Saturday, March 03, 2007

Saturday's Best of Blogs

I only came across her blog in the last week but I'm already completely addicted. The smart, perceptive Daddy Likey has a great post about the strange logic women use to justify premium jeans.

The always enjoyable Gala Darling asks the age old question, "What do your clothes say about you?".

The queen of living large on less, The Budget Fashionista, has the scoop on Target's partnership with Boots, the (supposedly) fabulous U.K. budget beauty line.

55 Secret Street highlights some of Old Navy's cutest looks for Spring and Summer.

And last (but never least), the one and only Annie at Blogdorf Goodman has teamed up with Cavewoman to present "40 Days and Nights of Beauty Brand Reviews." These beauty experts give the lowdown on their favorite products by 40 top brands with insight and humor that every beauty addict will appreciate. Here is the most recent edition.

Have a fantastic weekend, all!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Spring Purses For Under $100

Now that all the spring accessories are out, taunting me with their playful colors and pretty fabrics, I've decided that I could use a new bag, but I'm refusing to spend more than $100 for it. What I really need is a purse that's dressy and practical enough to carry to work this summer but fun enough to want to wear on weekends. In my perusal of various stores and websites, I hit upon a goldmine of inexpensive but upscale-looking purses at Target and Urban Outfitters. I've narrowed my search to three purses that meet my qualifications and are super cute.





But I can't decide which I like best. What do you guys think?

Here are some other fabulous (and fabulously cheap) purses from Target and Urban Outfitters:





Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sorry Givenchy, Clowns Aren't Hot

I've been writing a lot of very positive reviews lately. I don't know if I've just been lucky enough to come across cool products in the last couple of months, or I've just been in a good mood and don't feel like bitching about anything. But there comes a time when a cosmetics company comes up with such an unappealing, mind-bogglingly ugly and impractical collection that I have to say something.

Tell me, do you want to look like the woman in this photograph?

I really don't know what a cosmetics company is thinking when they release a collection of impossible to wear shades. At best, anyone who isn't a professional clown will buy one or two pieces, maybe the blue mascara or the fuchsia lip gloss, to wear with an otherwise neutral face. At worst, those of us who prefer not to be laughed out of a room will simply stay far away from it. Who do they really think is going to want to buy multiple products from this collection?

Of course, there is a time and place for wild makeup. Friends of mine who are talented makeup artists are able to pair, blend and apply colors in such a way as to make pale blue eyeliner look extremely attractive. I don't advocate Bobbi Brown palettes for Halloween, theme parties or a night on the town with your girlfriends. And I think everyone has gone through a phase where we feel like artists when combine green and pink and orange eyeshadow to match our colorful outfit. Luckily, what happens in middle school stays in middle school.

But that's what MAC and NARS and all the great makeup artist lines that have a few really crazy colors in each product line are for. They still know that their regular seasonal collections must focus on wearable colors (not necessarily neutral, but flattering).

It dawned on me while I was writing this that these colors might be quite wearable on women with darker complexions, but still, you're not going to wear multiple products at once.

If you're dying to wear the latest trends and colors, save your money and stop by the drugstore for some Wet 'n Wild. Your wallet and makeup bag (when you've grown sick of the color and want to ditch it) will thank you.

Givency's Arty Color Collection, available at Sephora.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Product Review: L'Oreal Bare Naturale Powder Foundation

I have never gotten so many compliments on my makeup as I did the three days I wore L'Oreal's Bare Naturale Powder. This was on a week when my skin was simultaneously breaking out with acne AND dry patches and I couldn't get rid of redness and tons of tiny, itchy bumps around my cheeks, nose and eyes. But no one was the wiser, because my face looked even-toned and glowing.


Mineral makeup isn't new, but it's certainly been all the rage in the last year, as lines such as Bare Escentuals have catapulted from cult status into incredible popularity (spend a little time around a Bare Escentuals display in Sephora and you'll know exactly what I mean). I've heard the claims and the raves of friends and family and noticed how their skin looked more beautiful than I'd ever seen it. What's there not to love about a product that has an SPF of 20, is long-lasting, free of skin irritants and claims to be "so natural you can sleep in it?"

I was dying to try Jane Iredale or Bare Escentuals (the most popular mineral makeup brand), but I knew that I couldn't afford the pricey products and brushes, and decided to check out a less-expensive alternative. After reading up about the many mineral makeup products on the market at MakeupAlley, I decided to try L'Oreal's Bare Naturale powder foundation, which had very high reviews (many women reported liking it more than Bare Escentuals) and retails for about $15 at CVS.

The first time I applied it I used the little brush that came with it, and found that it was just too small to get good even coverage. It wasn't awful, but I was a bit streaky. I'm not going to lie, I completely suck at applying makeup, but after re-reading the directions 3 times (the key is tapping all excess powder off the brush and only applying a little at a time) and using my regular powder brush, I got the hang of it, and was pleased to see that my skin looked pretty nice. After about 15 minutes when it mixed with the oil in my skin and my moisturizer, it looked just about perfect.

I should mention that I used a little concealer underneath to hide a few red spots, but this probably wouldn't be necessary for everyone, since the coverage is medium.

Through this whole time, family and friends fawning over my gorgeous skin. "It's like... perfect, but it doesn't look fake... wow" (my boyfriend) and "I'm stealing whatever foundation you're using. I just thought I'd let you know beforehand" (my considerate little sister). The first night when I washed it off, I noticed a little more irritation than usual, but ignored it. The second day the red patches, scattered bumps and dry spots baffled me, but I was in denial that the Bare Naturale, source of so much self-confidence, could be the culprit. Third day: "Daammnnnn." My skin looked really bad and I knew it was the powder.

I showed my mom all the red, itchy bumps on my face and neck. "Yeah, that's pretty bad... but Meg, your skin has never looked better. Maybe your skin will grow accustomed to it if you keep wearing it for a while." She looked hopeful. I was too, until I realized the stupidity of beating my skin into submission.

I'm not sure whether I'd be allergic to all brands of mineral makeup, but I can tell you that I'm not anxious to try this experiment again with another brand. If you aren't super sensitive, I'd definitely recommend the Bare Naturale (my mom took my jar and loves it). For me, it's back to Laura Mercier's Tinted Moisturizer (sigh).

If you've tried mineral makeup before, let me know what products you used and whether it irritated your skin, I'm curious whether I'm the only one who's had this problem.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Oscars Rundown, Part 2

In my over-caffeinated rush to finish my Oscars best and worst dressed list before the end of the show, I left out many details and observations, and decided to dedicate this post to the many things I forgot (or didn't have room) to mention yesterday.

Obviously, my list of best and worst dressed actresses was short, and a lot of people were left off. Penelope Cruz in particular has gotten a ton of attention, and someone commented yesterday to ask where she was on my list. To be honest, I didn't find Penelope's gown particularly special. Versace has done similar gowns for other A-listers and I've never been a fan of those huge feathery skirts. And it may just be me, but I thought the top looked incredibly tight and uncomfortable, and her hair would have looked better down (I thought the updo was a bit harsh). In conclusion: Penelope looked gorgeous, but she always looks gorgeous and I've seen her look better.

Kate Winslet is so beautiful, but for the second awards show in a row, I've been really disappointed with her hair and makeup. First, her hair color is all wrong for her skin tone, it's too brassy and warm against her cool features, and her brows are desperately in need of bleaching. Her makeup also did her no favors, and the goldish/pink eyeshadow just made the skin around her eyes look red and tired.

After her role in "Prada", Anne Hathaway should have worn something young and fashion forward (perhaps from an up-and-coming designer?), solidifying her status as a budding fashionista. If she didn't want to go that route, she could have picked a gown that screamed glamor (a la Katherine Heigl) and played up her beautiful features. Instead, she chose this hideous 80's lace wedding dress with a gigantic bow sewn onto the bust. The dress does nothing for her figure and it's not even pretty. So disappointing.

A few other comments on women's fashions:

Gwyneth's dress was lovely, but the color really clashed with her skin and (so boring) hair.

Helen Mirren has a great rack (you know you were thinking it too!).

Thank you Rinko Kikuchi for cleaning up and looking presentable this time.

I love that Abigail Breslin actually looks like a real kid, and not just a mini-adult. You could tell that she picked her dress out herself (it was a little girl's dream gown). I only hope that she isn't sexualized once she hits her teens.

Diane Keaton looks hotter than ever and I love her for it. As much as I admired her for her originality, I'm happy to see that she's finally ditched the "Annie Hall" style for good.

About the show:

As entertaining as the diva cage match, I mean duet, between Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson was, I have to say that my favorite musical performance was Will Ferrell, Jack Black and John C. Reilly's song about comedians never winning oscars. If you missed it, check it out on YouTube.

Watching the Oscars made me realize the ironic fact that great actors are often poor speakers, and I thought that Al Gore did the best job of announcing and then accepting awards. He was laid back, likable and self-depricating. I always knew he had it in him, but where was his sense of humor when he ran for president? So sad that it's only coming out now.

I thought Ellen did a good, but not great job. It seemed like her shtick was telling jokes she and everyone else knew weren't very funny and then laughing at herself for having such lame jokes. It's impossible not to like Ellen though, and at least she didn't try to make political cracks or insult people.

Am I the only one who's already over Jennifer Hudson? I still think it's great that she won, but she needs to lay low for a while (she's reaching the point of overexposure) and come out with another big project soon so that she isn't viewed as a one hit wonder.

Leaving aside the fact that the show dragged on until almost 12:30 AM, I thought it was one of the more entertaining Oscars of recent years, particularly because of the innovative presentations of awards (the sound effects and costumes were two awards I really enjoyed) and the over-zealous orchestra that was quick to cut off anyone who went over 45 seconds (sometimes it's awkward, but overall it's definitely a good thing). But after giving up 4 1/2 hours of my night, I'm pretty much Oscared out, and will be looking forward to the 10 months of downtime until awards season starts again next January.

Monday, February 26, 2007

2007 Oscars Best and Worst Dressed List

Very few remember who won best actress, best director or even best film from last year's Oscars (let alone 5, 10 or 15 years ago), but will you ever forget Bjork's swan gown, Sharon Stone's Gap t-shirt or Julia Roberts' vintage Valentino gown? The most original and stunning outfits at the Oscars become pop culture icons, while even the greatest movies are rarely remembered for which awards they won.

Luckily this year was a great one for Oscars fashion, if a tiny bit boring (you never know how much you'll miss the Chers of the fashion world until they're gone...but thank you Eva Green for taking the baton!). Coming up with a list of best dressed actresses was certainly difficult this year, and I'll hopefully have a list of honorable mentions in the coming days.

BEST DRESSED

Ladies and gentlement, Emily Blunt has arrived! Anne Hathaway was pegged as the "hot and fashionable" girl in "Prada" but she was overshadowed by Emily's far more compelling character. Sure she can act, but who knew she was so stunning? This dress is original, in color and material, the fit is flawless and she looks sophisticated without appearing stuffy. The darker haircolor is flattering against her ivory skin (you know I love a fellow pale girl) and the whole look comes together beautifully. Can't wait to see more of her in the coming years.

Last year was Reese's when it came to winning acting awards, but this year she is blowing every other actress off the red carpet with her fresh, gorgeous gowns, sexy hair and dewy skin (take that, Ryan!). I love the layering and color gradation on this gown; it's a modern take on a traditional (and often overdone) shape, and I love that she paired it with tousled, laid-back hair and left the accessories at home. She certainly didn't need anything else to distract from her beauty.

This dress isn't a showstopper in the way that Reese's or Emily's is, but it's different from what we normally see and it looks incredible on Jessica Biel. I love the magenta color, cutout back and waist-cinching belt. It's rare to see mod on the red carpet, but this definitely works. Jessica knows how to work what she's got (she's perfected the "I'm not looking over my shoulder just to show off my ass, I was just distracted by something behind me" pose). I think she wears padded underwear, but I digress... I don't like her hair (the color looks faded and the style does nothing for her), but her makeup looks fab.

Cate Blanchett's daring attitude toward fashion sometimes comes back to bite her, but I think she took all the right risks when she chose this stunning sparkly gunmetal gown. It's futuristic while still flattering, and the color looks incredible against her skin and hair. I wasn't able to include a larger photo of the dress, but the detailing (it's all beaded, by the way) is amazing. I would've matched this dress with softer hair, but overall, Cate looks regal and beautiful.

WORST DRESSED

It appears as if J.Lo has gone into labor on her way into the show and is practicing her lamaze technique so she doesn't drop before she gets inside. No, seriously, it's one thing to have a ridiculous facial expression (is this her idea of a sexy pout?), but why does J.Lo, whose curves nearly gained national landmark status, look bloated and possibly pregnant? The fabric is beautiful and I love the top, but this heavy, matronly dress does nothing to flatter her still-smokin' body.

Cam, you know I feel your pain. After your Globes catastrophe, I told you that we all know what it feels like to get dumped (though I'm guessing it's a 'lil harder when your ex is currently the biggest pop star in the world), but that there are other ways to grieve, and it's no excuse to take your pain out on the millions of Oscars viewers who want to see pretty women in pretty dresses. Take a page from the Reese Witherspoon post-divorce book and get your revenge by looking amazing. And while you're at it, lay off the tanning, stay away from white (it's just not your color!) and get a new stylist and hairdresser... trust me, you're worth it.

Isla Fisher is in a position we've all been in. She fell in love with a dress that she wasn't planning on wearing for a few months, and gained some weight in the meantime. When the big day came and it was time to wear the gown, she went into denial, insisted it still fit, and wore it anyway. Sadly, we'll never know how hot this dress originally looked, because the beautiful Isla is simply one move away from a major wardrobe malfunction. There's nothing wrong with a little weight gain, but there's no excuse for wearing a dress that simply doesn't fit.

The most entertaining moment of the show, hands down, was the duet shared by Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce. The competition and hatred between these two women (well, let's be honest, the hate is only going one way) was palpable as they sang their hearts out for the title of "2007's Top Diva." But this list is for fashion, not performances, and I just want to know why Jennifer Hudson, who had first pick of every designer dress in the world, ended up in this pleasant but unoriginal gown with unflattering pockets and the world's ugliest bolero jacket. I also don't like the hair (a side ponytail is one thing, but there's way too much volume here), but it's secondary to my disappointment that Jennifer couldn't "wow" us again with a fabulous gown.


Eva Green, I know you try, but you just can't pull off the sexy vampire look. As much as you tease your scary hair and wrap yourself with gauzy fabric like a mummy bride, you're not Angelina Jolie (she knew that scary hot went out of style not long after heroin chic). The look on your face, that totally forced attempt at a piercing stare, is enough to nominate you for a Razzie. You deserve full credit for wearing a color never before seen on the red carpet: industrial paper towel brown. Finally, my sympathy goes out to your train, which try as it might, is simply not strong enough to escape from the clutches of your dress.

That's it for my 2007 Oscars fashion roundup... blogging this year's awards season and hearing all of your responses has been a ton of fun and I can't wait until next year! Be sure to check back later this week as I post my runners-up for best and worst dressed and let me know what you think about my picks and pans in the comments below.

Updated: Click here for Part 2!