Monday, May 30, 2011

Listmania

I'm still planning a trip to the Big Apple ... I'm hoping a friend or my sister or other female relative will come with me.

So far I would like to go to:

Tip Top Shoes
La Crasia in Grand Central
Maybe a BIG COACH STORE!!!  (Just got a coupon for $100 off $300 - who could resist???)
The Container Store
Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic on Mercer Street
Maybe stop in at the original Kiehl's on Third Avenue - I used to love shopping there.  They have the best stuff.  Maybe sunscreen???

I should probably visit a few of my old favorite neighborhoods, too, like Greenwich Village, the East Village, the Flatiron District (Jo Malone, I hear you calling me!) and Chelsea.

It's really weird, for years I avoided the city.  I just hated having to go there after 9/11/2001.  I saw the whole thing happen.  I was in an express bus going into the city on the Gowanus Expressway, and really, it traumatized me.  So I really haven't gone into the city for fun, only unless I absolutely had to on personal business or for work.  There are a lot of things I miss about the city - the drive, the energy, the stores, the little out of the way places, the parks, yes, even the crabby, know-it-all people.  But I don't miss the crowds, the people rushing everywhere, the rudeness, the nastiness, the dirt (NYC has to be one of the dirtiest cities in America, really, and it's not like the Sanitation Department isn't holding up their end - it's just that the people are pigs).  Mind you, I say all this with love and the knowledge that I am in fact, PART of the City of New York.  In fact, I'm an honorary citizen, but I won't get into that, because that's bragging.  But I have a plaque!  And a commendation!

I'll have to find more nifty places to go on my trip to the city.  I may have to break it up over a few days. But this sounds like the beginnings of a plan!

I hope to be reviewing Nina Garcia's oeuvre, all four of her books.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Picspam of the Great Transition from Winter to Spring/Summer 2011

 My unmentionables soaking in the sink.  Note the Johnson's Baby Shampoo!  Good for fine washables.

The top of my closet, after the spring/summer transition.  The tan bag, 4th in from the left, is the bag I'm going to be using for my dressy summer/spring bag.

 From left to right: Belts, shirts, jeans, pants, skirts, jackets, dresses, robe and scarves.

 The bottom of the closet.  Shoes, backpack and casual summer canvas bag from LL Bean.  My grandfather made the night table and my father refinished it for me.  What's a night table doing in a closet?  The housing program had two night tables in the room already, and I'm not giving this one up.

The armoire.  Storage on top.  First shelf from top: Fleece sweaters and wraps, in case it gets cold, which is does sometimes in NYC in the spring and summer.  2nd shelf from top l to r:  Surf shoes in the plastic box, scented drawer paper, unmentionables.  3rd shelf from top, l to r: Important papers, summer weight sweaters, t-shirts and tunics.  4th shelf from top, l to r: Tube socks, summer weight cardigans, black knit pants.  Open drawer: more socks, shorts, wool socks (in case it gets cold).

 Another view of the armoire.

 All my spring/summer purchases, mostly unopened, that I have to try on.

 You may be wondering about the Compass Rose pillow.  It's a sham I got from LL Bean back in 2007. I don't think they have it anymore.

 Top to bottom, left to right:  Black Perfect Fit Crop Pants from LL Bean, navy linen crop pants from LL Bean, DKNYJEANS denim jacket from Lane Bryant, a black pencil skirt, from Lane Bryant, sleeveless pima knit cotton tees from LL Bean in crystal blue, white and amethyst.

 From top to bottom, left to right: the DKNYJEANS denim jacket, an exotic floral print cardigan and A-line skirt from Lane Bryant, a white cardigan, Hollyhock v-neck tee, black pencil skirt, all from Lane Bryant.

 The v-neck tees from Lane Bryant in Hollyhock, blue jewel, raspberry rose, white and blue atoll.
The neck detail of the blue atoll v-neck tee.  It draws attention to the neckline and decolletage, which is a good thing!

My friend Erica has promised to come over and help me with the trying on process, to make sure the clothes fit and are the right color, look good on me, etc., all that good stuff.  I went a little crazy during a recent LB sale and bought 5 t-shirts, plus 5 panties and 2 bras (not pictured).  I got the shirts to go with the exotic floral print skirt and cardigan - hopefully it will all look good together.  Even if the skirt and cardigan have to go back (because they fit terrible, or look awful, heaven forbid!), I'm keeping the tees, because I really love the colors and styles.  Plus, they pretty much go with practically everything in my wardrobe, so that's a good thing.

I really need to get a full-length mirror, so I won't have to ask friends to come over and tell me whether my clothes fit or not.  Still, I do like getting a second opinion.

I don't want to post pictures of my Style File because that sucker is getting HUGE!!!  I went through it and weeded some things out, but it's still enormous.  I think it's indicative of the plethora of information that's out there about fashion, style and beauty.  I had no idea when I got into this hobby that it would be so consuming.  I enjoy it, but if I'm not careful, it could take over my life.  I want balance, I don't want to get all crazy about style/fashion/beauty blogging.  There's more to life.  However, it's a hobby I enjoy, so I'll do it as I feel like doing it.

Have a pleasant week!  I have to take care of my fine washables now.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Transitioning into Warmer Weather

It's 65 degrees and rainy out, and you know what that means!!!

It means spring has come to New York City, after hanging around pensively, debating her entrance.  I wore a t-shirt and my trench coat and some cotton knit pants this evening traveling to yoga class, and I was actually comfortable, and not freezing.  My outfit tonight was a little more casual than I wanted it to be, but I was in a hurry to get to class, and I brought my workout clothes to change into, so at any point when people would actually be looking at me without my trench coat on, I looked presentable.

Yoga class was fantastic, and I think it's going to be a staple in my life, because it really refreshed and rejuvenated me.  It also goes much better when you have the right gear:  comfortable, quick-drying workout clothes, a ponytail to hold back longer hair, and (most important!) a supportive sports bra.  I got the Enell bra, which is absolutely fantastic.  Honestly, nothing moves, it dries quickly on your body and it's very comfortable and supportive.  I have MissusSmartyPants to thank for that, because she posted a link to Enell in one of her style articles about proper workout wear and sports bras.  At first I ordered the wrong size, so it didn't fit.  I was on the border between two sizes, so I returned the bras I had and exchanged it for two in the next size up, same styles.  They're expensive, but when I saw how they were constructed and I saw the demonstration video (that girl's boobs did not bounce AT ALL!!!), I knew they would be supportive and indestructible, provided I didn't do something stupid like throw them in the washing machine and then the dryer.  They even help your posture a bit, because it has hook-and-eye closures on the front, and the back has a sturdy criss-cross strap design covered by quick-drying stretch fabric.  I would suggest checking it out.

Here's a link!

http://www.enell.com/

If you get the bra in Hope Pink, they donate money to FORCE, a breast cancer education organization.  Of course I got the Hope Pink!

My other concern is skincare for the warmer months.  I perspire quite a bit (not to get too gross), so my skin is prone to being oily, but also when I get too much sun, my skin dries up - it's really a mess.  So my skin is oily and scaly at the same time.  It drives me crazy.  I'm thinking of seeing a dermatologist to get help with this situation.  It's pretty frustrating.  I'd like to wear makeup, but it tends to slide right off my face in the heat, so I don't know if that's a great idea.  Does anybody else have these issues?

Also, I want to get a hat for sun protection and gloves, just because.  There's something so ladylike about wearing gloves with an outfit.  I want a fedora or a trilby, or maybe a broad-brimmed hat.  I have to try some on, see how they look.  I have an excursion to the Big Apple planned:  I want to go to Tip Top Shoes to get some good walking shoes and summer sandals, and while I'm in the city, I want to hit up La Crasia in Grand Central Terminal for accessories, specifically, hats and gloves.  It's a tiny little store near the Lexington Avenue and 43rd Street entrance of Grand Central, on the left side as you enter GCT from Lexington.  I have to bring my skirts and cardigans - or take pictures, that would make more sense.  When I bought two summer dresses from August Max Woman (does anybody remember them?), I took them to La Crasia, and the owner of the store helped me pick out a cute straw bag (it had a monkey on it!) and cute green gloves to go with the dresses.  I loved those outfits - I got rid of them in the move, though, so ... *sob*.  But I have new clothes!  I should be happy!  I just have to think of places to wear them!  Before I move again and have to get rid of more stuff (GAH!!!!  OVER MY DEAD BODY!!!).

Finally, I've started transitioning my wardrobe to warmer weather clothing.  I took out all my summer clothes last night and sent all my clothes, including my winter coats, to the laundry today.  It cost about $60 for the whole enchilada.  I have to put away my winter clothes and rotate the wardrobe into spring and summer clothes.  I had to throw some clothes out because they were stained or had holes and others don't fit anymore, so I'm giving those away.  Then I have to go through the winter clothes and see what kind of shape they're in and do the same.

In home decor news, I got fed up with my bedding and threw it out this morning, at 5:30, after sleeping on the couch from 1 AM to 4 AM.  Good-bye, smelly and stained duvet!  Good-bye filthy pillows!  Believe me, I had the duvet for about 25 years, it had a long, good life, and I bought the pillows back in 2006 when I moved into my previous apartment.  I think 5 years is long enough to have pillows.  They were pretty disgusting.  I saw a furry little woodland creature when I opened the trash can to throw in the bags with the bedding.  I slammed it shut immediately, and put my stuff on the sidewalk.  I'm very proud of myself for not vomiting or fainting, both of which I was tempted to do.  It took me awhile to calm down and recover myself.  But I managed!  Now I have to get new pillows.  I have a new duvet, but I'm going to put it away for the summer and take it out in the fall.

Time for bed!  Hope you're all transitioning into spring and summer, and that it's getting warm where you are!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Royal Wedding, Public Fashion Disaster, Claude Chabrol and Yves Saint Laurent

Wow, that was some wedding, huh?  Kate and Will made a stunning couple, and her dress was perfect!  I read that it took 4 hours to do her hair:  2 hours to prepare and 2 hours to do it.  Since I'm a klutz at doing my makeup, I really admire her for doing her own.  I wonder how early she had to get up and how many hours of sleep she got the night before.  It's a good thing I'm not dating any princes, because the stress would kill me.

Speaking of stress, and this is why a big wedding for me is out of the question, I had a really bad anxiety attack when I tried to do my grocery shopping at ShopRite this past Thursday.  I had to attend jury duty in the morning, but I was excused because I'm disabled - I just have to fax them proof in 90 days, and I'm off the hook.  Then I went to the bank, then I attempted to go shopping for food and sundries, but freaked out completely at the entrance to the store.  I was on my way out and thought to myself, "Maybe they have a home delivery service I could use?"  So I went to Customer Service, and the nice lady told me, yes, they have home delivery, you just have to order online.  So I left feeling slightly better.  Outside, it was hot, like REALLY, REALLY hot, too hot for me with my raincoat, white button-down shirt and khaki pants.  The way home was a long odyssey.  I took the bus to Hylan Blvd. and Tysens Lane (I realize that means nothing to you, or maybe those of you from SI know what I'm talking about?)  I caught a glimpse of myself in a reflection and I looked a hot mess.  Disheveled is the word that comes to mind.  My pants were falling down around my hips, my shirt was popping out of my pants and my raincoat was flapping in the breeze.  In short, as my brother would say, I looked like the men with the butterfly nets were going to come get me. Since I was overheated, uncomfortable and needed cooling off, I decided I needed a Starbucks break.  There's one in the Stop & Shop right on Hylan and Tysens, so I decided to go in.  Crossing the street, I flashed some motorists as I ripped my shirt out of my pants and adjusted my pants.  I probably still looked like a fantecheringe (I have no idea how to spell that, it's Norwegian slang for wild woman, and believe me I looked it up) but at least I was a little more comfortable.  I got my Venti Mocha Frappuccino and continued on my way home.

To my dismay, my Aersoles shoes did not hold up well.  They were uncomfortable.  Granted, the terrain on Staten Island is not exactly flat or easy to walk on (the sidewalks slope, there are minimal sidewalks in my neighborhood, and frankly it can get kinda dirty).  Clearly, I need better walking shoes.  The dress code for the day was to be "neat and respectful of the court."  I shouldn't have bothered - most everyone showed up in jeans, leggings and sweatshirts or t-shirts, which I didn't think was neat or respectful of the court, but I'm getting up in years ... then again, some of these people were my age, and really should've known better.  Whatever.  Until my little striptease while crossing the street, I was fairly respectable.

In other fashion news, I've been watching Claude Chabrol's movies.  So far I've seen "This Man Must Die," "Nightcap," "The Butcher," and most recently, "Innocents with Dirty Hands," which starred the ill-fated Romy Schneider and Rod Steiger as a couple doomed by their love (because it wouldn't be a French film if there wasn't a Love storyline in there somewhere).  Well, the plot had a lot of twists and turns, and really was pretty confusing - if you walked away for a second, you'd be lost - but!  Yves St. Laurent designed the costumes for Romy Schneider, who really was pretty glorious looking.  The movie was made in 1975, so it was the height of 70's elegance - spare and minimal.  The setting was St. Tropez, the playground of the incredibly wealthy, and Romy Schneider played a bored housewife who gets entangled in a romantic triangle between her husband, Rod Steiger, and Sexy Neighbor Man, Jeff Marle (the actor's name escapes me).  Claude Chabrol was deeply influenced by Alfred Hitchcock, but I think he was also influenced by film noir of the 40's and 50's, because this film had some elements of that - a certain mounting claustrophobia, double-crosses and betrayals, fake-outs and charades and lies, lies, lies. Yves St. Laurent's costumes for Ms. Schneider underscored her character's "Black Widow" tendencies.  The elegant simplicity of her outfits provided a perfect backdrop for the intricate drama of the plot, and Ms. Schneider's radiant natural beauty.

You can see a trailer of the movie here:

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/innocents_with_dirty_hands/

She had a sad, short life, dying at age 44 of an overdose, which was ruled an accident, but which some said was suicide.

It's a common misconception that beauty brings happiness; it doesn't.

Yves St. Laurent also did the costumes for Isabelle Huppert in "Nightcap."  I believe that was filmed in the late 90's.  Even though the styles had changed, and it was a different character, there were the same clean lines, neutral palette and minimalism that marked St. Laurent's work in the earlier film.  Yet it's interesting to note that the flowing gowns that indicated the Romy Schneider character's sensuality, gave way to a use of fabrics with more body and texture to indicate Isabelle Huppert's character's rigidity.  Even though the clothes were created by the same designer, you would never mistake one character for the other.

That's it.  Have a good night, and a pleasant tomorrow!