Saturday, June 02, 2007

Saturday's Best of Blogs

Blogdorf Goodman tests Diorshow Blackout (different from the regular Diorshow I recommended) with mixed results.

With Lindsay and Paris no longer on the scene, The Fug Girls make predictions about who will take their place as the "it" party girl, based on factors like "likelihood of going pantyless," "public intoxication" and "uselessness."

Fashionista discusses Kate Winslet as the new face of L'Oreal, and the trend of celebrities replacing models in cosmetics ads.

Off the Rack has the scoop on a major sale at Forever 21 online, from now until June 13.

And Jezebel reviews the latest GO International collection, by Libertine, and I couldn't agree more with their assessment.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Friday Finds: Summer Blouses

I spent most of last night combing through my closet, figuring out how to maximize my minuscule closet spacce with enough outfits to last me two months of working and living this summer. Tomorrow I'm driving to New York, dropping my car off at my boyfriend's parents' house in Long Island and moving into the NYU dorms. I start work on Monday, interning at an advertising agency, and for some silly reason, I'm getting nervous that I won't have the right clothes. I know how important it is to make a good first impression, and the freedom of "creative business casual" is freaking me out. What counts as too creative or too casual? And if I go too far in the formal direction, will I come off as a poor fit for their working environment ("Get thee to an investment bank!")?

In scrutinizing the contents of my closet, I came to a few conclusions. First, I have enough dresses to clothe an army of shirt and wrap dress enthusiasts. Second, I have a number of very respectable pencil and a-line skirts. I probably have enough shoes that are work-appropriate but won't give me blisters or foot pain (then again, one never knows this for sure until they've walked 12 blocks and been on their feet for 8 hours). What I'm lacking are tops for my skirts and dress pants, tops that give off the "young creative professional" vibe I'm looking for, but that will still be comfortable during my long, hot commute to and from work.

Specifically, I had blouses in mind. Short sleeved, with interesting details and a flattering (but not sexy) cut. It was actually far more difficult finding pieces that fit this criteria than I'd expected (especially within my price range), but I was able to come across the following blouses that would probably work well in a situation like mine. I'll find out soon enough whether they (and the rest of my wardrobe) make the cut at my job.


Gap Fitted Puff-Sleeve Shirt, $39.50


Forever 21 Ruffled Blouse, $24.80


Tommy Hilfiger Eyelet Shirt, $69.00


INC Printed Pintuck-Placket Top, $49.00


Victoria's Secret Camp Shirt, $28.00


Isaac Mizrahi for Target Roll-Sleeve Shirt, $17.99


Banana Republic Cotton Matador Top, $68.00

Thursday, May 31, 2007

From Average American to Idol

One of my favorite things about American Idol is that it's the contestants are, and look like, real people. You get a real cross section of America, people of different races, from different economic backgrounds and different parts of the country, (relatively) old and young, overweight and thin. Most of the contestants are average looking, but what I love most is that even the best looking idols are attractive in a normal-person way, not at all on the Hollywood celeb level.

Katherine McPhee is arguably the most beautiful contestant in idol history and no one could stop talking about how pretty she was when she was on the show. But even when she had hair, makeup and wardrobe styled, she still looked like a really cute girl you'd run into at the supermarket. She was a little overweight, maybe a size 10, and had normal proportions, no perfect body.

Of course, once the show is over, the top contestants move from "regular person on a reality show" famous to legitimately famous people who are featured in magazines, stalked by paparazzi and permanently surrounded by a large entourage. Instead of being on stage with other normal looking people, the bar has been raised- they're on awards shows and red carpets with A-listers. Try having your picture taken next to Mischa Barton after you've been with Ruben Studdard for 6 months... you might be a tad more self-conscious about how you look.

What's happened is that many of the idol winners and runners up have undergone fairly dramatic makeovers. Obviously this is far more prevalent among female contestants, as they're being judged on their looks in a way men are not. But compare a couple of the before and after pictures of top idol contestants:

I'm happy for these women that they're looking so good, but it saddens me that they no longer resemble the average women they once were. Since Idol is such a family show, I also have to wonder what the millions of young girls who watch the show, go to the concerts and buy the albums must think when they see their favorite star morphing into a hotter, skinnier, magazine-friendly version of herself. Is that something women have to do to succeed in this industry, and was there something wrong with how they looked before?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, ever since Jordin Sparks won the latest season of American Idol last Wednesday. She's a very pretty girl, and at 17, at a particularly vulnerable age. But she's also at a weight that is far above the Hollywood norm, and if the rumors that Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson were pressured by their label and handlers to lose weight are true, I think it's very likely that we'll see an even more dramatic weight loss from Jordin. And yet again, the idea that a normal-sized woman isn't marketable and can't succeed in Hollywood will be reinforced to women and girls everywhere.

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Home Again!

Last Thursday I drove nearly 700 miles through 2 countries and 4 states in an overstuffed car with my mother. There's no question that I love my mom, and I even really like her most of the time. But 13 hours sitting next to each other made me thankful that I'm only home about 5 weeks a year. It's not that hard to be like the Gilmore Girls when 97% of your relationship is conducted through phone and e-mail, and I give major credit to anyone who lives at home and still has their sanity.

But since we've been home, mom and I have fallen into a very nice routine, and we're getting along fine. We drop everything at 4 to watch Oprah and laugh about her new and inventive ways to hide her weight gain each episode. She yells at me about my beauty products taking over the house and I pretend to care. And three times a week we go to water aerobics. I thought it would be kind of funny and ironic to replace my treadmill workout with a water aerobics class, sculling along with the gray-haired ladies in their floral, skirted suits. I safely bet on the fact that I'd be thinner than everyone else in the pool (I think this is why my mom previously started doing it, as she's the youngest in the class by 15 years and before me, the skinniest) and let me tell you, working out around people who are way older and fatter than you can do wonders for your self-esteem.

But my newfound love for water aerobics is not the only exciting thing that's happened since I got home. My sister Ellie, who I lovingly refer to as Smell (as in Smelly Ellie... I was a mean big sister) had her senior prom last Saturday.

For me and my high school dance-loving self, prom was one of the most anticipated events of my high school career. I think I bought my dress (the story of which I told in this post) a good 3 months in advance, and I booked hair, makeup and limousine appointments before most other people had dates (I realize now that this type of behavior qualifies me for starring in the documentary When Type A's Attack!). To make a long story short, prom was a very big deal to me, and I would discourage others from treating it this way because even though it was a nice, fun night with friends, it certainly wasn't the greatest day of my life.

My sister, on the other hand, forgot about prom until a couple of weeks before the dance. She told me that all the girls in her group were planning on wearing short dresses (her thought: "it's great, we'll be able to dance easily," my thought: "the horror! this is prom! the next time you'll get to wear a long, formal dress will be your wedding day!") and I helped her pick out a beautiful blue chiffon dress from BCBG. She was able to get a hair appointment last minute, and was planning on just asking the stylist to straighten her hair, but luckily they were able to convince her to go just a tad more formal with a 60's style half-up, half-down do.

With a couple hours to go before the dance, she realized 2 things. First, she needed to do her makeup, and second, she'd forgotten to shave her armpits and legs. So what did she do? She pulled up her dress, slathered on some shaving cream and stood in the tub and shaved. I just about died. Then she asked me to do her makeup (as I've mentioned many times, not one of my specialties) but it actually turned out quite nice. She did end up with DiorShow everywhere, but it was nothing a little Q-tip dipped in makeup remover couldn't fix. Her equally laid back best friend Tori stopped by a few minutes later and had me do her makeup as well, which also turned out great. Perhaps there is hope for my poor makeup application skills after all.

Yes, we look nothing alike.

We went to Ellie's friend's house to meet her date and take pictures of their group and let me tell you, if I could do a best and worst dressed list for these 22 high school prom-goers, I would. There was a whole lot of ugly in that limo. Since my mom doesn't indulge with gossip, I frantically searched around for someone to make catty remarks with, and found that my aunt was game. In both of our completely unbiased opinions, we agreed that my sister was the best dressed of the night, and I was so proud of her and her budding sense of style that I thought I'd share a few pictures from the night with you guys.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Jessicas Want Respect!

During finals week, I was desperate for some distraction from the hundreds of flashcards I needed to review and 30 pages of essays I had left to write. So, I went for a walk and the cover of the latest Elle hanging in a drugstore window caught my eye. Jessica Biel was on the cover in this strange outfit of a white bra top, bright yellow jacket and (here's the kicker) shiny gold lame bermuda shorts, paired with chunky gold jewelry. It was also "The Body Issue," whereby fashion magazines that exclusively feature size 00 models put a size 2 actress on the cover and expound on the beauty of women with curves.

I got back to my room, snuggled up in my chair with some cookies and began flipping through the issue. When I got to the article about Jessica Biel, I came across the following quote, in which she discusses being named "Sexiest Woman Alive" by Esquire magazine.

"I thought the Esquire cover was going to be really positive for my career. But it wasn't, really. [One director told me] 'I'm not looking for the sexiest woman; I'm looking for the girl next door.'"

She then goes on to whine about how, "Parts that I really want aren’t going to me. Like 'The Other Boleyn Girl’ with Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. I don’t want to say that there’s nothing I love that I can have. But there’s still the occasional script that the director doesn’t want to see you for." Basically, she spends most of the article bitching about the fact that she's so sexy that no one takes her seriously as an actress, so she's not getting good roles. So tragic, I know.

But then I flipped the page and saw this full-page photo:

Ladies and gentlemen, Jessica Biel is an ACTRESS, not a sex symbol, and she wants your RESPECT!

That's why she's on her hands and knees in a skintight minidress and stripper heels.

Jessica Biel isn't the only actress who pulls this B.S. The other hot Jessica (now that Jessica Simpson is out of the running), Jessica Alba, also frequently complains about how frustrating it is not to be respected for her acting talent. She recently told GQ, “I hope all my new work will help producers in getting past my hotness.” She also claimed that she wants to be a “serious actress,” and does not want her movies to be all about “me in a bikini.”

What was the accompanying photo?

Obviously these ladies want it both ways, and I don't know that that's possible. Certainly there are actresses who are respected for their craft but are still viewed as sex symbols, but unfortunately, those girls have talent, which the Jessicas seem to lack. I think they realize that they aren't good enough to get serious roles, but if they say that they at least would like to be serious actresses and blame their sexy reputations on the exploitative media and casting directors who refuse to hire them, they come out looking more legitimate.

Still, I think a good first step would be to stop doing these erotic photospreads that accompany articles about how they're so upset about being known for their bodies instead of their talent.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Meme-ing

Most of the time, I despise memes. Especially those ones that are 100 questions long and ask all kinds of ridiculous, useless, boring questions like "Do you prefer Coke or Pepsi?," "When was your first kiss?," and "Which of the following sexually transmitted diseases have you contracted?" Okay, maybe not the last one, but at least questions like that would make it entertaining to read.

But for the first time I was tagged (and just me, not 60 people) for a meme that's brief, interesting and fairly informative, from the lovely Glitterati, who leaves great comments on this blog and runs her own blog called Brain Spam. Here are my answers to her meme:

1. What book is currently on your nightstand?

There are actually a few books sitting on my nightstand right now. I'm at my parents house on vacation and am so bored that I'm averaging about 3-4 books a week. In the last couple days I finished Irene Nemirovski's Suite Francaise which was amazing and unlike any book I've ever read, and Nicole Krauss's The History of Love: A Novel which was a good read but nothing spectacular. It was also eerily similar to Jonathan Safran Foer books (they're married, so maybe that explains something). I'm trying to decide whether to read Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table (I really loved her other two memoirs) or Michael Chabon's latest book, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, which the critics adored, next.

2. Who are your personal heroes or role models?

I don't really have any specific heroes or role models. But I especially admire women who've risen up the corporate ladder and paved the way for women like myself to be able to succeed professionally and still have personal/family lives.

3. How do you relieve stress?

I've said it before, but I love to browse the evening wear collections on the Saks, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom websites when I'm feelings stressed. Looking at $3000 gowns and imaging where I could wear a dress like that and how I would feel gets my mind off of whatever's bothering me. Exercise, singing along to the radio and cooking also work well.

4. What music do you like?

I like all kinds of music, especially classic rock, 60's soul and country, but when I'm listening to my XM Radio, it's usually tuned to the 90's station. I think everyone loves the music they listened to as a kid and for me it's 90's pop, rock and alternative. One time I was driving and they played Hanson's "MmmBop," The Spice Girls' "Wannabe" and "The Macarena" in a row and I just about died from nostalgia overload.

5. What personal care product can't you live without?

My desert island product would probably be Cetaphil's Gentle Skin Cleanser, which is the most boring beauty product on the market, but also one of the best. I've gotten so many people hooked on it, and though I've had a few flings with more exotic face washes, I always go back to my old faithful. Runners up: Olay Total Effects 7x moisturizer, Paul Mitchell's Shampoo 2, MAC Blot Powder.

Okay, so I'm going to tag my girl Winona at Daddy Likey AND I'm going to tag all you readers (including lurkers!). I love hearing what other people are reading, listening to, loving, etc, so if you're so inclined, leave a comment and join the meme!