Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Home On the Range

Guess who’s back, back again? No, not Slim Shady ya’ll, it’s me. The past few months have been a dream-like whirlwind: I got a new job that I adore as a fashion assistant at Moda Operandi, meaning my wardrobe game has been upped majorly, and basically, one of the biggest lessons I have learned is that Valentino rockstuds are the most comfortable shoes around (not ideal for your bank account, but trust me). Now that I’m finally settling into my new flow of walking to work, daily Bar Method, than back home, I’ve finally found sometime to blog, reinvigorating my passion for writing.

 I’ve decided that my first post now that I’m back on the radar should be about a long-time love of mine: cowgirl-inspired fashion. I’m not sure if it was the tremendous amount of time I spent at Cowgirl Hall of Fame from ages zero through five, or if it was the rendition of “Home on the Range” by James Taylor would lull me to sleep with as a wee one, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve adored the world of Western wear. I’m talkin’ about the real deal: cowboy boots, suede, fringe on fringe on fringe, turquoise belt buckles, basically Annie Get Your Gun stuff, but as imagined by Isabel Marant.

While I’ve never been to a dude ranch, I’m pretty sure several of my wardrobe pieces would fit in just fine there, as long as they didn’t get dirty, in which case, the dry cleaning would be quite pricey.

I’m basically obsessed with this image of Amber Valetta in Alaia from the mid-90s:

I would wear this daily in my pseudo-cowgirl life, complete with my Isabel Marant Milwaukee boots that I love so dearly (maybe in a different color). The more fringe, the merrier. This look would be right at home at the rodeo, albeit a caviar-and-champagne rodeo.

This Prada tote is also calling my name. I love how they weirded-out the classic silhouette with the absurd fringe. Plus, it’s on sale. Although still out of my budget for the moment.

I don’t think there is anything that better completes an outfit than a big, beat up belt with a cool vintage buckle. I collect them from cheap vintage stores near my mom’s house in San Francisco (Pretty Penny in Oakland always has an amazing selection). The more worn the leather is and the more matte the buckle is, the better. If vintage ain’t your thing, this Ralph Lauren is a good bet.

So please, excuse me while I ride off into the sunset with Armie Hammer in Lone Ranger garb on my stallion. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

In Like a Lion...

"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."
- Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Beauty and the Beaux

It’s February 13th, which means love  in the air. Regardless of how you feel about tomorrow, otherwise known as Valentine’s Day, you must acknowledge that couples are everywhere, and that they are kinda awesome. This morning I saw two people snuggling on the subway and while I would never personally take part in that sort of lovey-dovey behavior, I think it’s wonderful that two people can find each other that god damn adorable.

While you will obviously be pulling out all the stops with your lingerie choices tomorrow, there are some other lovely gifts you can bestow upon your significant other that are sure to please in the long run.

Most men take little to no care of their skin and hair when they are single, unless they have sisters or a really savvy mom. The typical male medicine cabinet contains cheap shaving cream, overly-scented deodorant, toothpaste, a plain, used-up bar of soap, the same hair product they’ve been using since they were thirteen, and maybe some mid-end cologne or after shave. The scene in the shower is even more dismal – Suave shampoo, more used-up soap or rusty body wash, and of course, a serious lack of conditioner. Despicable, boys.

So, this Valentine’s day, get your beaux some beauty products. They deserve soft skin, luscious locks, and elegant fragrance just as much as you do.

If you don't have a boyfriend, you'll like this post if only for the photos of hunky men that I have hand-selected and scrutinized.

If you live in NYC, head over to Min New York on Crosby Street. Describe your boyfriend and they will pick out the perfect mix of products in no time. He’ll adore the masculine, non-frilly feel of everything they sell and maybe even head there sometime to surprise you with an imported French-by-way-of-Morocco candle and dolled-up matches to light it with.

If that isn’t exactly an option, here are some picks to beautify your beaux:

Sorry, dudes, but the stubble only works if you can pull off a ruggedly handsome look like this guy all the time.
Kiehl’s Ultimate Brushless Shaving Cream

Buy this for your boyfriend if only to steal it right back. Seriously, it’s one of the best shaving creams on the market. With its mentholated tingling feel on skin, it raises the follicle for a seriously close shave. It doesn’t have an “old man smell” as reviews note, and looks really cool on the counter. Kiehl’s selection of mens products is the furthest thing from dandy, and they all work supremely well.

Uber-hunk Sean O'Pry clearly uses conditioning shampoo to achieve these feathery locks.
John Allan’s Sport Conditioning Shampoo

Obviously your boyfriend is athletic and on-the-go. What other way could he possibly be? That’s why he needs this 2-in-1 shampoo enriched with Panthenol to give hair moisture and shine while keeping the scalp balanced and deodorized through those long days at the office. The retro-inspired bottle is oh-so-chic and eliminates the need for multiple products, which is something most guys are seriously averse to. The blue color also screams “baby boy”.

The best Bond (Connery) obviously would buy his GF a Cartier bracelet.
Exchanging serious gifts (Cartier love bracelet, ladies?) on the 14th ? Set him up with this luxe shaving brush and matching stand by the Art of Shaving that simultaneously improves his bathroom d├ęcor’s elegance. He can use it to suds up his new Kiehl’s lotion and forget what days before his lovely girlfriend’s gifts were like, therefore making you irreplaceable (which we know you are, for many other reasons, of course).

Furry guys: so hot right now. I wouldn't mind trimming his nose hair.

True fact that no one likes to talk about: men need to trim their facial hair. And by facial hair, I mean eyebrows, nose hairs, and ear hairs. Kind of disgusting. Maybe even some creepily long chest hair that hangs out of the top of his shirts….I’m looking at you, Nev from Catfish. Make it less of a disgusting task by bestowing your man with these goof-proofscissors that ensure he doesn’t slice all of his brow hairs off (it’s okay if he “accidentally” removes all the nose and/or ear hairs, right?), leaving him to resemble Whoopi Goldberg (but if he does, let him know you will still love him).

This surfing hunk totes knows the importance of SPF (and if he doesn't...I think some ladies would be happy to teach) 

If there is one lesson you should teach your boyfriend, it is the power of daily SPF. If he starts now, he will look eons younger than his buddies in ten years. Make it simple for him by getting a lotion that contains high-quality sunscreen, such as Clinique Age Defense Hydrator SPF 15, even if he thinks he’s too young for “age defense”. For night, give him a luxe gel-cream like Givenchy’sMan-Pro Energizing Massive Moisturizer. Those rough patches you secretly want to put your super-feminine La Mer on will be a thing of the past in no time.

Smells like....Clark Kent super hunt hero
I have finally come to the true classic: cologne. While most men seem to be partial to the same damn one, I’ve decided that the following are the chicest choices: Jo Malone Lime, Basil & Mandarin, Byredo Mister Marvelous, and Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur. The latter two are in packaging so manly that a Harley Davidson could feel a little emasculated. They are all uniquely spicy scents that no other bro at his office will be wearing. Don’t be surprised if you see gals sniffing him in jealousy when you go out on the town together.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Unneccessary Essentials

How New York City feels...
I’m pretty sure that January is the worst month of the calendar year for basically everyone. Not only are you exhausted and broke from the holidays, but you also freeze half to death on your way to and from work daily. The shopping assortment is also awful. Everything from fall that you didn’t want is on sale, while spring clothes have yet to arrive. Sure, you can purchase “resort”, but unless you are one of the lucky few that get to jet off to Palm Beach, those clothes will just sit on your shelves for a good two or three months. Plus there are no holidays to look forward to. On the whole, it’s just horrid.

So, to make January a bit better for you all, especially the unlucky few who may have January birthdays and are clueless on what to tell your friends and family you want, I’ve curated a list of “unnecessary essentials” – products you never knew you needed that will change your life once you start using them. Put those gift cards from X-Mas to good use (if you are one of the conservative few who have yet to spend them) and start shoppin’.

I’m the first to admit that I am a lip balm whore. From the cherry chapstick to the $50+ By Terry rose balm, I’ve got them all. The first thing I do when in a foreign country is check out their assortment of lip balms. Why? I’m not really sure. But I always feel like in some obscure corner of the world I’ll discover the miracle treatment.

As soon as a tinge of chill hits the air, my lips become cracking, peeling, bleeding disasters. Any lip product with color looks horrendous on top of dry skin. Sure, you can exfoliate your lips (I recommend tarte’s maracuja lip scrub), but sometimes, they are so dry that scrubbing is horribly painful. So its back to the balm stash.

My newest addition? Nuxe’s Reve de Miel Ultra Nourishing Lip Balm. The French always get me. This lovely honey-chocolate-yum (I know, I’m so good at describing fragrance) treat melts onto lips leaving a matte finish and makes the perfect base for color. It’s ideal for men who are terrified of looking like they are wearing gloss for this reason as well as possibly getting girls to want to kiss you (that I can’t promise). Sure, it’s expensive ($19.00 for a pot) but you get a ton. I’ve been keeping the pot next to my bed and my lips are looking pretty pouty and well nourished right now.

Do you need expensive “Parisian pharmacy” lip balm? No. But once you’ve experienced it, I don’t think you’ll want to be without it.

Foundation Primer

Foundation primer is sort of a ridiculous product. You don’t really “need” one if you are already applying moisturizer before foundation or tinted moisturizer and properly powdering any areas that tend to get oily through the day. However, there is something about a primer that just seems so luxurious. And it does have its benefits – additional SPF, pore minimization, additional moisture, and even skincare benefits.

Right now, my love is alternating between two primers, two that do entirely different things. I'm kind of a playa. The first, Hourglass No. 28 PrimerSerum, a cocktail of essential oils, smells absolutely divine. I actually wish I could wear this lavender-y, herbal-y serum as a fragrance. But more importantly, it does beautiful things for those of you with dry skin. It makes an ideal base for a more matte foundation, as it will give it a dewy sheen, and provides an environment shield.

The second obsession of mine is tarte’s BB tinted treatment 12-hourprimer SPF 30. At this point, everyone and their mom wants a BB cream. The South Korean (by way of Germany) miracle tinted moisturizer/treatment/sunscreen/etc. has swept the makeup world by storm. Well tarte’s new BB is different, since it is a primer, not just a one color fits all cream. It comes in four shades, applies like a dream, and leaves skin feeling like silk with redness and imperfections diffused and sheerly covered. This works for all skin types, as it will help mattify oil but also keeps skin looking healthy and moisturized. If you tend to be drier, I would put a moisturizer, or even the Hourglass No.28 mentioned above, beneath it. I love buffing it in with their buffer airbrush finish bamboo foundation brush, putting a touch of maracuja creaseless concealer under my eyes, and being done with my skin for that “no makeup” look. When topped with my usual foundation (Nars Sheer Glow), I look like I’m walking around yielding special Instagram skin blur filter powers.

I’ve previously discussed my obsession with hair serums and oils – Kerastase Elixir Ultime and Moroccan Oil Light turn the parched bottle blonde sass growing out of my head into tamed, shiny locks. So you ask, “well Charlotte, if you already love those products, why try another one?” Because I’m a product addict, damnit!

My wonderful stepbrother gave me an Amazon.com gift card for Christmas (um, basically the best gift ever. You can find ANYTHING on Amazon) and I went buckwild purchasing products I probably would not have spent money on otherwise. Okay, that is totally a lie because I spend lots of money on products, but whatever, I think it’s a decent explanation.

So onto Rodin Olio Lusso. Started  by legendary stylist Linda Rodin, this pricy line has won rave reviews from the who’s who of the glitterati. Since I obviously want to be a part of the aforementioned exclusive clan, I have to try it too.

Turns out, this oil is a dream. After I shampoo and condition with Alterna’s Caviar Moisturizing Shampoo & Conditioner (new favorite), I brush out my hair (I know, I really should comb it) and apply the smallest dab of this stuff to the ends. Seriously, the smallest amount you can get out of the dropper, because there were several days when I applied far too much and I looked sort of expensively dirty. It smells essential-oily and awesome, and leaves frizz flattened, ends smoothed, and a gleam of health behind.

Monday, December 10, 2012

By Moonlight

"...the moon is always jealous of the heat of the day, just as the sun longs for something dark and deep."
Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"Lemme Upgrade 'Ya!"

         Beyonce is truth. Besides singing about the joys of being a single lady and putting your cheating ex-man's stuff to the left, to the left (duh!), Queen B also croons about helping to upgrade her man's style. Not quite sure what I'm talking about? Let me refresh your memory:

         The holidays will soon be upon us, and what would be a better time to upgrade your better half, friend, family member, or other (friend with benefits, cat sitter, psychic healer, personal shopper...the list goes on) with newer, more glamorous beauty products? The bottom line is that people rarely buy ridiculously luxe beauty products for themselves, which make them the PERFECT gift/stocking stuffer/greasing the wheels present. I made sure this list was [basically] unisex to further ease your shopping woes.

Carmex is a classic. The waxy texture, camphor-y smell, and pot-style application are nostalgic for me, as I not only used it as lip balm, but to keep my chronic childhood bloody noses at bay, glamorous, I know. But the bottom line is that Carmex is like, a dollar. It would be offensive if you gave it to anyone as a gift, since you are basically implying that they have dry lips. So upgrade to this teeny pot of camphor-spiked balm from British mainstay Dr. Harris & Co. While it has that same tingling effect, it has a lovely violet scent that won't seem even slightly medicinal. And even though it is an upgrade, it's still totally affordable, so it is the perfect Secret Santa gift.

Head N' Shoulders  ------> Phillip Kingsley
Dandruff has never been, and will never be (at least I hope so), sexy. But at least Phillip Kingsley's powerful and beautifully-scented shampoos keep your shower from looking like that of a pityriasis capitis (yes, that is the scientific name for dandruff) sufferer. Head N' Shoulders is basically the showerside equivalent of wearing socks with Birkenstocks: just not cute. So help your ailing friend by giving them a bottle of shampoo that doesn't scream "I have dandruff" when you go into their bathroom and snoop on their grooming products (admit it, you totally check out the medicine cabinet too).

Irish Spring ------> Lush Shower Gels
Drugstore shower gels basically suck. Honestly, the men's selection is much better than the women's, at least the scents are somewhat classic. If you are a girl, your choices are as follows: Pretty Pretty Princess Bubblegum Candy Cane Crack shower gel, Sexy Hot Lady Spicy Fake Musky Vanilla shower gel, and my personal favorite, the knock-off Bath and Body Works selection that are even more false-scented than the original. Really, it is possible. Treat your pal to something that they actually want to use. Are they a chocolate lover? Gift them Sonic Death Monkey. Are they a chronic insomniac or an RPatz fan? Send Twilight. Sweet as the bee's knees? It's Raining Men (I'd recommend not giving this to a straight male unless it happens to be a gag gift). Pricey, but all perfect. Plus, you are encouraging them to be clean, which is like, a gift to all that come into contact with them.

Secret ------> Donna Karan Cashmere Mist
You are not the only person who ever wondered why in the world perfume companies make anti-perspirants of their scents. Yes, 99% of them fail to cover any sort of odor. But in that small 1% is a product that is especially beloved by the gay male population of New York: Donna Karan Cashmere Mist. This stuff seriously works. It keeps armpits from getting outrageously sweaty, prevents foul scents, and doesn't stain clothing. Waaaaay more fabulous than Dove or Secret, and I can basically guarantee that your friend does not already own it because really, who buys $20 deodorant for themselves.

Bath & Body Works Antibacterial Soap ------> Aesop
I'm pretty sure the only holiday gift that teachers receive is anti-bacterial handsoap from Bath & Body Works, and sometimes, if they are reaaaaaaaaaaaaaally lucky, a matching hand cream. Do people assume teachers have chronically dirty and simultaneously dry hands? Regardless, I think they've had enough of the "Pink Symphony" and "Poodles in Paradise" scents. In fact, they probably have a lifetime supply if they've been teaching for more than five minutes. Do them a favor and upgrade them to Aesop's sophisticated, simple, and regal-smelling hand soap. Men using your powder room will not by put-off by the graphic packaging or the lavender scent. Most importantly, those teachers will no longer suffer from filthy dry hands as it is supremely moisturizing and germ-eliminating.

Bonus Beyonce-inspired video (and one of my all-time favorite Youtube vids):

Friday, November 16, 2012

This Side of Paradise

"What a wonderful song, she thought-everything was wonderful tonight, most of all this romantic scene in the den with their hands clinging and the inevitable looming charmingly close. The future vista of her life seemed an unending succession of scenes like this: under moonlight and pale starlight, and in the backs of warm limousines and in low cosy roadsters stopped under sheltering trees-only the boy might change, and this one was so nice." 
  F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise