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Vanity + Wearables

Yeah, that’s right, I’m wearing sneakers. Craziness, yes? I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “What’s the big deal? Everyone wears sneakers all the time. YAWN.” Well, not me. The last time I wore sneakers with any regularity was more than 20 years ago, when I had a nice little collection of high-top Converse (“Chucks” as the kids today call them). Sure, I’ve had a few pairs of gym-appropriate sneakers in the interim, but considering the amount of designated exercise I get on a regular basis—somewhere between none and none—I can still accurately say that sneakers are not something I’m seen wearing. Ever. Until now.

OK, OK, OK. Yes, my sneakers have a 3″ wedge heel. No, I’m not going to run a marathon in these things (or any things). But they are seriously comfy. Despite my undying devotion to not going to the gym ever, I actually do—like most New Yorkers—get an awful lot of walking in on a daily basis, usually on concrete and at a rapid pace, so it’s not like I’m just wearing these to sit around in my office or anything like that. I can wear them for a full day of being out and about/running errands and not give my feet a second thought. Weirdly, I just started wearing them regularly during the past couple of weeks even though I bought them at least 6 months ago. Maybe it’s the fall weather? They look good with tight jeans and giant parka, which is pretty much all I wear between late September and early December.

Because of my aforementioned parsnip legs, I always think I look a little better with a heel. I dress like a sloppy tomboy, though, and I never wear “pumps” (or whatever it is you call high heels that aren’t wedges or clogs). They make me feel like I’m a drag queen with weak ankles. Regular sneakers make me feel stumpy and like I’m trying to trick someone into thinking I might be going jogging later or something. A wedge sneaker, though? Perfect.

I became obsessed with this type of sneaker when French designer Isabel Marant introduced her own wedges, including the impossible-to-find (and impossible for me to afford even if I could find them) Bekket model. Mine are the much more affordable and more accessible Bowie wedges from Ash. They owe a heavy debt to Marant’s design, as do the countless other variations she inspired that have come out at various price points over the past year. Here’s a little round-up of my favorites…

1. Ash “Bowie” (these are the ones I have)
2. Jeffrey Campbell “Teramo Spike”
3. Ash “Cool Ter”
4. Isabel Marant “Betty”
5. Ash “Brooklyn”

Ash also makes wedge sneakers in dozens of style and color options in addition to the ones I mentioned here. I like to think of myself as being the kind of person who would wear these, but we all know I’m just wearing black and that’s it.

Say it, Jerry Lee…

OK, disclaimer: I wouldn’t actually wear these necklaces myself because they veer into religious icon territory, but as design objects (and as jewelry for other people!) I think they are gorgeous. When the photos of Swedish designer Pia Wallén wearing the black version appeared in my Instagram feed, I gasped…and then immediately emailed Pia to ask if she had product photos I could share here. The necklaces are part of her new “Bless You” line of jewelry, and will be available through her soon-to-be-relaunched website.

I definitely would wear the colorful pieces from Pia’s “Chains” line! Don’t you love that bright orange bracelet worn with a gray sweater? Orange + gray is one of my favorite color combinations, especially when we’re talking more blood orange than pumpkin. I’m not sure I’m bold enough to pull off piles of multicolored chains at once, but maybe when I’m a bit older and more fabulous.

Side note: Funny, as I was writing this I suddenly realized what these chain necklaces remind me of. Remember those plastic charm necklaces girls wore in the ’80s? I’d forgotten all about them! I was obsessive about collecting and trading those charms. I remember going to a store at the Kingston mall called Fluff N Stuff to buy them. Huh. I wonder if I still have them in a box somewhere…

All photos courtesy of Pia Wallén

Yes, my little obsession with Calgel nails is still in effect! First there was orangey-red, then super-shiny black…and now I’ve gotten a little bit flashier with black ombré tips and with my current set, a glittery gold gradation over black. I form loyalties to businesses very quickly if they do good work and have happy employees, so I’m still going to Sakura on the Lower East Side.

The ombré tips are the work of Selina. I think I spent close to three hours (!!!) having them done, which I can’t really see ever doing again no matter how cool my nails looked when I was done. After applying the nude gel, Selina carefully mixed black and clear gel in various ratios, then meticulously applied the range of black/gray shades with a tiny brush, layering as she went. I was mesmerized. That manicure stayed intact for close to a month, but by the time it was removed the new nail growth was crazy. It feels weird to have (natural) nails this long for the first time in my life.

Because of bad planning on my part, Daniel actually wound up sitting in the salon through the entire glitter manicure. I’d gone in intending to just go back to simple, solid black, but the stylist, Sandy, managed to convince me that what I really wanted was a whole bunch of glitter. And who am I to argue? After the gold micro-glitter went on, Sandy applied the larger, holographic pieces of glitter one at a time. I’m not sure how long the whole thing took, but I’ll bet Daniel could tell you.

This is one SPARKLY manicure, guys. It’s like having a disco ball on each finger. After I was finished, we went out to dinner at Milon—a.k.a. The Most Sparkly Restaurant in New York/”upper left”—and the Indian disco music pretty much kicked in as soon as I walked in the door. Truth be told, after almost three weeks I’m kind of tired of having this much glitter on me at all times. I’m thinking next time I’ll go for something nice and subtle

p.s. Several people have asked on Instagram about how I keep my cuticles looking decent. I guess the biggest contributor is always wearing rubber gloves when I do dishes and clean. I don’t understand how anyone can stand to wash dishes without gloves on! I always push my cuticles back a little bit with the towel when I dry my hands after washing them. If my hands are really feeling dried out and scaly (which is often this time of year) I use Weleda Skin Food—Evan swears by it as well. It seems expensive, but you only need a tiny dab so a small tube lasts a long time. At night, I do my best to remember to rub some oil into my cuticles. I just use sweet almond oil mixed with jojoba oil. It’s easy to make your own and store it in a little dropper bottle on your bedside table.

I sound like a girl.

I freaked out the other day when I got an email announcing that pre-orders are now being accepted for the new line of Morrissey sweaters from VIVA MOZ. I want them all. The gray Smiths sweater with the daffodils even made me want to put together one of those “outfit montage” things that Real Bloggers® are always posting:

1. The Smiths daffodils sweater, VIVA MOZ
2. Curvy Skinny jeans, Gap*
3. Long striped scarf, Madewell
4. Thatcher glasses, Warby Parker
5. Carson oxfords, Frye

*Side note about the Gap Curvy Skinny jeans: If you follow me on Twitter, then you know how enamored I am with these jeans. I wear skinny jeans about 360 days a year, so the fit really matters to me. I know everyone’s body is different, but if you’ve got a large hip/waist ratio and tend to have that problem with jeans gapping at the back and requiring a belt, these are for you. I recommend going down a size (or two!), though, because that “vanity sizing” thing Gap does is totally out of control.

I have a weird thing where I don’t like to wear shoes that don’t come up over my ankles unless the top of my foot is exposed—I’m convinced my legs look like parsnips unless I’m either wearing boots or sandals—so I keep hesitating and not buying a pair. Jen was wearing these Frye oxfords when she was here last week, though, and I kept eying them with envy. I feel like my inner nerd (who, coincidentally, is also my outer nerd) really wants to wear oxfords…parsnip legs and all.

But enough about my parsnip legs! LOOK AT THESE SWEATERS! (By the way, if you think you want one of these sweaters for yourself or a loved one, I suggest you pre-order before the sale date. They always sell out fast once they’re knitted and stocked.)

Evan has owned the original green one for a few years, and I have the football scarf. They’re both pretty rad, as evidenced by my mother and Evan, who are making their second joint modeling appearance on D16 this week (here’s the first). I’ve posted these photos before, but how could I leave them out? Fashion plates, those two.

Oh, just some weekend Instagram snaps I’ve been meaning to share here! Top to bottom, left to right…

✖ How cool is this black West Elm skull candle? I pretty much only buy stuff at West Elm when it’s on clearance, and I got this nearly-life-sized guy for $7 (!) at the DUMBO location. They only had one left, or else I would’ve bought a bunch. The best thing about Halloween being around the corner is SKULLS EVERYWHERE.

✖ I couldn’t resist this SHOPLIFTERS tote bag that was for sale at the merch counter at the Morrissey shows. I guess I’ll have to turn it around if I’m shopping in a store with employees who might not get the reference (or who might not have a sense of humor), but otherwise I shall carry it with pride.

✖ Evan and Bruno enjoying their morning coffee. Aren’t they handsome? This photo reminds me that I really need to take more photos of the new apartment before it stops being “new.”

✖ I had nothing to do with this—Fritz tucks himself in all the time. I’m told that the smarter dog breeds like Chihuahuas all do this. Bruno is only half Chihuahua (the other half is Bichon Frisé, a breed high in sweetness but not known for intelligence), which explains why he can’t really even figure out how to crawl under a blanket most of the time while Fritz is off basically building forts and growing opposable thumbs.

✖ I’ve been wearing my fake glasses (they’re the “Thatcher” style in Revolver Black from Warby Parker) every now and then, and I’ve gotta be honest—they make me feel great. Wearing glasses gives me enough confidence to wear my hair back in a ponytail, something I NEVER do unless I’m at home. I am wayyyyy to self-conscious to leave the house with my face completely exposed, so it either has to be hair or glasses that I hide behind, and it’s fun to have this option. I feel like a different person when I wear them. It’s like a disguise. And hey, I figure my vision is probably going to tank within the next few years anyway, so at least I’ll be comfortable wearing glasses when the time comes!

✖ This VOTE LEFT mug was another cheapie West Elm clearance item. Unfortunately they’re sold out online, but stores probably still have them. And yeah, I know it’s not really possible to truly vote left in this country, but I can dream. For now, I’ll vote as far left as I possibly can.

Brooklyn Heights Cinema is on my old street (Henry Street pride!!), and I miss going there to see movies—it’s a great little theater. It’s actually not too far of a walk from DUMBO, though, so I should make the effort to walk up now and then. It’s near a great little natural-food restaurant called Siggy’s Good Food that does an amazing vegan brunch. Highly recommended!

✖ This is the original herringbone tile in the lobby of Daniel’s building. Tile like this is the reason I like hands-off landlords who don’t want to pay to renovate. Isn’t it pretty?

I don’t have a corresponding photo, but prior to taking that picture of the tile, Daniel and Max and I went to go see The Perks of Being a Wallflower at BAM. It was so, so, so great. Really. It’s based on what I consider to be one of the best books of the past 20 years, and certainly one of the greatest books ever written for young adults. The movie was directed and the screenplay was written by the author of the book, Stephen Chbosky, and he did a perfect job with the conversion. The trailer is pretty terrible, but don’t worry—it’s not a good representation of the actual movie (funny how that happens sometimes). I was pretty much either in tears or holding back tears for the duration, just like when I read the book the first time. The actors are all wonderful, the soundtrack is exactly as it should be, and it felt great to watch a movie that actually feels like teenage—and human—reality. Read the book. See the movie. Hold onto your Kleenex.

Last month, my lovely friend Ilenia told me about Huile Prodigieuse (literally “prodigious oil”) from the French brand Nuxe, and I figured that since she’s Italian she probably knows what she’s talking about because popular culture tells me European women know everything about skin care. Right? So I took the next step toward what we beauty product-obsessed types like to call “lemming” (yes, used as a verb—I hate myself too, don’t worry) something: Reading all of the 100+ reviews for it on Makeup Alley. 4.2 lippies and a 78% “would buy again” rating is high praise in that community. Commence lemming!

Completely positive that Huile Prodigieuse would, in fact, change my life, I committed myself to shelling out the $46 the large bottle sells for locally at Thompson Alchemists as soon as possible. Upon returning from London last Monday, I knew the time had come. Between the 12 hours spent on airplanes, a week of washing my face with hard water (which, by the way, made my hair look AMAZING…but my skin, not so much) and dropping temperatures, I looked like a floured potato roll. I made plans to have coffee with Ilenia the very next day, and after consuming four lattes between the two us, we headed over to the pharmacy.

Can I pause for a moment to recognize New York City’s small pharmacies? Yes, there may be a Duane Reade on every other corner, but we also have lots of old-school, independent apothecaries here that sell just about every brand imaginable of cosmetics, skin care and toiletries from all over the world. My favorites are Avignone Chemists and Bigelow Apothecary (both Avignone and Bigelow opened in the 1830s—each claims to be the oldest apothecary in the United States), but I also love ogling the goods at New London Pharmacy and Thompson Alchemists. Yes, it usually costs a few dollars more to buy something locally than to order it from Amazon, but I’m OK with that if it means supporting a small business that’s managed to survive for decades (or centuries!) in NYC.

Something happens to me when I walk into one of these pretty little pharmacies that’s kind of trance-like. I realize it’s pure escapism, that glassy-eyed state of being that sets in when there’s a $30 bottle of French makeup remover at arm’s reach. The packaging, the scents, the foreign languages…I fall for all of it. Apart from a bar of eucalyptus soap for Evan and about a million samples (that’s the other benefit of shopping at these little stores—the salespeople love to give out samples), though, I managed to walk out with only a bottle Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse in my bag. Mission accomplished!

I’ve been using Huile Prodigieuse on my face and in my hair night and day for two weeks now, and it is SO GOOD. I have delicate skin that’s prone to dryness and scaliness while also being annoyingly acne-prone. The Nuxe oil is just the right formulation (borage, St. John’s wort, sweet almond, camellia, hazelnut and macadamia oils, plus vitamin E) for me, apparently, because my face feels softer and looks brighter than it has in years right now. I’ve tried using various combinations of oils (jojoba, olive, coconut, argan, etc.) on my face in the past, and I’ve never had results like this. I love that the oil goes on “dry,” leaving absolutely no residue. Any redness in my skin is almost immediately abated, and dry flakes are gone overnight. It’s also lovely to wear under makeup—I haven’t had any issues with it altering the color of my face powder at all, something I’ve experienced with other facial oils. At night I use two spritzes in my palm smoothed over my entire face and neck, and in the morning one spritz is sufficient (I avoid putting it on my forehead in the mornings since bangs + oil = ugh).

I also like to rub a little oil into my hair, mostly at the ends. I usually just use whatever is remaining on my palms after putting it on my face—it’s sufficient to smooth out any dryness or flyaways and to weigh down my hair a bit so it doesn’t look “fluffy.” If I’m wearing my hair wavy/natural, the oil provides a bit of separation and texture that I love. If there’s still any oil left on my hands, I rub it into my cuticles. A little goes a very long way.

Oh, and did I mention the scent of Huile Prodigieuse? It’s my dream fragrance. I don’t even know what it smells like—it’s somewhere between earthy and flowery; very very soft and warm. Every time I put it on I wish it would last all day and double as perfume, but the scent dissipates completely within a half hour or so. I did discover that Nuxe has just released Prodigieux le parfum—perfume based on the scent of the oil—in France, though, and that the fragrance will be available here by January. Wishlisted in advance! And I’m not even one of those people who really thinks about stuff like perfume.

What fancy European skin care products should I try next? Bioderma Crealine/Sensibio H2O and Caudalíe Beauty Elixer are on my short list…!

Just a quick note before the weekend…

I’ve been back in New York since Monday night (more London photos to come!), and since then I’ve been in the office and trying to get myself fully into work mode. I have to admit that I really do miss my daily London routine (basically drinking coffee and hanging out), but a week and a half away from my office means a TON of work upon returning. This was the longest stretch of time off I’ve had from working in the two decades that have passed since I graduated from high school!

Fortunately, I’ve had two things to take the edge off of my return to the daily grind:
MORRISSEY + MAMMA BISCUIT!

I went to see Morrissey on Wednesday night at Radio City Music Hall, and tonight and tomorrow night he’ll be at Terminal 5. These are my 27th, 28th and 29th times seeing Morrissey live (show #30 will happen in Decemeber!), and in all honesty it really never gets boring. Yes, it’s a different experience (for him and for me!) than it was when we were 20 years younger, but I’m so thankful that he’s still going and still amazing and still giving. I’ll post some photos when the three nights are over. VIVA MORRISSEY.

Today has been an extra-special work day with none other than Mamma Biscuit (if you’re not already reading her blog, you’re missing out) here in the office. Is there anything better than taking a break from staring at a computer screen and nuzzling your face into the neck-rolls of a glamorous, toothless, geriatric pug? Nope. I adore Mamma. VIVA MAMMA BISCUIT.

And no, I don’t need glasses to see, but hey…I like the look. SUE ME. I’m about to order these with non-prescription lenses!

p.s. I’ll announce the Frida Kahlo book giveaway winner tomorrow!

My personal style is very “Jedi Knight meets Patti Smith,” and that’s tough to nail down when it comes to readily-accessible, moderately affordable clothing. It’s also a style that pretty much just looks like dirty pajamas if it’s done wrong. If I had limitless cash, I’d have Yohji Yamamoto, Ann Demeulemeester and Rick Owens at my disposal, but alas, I do not. I am trying to make an effort to move beyond Forever 21 and H&M, though. I mean, I’m going to be 37 years old in a few weeks. I think it’s probably OK to buy a sweater that costs more than $18—and, more importantly, that last longer than 6 months before the threads start to pull and it loses its shape in the wash. (Side note to my real-life friends: I swear I will stop wearing that disgusting cardigan every day. Not just yet…but soon. Really soon. Honest.)

I had never heard of the New Zealand clothing company Kowtow before Tamera sent me a link to this outfit, but I’m already kind of obsessed. This is exactly how I want to dress every day. Modernist Lazigoth.

Bauhaus Jacket. I don’t know if they’re referencing the German school or the English band, but either way, I’m on board. This is the most perfect hoodie ever.

Parallel Dress. OH HELLO THERE. It’s true that I’ll wear anything the size and shape of a Hefty bag with a neckhole (armholes optional), but this dress/tunic is actually cut really nicely—and it has a rad print on it.

Jen wrote about the San Francisco-based knitwear line Micaela Greg (designed by two sisters!) on Honey Kennedy the other day, and I had a series of tiny heart attacks while flipping through their Autumn-Winter 2012 lookbook. Legging and scarves are staples in my (tiny but flexible) wardrobe, and who doesn’t love little sweaters with weird arms? No one, especially when they’ve got Q-Bert style geometric patterns on them.

Black Triangle Neck Cozy. Like Jen said, I would wear this scarf every day between now and next July. This is an Anna-scarf if I ever saw one! I love that it can double as a little hood, too.

Cube Shrug. This is my favorite shape when it comes to cardigan-type stuff. The length in back is perfect, and it’s got volume without being bulky. I don’t like wearing wraps because I never know what to do with my arms, but little shrugs like this are perfect.

Small Square Legging. You know how I said I feel like Ferm is designing housewares just for me? Well, I like to think Micaela Greg had me in mind when they made these leggings. The pattern is just so good. I feel a teensy bit nervous about the color being described as “dark navy and rose,” I could make do. Can you imagine them with knee-high boots, a long white tee, and the Bauhaus jacket from Kowtow?! Now you’re talking.

Oh, Kenobi-Smith! My favorite. I can’t afford any of their stuff, sadly, but maybe if they decide to do a diffusion line someday I can splurge on a piece or two.

p.s. Thank you so much for all of the feedback and kind thoughts yesterday. I don’t know what comes next or exactly what I’m planning to do and when, but I’m glad I at least opened up the dialogue. I feel proud and fortunate that there is such a friendly and honest community of people reading my blog.

I’m pretty unfancy when it comes to jewelry. Aside from a few things that were gifts, the only jewelry I wear (if I wear any at all) is cheap stuff—really cheap stuff. Last weekend I found this neat “diamond” ring at H&M for $5, and even though I didn’t like the weird faux-antique finish of the metal, I decided to buy it anyway and try giving it a little makeover.

I’ve never tried spray-painting jewelry before, but I figured that since matte black Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer has proven itself to be incredibly durable on my door hinges, window locks and other hardware around the house for the past six years, it would probably hold up pretty well on a ring, too.

I washed the ring with soapy water, dipped it in rubbing alcohol (this might’ve been unnecessary, but I figured it couldn’t hurt), let it air-dry completely, and then applied two light coats of Rust Reformer. After letting it dry overnight, the ring looks PERFECT. The black finish is flawless, and and the ring looks a million times cooler now. It’s my new favorite piece of jewelry! (Side note: Doesn’t it remind you of AM Radio’s himmeli mobiles?)

OK, so before my mother has a heart attack: That’s not a real tattoo. It’s a Tattly. I’m kind of obsessed with temporary tattoos right now—I have a huge stash, and they’re perfect for non-committal types like me. I love what Tina has managed to do with Tattly—she’s having fun with a medium that was previously relegated to children’s novelty items, and using it as a means to promote artists and designers. (My Scribble Tattly was created by James Victore.)

And yes, that’s a new Calgel manicure, this time in black. The orange-red Calgel lasted for exactly two full weeks before the new growth started to make me crazy (which I knew would happen, since my nails were very short and the color was very bright!), but it stayed shiny and completely chip-free the entire time. This is what it looked like an hour before I had it removed. I have no doubt I could have gone at least 3–4 weeks if it weren’t for the new growth! Oh, and for those of you were wondering, the removal process at Sakura was simple and painless. A tiny acetone pad was held in place with aluminum foil over each nail for about 5 minutes (exactly the same method you’d use for removing glitter polish at home), and then the gel basically fell off of my fingernail with a gentle push from an orange stick. There was no damage to my nails whatsoever, but from what I gather, the outcome really depends on the technique used by the salon you go to. I’m going to keep the black on for three weeks, and then I want to try a fancy gradient manicure

I buy a lot of cosmetics. Not that I wear much makeup at any given time (though I never go without unless I’m sleeping or in the shower), but there’s a certain feeling of hope and anticipation in buying beauty products that I find extremely comforting. The promise of a new lipstick or an expensive tube of mascara…the idea that this will make my life better. Yes, it’s a superficial improvement of self when a product turns out to live up to that promise, but I’m a believer in physical improvement as a means to further overall confidence.

There is no type of product in my extensive arsenal of cosmetics that outnumbers the tubes, pans, pens and sticks of undereye concealer I’ve amassed over the years. I actually tried gathering them all up into one pile to take a photo for this post, but it was just too embarrassing (though apparently not so embarrassing that I won’t write about it, haha). Dozens of concealers, all purchased with the hope that they would eradicate the dark circles under my eyes while still looking natural and not creasing, caking, making my mascara smudge, or wearing off by lunchtime.

I’m not going to name any names, but a certain female parent of mine passed along her genetic dark undereye circles to me (alas, I did not get her lovely blue eyes to go along with them), and no matter how much sleep I get, water I drink or vitamin supplements I take, those suckers aren’t going anywhere. We talk about undereye circles sometimes, that certain female parent and I, and she shares my sense of hopefulness about someday discovering that perfect product, the holy grail of concealers…

Well, I think I may have found it. About a month ago, I was (as usual) whining about my undereye circles on Twitter, and Gala asked if I’d ever tried Bobbi Brown’s Creamy Concealer Kit. At first I said yes, but then realized I was confusing it with her Corrector, which never really worked out for me. Anyway, blah blah blah, I went out and bought the concealer, because that’s what I do. I buy concealer. Then I bring it home, try it out, like it for a week, stop liking it, throw it in a drawer, and move on to the next contender.

You know what? I’ve been using this undereye concealer (my shade is Warm Ivory) for a whole month now, and I still LOVE it. Really! It took me a couple of days to get the hang of applying it right, but now that I have it down, I think I can honestly say that my quest for finding the perfect undereye concealer is OVER (at least until some other product comes along that I just have to try, but let’s not talk about that right now).

Here’s how I put it on:
After moisturizing, I wait a few minutes to let everything sink in. Then I use a synthetic taklon brush to apply the tiniest amount of concealer under my eyes, patting it in a bit with my ring finger as I go. A little really goes a long way. Once everything is covered up, I use a shadow blending brush to tap on the setting powder (that’s what’s in the right side of the pan). Done! And it lasts all day without creasing or looking dry and crepe-y. No smudged mascara, either. And I get to not look like I’ve been living in a windowless basement for a decade.

I’ll be sure to let my mother…I mean a certain female parent of mine know the good news.