Sunday, December 19, 2010

The scent of pining.

The way I see it, we have two options:

a) We can pretend like all I want for Christmas is world peace, or

b) We can collectively swoon over the pretty things on my wish list.

Which sounds like more fun to you?

The Scent of Pining

Clockwise from top left:

Michael Kors Bel Aire Chronograph watch. The nontraditional femininity of rose gold juxtaposed against the classic, masculine shape of this watch makes it an absolute must. I've always considered a two-tone Rolex oyster watch to be my ultimate "I've made it" purchase, but until the day arrives that I can drop a year's worth of rent on a piece of jewelry without batting a Dior-lacquered eyelash, I'd be thrilled to have this madam-gone-military timepiece on my wrist.

Wolford Velvet de Luxe 66 opaque tights. The idea of spending $45 on tights still makes my head spin, but I have it on good authority that Wolfords are worth every penny. Shockingly, my father (who is wont to roll his eyes at my love of everything unnecessarily expensive) didn't laugh in my face when I half-jokingly threw these on my list this year. I'll keep my fingers crossed for a Christmas miracle.

Prada "Prada" perfume. Every perfume I've ever worn with any longevity has been some combination of orange and spice, be it the Demeter "Orange Cream Pop" I donned back in middle school, the Betsey Johnson tangerine/amber concoction I graduated to next, the bitter orange/cinnamon/vanilla blend of "L de Lolita Lempicka" that saw me through the better part of college or the YSL "Opium" I've been wearing since I "borrowed" it from the SELF beauty closet in July. Prada's original scent is the grown-up incarnation of my preferred citrus-Oriental flavor, with Bergamot and orange oils creating a power play in the forefront while undertones of vanilla, patchouli, sandalwood and musk awaken a baser human sensuality beneath.

(Did I fool you? Do you think I know anything whatsoever about perfume? This shit smells good; you should try it sometime.)

3.1 Phillip Lim printed silk bralette and boyshorts. Forgot the usual implications of lingerie. All I desire of this watercolor floral set is that it provide a much-needed pick-me-up from the bitter wasteland that will be raging outside my window for the next six months. (P.S. If you haven't, check out the interview I did with Phillip for CS magazine last spring. He's a gem.)

Farouk CHI 1" ceramic flat iron. The Holy Grail of hair straighteners. I try to give my battered strands a rest from heat styling when I can, but if I'm going to subject them to frying on a semi-regular basis, I might as well use the best damn destruction tools available.

Miu Miu booties. I'll keep this brief: these are my dream shoes, and I would do despicable things to get my hands on them.

Nespresso machine. While I did ask Santa for a coffee maker, it's unlikely that the extremely highbrow Nespresso will be making a cameo in my kitchen any time soon. I'll settle for a French press and some World Market Texas Turtle blend for now, but I eagerly await the day when I can steam my own lattes using the most unapologetically snobbish appliance on the market. I'm fairly confident that with the money I'd save on Starbucks/Peet's/Panera (shut up, I love Panera coffee. I'm crazelnut for hazelnut. Don't judge), it would pay for itself in about three weeks.

Saint James sweater. Breton stripes made my top ten list of wardrobe musts back in April, but I'd trade my whole stack of H&M cotton tees for just one of these perfect sweaters. Saint James is the originator of the Breton stripe (or at least its most famous producer), and I adore the coquettish buttons, low-maintenance crewneck and perfect ecru/navy combination of this particular style.

Have you had the good fortune to get your hands on any of the above? What's on your holiday wish list this year?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Deck the halls with hearts and cupcakes.

The holidays have a way of amplifying whatever you're feeling by about a hundredfold. That's all well and good if you're happy and in love, but if your season is shaping up to bring more silent nights than joy to the world, it's easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer, magnanimous euphoria of it all. Some grow embittered by the bastardization of a religious holiday into a commercially-driven circus. Personally, I adore Christmas and the entire season leading up to it. The year's first holiday Starbucks cup brings a tear to my eye. I pull out my Hanson Christmas album (wait, there must be something wrong with my keyboard...I don't own that) the day after Halloween. I do, in fact, own a sparkly Santa hat. Fine, the *NSYNC Christmas album, too.

I'm a little sad, however, to be spending this December away from my family. I grew up in two households that take Christmas extremely seriously. We have more traditions than we can even remember to complete each year. I'll be home a few days before Christmas, so I won't miss out on the best ones: driving around to admire neighborhood lights on Christmas Eve; enjoying treats like cinnamon twists, eggs benedict and our chocolate Yule log cake/giant HoHo known as the "HoHoHo" on Christmas morning; sleeping in the same bed with my three siblings on Santa's big night (to facilitate our 6am wake-up call) (okay, that last one doesn't happen anymore). But without my mom's angel collection and my dad's holiday 3D glasses, I can't help but worry that the next few weeks are going to feel a little flat.

Which is why I have taken the liberty of erecting The Girliest Tree Ever To Exist Anywhere atop my space heater nightstand.

Why yes, that is a glittery fake tree trimmed with glittery hearts and glittery cupcakes standing next to a glittery snow family! Casual. Practical. Delightful. My hat/scarf/purse stand also got a holiday makeover, in the form of a bedazzled tree-topper.

By the way, if the wide shot above piqued your interest, this is how I display what I affectionately refer to as my "varsity jewelry":

Brings a whole new meaning to the term "cocktail ring," no? My makeup brushes are stashed in a wine glass. I'm aiming for a full bar someday.

This holiday season, do what you need to do to feel joy. Maybe that means one-stop shopping on Amazon instead of putting yourself through the trauma of mall parking. Maybe it means letting yourself gain a little bit of cookie weight. Maybe it means watching A Christmas Story for the eighty-seventh time (really just the best Christmas movie on the planet). Maybe it means swallowing your pride, smothering your fierce independence and surrounding yourself with people who love you. Maybe it means a putting up a sparkly tree on your space heater. And if all else fails, maybe this little guy can lend a hand.

Whatever the solution, seek out your holiday style and find a way to sing auld lang syne. After's the most wonderful time of the year.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Turtle-y enough for the Turtle Club.

The inverse relationship between form and function is well-documented when it comes to clothes. Are my flannel pajamas and shearling moccasins the most deliciously cozy items to ever adorn my person? Probs. Am I going to be successful/generally perceived as attractive if I wear them around on the daily? Doubtful. It's unfortunate, but unavoidable: stilettos will always trump slippers in the game of life (which is why I bought two pairs of stilettos today. Leopard-print calf hair pumps and gray suede ankle booties. Casual bankruptcy, don't worry about it).

You may or may not have realized, however, that a similar pattern arises with desserts. Close your eyes and conjure up a memory of the best cookie you ever ate. Is it a perfectly formed, wafer-thin, painstakingly embellished tea cookie? Also doubtful. The best cookies are the homely ones: the monster mounds of butter and sugar and oats and nuts and gooey baking morsels in your flavor of choice; the ones that look more like turds than like tulips. Cupcakes more readily lend themselves to kitsch, but even they require you to stay en garde (spoiler alert! Fondant flowers are not as tasty as buttercream rosettes). I generally find that the tastier the dessert, the uglier the presentation. It's fine. I'm over it. I'm willing to occasionally sacrifice my sense of sight for my sense of taste.

Imagine my delight, however, to discover a recipe that manages to straddle the line between "cookies to look at" and "cookies to devour until you can no longer zip up your J. Brand jeans." These turtle thumbprints nail the hearty texture of an ugly cookie with all the charm of a lemon wreath or almond sand dollar. These cookies are winners. You might, in fact, say that all they do is win. Feel like winning today? Set out a stick of butter. Take a preemptive spin on the elliptical. And prepare yourself for several hours of assembling:

Turtle Thumbprints

After making my daily blog rounds in search of a dessert that would satiate my pregnancy-caliber chocolate cravings (reasons I should never have children), I decided on these because a) they're so darn cute and b) I had all of the ingredients in my kitchen. Yep, I've become the kind of person who has things like heavy cream and semi-sweet baking chips on hand pre-grocery run. Sign me up for the nunnery. Anyway, I'm not gonna lie: these are labor-intensive. But if I, former domestic rogue and relative kitchen novice, can turn them out à la the above photos, so can you. Recipe adapted from Baked Bree.

1 egg
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 caramels
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/4 finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. Separate the egg. Reserve both parts (the yolk you'll use now, but the white you won't need until later).
2. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk, milk and vanilla. Combine the cocoa, flour and salt in a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just combined. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for two hours.
3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is heating, roll the dough into balls about one inch in diameter. Whip the reserved egg white until foamy. Roll the dough balls in the egg whites, then in the chopped pecans (I had a nice little system going where one hand dealt with the egg white and the other hand dealt with the pecans. Kept my whites from getting chunky and my nuts from getting eggy. Highly recommend it). Place the balls about an inch and a half apart on a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Using your thumb, press to form a well in each cookie. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until cookies have set (I always figure it's better to underbake than to overbake and burn, so I went for the lesser cook time).
4. While the cookies are baking, place the caramels and cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until fully melted. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack (slip a sheet of waxed paper underneath to facilitate clean-up) and fill immediately with caramel.
5. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in the same 30-second intervals. Add the oil. Drizzle over cookies using a fork or a pastry bag (do
not try to use a regular Ziploc bag with molten chocolate. It will burst. Fortunately, I didn't make this mistake because I'm really good at Googling, and because I also have pastry bags in my pantry. FML). Makes about two dozen cookies.

Apparently they freeze like a dream, so grab a few to enjoy with your afternoon tea and pop the rest in the freezer for the next time an epic chocolate craving strikes. Or, if you lack self-control, Cady Heron that shit and dutifully tote them along to work to fatten up your co-workers (total frenemy move. Jaykay, guys!). Or bring them as a really impressive housewarming gift to your next holiday party. The possibilities are endless!!!!!11!!!11

P.S. Decided to keep the blog title as is. I may not currently be a redhead, but I will always be a ginger.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Fake it 'til you make it.

I have an exceptionally low tolerance for things that are fake. Fake people, fake Christmas trees, fake designer handbags, fake orgasms (don't be a quitter. You're only cheating yourself), fake conversations. You get the picture. With the exception of faux fur and the occasional diet Coke, I pride myself on only engaging in those pleasures in life that are 100% gin-u-wine.

Then, at an undisclosed point in the past week, my blog's title became wildly inaccurate.

And I joined the mighty legions of the bottle brunettes.

I know my ginger locks were rare and supposedly enviable. But they had been rare and enviable for upward of 21 years when I finally decided to do what I've been talking about since my junior year of high school and sample life as a sultry brownie. I've gotta say, guys: I don't know if I can ever go back. Ginger prejudice is real, y'all, and I didn't even know it until I was no longer on the receiving end. Strangers understand my sarcastic jokes better now that I'm a brunette. I get hit on less (in a good way). I no longer have to subconsciously match my clothes to my hair. This is the Em Aub Rob you're looking at for the foreseeable future, so you had better get used to it.

So here's the pressing issue: what shall I re-christen my blog?! La Vie en Chestnut? La Vie en Cinnamon? La Vie en Ginger[bread]? Sound off in the comments, please! I'm desperate for suggestions from minds more clever than my own.

Yesterday's Thanksgiving came hot on the heels of one hell of a fall. The past few months have tested me in ways I never imagined possible, but they have also taught me more about priorities and friendship and the strength of my own character than I could have hoped to glean from less trying times. As I sat down to consider my many blessings yesterday - family, friends, this vintage Ferragamo sweater I snapped up for less than the price of a Whole Foods grocery run - I was reminded to be thankful for the eternal possibility of change. Be it a new hair color, a paradigm shift or simply a switch in your daily coffee order, sometimes a new you can help you feel more like your old self than ever. And like all the best things in life, it doesn't cost a penny.

Sweater: Salvatore Ferragamo.
Dress: I Love H81.
Tights: L'Eggs.
Shoes: Zara.
Headband: Aldo.
Earrings: H&M.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Find your center.

OMFG WHAT I HAVE A BLOG?! Yeah, sorry about that. High time I stopped living my life and got back to writing about it instead. Rude of me. Won't happen again.

Today I felt like Moses. Wanna know why?

Because I parted the red sea. Right. Down. The middle (that last part was meant to be said in a Lindsay-Lohan-circa-Parent-Trap voice, obvs. 4:40. Warning: You may be tempted to stop whatever you're doing to re-watch this entire movie and weep for Lindsay's career trajectory/general life choices. I support this decision).

People are quick to pin the blame for middle parts on Gossip Girl, but for me, the clincher was The City (New York, what do you have to say for yourself?). Serena van der Woodsen's bouncy golden locks may have lit the spark, but Whitney Port's long, face-framing waves escalated it to SoCal forest fire levels (let the record show that I am making this insensitive pun at a time when there are no actual forest fires in Southern California).

Whit wasn't the only City cast member to make me swoon over symmetry.

I'm a tad bit obsessed with The Liv. Her whole entitled-uptown-bitch act totally makes me hard in a girl-crushin', wanna-be-ya kind of way (not that I would ever speak to any senior co-worker the way she does to Erin Kaplan. Or any subordinate co-worker, for that matter. Oh, hi future employers!). What can I say? I'm gay for a fierce strut and a well-honed bitchface. Olivia may be utterly useless in her fake job at Elle, but her hair is certainly fodder for some maj middle part inspiration. Or at least the purchase of a wide-barreled curling iron. Excuse me, I have to go practice my jaw clench in the mirror now.

For anyone who, like me, struggles with a widow's peak and an obnoxious cowlick that makes it all but impossible to make bangs lie flat, the middle part is a godsend. There's no better way to instantly smooth a rebellious hairline. I'm also way into the boho '70s thing right now, which pairs perfectly with a center part and long, loose waves (see: Hudson, Kate).

The catch? While a side part draws attention to your eyes, a middle part brings the focus right. Down. The middle (to your nose). Not something I'm particularly excited about. Not something many of us are particularly excited about, I would imagine. Even if you don't have a well-seasoned beef with your schnozz, it's likely that, if given the choice, you'd sooner showcase your peepers. A strong brow and some liquid liner can help offset the effects, but it's hard to commit to starting off your beauty regime climbing uphill.

So do we sacrifice the close-up for the sake of the overall silhouette? Unless you're a rare beauty with a tiny, perfect sniffer, it would seem these are our options. Exhibit Z bearing witness to why life just isn't fair. If if makes you feel any better, it wasn't any more fair at the birth of Venus, either.

Really, Botticelli? Goddess of beauty? Even the mighty Aphrodite is struggling to pull off this look, so don't be disheartened if your mortal strands aren't up to the task. Think of it as a system of checks and balances put into place so that your beauty doesn't become too overpowering. Or something. Then choose wisely as to which days you're willing to sacrifice your face for your hair. And if you're Olivia Palermo, just keep doin' whatchu do.

Monday, September 27, 2010


My diet is about as Mediterranean as they come. On any given day, a survey of my fridge is likely to include Greek yogurt, feta cheese, olives, pita bread, Roman tuna salad, stuffed grape leaves and, most importantly, a wide array of hummus. Sun-dried tomato hummus? Check. Spinach and artichoke hummus? Check. Man-repelling garlic lovers' hummus? Unfortunate check. My hummus addiction is a running joke amongst my friends and roommates, due largely to the dip's inclusion as #112 on the all-too-real Stuff White People Like. This hummus fever came to a head in June, when I attended - wait for it - a hummus release party for my internship. Literally an event designed to celebrate chickpea puree. There was a string quartet and free-flowing white wine and many, many WASPs in business casual attire. It was the whitest thing I have ever been a part of, and I have been to several Northwestern sporting events.

As a former member of the James Madison High School step team (yep) (that happened) (ah, memories), I can no longer allow the tantalizing draw of tahini to interfere with my street cred. Pro-chickpea though I am, I have been known to cheat on my beloved with that other notoriously faux-healthy (well, healthy in small doses), quasi-ethnic dipping sauce: guacamole. Guac can serve as a respectable replacement in both dressing up boring veggies and adding satiety to empty carbohydrate calories. But how to reconcile this new dietary direction with my need to ensure that my veins are pumping at least 50% olive oil at all times?

Holy Greekamole!

(Not as photogenic as the cake truffles.)

1 avocado, halved
1/4 cup fresh tomato, seeded and diced
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
5 kalamata olives, pitted and diced
5 large pepperoncini, seeded and diced (these are kind of emotional, so have a sharp knife at the ready)
Half a lemon

1. Mash avocado in a bowl with a fork.
2. Add tomato, onion, olives and pepperoncini.
3. Squeeze the lemon over top (very important! Keeps the avocado from browning too quickly) and season with salt and pepper to taste (but remember that olives are salty/pepperoncini are spicy and restrain yourself accordingly). Makes about 3-4 servings. Double the recipe for a trendy fusion party snack.

Opa! Olé! Eyeball the mix-ins and alter the amounts to suit your preference. My recipe makes for a very chunky, tomato-and-onion-heavy guacamole, which I prefer both for texture's sake and to limit the healthy fat in the avocado per serving. I enjoyed a scoop over romaine for lunch today, with a generous sprinkle of feta on top (I considered adding feta to the guac itself, but was worried about how it would keep).

But don't forget the best part of the salad:

Mmm! Tiny, tasty ladybugs in my lettuce leaves. Thanks for that one, Whole Foods. At least I can say with 100% certainty that that romaine was pesticide-free.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Orange you glad it's fall?

Okay. I get it. You're sick of my nude bandage booties. I have heard your cries, and I have responded by purchasing:

A practical pair of knee-high orange suede moccasins. One of the perks of working at a resale store? First dibs on every outrageously cool item that rolls through the door (plus a discount on prices that are already way below sea level).

The neutral parade from last spring and summer marches on, as does my infatuation with henleys. It's like Animal Farm up in here: yes buttons good, no buttons bad. The chiffon side stripe and neck trim on this one had me at hello. Also, bike shorts are a thing now, but I'd recommend performing my leggings test before wearing them out of the house. I was going to say "taking them out for a spin," but here, the opposite is true; if you don't pass the leggings test, you should only take bike shorts out for a literal spin. As in spin class.

I prefer to spice up a blandly hued ensemble with some kind of a statement in the accessories department, be it a pair of out-there footwear or a tangle of bangles. In this case, I went for both. No watch (shocker!), but I did include a "coins of the world" bracelet that functions about the same as wearing jingle bells. No surprise tickle attacks for me.

Shirt: Jpark.
Shorts: Sketchy whore store in Astoria, Queens.
Boots: Minnetonka.
Earrings, rings, cuff and bracelets: Gifted or inherited.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Modeling debut.

This one time, at band camp/in the Condé Nast digital studios, I didn't have to set my camera timer and sprint into a cheesecakey pose. There was a real live photographer. And a makeup artist hired to make me look like I was wearing no makeup.


I think I look particularly fetching with a Carrie Underwood flip and bright orange lipstick. But hey, that's just me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Light coverage.

I feel like Taio Cruz and I would really hit it off, because I, too, throw my hands up in the air sometimes.

Presumably unlike Taio, I also attack my hair with craft scissors sometimes. I think my bangs look better a little shorter than most professional hairdressers are willing to believe, so I do minor touch-ups on my own. Fortunately, this trim went largely according to plan.

Leopard ring with a zebra shirt. Mixed animal prints is one of my favorite runway takeaways of the past year or so. The texture on this tank also makes the fact that it's basically see-through far less intimidating.

I already sang the praises of sheers in my Wang sweatshirt diatribe, and I think this outfit evidences my theory that semi-transparency is an excellent trend for those of us in the shapely-but-not-skinny club. If you disagree, I'm sorry to have offended your eyes. I also apologize for my highly primitive decor at the moment; I just moved into a new apartment a few days ago and furniture is about as far as I've gotten. Stay tuned for the surely epic transformation.

Shirt: Rock Revolution.
Bra: Jezebel.
Leggings: American Apparel.
Shoes: Deena & Ozzy.
Watch: Timex.
Ring: Street vendor in Astoria, Queens.
Earrings and necklace: Inherited.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kitchens aren't just for making messes.

I've always relished being a sort of anti-domestic diva. I blame Sex and the City. There's a charm to the way Carrie Bradshaw squeals, "I keep sweaters in my stove!" (on second thought, what? That bitch has a closet the size of Texas) that I assumed would carry over to my crippling inability to so much as microwave popcorn. I approached my culinary ineptitude with as much conviction as I could muster, happily spouting tales of botched grilled cheeses and refusing to pay serious attention when I was forced to help out in the kitchen at home.

Well, turns out there's something more charming than keeping sweaters in your stove: being able to whip up delicious food for yourself and others. It was like a switch flipped overnight. I woke up one morning this summer and decided I felt like scrambled eggs for breakfast. I eHow-ed "how to cook scrambled eggs." I threw in some feta and rosemary. Surprisingly tasty! And ready in minutes! I felt invincible. The world was my oyster. Hate oysters. The world was my cupcake. I made myself pancakes for dinner that night (breakfast foods are a gateway drug). I was hooked.

Since I'm incapable of doing anything halfway, I've since expanded my repertoire to include everything from starters to salads to sweets. I'm a much better dessert chef than savory chef - I do better with the precision of baking than the more instinctual nature of cooking - but all things considered, my kitchen experimentation has been pretty darn successful (and thoroughly enjoyable to boot). I get much more excited about quirky flavor combos and aesthetically pleasing pastries than I do about honing a gourmet-level palate, so don't expect anything too refined, but I thought it might be fun to start posting a few La Vie en Recipes for my non-lethal creations.

Matchmaker Truffles (Where Cake Meets Candy)

Warning: These are incredibly rich. They're almost too much for me, and I have, like, the sweetest sweet tooth that ever sweeted. Enjoy in small doses.

1 box cake mix (any flavor) and whatever ingredients it calls for (usually oil and eggs)
1 jar store-bought frosting (again, flavor of your choice)
1 package semisweet baking morsels or confectioner's coating

1. Bake cake as directed. Allow to cool for 30 minutes.
2. Crumble warm cake into a large mixing bowl, being sure to discard any well-done edges. Mash in jar of frosting. Mix until consistent (you can use a hand mixer or go old-school with a fork). Cover and refrigerate cake/frosting "dough" for at least three hours (or overnight).
3. Roll into bite-size balls, handling as quickly as possible. Freeze for at least an hour.
4. Melt semisweet baking morsels or confectioner's coating on stove or in microwave (see package or Google for directions). Using a toothpick, roll balls in molten coating for as short a time as possible (while still covering completely) and place on wax paper. Sprinkle immediately (one by one), as coating will harden fast. Makes about six dozen. Store in freezer.

Mine are funfetti cake with vanilla frosting and they are wickedly scrumptious little sugar bombs. Next up: red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting in white chocolate. I've also caught wind of an alcoholic version that substitutes Bailey's Irish Cream for frosting. That might have to happen for this year's holiday parties. Just saying.

Your melted chocolate or confectioner's coating will start to get pretty gross after about three dozen, so you might want to do a couple of batches. Unless you want cake truffles that look like this:

Instead of this:

Equally yummy, but not nearly as giftable. And trust won't want to eat all six dozen of these yourself.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Squared away.

Ah, Times Square: feared by natives, revered by tourists, thoroughly indescribable to anyone who has never experienced the madness. After spending five days a week in New York's legendary hub of overpriced sandwiches and overzealous humans wearing cardboard sandwiches (I'm going to make a t-shirt that says "I hate stand-up comedy" on one side and "bus tours are for quadriplegics" on the other), I've mastered the navigational tips that any NFT pamphlet will eagerly regale. But far above the impromptu subway concerts and the student rush lines towers a sleek skyscraper that challenges the carb-gobbling, sneaker-wearing culture of the area in which it stands. It is the Condé Nast building: home of Vogue and countless other internationally respected publications, and home of me for the last ten weeks.

(Embarrassing that I took these photos. In my defense, I did it before I was an employee.)

You've seen Ugly Betty and The Devil Wears Prada. You've heard urban myths of what goes on beyond the high-security turnstiles. And to be honest, Nasties are a lot like their fictional counterparts: a slender, well-dressed, workaholic bunch who have cultivated the kind of attitude that allows them to hold their own in a highly competitive and (to an extent) superficial industry like magazine journalism. Personally, I love it. I thrive on it. It's the pinnacle of New York's survival-of-the-fittest mentality; you don't come to this city expecting (or even wanting) to be coddled.

What Condé Nast employees aren't: soulless airheads only interested in prying their skim lattes from your quivering, worshipful fingers. These women (mostly) are ambitious, yes, but they are also fiercely intelligent and generous toward those who are willing to work hard. Sure, I did my share of prime time-worthy bitchwork (I'm too scared to post stories here, but ask me if you're curious. There are some winners), but I've always understood that you have to pay your dues when you're first starting out. And at Condé Nast, those dues come with some pretty sweet perks: fancy parties, free haircuts (with Bobbi Brown and Salma Hayek's stylist, no big deal), free food, free gym memberships, free reign on the beauty closet. Oh, and I guess, like, knowledge, or something. I got more out of the experience than I could have possibly imagined, and probably realize even now.

I chose to intern at a lifestyle magazine rather than a fashion magazine this summer, which was, quite honestly, the best decision I could have made. I enjoy fashion (I mean, kind of) (whatever) (wink, wink), but I've often questioned whether or not I could be satisfied by it as a career. After all, even this blog, which I suppose would be most accurately billed as a "fashion blog," is framed by my personal life and very much a product of my agenda. Writing for a magazine - adopting their voice, targeting their audience, pleasing their advertisers, adhering strictly to their views and purposes - is a whole different animal. It involves another set of skills that I'm equally interested in developing, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the glib, cyclical, business-oriented aspects of fashion journalism would drive me crazy after a while. Anyway, I'm not ruling it out, but I wanted to understand how the editorial process applies to other departments: fitness, nutrition, beauty, health, entertainment, sex. Fortunately, my internship confirmed my suspicions that writing is my first love. I'll be able to dress how I want no matter what I do; finding a way to make a living off of words is my first priority.

Anyway, I'm sure this is all very fascinating. My original plan for this post was to provide the dish on the "uniform" of each of Condé's magazines, a categorical distinction I gradually picked up on through stealthy observation of who pressed which buttons on the elevators. But here's the SparkNotes: Vogue girls do not wear skirts. They wear pants. Only pants. All pants, all the time. It's Pantsville. It's a veritable pants party. Preferably cropped. Sometimes pleated. But always of the pants-y variety.

I may be back in Evanston, Illinois (Chicago, let's go with Chicago), but I'm doing my best to bring a little Vogue to the Midwest. I used to abhor pants with every fiber of my being, but what can I say? They've grown on me. I love the laid-back flavor these green wool trousers bring to this crazy, shoulder-pad-inclusive floral bolero, which was a thrift store find in my even more obscure hometown of Vienna, Virginia.

This is how you know I'm an amateur fashion blogger. An expert would have made sure the clasp on her necklace was in back for the detail shot. Fail.

Jacket: Thrifted.
Tank: American Apparel.
Pants: Vintage Lord & Taylor.
Purse: Oroton.
Belt: Thrifted.
Shoes: Thrifted.
Earrings, necklace and watch: Inherited.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wine and (say) cheese.

With all the clothes, shoes, purses and accessories we have at our disposal, it’s easy to forget that our hair and makeup say as much about our personal style as what we put on our bodies. Pop in your go-to chick flick from any given decade: ‘80s hair and (cringe) ‘90s lipliner are proof that cosmetic trends are as real as any others. It’s easy to fall into a routine with makeup – most days, I’m a rushed and uninspired concealer-brows-mascara kind of girl – but if your unpaid intern salary (ahem) won’t cover a new wardrobe, a cosmetic update can be a cost-effective way to make your existing one look fresh.

I’ve been romancing red lips like Casanova this summer. They give the face a youthful boost and elevate even the most basic outfit to something cheeky and playful. But in light of the heavy fabrics and moody color palates that come with the soon-to-be-changing leaves (or just even to offset this years camels and nudes), I think it might be time to switch out my beloved MAC “Ruby Woo” for a color with a bit more…inner angst.

I first fell in love with wine lips in Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” music video. The vid’s no “Bad Romance” (no offense, Gags, love ya like a sister!), but isn’t the makeup lovely and unusual? A deep mahogany stain is the perfect complement to the pasty skin we’re all about to endure for the next nine months (or at least I am, because I refuse to walk around smelling like Jergens “Natural” Glow). I’d add a coat of mascara to avoid channeling Silas from The Da Vinci Code, but the subtle winged eyeliner on the last frame is an alluring way to take the undressed eye into nighttime.

Then the world went nuts over the bare eyes and bright lips in the latest Chanel couture show. The color is a little lighter than that debuted in “Alejandro,” but the overall composition (note the bedhead to balance out the more substantial makeup) is similar, enviable and entirely transferable to a sultry merlot or cabernet lip. Meanwhile, Abbey Lee Kershaw has successfully convinced me that blunt, shoulder-length bobs with bangs are where it’s at. I’m going to need a lot of people to remind me over the next month that I a) don’t have thick, straight hair and eyes the size of saucers, and b) spent the last two and a half years complaining about how long my hair took to grow out after my 11-inch freshman year coif chop. Okay? C’mon, it’s what Jesus would do.

The usual cautionary advice: Beware of brown undertones. Use a lip brush for better texture and accuracy. Surround yourself with friends who will tell you if you have lipstick on your teeth, dammit, because who lets some fool with lipstick on her teeth wander around unawares? I think there’s a special spot reserved in Hell for that, right next to “people who kick puppies” and “people who serve Lindsay Lohan drinks.” Speaking of which: if you're going to drink wine while wearing wine, be sure to check yourself out in a hand mirror (or iPod screen...not that I've ever done that) every now and then. Not many people can pull off this.