (similar to Audrey Hepburn's version in Breakfast at Tiffany's). Charlotte Moss has mastered the perfect balance of graceful femininity and menswear-ish detailing in her signature sleepwear staple. Comfortable and breathable with a subtle pin-striped design, this nightshirt belongs in every woman's bureau drawer.

photo credit nightshirt: http://www.charlottemoss.com
photo credit Audrey Hepburn: http://www.fabaudrey.com/english/images/BATscreen086.jpg

Friday, September 19, 2008

Obsession: Pendleton Weekender Bag

I've been on the lookout for a chic fall bag that will be roomy enough to fit textbooks and my laptop as well as my other necessities. Pendleton's Harding Jacquard Weekender Bag is perfect for lugging around everything in style. The Native American print is gorgeous, the construction is sturdy, and it comes with a detachable shoulder strap. Plus, I can also use it for weekend getaways. At just under $200 the price isn't outrageous, so I'll be able to make my dream bag a reality.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Get Inspired at Antiktex

The Textile Museum in Washington D.C. houses a vast collection from all over the globe. I've been wanting to go for a long time now, and I frequently view their online exhibitions and peruse the offerings at the Museum Shop. However, if you don't have time to make the trip to D.C. right now, in the meantime you can view a museum-quality collection of textiles housed right here in mid-town Manhattan. A dear friend sent me the New York Times article "Old Fabrics and New Designs" in which Antiktex Ltd., a textile house with roughly 300,000 different offerings, was featured. The store is located on 38th Street and Avenue of the Americas adjacent to the garment district and a short walk from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Textiles dating from the nineteenth century to the late twentieth make up the vast majority of the collection, which is organized according to pattern. However, it is their selection of exotic textiles from Africa, Japan, and China, among other countries that attract the fashion-world power-players, who according to the Times article frequently peruse the swatch selection that range in price from $100-$200. The collection would appeal to any connoisseur, but is also very appealing to those who are more broadly interested in fashion and interior designer (but not necessarily as well-versed in the art of textiles). It is also undoubtedly one of the best places in the city to get inspired when redecorating your apartment (as I am in the process of doing). Seeing the offerings at Antiktex has gotten me interested in learning more about the field of textiles, so I just ordered this exquisite book Textile Style: Decorating with Antique and Exotic Fabrics from Amazon. I'll let you know how it is. Until then, happy decorating!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Garment Storage 101

My new obsession is The Rachel Zoe Project on Tuesday nights on Bravo. I love it because I get to view amazing designer gowns, jewelry, and purses, and it's also highly entertaining. Rachel Zoe and her lackies Taylor and Brad are all kinds of insane. Granted, Zoe's catchphrases are undeniably annoying (she uses the expression "I die" liberally, and whenever a svelte starlet is sartorially successful), and she looks like she's had WAY too much plastic or possibly not enough, but I still love Zoe (pronounced Zoh). Anyway, on the latest installment of the series there is a flood in Rachel's designer den, and the gowns get water damage!! I recently had a flood in my house, and this episode got me thinking about the optimal way of storing important articles of clothing (like a prom dress, vintage gown, or wedding dress) and how to best preserve them and shield them from environmental aggressors. The only frame of reference that I have for clothing and textile preservation is a visit that I made to the Costume Institute to research Dior suits. I remember the conservators wore white lab coats and gloves to touch the garments that were stored in eggshell blue boxes and wrapped in acid-free paper. On the Container Store website you can actually purchase blue boxes and acid-free paper that look extremely similar (dare I say identical) to the ones that they use at the Costume Institute. $34.99 will get you a medium-sized box with 8 sheets of tissue, and it's large enough to hold two garments. You can place your boxes on shelves up in your closet (safe from flood water), and remove the garments as needed for special occasions. I'm definitely liking this option, but I'm curious if there are any other methods of gown storage/preservation out there (besides of course the garment bag). Let me know if you use any other methods in the comments section.

photo credit Rachel Zoe: http://www.bravotv.com
photo credit boxes: http://www.containerstore.com

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jessica Simpson Collection: Worth a Second Look

In these trying financial times, with Lehman Brothers going under and talking heads lamenting the worst drop in the DOW since the September 11th attacks, economizing in the fashion arena is a necessity. But fear not, you won't have to sacrifice quality for an affordable price tag. The Jessica Simpson Collection, which features sunglasses, shoes, handbags, and coats is surprisingly well-designed for a celebrity collection and is also wallet-friendly. Structured handbags in chic shades of grape, cappuccino, and pine hover at the $100 mark, while 60's-style funnel-neck wool coats and tailored belted trenches come in at around $200. The rocker-ish selection of heels are sexy but off limits for me, since I can't walk in them. Skip the sunglasses however, which are decidedly lacklustre. Check out my favorite fall picks from the collection, including this versatile Amanda Trench in Stone, this Aer Large Tote in Cappuccino (which I plan to use as a laptop bag), this Pacha Clutch in Ombre Grape, and this Superfine Satchel in Pine. All items can be found at: http://www.jessicasimpsoncollection.com.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fornasetti For Less

I've been enamored with Piero Fornasetti's work ever since I laid eyes on this Architecture Trumeau which was designed by Gio Ponti and decorated by Fornasetti. Unfortunately, this design piece is not within this art historian's budget. However, I've discovered that on ebay I'm able to find affordable Fornasetti items that allow me to indulge in his design aesthetic without breaking the bank. I'm currently admiring this scarf, but also have my eye on this amazing lamp, this pair of cufflinks from Barneys, and this plate. The woman's face featured on the plate is that of opera singer Lina Cavalieri, a recurrent motif in Fornasetti's work. He came across her face originally on the page of a nineteenth-century magazine, and it served as an extensive source of inspiration for the artist.

photo credit Trumeau: http://www.minimadesign.com
photo credit other Fornasetti pieces: http://www.ebay.com

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Quirky Gift Ideas From The Victoria & Albert Museum

Sometimes you need to buy a gift for someone who is either a.) totally quirky (in a Miss Havisham kind of way), b.) already the owner of every ostensible item you can imagine, c.) a precocious urban toddler who has a birthday coming up, or d.) a friend who is famous for gifting the most unique items that no one has ever seen/heard of before. You need to come up with a present that is decidedly outside of the box but is still useful to the recipient. In times like these you can turn to the Victoria & Albert Museum gift shop to find exactly what you're looking for to indulge that special man/woman/or child on your list. Below are some suggestions:

1.) For the Miss Havishams in your life: Q-Pot's Japanese surrealist Strawberry Whip Brooch is the perfect avant-garde accessory for adorning a scarf, a lapel, or a tote bag. Fun and whimsical, this fluffy cloud of whipped cream looks good enough to eat.

2.) For the friend who has everything: A Lady's Correspondence Cards might just be the one thing that she doesn't already own and will allow her to write thank-you-notes for all the other gifts she's acquired. With illustrations that appear to be straight out of Pride & Prejudice, don't be surprised if you think that you recognize Mr. Darcy or Elizabeth on one of your thank-you-notes.

3.) For the precocious urban toddler: This Dr. Yue-Sai Wa Wa Doll is quite possibly the coolest non-blonde Barbie ever. She comes equipped with the accoutrements necessary to practice Chinese medicine as well as to indulge in a longevity-promoting green tea break. The perfect role model for the youngster who's bored with the Madame Alexander scene.

4.) For the innovative gift-giver: Bet she's never seen or heard of Tennis Ball Lip Balm (with vanilla and SPF). This is definitely one of the coolest lip balm packages I've ever seen. She's sure to get comments and questions along the lines of, "Where did you get that?" And natch you'll get the credit. Extra points if she's a tennis fan.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Men's Accessories For Fall: Reader Request

This fall, menswear is all about deep earth tones, luxe fabrics (like cashmere jackets and heavy woolen tweeds) and Princetonian leather patched elbows. The theme of bringing the outside in (lumberjack-chic) via color, texture, and prints that recall the forest is also very prevalent. I've compiled a list of accessories to help the well-appointed gentleman channel the Into-the-Woods-inspired styles of fall.

1.)Sterling Silver and Enamel Fox Head Cufflinks: These sterling silver and hand-painted enamel cufflinks are dapper yet playful and make any man's shirt and jacket ensemble look a whole lot more interesting. Be prepared for a lot of compliments.

2.)Serge Lutens' Chypre Rouge: Notes of resinous tree bark, oak moss, damp earth, and leaves underfoot give this cologne a multi-dimensional woodland air. The various notes alternate in a staccato pattern in anticipation of the olfactory climax, like a scentual equivalent of the musical score of Prokofiev's Russian fairytale Peter and the Wolf. The poetic description of Chypre Rouge is perfectly captured in this passage from Beauty Habit's website: "With its carpet of leaves, its trees and shrubs, the forest gave me the feeling that I was a minute cell floating in a giant organism: aortas, veins, vessels, ramified trees that gave life to a fantastic world to which I belonged."

3.)Arrow Moc's Two Eye Tie Moc: These hand-crafted authentic mahogany leather moccasins are perfect for casual fall weekends. They are incredibly comfortable, literally mold to your foot, and at under $100 the price is definitely right.

4.)Nicholas Coleridge's paperback A Much Married Man: This hilarious satire of upper-crust British society and village life follows banking heir Anthony Anscombe as he romances multiple mistresses, copes with the stresses of planned (and unplanned fatherhood), and deals with his stuffy and domineering mother. Hunting, farming, and other such leisure sport of the landed gentry serve as the backdrop for Anthony's antics. Coleridge keenly captures the dynamics of class divisions with a humorous tone reminiscent of that master of British class-satire P.G. Wodehouse.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Green Goddess: By Reader Request

Here are some of my favorite green beauty options to keep green goddesses looking and feeling fabulous. I've included products to fit a variety of different budgets, so that you can go green regardless of your price range.

Pricey $$$: Elemental Herbology's Facial Glow: After the repeated exposure to sun, urban grit and grime, and air-conditioning, summer-ravaged skin needs a little TLC to be in tip-top shape for fall. This naturally exfoliating and glowify-ing facial peel uses orange, papaya, and tangerine to make skin gleam. Manuka Honey with antibiotic properties heals inflammation, and sea-salt and kelp purge dirt and debris from clogged pores. This mask will make you look like you've gotten 10 hours of sleep.

Reasonable $$: The Bubble Roome's Lavender & Geranium Sugar Scrub: Made with brown sugar and ground walnut shells to polish and essential oils to pamper, this is the ultimate green goddess luxury. It smells incredibly like a country garden, and the lavender is calming and relaxing. It's perfect for unwinding before bed. Plus, it's handmade in a tiny shop in Brooklyn.

Steal $: Frais' Pocket Hand Sanitizer: The green goddess' version of Purell, this pint-size germ-killer is perfect for use post-subway and pre-sandwich. It's composed of 66% pure sugar-cane alcohol and is free of artificial fragrances, paraben, and sulfates. A cocktail of essential oils, tangerine, lemon myrtle, ginger, grapefruit, and cardamom lift your spirits and moisturize your hands.

- For hair and makeup suggestions check out the comments section below.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Scentsational Website & Pedicure Trick

If you're at all like me, then you find it difficult to commit to a single signature scent. I've been reading Perfumes: The Guide every night before I fall asleep, and there are so many scents that I absolutely must try. I found a great website Luckyscent.com that allows you to sample mini-vials of designer perfumes before you commit to buying an entire bottle, and you can also read reviews and vivid descriptions of the scents. They have an amazing selection of samples that includes many obscure/hard-to-find items.

On an entirely unrelated note, I just learned a great trick from
Totalbeauty.com. Apparently if you dip your freshly manicured hands in ice-water, your polish will harden, so that you won't have to wait around for your nails to dry. I assume if it works for a manicure it will work for a pedicure too. Genius!

P.S. I'm taking requests this week for topics/info/questions that you'd like me to tackle on beautyinchelsea.com. These can range from topics as specific as the best brand of hot pink nail polish to questions as broad as "What are some of the good art shows coming up this fall?" Add your questions/topics to the comments section! Check out my new business card on the right illustrated with one of my fashion designs.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Colette x Gap=Saturday Afternoon Activity

I frequently peruse the Colette Website (an edgy Paris boutique a la Barneys) and drool over the luxe yet hip offerings. The shipping is a bit of an outrage, but occasionally I will splurge on an item if it's necessary (ie: Balmain's Ambre Gris Perfume). So now the word on the street is that Colette is opening a temporary shop (collabing with the Gap) next to the Gap flagship on 54th and 5th on September 6th. The store is open from 10am-9pm. It will feature graphic tees by Ruben Toledo, star-print hipster chic Oakleys, Hello Kitty watches, and Colette candles and luxurious room sprays. Sneakers and a candle for Gap x Colette are shown at the right. The store will be open for about a month, but get there early because the fashion week set is in town.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Art-Historically-Inspired Candles

These art-historically-inspired candles by Cire Trudon (which became the candle manufacturer for the royal family in 1719) with names like Odalisque, Roi Soleil, and Dada, are a perfect edition to any art lover's home. When burned, the scents of these elegant green glass candles will transport you to another era. Odalisque is my favorite scent of the group. It incorporates notes of orange blossom and vanilla to evoke the dream-like romanticism of Ingres' orientalist painting, and its universal appeal is ideal for a living room. The Louis XIV-inspired creation Roi Soleil is meant to transport you to the "Mirror Gallery" at Versailles with the essence of rich tree bark and smoky candle wax tempered by shimmering citrus accents. Its coziness is perfectly appropriate for a library or study. The third candle, a "scentual" homage to the Dada movement, is a leafy melange of mint, tea, vetiver, and eucalyptus intended to stimulate and simultaneously "confuse" the senses in a "surrealist" manner. I think it is fitting for a bedroom, since I find that it recalls the calming and luscious scent of a greenhouse in mid-summer. You can view and purchase these candles at Aedes De Venustas.

photo credit candles: http://www.aedes.com