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Vanity + Wearables

Back in November, I wrote an update about my skin and what I’ve been doing to it. I mentioned that I’d had some some concerns about whether my much-beloved Clarisonic could possibly be harboring bacteria even though I’m super-diligent about keeping the brush head clean (and changing it regularly), but it turned out my skin issues were apparently more likely a result of needing a change in prescription medications.

The Swedish company Foreo contacted me shortly after I wrote that post, asking if I’d be interested in trying their facial-cleansing device, the Luna. I agreed to try it out and write a review, which meant setting aside my Clarisonic for about two weeks so I could fairly compare the two and decide which I prefer.

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A few basics about each device…

Clarisonic Mia
✚ Retail price $125 (usually 20% off at SkinStore)
✚ Single speed (other Clarisonic devices have variable speeds)
✚ 1-minute cleansing cycle
✚ Must change brush head every 2–3 months (~$20 each)
✚ Must disassemble device in order to clean thoroughly and prevent bacteria growth
✚ Must charge device 2–3 times monthly

Foreo Luna
✚ Retail price $200
✚ Variable speeds
✚ Anti-aging facial massage mode
✚ 1-minute cleansing cycle
✚ No brush head to change
✚ Easy to clean; silicone does not harbor bacteria
✚ Single charge lasts for up to 450 uses (!)

On the surface, the Luna sounds like it would be the obvious winner between the two, right? That’s what I thought, and I was really excited to try it out. Reviews for the Luna on other blogs seem to be universally positive. I felt pretty certain that I was going to LOVE the Luna and be a total convert, and I was looking forward to never having to buy another disposable brush head again.

Unfortunately, it didn’t really happen that way. The first thing I noticed is that the Luna is uncomfortable to hold. The Clarisonic is ergonomically-designed and its contours fit in my hand easily, but the Luna is more like a disc. I felt like I was going to drop it, and even after two weeks of use I couldn’t figure out how to grasp it comfortably for a full minute. That’s not necessarily a deal-breaker for me, though. What is a real issue is that the lack of ergonomics extended to the way the “bristles” (silicone nubs, really) made with my face. I had a really hard time maneuvering the Luna over the less-cushy parts of my face, like across my forehead and around my nose. I’ve always really liked the feeling of cleaning my face with my Clarisonic, but I found myself dreading using the Luna.

I would have put up with the discomfort if using the Luna made a positive change in the appearance of my skin, but sadly that was also not to be. Even on the lowest speed, the Luna seemed to be much harder on my skin than the Clarisonic. I don’t know if that’s a result of the ergonomic problems, but my face always looked red and irritated after use. After about five days of use, my skin became terribly dry. By the end of the first week, I was breaking out around the sides of my nose, which is exactly the area I was having trouble cleaning the most — and that’s not a part of my face where I typically have breakouts.

But still, I continued. I know as well as anyone that skin condition is not static, and I wanted to make sure that the negative changes weren’t the result of cold air or hormones or stress or dry heat in my house or whatever. There was no improvement into the second week, and on day 13 I officially put down the Luna and went back to my Clarisonic.

My skin pretty much immediately improved after going back to the Clarisonic. I think the difference really does come down to ergonomics more than anything — because the Clarisonic is so easy to hold and because the bristles easily accommodate facial contours, I naturally have a much lighter touch when I use it. I don’t use it like a scrub brush, I just slowly let it lightly glide over my face. I use the delicate brush heads, and never have any problems with over-cleansing or redness. Yeah, it’s kind of a hassle to have to take it apart and clean it every night (I use hot water and Dr. Bronner’s, then let it dry completely overnight, disassembled), but it’s not the end of the world. I don’t mind having to charge it more often, either. I would love to be able to quit spending $80–120/year (OUCH!) on brush heads, but given the incredibly positive effect the Clarisonic has had on my skin over the past few years, I feel like it’s worth it. Oh well.

I still feel pretty disappointed in myself for not liking the Luna. It’s the same feeling I have about not liking the oil cleansing method or mineral makeup — how come these things that seem to be universally awesome for everyone else are such duds for me? I don’t know. Maybe the problem is me!

Have you tried the Luna? Do you like it?

p.s. The skin care routine I wrote about in November is still working out really well for me. The tip of my nose is perpetually flaky in the winter cold and I’m forever battling dark underye circles, but everything else is about as good as its ever been — and continues to improve.

p.p.s. Um, this is probably obvious, but I feel like I should include a disclaimer just in case: Foreo sent me a Luna free of charge in exchange for a review, but this post is completely my own opinion.

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If you’re going to be in New York City this weekend and you are a man, someone who knows a man, or a lady who (like me) wears men’s clothing, might I suggest you attend this year’s Pop Up Flea? Every December I somehow manage to miss it — either I’m upstate or I’m being lazy or I forget. Not this time! I am there.

Now in its 7th year, the Pop Up Flea is weekend-long indoor sale focused on new and vintage menswear. Some of my favorite handmakers and vendors from all over the country are going to be there this year, including my friend Matt from Wood & Faulk, Three Potato Four, Field Notes, Steven Alan, The Hill-Side and Ursa Major. It’s being held in SoHo at 82 Mercer, which is a pretty mind-bogglingly gorgeous space. I freely admit that half the reason I like going to events in NYC is getting to see the inside of fancy buildings.

Evan is a pretty snappy dresser (I’ve actually been encouraging him to start a men’s fashion blog — he should definitely do it, right??), and I’m sure he’s going to go nuts looking at all of the nicely-made button down shirts and heavyweight jeans. I don’t really like shopping for women’s clothing (that’s a major understatement…), but I love looking at men’s stuff and I love watching Evan shop. This is going to be a fun weekend!

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Photos via Pop Up Flea’s Instagram / Pigeon banner by Three Potato Four

Just about a year ago, I wrote a post about my skin, specifically about coping with adult acne at the (then) age of 37. It was tough to write, but I’m glad I did it. I have spent a lot of years of my adult life feeling ashamed for not having great (or even good) skin, and for not finding solutions in the simple, natural methods that have worked for so many. At the time I wrote that post, I’d been following a regimen recommended by my dermatologist for about six months — and my skin was looking pretty good. Not perfect, but I felt better about my face than I had in many years. The only prescription I was using at the time was a combination topical antibiotic/retinoid called Ziana, and it was working really well for me.

This past June (almost exactly one year after after I started the regimen and the Ziana), though, something changed. Suddenly my skin was getting lots of clogged pores, and I was started to get cystic breakouts again. It seemed like it was overnight, and it was very upsetting. First I worried that I’d developed an antibiotic resistance, then I worried my Clarisonic was harboring bacteria (even though I clean it thoroughly after every use and change the brush head as recommended)…I panicked. I waited a couple of months and blamed stress. I blamed lack of sleep. And then I stopped being dumb, and I went back to the dermatologist.

I don’t know why I waited so long. I guess it was that sense of shame again, like the doctor was going to tell me I was doing something wrong or that I was apparently untreatable and was destined to a lifetime of looking like a goblin. She didn’t say either of those things, of course (tip: if you doctor calls you a goblin, find another doctor), but instead said that she suspected the dosage of tretinoin in Ziana (.025%) was too low for me. OK!

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So here’s what I’m using now. It’s been about two months, and HELLO! My skin looks pretty good, and every day it looks better. I still have a lot of discoloration from past breakouts, but it’s fading gradually and is relatively easy to cover in the mean time. I don’t think I’ll ever think I look good without makeup on, but at least now I don’t think I look diseased when I walk in the bathroom in the morning. At age 38, I can finally even bring myself to be around a friend (AT HOME! Let’s not get carried away…) in the evening after I’ve washed my face. That’s big for me. I think it’s been about five weeks since I’ve had any sort of breakout, and even then it was minor.

Anyway, here’s the current product lineup:

1. Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser
Yeah, on some level I still feel like this is chemical-laden, unglamorous garbage and I kind of do wish I could wash my face with, like, virgin coconut oil and fulvic-enhanced mineral water (heh), but it’s $5 and it works so I just don’t even care anymore. I use it twice a day, once in the morning, then twice at night — once to remove makeup, then again right after with my Clarisonic.

2. Clarisonic (20% off at SkinStore.com right now, FYI)
I always come back to my Clarisonic. Whenever I think it’s failing me, it turns out it was actually something else. Like I said, I’m diligent about keeping it clean and changing the brush head (I always use the ones made for delicate skin). I love my Clarisonic, and I feel badly for ever doubting it. I’ve actually had a couple of terrifying dreams in which I find myself Clarisonic-less, which is admittedly kind of sad but also very telling and let’s just blame stress for everything.

3. Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Complex
This incredible serum has mostly taken the place of my former favorite, Huile Prodigieuse, as a nighttime treatment. I still use Huile Prodigieuse during the day if my face feels tight, and it’s great in my hair, but the older I get the dryer my skin…and I needed something more intensive. I’d gone through a couple of sample bottles of the Midnight Recovery Complex when it was first introduced and really liked it, but I didn’t fork over the money for a full-size bottle until last June. It’s wonderful stuff. Magical, even. I only use it at night, and because I just need 2-3 drops to cover my whole face, one bottle will last a really long time.

4. Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado
Yep, my old standby for the past five years. As much as I hope to someday find an eye serum that can rid me of my undereye circles, this cream remains the only one I’d found that truly keeps my eye area hydrated in the colder months. No matter how many other eye creams I bring home samples of, I always wind up coming back to this one. Again, as with most Kiehl’s products, the price tag is offset by the generous amount of product. One jar of this eye cream lasts me almost a year.

On to the prescriptions…

5. Retin-A Micro
I actually use a generic version of this, which I think came out to something like $8 for three big tubes with my insurance. My dermatologist prescribed it in .04% retinoid strength, which is nearly double what I was using before in the Ziana (.025%). Unlike Ziana, it does not contain an antibiotic. I use it nightly only, never during the day. Retin-A works by increasing the rate of your skin’s cellular turnover, which means pores are less likely to clog, decreasing pore dilation and (of course) breakouts. It also boosts collagen production, so fine lines and sagginess are diminished. And it really works. Apparently I won’t see the full effects until I’ve been on it for the better part of a year, but it’s made an enormous difference in the clarity and smoothness of my skin already. There was an adjustment period in the form of breakouts and dryness when I started using it, but it wasn’t horrendous — probably in part because I’d already been using a lower dose of retinoids for a year before starting. I do have some adjustment advice, though…

Anna’s Retin-A tips:
✚ Wait at least 10 minutes (preferably 20) after washing your face to apply it. Really for real. Retin-A and water are not friends. If you don’t wait, you are just asking for over-dryness.
✚ ONLY USE A PEA-SIZED AMOUNT. That means a standard green pea, not a chickpea or a lima bean. PEA-SIZED. Squeeze it into your hand, dot it all over your face (avoiding the eye area), then rub it in. It’s not a spot treatment or a mask. Take it easy.
✚ If your skin is getting really dry, apply a light moisturizer first as a barrier. I always put my Kiehl’s serum on right after washing, then wait 20 minutes before applying the Retin-A.
✚ If you feel like you need to skip a night, skip a night. In fact, you might want to start out only using it every other night until your skin adjusts. Everyone is different. Pay attention to how your skin is reacting, and know that the adjustment period of flaking and breakouts is NOT forever.
✚ USE SUNSCREEN during the daytime. Retin-A increases your skin’s sensitivity to light. Don’t mess around with this one. Please.

6. Aczone Gel
Aczone gel is a relatively new medication, but its active ingredient, dapsone, has been used as an anti-inflammatory/antibacterial for a long time…including as a treatment for leprosy. And hey, if it’s good enough for lepers, it’s certainly good enough for me! Seriously though, I’m amazed by this stuff. It’s a gel formula that goes on really nicely, and it’s kept me totally free of any cystic breakouts that Retin-a alone can’t prevent. I use it twice a day (at night after applying Retin-a, and in the morning under my makeup). I saw pretty much immediate results when I started using Aczone — by the next morning anything inflamed on my face had calmed down, and I haven’t had a recurrence since. I don’t even have any tips for using Aczone because it’s so gentle and (at least for me) totally non-irritating.

One downside to Aczone is that it’s new enough that there’s no generic option, and the price tag ($200 for a one month supply!) is prohibitive if you either don’t have insurance or if your insurance won’t cover it (mine won’t, and I have really good insurance). That said, there are coupons you can download to reduce the cost (man, the prescription drug industry is soooooo, so super shady…). I was able to get a three month supply (90g tube) for $25, which is totally worth it. If the coupons stop working…well, let’s not think about that.

So that’s it, really. I still have not found a sunscreen I love, so I won’t share a recommendation. That said, if you have one you love that’s broad-spectrum and nice under makeup, I’d love to know about it! My favorite sunscreen (a lightweight spray from Paula’s Choice) was discontinued a couple of years ago, and I’ve been wandering aimlessly through disappointing alternatives ever since.

One more thing for those of you who have had to deal with similar skin issues: If something isn’t working (even if it used to work!), don’t give up. If you can go to a dermatologist, do it. There are so many options for treating problem skin, and I really, truly believe that improving your emotional health through dealing with those problems is incredibly important. It’s not just about vanity, and there’s not going to be one thing that works for everyone. This has been a very long struggle for me, and I am under no illusion that this is going to work for me forever. I have to do something, though, and it’s a massive relief to have found the right thing for me…for now.

Since Fritz and Bruno don’t put much effort into their Halloween costumes (they go as a flightless goat-bat & a baby polar bear every year), I thought it would be fun to do a retrospective of my favorite dog’s getups from the last four years. Presenting…MAMMA BISCUIT! Mamma is the beloved pug of my dear friends Tommy and John, and she’s been featured here at D16 enough times to warrant having her very own tag. I adore Mamma B! Her pink and gentle demeanor never fail to make me happy on a bad day, and she has an awesome blog, too.

Let’s begin with Mamma Biscuit’s INCREDIBLE costume for Halloween 2013, Dame Vivienne Westwood.

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I mean…my goodness. Mamma really outdid herself this year, and she’s getting all kinds of press for her efforts! She’s been on the Huffington Post, Time Out New York, Gothamist, Cute Overload, Mashable and even Vanity Fair! It’s no surprise, really — just look at that attitude. Mamma Biscuit’s attention to detail (not to mention her natural punk attitude) are unparalleled.

If you want to see more of Mamma Biscuit’s homage to Vivienne Westwood (and why wouldn’t you?!) as well ever ever-stylish and handsome man-handlers, head over to her blog. PUG SAVE THE QUEEN!

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And now, a look back…

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Last year, Mamma Biscuit channeled Björk in her fabulous Marjan Pejoski swan dress from the Academy Awards.

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In 2011, Gaultier’s look for Madonna’s Blond Ambition tour inspired Mamma to put on a cone bra and headset and hit the streets.

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And of course the look that started it all, Mamma Biscuit as Anna Wintour. How far she’s come!

On a more serious (but no less uplifting) note, Mamma Biscuit’s story is an important reminder of why adopting dogs and other animals in need of permanent homes is so, so important — and of how rewarding the experience can be for everyone involved. Mamma is a puppy mill rescue who spent seven years of her life caged indoors and was forced to produce over 100 puppies against her will. Only when Curly Tail Pug Rescue (and John and Tommy, of course!) came to her aid did she finally get to experience running in the grass, peanut butter treats, warm cuddles from her humans in a big bed, and all of the other luxuries of life that she deserves. Mamma is a triumph of good spirit, and an inspiration to us all.

Happy Halloween!

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Something big has happened: I found a new mascara to love. Considering the last time I felt a mascara was worthy of blogging about (Max Factor Volume Couture, now discontinued) was a full five years ago, this is a real cause for excitement! Five years of reading reviews, buying tube after tube with the hope of finding just the right formula, only to be disappointed time and time again. I’ve been settling, something you should never do where eyelashes are concerned. And so, without further delay, I present to you…

Ardency Inn Punker Unrivaled Volume & Curl Lash Wax (a.k.a. “mascara”)

I first saw Ardency Inn (founded by Gilles Kortzagadarian and Stephane Siboni and promoted by James Vincent) mentioned in the New York Times Style Magazine last spring. The packaging caught my eye, but the products weren’t widely available at the time and the name slipped from my mind. Then last month I was poking around the Sephora site trying to figure out how to update my email address, and there it was! Ardency Inn! Such an unusual name, no wonder I forgot it.

Bad news first, good news last. Right? OK…

Cons:
✚ For now at least, the Ardency Inn line is only available in-store at select Sephora locations (and online, of course), so if you run out and need a fresh tube, you’ll need to plan accordingly.
✚ As much as I like their logo, that distressed stencil typeface (not to mention the word “Punker”) is causing me small degree of emotional pain. I try to only look at the other, less offensive side of the tube when I’m applying it. That helps considerably.
✚ $24 is a lot to spend on mascara. But hey, it’s still a buck less than Diorshow!

Pros:
✚ The entire Ardency Inn line is cruelty-free, as are their suppliers.
✚ The tube is chubby and easy to hold.
✚ After so many years of using mascara with now-commonplace silicone brushes, it initially felt strange to go back to a classic curved bristle style. The shape of the wand is perfect, though, and I find that as long as I let the curves of the brush follow the curve of my lash line, it’s very easy to hit even the tiniest hair without also getting mascara globs on my skin.
✚ There is absolutely NO flaking or fallout whatsoever, even after 14+ hours of wear. I also am not seeing any transfer to my eyelids, which has always been an issue for me with mascara.
✚ IT HOLDS A CURL!!! My number-one complaint with mascaras is that they go on too “wet,” and as a result I wind up losing all of the curl and having droopy lashes. That’s not the case here! I’ve actually found that it seems to add curl even if I skip the lash curler (which really only happens if I’m out of silicone pads).
✚ The formula dries really nicely, leaving my lashes feeling soft, not hard or brittle.
✚ I get really good volume and clump-free separation without having to use a lash comb.
✚ No allergic reaction!
✚ I can apply multiple coats if I want to, but one coat actually seems to be enough.
✚ The removal process is pain/tug-free: I don’t need an oil-based remover, it comes off completely with my nightly face wash. Less lash loss and less undereye trauma, hooray!
✚ My eyelashes look like JAZZ HANDS crossed with a house centipede! In other words, perfection.

So there you have it! Ardency Inn Punker Unrivaled Volume & Curl Lash Wax (such a mouthful…), my mascara dream come true. I’m also trying out a few other Ardency Inn products right now (Ultra Lightweight Skin Perfecting Primer, Custom Coverage Concentrate and Smooth Ride Supercharged Eyeliner), but I need more time with them to decide if they’re life-changing. I’ll let you know!

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Under the name Stone & Honey, Teresa Robinson has been one of my favorite jewelry designers for several years now. I own her earrings, necklaces, rings…they’re part of my daily uniform, and my family and friends know that anything from Stone & Honey is a safe bet if they’re buying me a gift. I’m going to have to pass the word around to them that Teresa is now working under a new name which reflects the evolution of her jewelry designs: Tiro Tiro.

To celebrate the launch of Teresa’s latest collection, Forma Nueva, the birth of Tiro Tiro and the almost-arrival of fall (it’s September, so as far as I’m concerned summer is OVER), I’m hosting an amazing giveaway: $200 to spend on anything you’d like from Tiro Tiro!

Here’s how to enter:
Visit Tiro Tiro and pick out a few of your favorite things.
Leave a comment here letting me know what they are!

Here’s how to get two extra entries:
Like Tiro Tiro and Door Sixteen on Facebook.*
Follow Tiro Tiro and Door Sixteen on Twitter.*

* If you already liked/followed either of us, that’s fine. Just let me know in your comment so I can count your extra entries!

The deadline for entries is Tuesday, September 10th at 11:00 PM, EST. THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. I’ll announce the winner here and on Twitter tomorrow. The winner will also be notified by email. Thanks to everyone who entered!

UPDATE: The winner of the Tiro Tiro giveaway is Lynn from Satsuma Press! Congratulations, Lynn.

Bonus discount!
Tiro Tiro is offering a 15% discount on anything in the shop between now and September 15th. Use the code IHEARTTIROTIRO at checkout!

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My favorites from the Forma Nueva collection:
Aures rings // Billete earrings // Quarta necklace // Pinna rings

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A lot of teenagers go through a phase where they think skulls are really cool. This is because skulls are really cool. I never exited that phase. Skulls are possibly the most clichéd representation of badassery ever, and the fact that schmancy designers like Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood have brought skulls into the world of luxury goods — and endless knockoffs of those luxury goods — has made them pretty inescapable. They still look cool to me, though, and I keep on buying skull stuff and feeling happy that I don’t have to wait until Halloween rolls around to do it. (This is also how I feel about black nail polish.)

Here’s my skull wishlist…

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1. Ceramic skull planter, Mudpuppy
2. Skull blanket, 360 Sweater
3. Cartolina skull temporary tattoo, Fiona Richards for Tattly
4. Skull pendant light, RawDezign (also in black)
5. Crocheted skull, Crochet Bloke (pattern available in his book)
6. Skull art print, Dawn Kelley
7. Black enamel skull ring, Alexander McQueen
8. Skull sweater, Zoe Karssen

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1. Black metallic stoneware skull, Mudpuppy
2. Skull tiles, Josep Motas for Bussoga (see below)
3. Dia de DUMBO wallpaper, Flavor Paper
4. Twin skull ring, Alexander McQueen
5. Tiny crocheted skulls, Dewey Decimal Crafts
6. Skull scarf, Alexander McQueen

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Photo from Heathrow Speaking After Dark

I had to include another photos of Josep Motas’ incredible skull tiles in use. Isn’t is neat how they seem to turn into a more traditional Mediterranean tile when they’re all together like that? D16 reader Raquel emailed me about them months ago thinking I’d like them, and I haven’t been able to get them out of my head since. I’ve tried to find a US distributor of these tiles because I would love to be able to use them in a house project, but so far I’ve come up empty-handed, even after attempting to contact Bussoga. I did find an interview with Motas, the author of which noted the same thing I did about the floral appearance of the skulls when they’re on the wall. I love this part of the description from the product page: “The top goal of this design would be for someone to like the tiles when put together, who retiles their bathroom and then one day discovers that they have to rip off all the tiles while sitting on the toilet.” Hello, THAT’S ME!!

And finally, some of my Skullstagrams…

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1. Wheatpaste on Pacific Street, Brooklyn (artist unknown)
2. My skull rings! The black & gold ones are from UO, and the plastic is from the doomed NoHo Market
3. A plaster skull at Modern Anthology
4. My office skull-buddies — matte black on the left, glitter with light-up eyes on the right
5. Mini skull candles from the Halloween clearance aisle at Target
6. My skully hand at Lisa & Clay’s wedding (the thin gold rings are from ASOS)
7. A blue jay skull I found in my garden
8. A giant skull candle from West Elm’s Halloween clearance table
9. Me feeding a delicious vegan donut from the Cinnamon Snail to one of my pet office skulls

If you’re alive and in New York City right now, then you know we are in the midst of a rather grueling heatwave. If you’re alive and you follow any New Yorkers on Twitter or Facebook, then you also know about the heatwave, because complaining about the weather to anyone who will listen is really what we do best. Temperatures have been hovering around 100°F for the past couple of weeks, and it’s just insanely humid. We walk a lot (and fast) here in NYC — most of us don’t get around in cars, so we’re walking several miles a day on the hot pavement, plus up and down the stairs into subway stations (which are not air conditioned, by the way). AND IT’S ALL UPHILL, BOO HOO. I know, I know, I’ll give it a rest, but seriously, we’re melting here right now. For those of us who wear black on the outside ‘cos black is how we feel on the inside, these are trying times. To take my mind off the fact that my hair is plastered to my head with sweat, I put together a couple of outfits that resemble what I’ve been wearing during the heatwave.

“The color for today is BLACK. That’s right, black! So you can absorb some of these rays and save that heat for winter. So you want to get on out there, wear that black and be involved!” That’s the truth, Ruth.

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1. Boycott shirt, Kowtow
2. Mosaic scarf in marigold + black, Blockshop Textiles
3. Chock A Block necklace in black/brass, Maslo Jewelry
4. Licorice nail polish, Essie
5. Lace-up espadrille wedges, Gap
6. Sexy Skinny Jeans in dark indigo, ASOS (also in plus size!)
7. Paperback bag in black waxed canvas, Moop

I know it might seem silly to include a scarf, but it’s something I always keep in my bag, even on the hottest days. You just never know when you’re going to wind up in a store or office or apartment with the AC on full-blast, and you can go from sweltering to shivering in minutes. I do realize that skinny jeans probably also seem insane in hot weather, but that’s just how I roll. I at least make sure I’m wearing sandals with them to let some of the steam out! By the way, those espadrille wedges look amazing on, but I can’t walk five miles in them. One mile, sure. Then my feet hurt. They’re great for days when you don’t have to walk a million blocks, though!!

These ASOS jeans are great for my fellow high-hip-to-waist-ratio girls. Since I’ve been losing some weight I’ve needed to buy a couple of inexpensive pairs of “transition size” jeans, and I love the deep, even color of these and the way they fit. Very comfortable! (They come in plus size, too.)

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1. Short sleeve black dress, Target
2. Super Duper Strength sunglasses, Karen Walker
3. Herringbone scarf in papaya, Blockshop Textiles
4. Tempus necklace, Stone & Honey
5. Geranium nail polish, Essie
6. Endless Bummer tote bag, Fieldguided
7. Leslie Zip Booties, Frye

YES, I have been wearing dresses! Well, one dress. I bought this guy on impulse for $25 at Target last month, and I’ve actually worn it a bunch of times since then. I wish it wasn’t polyester, but it gets the job done. The fit/length of the sleeves is flattering, and who doesn’t love an elastic waist? I have to admit it is nice to have bare legs in summer, but I’ll only do it if I’m wearing boots. I wrote about my intense love for these side-zip Frye booties back in December, and my feelings remain just as strong. They go with EVERYTHING. True four-season footwear. I even wore them to a wedding. They are so beautifully-made, too, and incredibly comfortable. I can walk in them for hours on end. I think they might be the smartest shoe purchase I’ve ever made.

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I probably don’t even need to write anything after that photo, right? I don’t think it’s possible to look at a pair of bright green clogs and not immediately want to put a pair on your own feet. At least that’s how I felt when I saw first these shoes at Lily, a very sweet little clothing store near my apartment in Brooklyn. It was insanely hot and humid out and the last thing I felt like doing was trying anything on any part of my body, but these green clogs beckoned like only green clogs can. And so they were on my feet, and then they were mine. The end!

For the last few years, I’ve been making an effort to only buy shoes that will last for many years. To that end, the shoes must be not only well-constructed and made of good-quality materials, but they also need to be repairable (I ♥ my cobbler) and relatively timeless style-wise. To gauge the latter criteria, I usually ask myself whether I would have worn the shoes I’m interested in 20 years ago. Would I have worn bright green clogs when I was 18? HELL YES! That’s a pretty good indicator that I’m still going to want to wear bright green clogs 20 years from now, when I’m 58. Orthopedic shoes FTW!

(The other thing I do when I’m looking at shoes is ask myself WWMD? What would Mommy do? If my mother would wear them, they’re probably a good choice.)

Two years ago, I bought this exact same style clog in natural leather, and I wear them all the time. That pair was made by the relatively new Swedish company Hasbeens. They took a while to break in because the leather is very thick and hard, but eventually they became very comfortable. I got mine on sale, but Hasbeens are on the pricey side normally. This new Herringbone Green pair was made by another Swedish company, Cape Clogs, who have been hand-making clogs in Småland for 150 years. They are much cheaper than Hasbeens ($89 vs $179 for virtually the same shoe), and they are super-comfy right out of the box. Seriously — I could have walked in these for hours on the first day with no issues. Plus, they’re GREEN!!!

In short, there are several Swedish clog makers who are all making their own versions of classic clogs, ’70s-style clogs and contemporary designs, and, at least as far as I can tell, they’re all more or less the same. I’m sure there are differences in the type of wood used and the grades of leather and so forth, but I honestly can’t tell them apart upon visual inspection, not to mention actually wearing them on my feet (podiatric inspection?).

And did I mention they’re green??

p.s. As of last week, Lily still has a few pairs in stock in you’re in the area! Otherwise, they can be ordered from Cape Clogs.

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I struggled to find an appropriate photo to accompany this post, but I couldn’t. Instagrams of feet are always a good fallback, so here are four of them. This post has nothing to do with feet or shoes or tiles or anything like that, though. It’s about weight — gaining weight, losing weight, weighty weight.

About three years ago, I wrote a post called I’m OK. Sometimes I go back to read it so I can remind myself of exactly how I felt that day, because it’s how I strive to feel all the time — that is, I strive to not have to think about how I feel; to not have to think about constant physical self-improvement.

I’m going to quote myself:

I’m 5′6″, I weigh 150 pounds, and I usually wear a size 8 or 10. This is the size that I am when I am eating healthy, well-balanced foods in normal quantities. I have weighed as much as 40 pounds more when I was eating enormous portions of unhealthy, prepared foods, and I have weighed as little as 30 pounds less when I was meticulously measuring every morsel of food that entered my body and obsessing over calories and fat grams and fiber content to the point that I wound up not really getting much pleasure out of what I was eating. Neither option was healthy, but not because of my weight at either end of the spectrum — it was unhealthy because my body wasn’t getting the things it needs in the right amounts to function properly.

Yeah. That was me three years ago, which suddenly feels like a long, long time. I still believe in everything I wrote, but I’m not at that place anymore, physically or mentally. I’ve hung out in the ~145 pound area for most of the last 6 years without really thinking about it. I’d go up a few pounds when I was overworking and stressed, and I’d go down a few pounds when I was taking extra-good care of myself.

Last October, though, things started to get out of control. I know it sounds TOTALLY RIDICULOUS to blame Hurricane Sandy (because seriously, among all the things that were affected by that storm, my weight does not deserve to be mentioned), but that was kind of the turning point. I wanted comfort foods, I wanted to bake, I wanted takeout food, I wanted to feel safe and I wanted something to do while I waited for my apartment building to have electricity and for the subways to start running again. Unfortunately, my default activity when my regular routine is interrupted is EATING. Snacking. Eating. More snacking. Not much moving around. More eating.

Seven months post-Sandy (three weeks ago, to be precise), I forced myself to get on a scale. It wasn’t like I couldn’t see that I’d gained weight or that I didn’t notice having to buy bigger jeans, but I wasn’t prepared to discover that I’d managed to put on FORTY (40!) pounds. In seven months! Whoa. 5′6″, 180 pounds. That’s only 10 pounds shy of my highest weight ever, a place I never thought I’d be again in my life.

Side note: I’ve never really understood why so many people (women AND men) don’t like to reveal their ages or weights and that kind of stuff. Why is it such a big deal? Your age is what it is — who cares! The older I get, the less that makes sense to me. If I started telling people I’m 27 instead of 37, what would I accomplish? I get that those of us who are or have been overweight often (not always) have some degree of shame or embarrassment associated with scale numbers, but at the end of the day, what does being open about your weight change? How is it different than telling someone your height? Anyone looking at me can see that I’m overweight — being coy about numbers and sizes doesn’t suddenly make me look like I’m thinner. I’m all about dropping the shame and other internal weirdness and just putting it out there.

Just so it’s clear, I really don’t think that height/weight-based metrics are particularly good indicators of a person’s health. That said, I have a pretty good sense of where my weight naturally settles when I’m eating healthy, nutritious foods and taking good care of myself. I didn’t go from 140 to 180 pounds in seven months by taking good care of myself. My health and well-being matters to me, and as I creep closer to 40, I know I really can’t mess around with this stuff.

Also, vanity. Self-image. That stuff. It’s real, and I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t affect me. The week before I weighed myself, I was at my friends’ wedding in San Francisco, and I spent a whole lot of time avoiding having my picture taken (and feeling ridiculously self-conscious when I couldn’t avoid it). Who wants to feel that way? Not me.

So today marks three weeks since my first “scale moment,” and as of this morning, I’m down to 170 pounds. Ten pounds might sound like too much to lose in a short period of time, but that’s just because I went from eating like a teenage boy in a growth spurt (takeout food every night, chips every afternoon, multiple daily bagels on the weekend, etc.) to eating like a reasonable human being overnight — so the initial drop in calories consumed was pretty massive. I have no expectation of continuing to lose at that rate! Having lost a large amount of weight once before (I went from 190 to 130 in 2006), I know that about two pounds per week is normal for me. My goal weight (hey, I have some goals) is 145-ish, because I know that’s comfortable and healthy for me.

I’m using Weight Watchers (online only, no meetings) to track what I eat. I am not an advocate of Weight Watchers’ packaged/processed foods, and I really don’t care about their meal suggestions or any of that stuff, but I do love their tracker tools (YAY for the iPhone app!) and the point system is very handy. It’s worth the $15/month to me because I’m the kind of person who likes order and accountability and having a system. I also really like that Weight Watchers isn’t about going “on a diet,” it’s about reinforcing health eating habits (hello, I sound like a commercial) through making smart choices every day. It’s sustainable.

I just want to feel well, be healthy and not spend so much time thinking about my size. I want to feel like the person who wrote this post again. I’m not comparing myself to anyone else, I’m comparing myself to what I know I’m capable of. I can’t be passive about this stuff any longer. Onward!