Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Take a BITE.

What are you still doing here? Is it 2011 again and nobody told me? I'm now blogging at Boredom Is The Enemy (BITE), if you can tear yourself away from the Royal Wedding long enough to take a look. Hey, did you remember to preorder our tickets for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? No? Never mind, I'll find someone like you. Winning! Bye.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Still kickin'.

In case you haven't noticed, I've been on hiatus.

These past few months have brought a great deal of powerful and positive change, and I'm looking forward to blogging with relative frequency again as soon as I get my (rampant) wits about me. La Vie en Ginger's "readership" may be miniature, but I do love writing this little blog, and I really appreciate all of you who have called me out on my disappearing act. I plan on relaunching in the next couple of weeks. Check back soon if you like me.

Sorry I'm not...well, okay, I'm a little bit sorry.

High fives all around,

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Weighting in vain.

Well. I've done it. After sorting through 22 years' worth of free t-shirts and impulse buys, selling those that were in good enough condition and donating the rest, gradually swapping out my H&M basics for name-brand alternatives and peppering my curated collection of timeless staples with one-of-a-kind vintage finds and the odd designer gem, I've finally amassed the perfect wardrobe.

...For someone who weighs about seven pounds less than I do.

Let's talk about buying aspirationally. Everyone does it. No one likes to talk about it, because no one wants to admit that a) they've got a few pounds to lose and b) they've deluded themselves into believing that the best way to deal with said extra pounds is to invest in things they literally cannot use. Buying clothes in the wrong size is completely illogical: even if you manage to lose the weight, chances are that by the time you get there you'll want something else. But does that stop us? I guess I can't speak for any of you, but doesn't stop me.

Granted, my situation isn't exactly typical, in that two years ago I weighed nearly 65 pounds more than I do now. For a long time after I began my lifestyle change (people hate that phrase, but it is what it is), all I bought was "transitional clothing": things I liked, but wouldn't be devastated to say goodbye to once the next few inches came off. Now that I'm within 10 pounds of my original long-term goal weight, I have a reasonably good idea of what my body will look like when I finally get there. I've begun to invest in clothing again. The rub? I'm not there. Not yet, anyway. I've conditioned myself to try things on and, if they fit, buy the next size down, assuming I'll need it soon; I never buy anything I can't physically put on my body, but I definitely purchase with room to shrink. I'm a pathetic fashion cliche: a six with a wardrobe full of fours. But because I refuse to actually walk around in ill-fitting clothing, I end up only wearing about a third of my wardrobe, the unwearable part growing bigger as I grow neither bigger nor smaller.

Allow me to disclaim. I know I don't need to lose the weight. I'm healthy, attractive, physically fit, blah blah blah. Whatever. There's something about setting a goal and reaching it that's incredibly gratifying, and since my goal is reasonable and realistic, I refuse to deny myself that human satisfaction. It's not about the size itself; it's about reaching the hotness potential I know I'm capable of. Yes, I've come a long way, but isn't living your life comparatively just as dangerous as setting high expectations? Isn't it all too easy to be better without being your best?

After a mega-motivated April, I've been hovering at a plateau for a few weeks now, the dreaded swimsuit season looming ever closer. My dad is getting married on the beach over 4th of July weekend, and I'd really like to look like Brigitte Bardot in a bikini. You know, amateur stuff. Time to take the cupcake consumption down a notch, more for the sake of my own confidence than any obscure societal standard of beauty. But here's the more pressing question: do I throw in the tacky starfish-print beach towel and snap up the remainder of my summer wish list (blush-hued leather jacket, crisp white jeans and pink shorts à la Isabel Marant) in my current size, or do I wait a few weeks and see how things go? I'm itching for a seasonal wardrobe update, but I don't want to end up with things I can't wear, regardless of the outcome. Buy later to wear later, or buy now to possibly wear never? The answer should be obvious, shouldn't it? So why do we entertain the notion at the expense of our own pride and pocketbooks?

Have you ever fallen victim to vanity buying? Did it motivate you, or did it end up being a waste of money and a blow to your self-esteem? I'm really interested in the psychology of this, and I'd love to hear your thoughts or experiences. Let's just put it out there. Lady to lady (or gentleman. I don't discriminate). This doesn't have to be a lonely dressing room struggle.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Off their chests and onto mine.

I was recently approached by Off Our Chests, a collaborative blog and organization that champions the fairly unobjectionable goal of making the world a happier place. Their request? Style an outfit around a piece from their new line of tees and tanks. My response? UH DUH, because a) I stalk their Twitter feed like it's my job and b) when have I ever said no to free swag?

Being the crochety old man that I am, I naturally gravitated toward the tee with the slouchiest, softest-looking fit. My first thought was to pair it with oxfords, suspenders and my favorite high-waisted pleated pants (OLD. MAN. STATUS), but I ultimately opted to glam it up with a sensible pair of sequined culottes and shoulder pads that would put any NFL linebacker to shame.

As a newly minted soldier in the army of happy, I thought I'd give you a brief tutorial on stuff happy people do.

Happy people whip their hair back and forth.

Happy people butcher the slogans on their t-shirts by eclipsing just enough to change the meaning. DON'T HAT ON IT PLZ.

Happy people give totes soror skinny arm.

Please note that this post is devoid of the usual pouty smizing. All smiles for Off Our Chests!

Oh, fine. One sassy face for the road.

Peep their post on me here. Then spend some time poking around their site. Amazeballs. (And 10% of merch proceeds go to We Stop Hate.) What more could one want from one's collaborative blogging experience?

Jacket: Vintage Bergdorf Goodman.
T-shirt: Off Our Chests.
Shorts: Cynthia Rowley.
Shoes: Zara.
Earrings: Nordstrom.
Watch: Michael Kors.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Razzle dazzle 'em.

I have a little problem.

This cupcake isn't it.

I'm referring to my oven. We are constantly at war. It teams up with my smoke detector to gangbang my culinary self-esteem on a regular basis. Up until Friday night, I'd never burnt a single thing in my kitchen...yet I had set off the fire alarm approximately 47581736 times. Roasting veggies? BEEP BEEP BEEP. Toasting coconut? WAH WAH WAH. Preheating the empty oven? YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS. I call my oven Beast #1 and my smoke alarm Beast #2. They're almost as bad as the neighborhood boys I used to babysit who tied me up, pushed me down the stairs and beat me with a rubber snake. Mary Poppins ain't got nothin' on me.

No surprise, then, that when I first tried to make these cupcakes, I ignored the protests of Beast #2 when it raised its voice (à la Hilary Duff...but really, similar pitch and quality) about six minutes into the bake time. I propped open my back door and went along my merry way, blissfully unaware of the fact that my tartly fragrant and artfully compounded cake batter was meeting a slow death at the hands of Beast #1. By the time I returned to pull my lemony babies from the oven, a fine haze had developed along the ceiling of my kitchen, and the stench of burnt cupcakes and failure was palpable. Turns out you can't impatiently cram two pans into your oven at once, doomed edges grazing the sides. I briefly mourned the loss of the expensive cake flour I had finally caved and purchased. Then I pelted rock hard would-be cupcakes at the ground from my third floor balcony in an all-consuming rage.


My baking has come a long way since September, but cupcake success had heretofore eluded me. Either the tops would dome in an utterly unfrostable manner (what do you think you are, a goddamn muffin?), or the edges would burn in cancer-y ombre, or I'd overmix and end up with something that could compete in the tuff 'n' chewy olympics (gluten bonds! Science! Baking iz edjucayshunal!). One more failure and I might have abandoned the noble cupcake forever. Resigned myself to trekking downtown to Sprinkles when a craving struck, and instead devoted myself to perfecting the art of dipping bite-size banana chunks in semisweet chocolate (best fake dessert ever).

But I'm a Taurus. And therefore resilient. And I'm thrilled to announce that there will be many more homemade cupcakes in my future, because my second stab at this recipe churned out something divine. I'm not normally one for fruity desserts, but I gobbled these up with what can only be described as relish. It's possible that it can also be described as gusto. But, I mean, English is my first language, so I don't want to make any assumptions.

These cupcakes are spring in a black and white toile cupcake liner. Thanks to cake flour and a hefty dose of citrus, they boast a light, fluffy crumb and a subtle symmetry of tart and sweet . And the frosting? Don't even get me started. Just go make some cupcakes. I'll be right here hooked up to this IV of raspberry buttercream when you get back.

Lemon-on-Lemon Cupcakes with Rustic Raspberry Buttercream

"Rustic" means I was too lazy to strain the seeds out. Ain't no thang, really. Now you can count each cupcake as one serving of fruit. I used a store-bought lemon curd to fill them, but you could make your own if you're feeling up to the task and own a candy thermometer (try Ina Garten's recipe. Let me know how it goes if you do!). Lemon cake recipe adapted from Ming Makes Cupcakes. Frosting recipe adapted from MyRecipes.com. Highfalutin' concept author's own.

2 cups cake flour (just do it. Makes all the difference)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 jar lemon curd

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2. In another large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the butter mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix in the lemon juice and zest.
3. Using a ladle or a 1/4 measuring cup, spoon your lemony fresh batter into lined cupcake pans (you did remember to line your cupcake pans, right?). Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool completely. Come. Pleat. Lee. Unless you like huge messes and things that crumble to bits in your grubby hands.
4. Cut a cone-shaped segment from the top of each cupcake. Trim off the bottom of the cone (use the extra crumbs to make a few cake balls), fill the hole with about a tablespoon of lemon curd and cover with cone remainder. Makes 18 cupcakes.

For the frosting:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup raspberries (use fresh if you can afford them. I used frozen, thawed to room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3-4 cups powdered sugar

1. Beat first four ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
2. With mixer on low, add sugar about 1/2 cup at a time, blending fully after each addition, until desired consistency is reached.

Oh. Did I mention these were vanishing cupcakes?




Monday, April 4, 2011

A wristed development.

Wrists are sexy.

I've thought so since the bathroom scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Tell me Daniel and Rupert's exposed forearms didn't make your teenage loins quicken with delight.

If you've been lurking around this dark corner of the Interwebs for a while, you know I have a severe minor watch fetish. These past few months, I've been letting my rose gold Michael Kors clunker (seen on my Christmas list, transformed into exquisite reality by Mama Gail Bail) take center stage. It's utterly showstopping and approximately the weight of a small grapefruit (calisthenic bonus!), so there's been little need to don more than a pair of matching princess-cut CZ studs alongside. Easy? Yes. Boring? Maybe. Sometimes I like things that fall into the "classic" category. Sue me.

But even I, the staunchest watch enthusiast, will admit that the canvas of the wrist offers far more potential than even the most high-rolling Rolex can fully exploit. If executed properly, a well-accessorized wrist can be as richly composed and artfully personal as an entire ensemble. Jumbled jewels have caught my attention as of late, particularly those that add unexpected dimension to the simplest of outfits.

I'm always tempted to go full-on tribal or full-on hardcore when I layer my jewelry, but I love that this fashionista (captured by Jak & Jil's Tommy Ton) manages to hold on to the integrity of her preppy digs. A thread of red to complement the jacket. A hint of earthiness in the beaded bracelets. That ostentatious golden globe. Flawless.

Some more recent inspiwristion:

(From Style Scrapbook.)

(From Stockholm Streetstyle.)

(From The Man Repeller.)

Restraint in accessowristing can speak volumes as well. Take, for example, goddess Diane Kruger (pictured below with Jason Wu, my current design crush):

So much to love about this look (the undone hair, the flattering silhouette, the sparrow-embellished white clutch...perhaps not the dyed-to-match bridal shoes, though I am willing to overlook them), but the delicate strand bracelet is what puts it over the edge for me. It's so feminine and intentional. You know she didn't run out of time to finish accessorizing. This was a choice. A choice that has me ready to renounce the majority of my jewelry collection.

Which do you prefer? The calculated hodgepodge or the polished stand-alone piece? I go back and forth. The degree of self-editing involved in the second look definitely doesn't come as naturally to me (you can see evidence of my proclivity to pile it all on here and here), but I'm increasingly drawn to simplicity, particularly as we head into the warmer months. Something to play with in the next few weeks, as I've officially forbidden myself to buy any new clothes until my birthday (May 2). This will surely result in much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Almost as much as when I tried to give up coffee for Lent.

That lasted three days. I don't know what I was thinking.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shall we play Risk or Sorry?

It's official: man repelling has gone mainstream.

Like so many movements in fashion, it began almost imperceptibly, an organic call to arms bubbling up from the dregs of society (or in this case, the Upper East Side). Popularized by blogging wonder and upcoming industry darling Leandra Medine, the man repeller is defined by the following credo:

man·re·pell·er  [mahn-ree-peller]
outfitting oneself in a sartorially offensive way that will result in repelling members of the opposite sex. Such garments include but are not limited to harem pants, boyfriend jeans, overalls (see: human repelling), shoulder pads, full length jumpsuits, jewelry that resembles violent weaponry and clogs.
–verb (used without object),-pell·ing, -pell·ed.
to commit the act of repelling men:
Girl 1: What are you wearing to the party?
Girl 2: My sweet lime green drop crotch utility pants!
Girl 1: Oh, so we're man repelling tonight?

While I was vaguely aware of the movement's existence, my first encounter with a true man repeller took place last summer on the Condé Nast elevator. I was playing my usual game of Guess Your Publication Based On Your Outfit (Lord help you if I condemn you to Brides) when an unmistakeable Vogue-ette ducked in through the gleaming steel doors. I took in her messy hair, her horn-rimmed spectacles, her shapeless blouse, her baggy trousers, her piles of ethnic-looking jewelry. I was in awe. She looked thoroughly unsexy. She was the single most stylish person I had ever seen in the flesh. Sure enough, she pressed the button for Floor 12.

Some call man repelling a feminist movement: women dressing for themselves rather than for men, content to have their outfits raise eyebrows instead of erections. Where the old adage advises, "When you got it, flaunt it," the man repelling school of thought would instead have us say, "I've got so much of it, I don't need to flaunt it." To man repel is to declare a womanhood that can't be stifled by layers of unflattering clothing. But is man repelling as accessible as Leandra Medine would have us believe? Or has she, cute as a button and boasting a wardrobe that comes, in her words, "entirely from Barneys and Topshop," been absorbed into the cultural zeitgeist despite otherwise insurmountable odds that render her message moot to the greater population?

I don't dress for men. Perhaps that's a victory. But I don't think I've quite evolved to the point of dressing entirely for myself, either. I'm still dressing for what I believe others believe to be my perception of myself (got that? All of it? Read it again. Yeah?). A blatant disregard for the traditional standards of beauty can mutate into its own set of neuroses. I'll explain with a parable of what I call "karaoke dread."

Awkward truth: I used to take voice lessons and think I wanted to be a musical theatre performer. Then I realized (spoiler!) I'm not really all that great at singing or acting. NBD. Over being a Broadway star and into being a writer. But what's funny is that rather than keep singing as a hobby (as opposed a career path), I now dread any situation where I might have to perform in front of an audience. Example: karaoke. Most people aren't "good at" karaoke. Karaoke isn't really about talent; it's about the tequila shots you take before your turn. But because I have a musical history, if you will, I'm petrified that people will think that I think I'm good at karaoke, like one of those delusional contestants on American Idol. (Or one of those delusional judges on American Idol.) The idea of someone doubting my ability to accurately gauge my lack of talent is more than I can handle. As Carrie Bradshaw says when asked to walk in a charity fashion show featuring "real people" as well as models, "I don't want people to think that I can't see the difference between a model and me."

Now apply the same principle to man repelling, which, for me, turned into a perverse mind game tied up in my body image. Having lost a significant amount of weight over the past two years, man repelling became a benchmark of having "made it" as an attractive person. The manufactured sexiness of my outfits took on an inverse relationship to what I believed to be my level of innate allure, and I began to feel an acute pride in my ability to wear things not specifically tailored to make me look skinnier. Hello, harem pants! I can wear you because I feel thinner than I did yesterday! or, on a rough morning, Oof, better opt for a sundress. Don't want to look like I think I'm attractive enough to wear something ridiculous today! My man-repelling clothes might have looked like a symbol of confidence, but really they were a symbol of the appearance of confidence; alarmingly fragile, shattered more readily by the judgement of myself than that of men, or even that of other women. There were so many dimensions at play it would put Never Say Never to shame.

Maybe I'm just outing myself as some kind of self-conscious buffoon, but my hope is that you can avoid falling the same rabbit hole I did when it comes to experimenting with fashion. For better or worse, taking crazy (and sometimes downright ugly) clothes and making them look cool has become part of my schtick. I don't always hit the mark, but when I do, there's nothing more satisfying. A few days ago, I wore an ankle-length high-waisted orange-and-white striped fruit-print skirt (for the record, there are more things wrong with that statement than there are hyphens in that statement) with a fur vest and turquoise jewelry. I raked in a ton of compliments on an outfit from which most sane people would have run the opposite way screaming. But more importantly, I felt truly and overwhelmingly myself. I wasn't wearing something insane because I felt the need to prove I could pull it off. I was wearing something insane because I loved it.

I still subconsciously view man-repelling outfits as more impressive than conventionally attractive ones. Part of that is just my taste: I've long been drawn to the interesting over the beautiful. Part is the degree of creativity involved, that age-old distinction between fashion and style. Anyone can buy a trendy dress, but it takes a truly stylish person to throw together a jaw-dropping outfit composed of sartorial underdogs. And part is that the society of man repellers still seems like a high-fashion club for some elite upper crust of attractive (or at least extraordinarily confident) people. You rarely wade in the man repelling pool. You dive in headfirst, and you sink or swim.

When it comes to fashion, I'll likely always be a risk enthusiast. But I think our reasons for taking risks are worth examining. Defying what's accepted can become just as imprisoning as embracing it if done to shock others rather than to make ourselves happy. This spring, when I don my bow ties and my mum-print capris, it'll be because I genuinely believe that a world without mum-print capris is no world for me. And if some tall, handsome gentleman can see beyond the nutty fashion façade...well, that's just icing on the cake.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Between a wedge and a wet place.

Gather your meemaw. Pack your fox fur. Fatten your pig.

The floods are coming.

I'm not big on dressing for the weather. I tend to weigh the time I'll suffer the wrath of the elements (typically about seven minutes, tops) against the long, luxurious hours to be spent peacocking around indoors and just hightail it to my destination severely underclothed. Pros: I walk faster than most golf carts can travel and my immune system rivals that of a cockroach. Cons: Hey, is that a rock in my shoe?/Nope, that would be the ground/I am perpetually wearing holes in the soles of my not-so-water-resistant footwear.

No more. I refuse to sacrifice another pair of leather boots to some bitch sidewalk that thinks it knows my life. Destruction don't come cheap, and nor does it complement my home pedicure. Having said that, don't expect to catch me splashing around in some polka-dot Target monstrosity. The time has come to invest in a pair of wellies that don't make me want to gouge out my eyes with a pair of six-inch YSL Tribute sandals.

Enter the weatherproof wedge boot.

Hunter has more or less asserted itself as the mainstream king of rainy day footwear, and I'm altogether smitten with the brand's Verbier model in slate. Where traditional Hunters can be a bit utilitarian for my taste, these are glossy and flirty, but still neutral enough to be worn with almost any ensemble. I love that the jaunty red laces add an on-trend splash of color. I also love that the boots come equipped with a neutral set of laces that can be swapped in for non-red letter days. We are all about balance here at La Vie en Ginger. Which is what you'll be doing a lot of in towering heels on slippery concrete.

On the other foot, we have two slightly more gravity-cooperative options from Loeffler Randall. These win points for their back zippers, designed for easier pants-tucking and more graceful rainy day stripteases (who says I don't shop with practicality in mind)? I'm drawn to the knee-high version...love me some ankle booties, but I question whether a shortie lace-up would hold up to torrential downpour and habitual puddle splashing. Rubber don't make it a rain boot, 'chu know? 'Chu know? Either pair comes in either color, which is yet another question to consider. Regardless, I delight in the fact that neither reduces the calves to cankley rubber stalks.

Call me Natalie Imbruglia, because I am torn. Jaunty versus striptease? Where would even one begin to make one's decision? Call me Sophie, because I have a choice to make! Just don't call me late for dinner!

Speaking of choices, yesterday was supposed to be the first day of my detox from the unchecked no-carb-left-behind spree that has been February 2011. Said detox lasted until 3pm, when I broke down and made banana bread (the brown bananas I've been hoarding in a paper bag for two weeks were finally perfect. Who am I to argue with nature?) and devoured half the loaf with butter and sea salt and possibly even a dollop (see, a dollop! So diet-friendly!) of Nutella. The good news: The banana bread was freakishly good and merits a recipe post in the near future. The bad news: What occurred when I tried to put on my pants this morning, aka the new first day of my detox.

Oh and I'm a redhead again, so if you see someone who looks like me but has a weird, unnatural version of my natural hair color, don't scream "ROBOT IMPOSTER!" and wrestle her to the ground. Unless she's wearing polka-dot Target rain boots. Then you have the green light.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Are you brave enough to let me see your peacock?

Hey! Hey guys, it's me! Your patron saint of practicality and poise, who wears shorts in negative temperatures and takes outfit photos in public restrooms!

(High-fashion cuticle scrutiny.)

(High-fashion pit check, complete with high-fashion ginger roots that can't be tamed/saved/blamed/changed/tamed.)

Celebrating New York fashion week with a vintage fur coat, Anthro cropped sweatshirt and Zara high-waisted pleated shorts. There's a reason I'm not your patron saint of dating.

I'd like to introduce you to a new friend.

His name is Henry.

He's...rather mesmerizing.

And almost as photogenic as I am.

As a devoted Potter fanatic, I've always had a sneaking suspicion that my patronus would be a peacock. Vain. Ostentatious. And a little bit too much. When I spotted this ring in Aldo Accessories a few weeks ago, I knew it needed a new home on my finger. Even if it meant forcing a harassed sales associate to dig through backstock to find a ring sized small enough to fit my freakish baby hands.

Whatever. I work retail. I know full well that downtime is the enemy. She was secretly thrilled.

Aldo also carries an eagle (for all you Philadelphia fans out there!) and a goldfish (for all you new Pisces out there! EH? EH?). I'm just happy the flash panic over the "new zodiac" has subsided, as no one affected is old enough to so much as bang out a dramatic Facebook status/we all know I would have stubbornly stayed a Taurus anyway. Speaking of Facebook, here's a current event I'm much more concerned with: did anyone else notice that Zuck and his minions have changed the "Remove from Friends" button? It now reads "Unfriend." EW. WHAT. WHY. EW. I've always said "Defriend." I feel like my creative liberties concerning Facebook terminology have been yanked out from under me, right along with unique interests and the little box under my photo (may it rest in peace). Salt, meet wound.

Now enjoy a "did-she-just-say-what-I-think-she-just-said?" jam from girlcrush K. Perr to start your Wednesday off on the right...feather. (Note: I had to remove the mp3 I had originally posted after receiving a scary copyright infringement e-mail from Blogger. Turns out K. Perr and her people are really on top of things. Sorry!)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oil slick.

I hated this year's spring fashion shows.

While last year's collections (whimsical Miu Miu! Minimalist Chloé! Refugee-glam Balmain! Not to mention Karl's überfemme farmyard circus for Chanel) inspired me to push through Ye Olde Dark Days of Midwestern North Facery and onward to greener pastures, this year's offerings have left me decidedly unmoved. Pops of color, whatever. Oriental details, fine. But are you aware of the monstrosity we are being expected to embrace as "the shade of the season"? Orange. Who looks good in orange? Jennifer Garner at the Oscars in 2008. Halle Berry in her Bond girl bikini. Probably Brigitte Bardot, because, I mean...duh.

That's it. Nobody else.

I intend to avoid controversy and/or becoming a social pariah this spring by burying myself in vintage (four years out of style? Unforgivable. Forty years out of style? Genius! So individual!), but I will cede that there are bright spots in the modern-day fashion forecast. Maxiskirts, for one. I'm smitten, particularly those rendered in floaty fabrics like pleated chiffon and silk crepe de chine. And then there are metallics. I've always found metallic accessories to be a little too South Beach-chic for my taste (or a little too South Bronx-chic, depending on the designer), but I must admit that the latest crop is slowly burning a sunspot into my heart. I'll probably never be a gal who buys flashy gold bags and strappy silver Manolos (Carrie Bradshaw obsession notwithstanding); rather, my proverbial dollar goes to shades of aquamarine and copper that bear less resemblance to Snooki's night-out attire than they do to the sidewalk after it rains.

Yarrr! It's the not-so-cursed "Black Pearl," Chanel's latest nail epidemic. While things are still hot and heavy between me and the ol' "Factory Gray", I suppose I could be persuaded to alternate between nails the color of wet cement and nails the color of a rare and precious sea gem. I'm loving the oily iridescence that makes its distinctive deep green base seem almost neutral.

I spent the morning getting paid to ogle department store handbags on a "comparative shopping trip" for my job as a resale buyer (rough life, I know. I got free coffee, too!), and this clutch by Halston Heritage was a major standout. The pictures hardly do justice to the complexity of the metallic. I just wanted to stand there and stare. And while we're on the subject of Halston (a brand headed by the real-life Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker) and things that are shiny, I wouldn't say no to this or this, either.

Metallics: not just for Lil Jon and the Macy's holiday windows. Who knew? Nobody, not one person.

And just because it seemed somewhat relevant to the petroleum-streaked samples above, I thought I'd throw in this editorial from Vogue Italia's September issue. It was met with mixed reviews from the fashion community - some thought the timing of the shoot was too soon/too real/too wait, is Kristen McMenamy really imitating a choking pelican? - but I thought it was beautiful and brilliant. I meant to do a post on fashion's ability to bring attention to current events at the time and got distracted. But even though it's a few months late, enjoy Steven Meisel's stunning and uncomfortable portrayal of last summer's Gulf crisis.