Sunday, November 29, 2009

This ain't no Neverland Ranch, but...

Little boys have a lot to offer us. Particularly in the wardrobe department. If you're a frequenter of department stores like Target and Wal-Mart (Fun fact: I am Wal-Mart royalty. My uncle is David Glass*, former company President/C.E.O.), make a pit stop in the kids' section for cheap thrills on perennial classics.

Button-downs. Perfectly slim-cut oxfords for under $20 a pop? Yes, please. Earlier today I scored two plaid flannels at Target for $12.99 apiece. That's as good as it gets outside of a thrift store, folks (and I'm going to go ahead and still award myself some indie points for shopping creatively). Bonus: these clothes are designed for males who are pre-gender identity crisis, so you're likely to find great colors like deep purple and salmon pink amidst the racks.

Undershirts. Three words. White. Ribbed. Tanks. Wear them with and under everything.

Blazers. One of my most-complimented wardrobe items is a navy blue little boys' suit jacket. That one actually did come from a thrift store, but the same look can be achieved via discount retail. Aim for one that closes across the chest but maintains that adorably shrunken silhouette in sleeve length; your slender wrist bedecked in a vintage watch, clunky chain or delicate bangle is what keeps the whole look feminine.

Khakis. Before you snicker - yes, they will be incredibly short - roll the cuffs a few times and pair them with a chic blouse, a skinny belt and a killer pair of heels. Still laughing?

No need to let your credit take the fall on these basics. These are tough times, dumplings. Brooks Brothers will still be there after the recession.

Have a swell Cyber Monday!

* That's right, I'm related to a man who once proclaimed in response to child labor accusations that since Asians are quite short, you can't always tell how old they are. WHAT. A. CHAMP.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I cannot text you with a drink in my hand.

No, you're not crazy: La Vie got a facelift. Do you dig it? Is it ruining your life? Holler at your girl.

So anyone who has spent a decent amount of time with me lately is all too aware that I am gaga for Gaga. I'm her biggest fan, I'll follow her until she loves know. The works.


After receiving her new EP a few days early from fellow gaga-roupie Tracey, I'm gonna go ahead and give it my stamp of embarrassingly-high-iTunes-play count approval. My current obsession is "Telephone" (not to be confused with "Videophone," Gaga's other, lesser duet with Beyoncé), a night-out anthem in the vein of "Poker Face" that showcases Gaga's vocal chops as well as her ability to jog my ass out of my computer chair. Other standouts include the 1980s-esque "Dance In The Dark," creepy electro-ballad "Monster," and a silly but catchy tune by the name of "Alejandro." I wasn't even going to mention "Bad Romance," which I'm assuming you already know is life-changing. But just in case:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Real life versus reel life: The insider scoop.

So let me preface this by saying: I have the best internship ever. Ever. I spend two days a week at a prominent fashion/lifestyle magazine in Chicago, and I couldn’t be more obsessed. “Oh, Emma, I’m so sorry,” they say, “We have another celebrity interview for you to transcribe today. Also, can you help staff a gala at the Museum of Contemporary Art Thursday night?” Sorry? You’re sorry? One man’s bitch work is another man’s jackpot. I’m sure I won’t always be this wide-eyed, but for now it’s all I could ask for. They even let me write stories for the mag (my first full-pager comes out next month). It might technically be an unpaid internship, but when you’re an aspiring freelance writer, published clips are your currency.

But how does life in the magazine industry stack up against one of my favorite fashion movies, The Devil Wears Prada? While our editor-in-chief is blonde and bubbly and so not Miranda Priestley (I’ve totally ridden the elevator with her before), not all onscreen portrayals are mythical. Here’s the juice on a few of the perks and perils of working on the other side of the printing press.

"Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking." Have you worn a backless leotard or shiny magenta leggings to work lately? True to form, fashion risks are encouraged here: the general aesthetic is casual but put-together. Concocting a worthy ensemble may be more time-consuming than shimmying into a blazer and a pressed white blouse (or skinny jeans and a North Face, for that matter), but I relish the excuse to experiment. So does my disproportionately large collection of stiletto heels.

"You do know that cellulite is one of the main ingredients in corn chowder." Here’s why people in fashion are so skinny: they’re embarrassed to eat in front of each other. Even an intern at a Midwest regional publication is not immune to caloric scrutiny. I was diving into a bag of cheddar-and-caramel popcorn for energy after a virtual all-nighter when a charmingly snarky editor from the men’s department passed behind me and muttered “Well that’s a healthy breakfast!” Wow. Wow. And I usually bring apples and yogurt, too. I half-expected him to start calling me “Six.”

"You are in desperate need of Chanel." While we don’t have a Runway-style fashion closet, freebies do pop up every now and then. I’ve snagged a couple of beauty products and a pair of designer socks just by being in the right place at the right time (and seen some stunning Neiman Marcus samples pass by on the racks).

"I have Patrick!" Celebrity encounters: inevitable. I didn’t think I could top the day Clinton Kelly (of What Not To Wear) gestured at my outfit and howled “What is this? I love this!” at Northwestern’s Homecoming parade my freshman year. Then Michael Kors told me I looked chic. I’m pretty sure the existence of this blog was just legitimized.

"I’m sorry, do you have some prior commitment? Some hideous skirt convention you have to go to?" Camaraderie among the interns is significantly higher than that of personal assistants Andrea and Emily. The girl who shares my station is almost too polite. She asks for my permission every time she wants to use the phone. Um, yes? Actually, maybe I only think there’s camaraderie because I’m the Emily. Whoops.

"Please bore someone else with your questions." Complete and utter falsehood. My boss actually asks me if I want Starbucks when she runs out. I would be naïve to believe that I’ll always be working under such supportive people, but I’m going to go ahead and enjoy my good luck for now. I might sort editorial mail, but I’m not chasing down unpublished Twilight manuscripts.

"A million girls would kill for this job." Okay, okay. I don’t get paid. But I do get to write for one of the largest city audiences in the country. Probably the harshest reality of writing for a magazine is the vicious editing that goes on between the drafts I send in and the published products: one of my articles was so drastically altered, I was shocked I still had a byline. When you write for a blog, it’s all you. When you write for a magazine, it’s all them. The final product usually still turns out to be quality - maybe better than what you had in the first place - but it can be frustrating to watch your voice disappear.

Anyway. If there’s one thing this internship has confirmed, it’s that I appear to be on the right track. This is just the beginning of what I hope will be a long and colorful career in this (supposedly dying?) industry. Will working for a national magazine be closer to what we see in theaters? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


In fifth grade, my favorite outfit was as follows: a lime green crushed velvet boatneck worn with leopard-print pants (both from Limited Too, duh) and a cropped leather jacket.

Today, at age 20, I am at this moment drooling over: a midnight blue crushed velvet bodycon dress worn with a leopard-print silk scarf (both from Topshop, duh) and a cropped leather jacket.

That's right, bitches. Velvet is back, and with none of the prissiness it had in the '90s. You can thank Balmain's Christophe Decarnin (the man who singlehandedly revived the shoulder pad) for its new incarnation: curve-hugging bodycon dresses made for nights out in Arctic conditions.


Controversial fabric aside - I adore velvet, personally, but I understand if you've filed it away with platform Skechers and popcorn shirts - let's talk about the cut. While bodycon dressing does require a degree of general fitness and proportionality, a slim-cut silhouette is far less intimidating than you might imagine. There may not be much of a margin for poochiness, but there's also no extra bulk added by the fabric, so if you've got confidence (and a reasonably flat stomach) there's no reason you can't pull it off. Long sleeves and a short hemline mean that allure needn't come at the cost of warmth; your gams will be just as catcall-worthy under a pair of black tights (choose sheer, not opaque, for maximum exposure).


If velvet's not your scene, epaulets provide an equally up-to-the-minute embellishment. They're like the Kate Bosworth of shoulder pads: kind of frail and spindly, but not unattractive. Am I right? Am I right?

Whatever. Both dresses make me want to sit in a swanky city bar and sip amaretto hot chocolate as I watch snow fall through a picture window. Now if only I had a Nate Archibald (or a Trip Vanderbilt) to keep my Serena van der Woodsen company...

Monday, November 16, 2009

From Russia with love.



So. Here's the story:

a) The photograph is courtesy of French fashionista Garance Doré, whose self-titled blog is always brimming with charm and inspiration. Her boyfriend is street-style photographer Scott Schuman. Perhaps you know him as "The Sartorialist." Yes, really.

b) PETA might come after me with paint cans (I'm one of those morally confused vegetarians who's involved in a torrid love affair with leather), but I would slap a fur trapper onto the list of Winter '10 essentials. These czarina-worthy chapeaux add a rich, cozy touch to otherwise austere outerwear. Whether yours is made of mink or, uh, synthetic materials, stick to satin lining for minimal hat hair. A subtle silvery sheen renders this look its most modern. Earflaps? Up to you.

c) Dear Girl In Picture, if you happen to stumble across this blog, please send me the name of the person who does your hair. Sincerely, Emma Aubry. P.S. Love the black and navy. Not sarcasm. Actually my favorite color combination since seafoam and silver.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Leather or not.

Forget easily snagged knits and fingerless gloves (the most useless invention since motorized mascara). This year's outerwear is a leather lover's paradise, and it's not all bikers and bondage, either. Punchy colors and ladylike accents such as bows and shirring make leather accessible to even the girliest of girls.





These four pairs are from Dents, an English brand available through ASOS, but variations on the basic leather driving glove can be found everywhere from Target to Banana Republic. This winter, hide your manicure in a sleeve that's a little bit tasteful, a little bit tough. Who says your circulation has to suffer for fashion?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ridin' flirty.

The perfect pair of flat boots has long been the linchpin to a complete winter wardrobe. Neutral colors like black, brown and gray match everything in your closet, justifying the investment, while metal details such as buckles and studs cater to your personal style.




I've been on the lookout for a new pair ever since my chocolate leather riding boots (purchased, irreplaceably, in Italy) bit the dust (for the sixth time...replacing a zipper is one thing, replacing a sole is another). These Frye clover-tab stompers are the first I've truly fallen in love with. Wear them with yesterday's sweater, skinny jeans and a colorful pashmina for a posh holiday shopping outfit that won't drown you in your own sweat the moment you step out of the chill and into a cozy department store.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My favorite kind of mafia.

Here's a true story: I just threw back my head, moaned, and screamed (much to the alarm of my roommate, Danielle) "I just want cashmere so badly right now!"

Chicago is in the midst of a rare and precious Indian summer, but all I can think about is snow. I've had Pandora's "Jazz Holidays" on rotation for a solid month now (seriously, isn't Danielle a lucky girl?), as if I could force winter weather to arrive through sheer willpower. We've had our share of cold - that record-breaking month of freezing rain won't soon be forgotten, not by my sad Sue London ballet flats that were purchased in September and are already in pieces - but I've always felt that where chilly and wet are concerned, snow trumps rain by a long shot. I think it stems back to childhood associations. Snow meant no school and hot cocoa with marshmallows. Rain meant a bad hair day.

But guys. It's coming. Bone-rattling gusts off Lake Michigan and literal feet of frozen goodness will be here before you know it, so don't let them catch you unawares. Begin rounding up the essentials now. La Vie en Ginger presents Winter Weather Week, kicked off with an item so classic your mother might have one in her closet (but don't hold that against me):




I would swap a kidney for a pile of J. Crew cashmere tees right now. I'm actually only half-kidding. Nothing feels better against dry skin than cashmere (not that there's any excuse for dry skin...I've got a great tag-team moisturizing regimen that I'll elaborate on some other time); nothing layers better over a white t-shirt. This is the single most versatile item of clothing to have in a winter wardrobe, other than perhaps a well-cut pair of jeans. But that's hardly seasonal.

Don't be fooled by your own thriftiness. Cashmere does come in grades, and a cheap cashmere blend is likely to pill after only a few wears (like two heads, two-ply is better than one). Pay close mind to the drape and feel of your cashmere: it should feel luxurious, but anything too soft (read: thick with surface fuzz) is a fickle friend. Neckline is a matter of personal preference. V-necks are flattering - they elongate neck and body lines - but a boyish crew-cut is trendier (and more conducive to a toasty sternum). Shivering, goosebumped décolletage is never sexy. Trust me, pals. I've done the research.

Friday, November 6, 2009

You've got a really nice profile.

Facebook. A hotbed for judgment. The "Don't"s are easy enough to figure out: nobody wants to be the guy with the emo status updates every fifteen minutes; nobody wants to be the girl who posts (or worse, tags) a zillion Photobooth glamour shots of questionable attractiveness. Nobody wants to be caught with a band in their Favorite Music section that other people have heard of. Certain rules of social networking go without saying.

But what about the "Do"s? How do you send a message to your friends (and that rando you sat by in high school math class) that you are witty, pretty, and gritty enough to warrant their attention? I'll tell you this: the runway ain't the only place trends are born. Arm yourself against the disgrace of being caught with last season's profile. Consider this your Bible to handling your digital self with aplomb.

General Notes: Capitalization is a personal choice; proper punctuation is not. If you want to be Facebook trendy, you should probably avoid ending sentences with anything other than a period. One exclamation point? Reserved for extreme situations. Multiple exclamation points? The kiss of death. Also treacherous: hearts, emoticons and anything cutesy. You, may, however, make ironic use of ~*~aStEriSkS aNd TiLdEs~*~ when it is clear you are mocking people who use these symbols in earnest.

Profile Picture: Sure, it's tempting to slap up a photo of you rocking the Skinny Arm and a cleavage-baring top. But the true Facebook champs are all about the candid (or "candid") shot. Three points if you're not looking at the camera; five points if your hair is in front of your face; ten points for a jutting collarbone. Bad lighting is also crucial. A glass of wine is the only appropriate alcoholic beverage for a profile picture, and even then, holding it must never look like a conscious decision. If you're going to have people other than you in your photo, make sure they look good (but not better than you). If you must display the poster for a show or Greek philanthropy, delete it from your album immediately after it's over.

Status: Only when necessary, only when promoting something, only when so side-splittingly hilarious that it must be shared with all of your "friends." Never betraying actual emotion. Never when detailing the mundanities of your day. Never about the weather (we know).

That Awkward Little Box Under Your Photo: The hippest of the hip leave it empty. The next-hippest write either a quote, song lyric or inside joke that is incomprehensible to the greater population because it is a) uncredited to the original author/speaker or b) in another language.

Basic Information: Less is more: include only your birthday and hometown, if possible (but if you're a boy and don't list anything under Interested In, don't be surprised when people assume you're gay, particularly if your political views are "Very Liberal"). Under no circumstances is "Random Play" an acceptable response to Looking For. When it comes to Political and Religious Views, think carefully about the kind of image you want to project to the world. Post your real ones if you must (though people who care will know them anyway), but be prepared to look like an asshole if you list something like "Baby Pandas" or a YouTube link to "Single Ladies."

Personal Information: This is your time to shine on an otherwise minimalist page. To take full advantage, list only that which is unique to you, particularly in the Interests section. Here are two examples of appropriately trendy Facebook profiles, reproduced with the permission of their owners:


Clean. Clever. Indie. Intelligent. This girl has piqued your interest without giving too much of herself away. This next approach, on the other hand, leaves a bit less to the imagination:


I don't generally endorse Facebooks that can't be contained by a screenshot, but this one is well-written enough to warrant an exception. If you're going to make us read all of that, it had better be damn good. If you have more than ten Favorite Movies/Books/TV Shows listed, you need to consider the meaning of the word "favorite." If your Quotes section is a collection of motivational clichés, you need to consider a career with Chicken Soup for the Soul.

The trickiest part of Personal Information is About Me. Perfection comes in the one-sentence form, ideally a song lyric that happens to also describe you perfectly ("Lady in the street, but a freak in the bed" springs to mind). Don't write anything that can already be found elsewhere on your profile.

Wall Posts: Northwestern Facebook celebrity Tyler Baranski weighs in on Wall etiquette: "Stop posting 'We MUST hang out soon! HAPPENING.' on Walls. Guess what: you two aren't already hanging out for a reason." Ouch. "Make your Wall posts concise and witty and people will love you," he continues. "Over three sentences? That's probably a message. Nobody wants to read anything just between two people; Walls are for entertainment purposes only. As for the videos? Think real hard if you want everyone to see that." This from the mouth of a pro, ladies and gents.

Baranski's off-the-Wall pet peeves? "Mass inviting people to your group/event that lets us know you've lost your phone. First off, you never had my number in the first place, and I'm not about to post it on a Wall. Secondly, if I'm not important enough to ask in person, you don't really want my number anyway, so let's save me the headache of clicking 'Ignore'," (Isn't he a delightful little fountain of sass?). I'm a bit more lenient when it comes to these; I've been in that situation, and I think an event is an acceptable way to collect the essential phone numbers (a group, however, is a no-no). Invites should be delivered with care, no matter how easy it is to press "Select All." Ditto for groups, events and pages in general. And don't invite me again if I say no.

As for Work Info, Contact Info, Groups, etc., be discerning. Less. Is. More. That's all.

Facebook trends, much like runway trends, can be absorbed or rejected; crafting your Facebook in a way that speaks to your chosen persona is certainly your prerogative. Just be aware that a public forum like Facebook is a way by which people come to "know" you, especially people who don't interact with you a great deal in real life. Your Facebook is the digital equivalent of your wardrobe: armor through which those around you view the self you choose to project day-to-day. If this makes you uncomfortable (and maybe it should), leave it bare. Force people to get to know you in person. If you're up for the challenge of letting them see enough of you that they want to see more...Godspeed, and happy Facebooking.