Saturday, October 27, 2007

Saturday's Best of Blogs

Fashionista dissects the knee sock trend.

Beauty Addict has tips for making Fall's matte lip look young and modern.

The Wall Street Journal
analyzes Seven For All Mankind's expansion into a sportswear, shoe and handbag brand.

Blogdorf Goodman
reviews Face Time's Velvet Veil primer.

One of my favorite columnists, Joel Stein of the L.A. Times proposes that we give children the holiday of Halloween and hold a separate holiday for adults called simply "Slut Day."

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Finds: Sweater Dresses

If you love curling up in a cozy sweater but hate to give up your dresses as the weather cools, you'll be happy to hear that sweater dresses are huge for fall. Since we're having an Indian summer here in the Northeast, it's hard to know what fall trends will really pick up, but sweater dresses were all over the runways this spring, as designers fell in love with knits again.

I think sweater dresses are great because they're so versatile. The ones with the most classic styling can be worn to work with the right accessories, while lighter-weight dresses are great for layering. Staying warm and comfortable without sacrificing style is a difficult task for the colder months, but sweater dresses provide a happy medium. Here are a few of my favorites:

Banana Republic Belted Cowl Dress, $98

Susina Smocked Sweater Dress, from Nordstrom, $48

Semantiks Sweater Dress, from Nordstrom, $78

Calvin Klein Belted Sweater Dress, from Nordstrom, $118

Kenneth Cole Reaction Puff-Sleeve Sweater Dress, from Macy's, $119

Calvin Klein Jeans Dolman-Sleeve Sweater Dress, from Macy's, $89.50

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Pill For Guys?

47 years ago, the FDA approved the drug Enovid for contraceptive use, and "the pill" was born. Since then, numerous contraceptive options have hit the market, but 47 years later, only two (the good old condom and the vasectomy) are used by men. Of course, a condom isn't a long-term solution, and with the potential for misuse, it's hardly the most reliable method, while no single man is going to consider a vasectomy. Contraception has always been and continues to be the responsibility of the woman in a relationship. Women pay for their pill (or patch, or shot, or ring, etc) financially and physically, as every method has its side effects.

But according to scientists at the recent "Future of Male Contraception" conference, there are a number of male contraceptive options on the horizon. Of course, we've been hearing news about the possibility of a male pill for over a decade, and with no approximate date set for the drug's release, it could be many more years before it hits the market.


But if and when it does, I think it will be fascinating to see how it affects relationships. How many men will take it, instead of just continuing to rely on their sexual partner to use contraception? Will fear of side effects turn them off the idea? Will women trust their partners to take control over contraception, or will they continue to use their own methods? Will men approach sex differently if they're more conscious about their responsibility for preventing pregnancy?

I would hope that every couple would be smart enough to want to protect themselves to the fullest extent, having both partners use contraception, but I think it'll take a very long time before equal amounts of women and men are using long-term contraceptive methods.

Do you think the men in your life would consider taking "the male pill?" Would you feel safe giving up your own contraceptive method and trusting your partner to take control?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Remedies for Chapped Lips

Meg,

Lately, my lips are chapped beyond belief. As in, skin-peeling, bleeding chapped. I've been slathering on balms 24/7, but to no avail- each morning, I wake up and they're still in terrible, painful shape. Have you ever had this problem? What's your remedy?

Many thanks!

Nadarine


Nadarine, I can definitely feel your pain, as my dry skin makes me prone to chapped lips, especially during the colder months. Luckily, I've been able to stave off dry lips for a long time, due to diligent lip balm use. Every morning when I wake up and right before I go to bed at night I slather on Aquaphor, which I've found to be the strongest, most effective body and lip moisturizer on the planet (even the most blistered chapped lips won't stand a chance). Then throughout the day I keep a tiny tub of Blistex's Lip Medex in my purse, because I like the tingly feeling it gives in addition to being super moisturizing. I have a habit of licking my lips unconsciously, which adds to their natural dryness, so I find myself reapplying this every couple of hours or so, but I think the average person would need to reapply far less.


I think that when your lips heal, it's a good idea to exfoliate them regularly. I've heard that people brush their lips with a toothbrush, but that sounds way too harsh to me. Every few days I put on a heavy balm like Aquaphor, let it sit for a few minutes and then gently rub it off with a paper towel (a warm washcloth would work well too). This gets off any flakies and helps lipstick go on more smoothly.

I'd also recommend wearing a balm even when your lips aren't super dry, just to prevent this kind of problem from occuring again. Even if it's just once in the morning and once at night, it will help your lips stay soft and moisturized. If you find that you're still experiencing severe chapped lips even when you use balm, experiment to see if one of your lipsticks or glosses might be drying, or if your dryness may be the result of an allergy. In that case, you might also want to consider seeing a dermatologist to check to see that it isn't a symptom of a more serious condition.

Anyone else have tips for Nadarine? What's your favorite lip balm?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More Restaurant Etiquette- Requesting a Recipe

Hello Meg, I have a question for you regarding restaurant etiquette. Last weekend, my boyfriend and I stopped in for lunch at a lovely Italian restaurant on the Sunshine Coast in Australia. As we were finishing the waiter came around and asked us how we liked our meal. My boyfriend jokingly asked if we could have the recipe of my entree because we'd both loved it so much. The waiter said, sure, he'd ask the chef. When he came back a few moments later he said that the chef was touchy about sharing his recipes and said no. My question is, what is the normal etiquette in this scenario? Supposing we were quite serious about asking for the recipe (we weren't really) - should we have even asked? Were we being rude just for asking? And is it normal for chefs to be protective of their work like this? Thanks for your help :-) Sasha

Hi Sasha! I've given some thought to your question, and I think you acted completely appropriately in the situation. It's a compliment to the chef that you enjoyed your meal enough to want to re-create it yourself, so I don't think it's rude at all to ask such a question. If you'd gotten angry and demanded to have the recipe, you would've been out of line, but it sounds like you were very polite when the waiter said he had a policy about not sharing his recipes.


I read a lot of food blogs and bloggers often mention getting recipes because they asked for the recipe at restaurants (these aren't celebrity bloggers, just normal people). If you're at a well-known restaurant, there might be a cookbook available with the recipe which you can purchase. Other times, chefs have given recipes to local newspapers or magazines. It certainly never hurts to ask.

I think the main reason that a chef would say "no" to a request like yours is because the kitchen is so busy that he doesn't have time to write down elaborate instructions. Or, the dish might involve kitchen tools and appliances unavailable to home chefs. But I don't think it's rude or inappropriate to ask if he or she is willing to share, just as long as you're respectful of his decision not to.

One thing I often do if I've really enjoyed a restaurant meal is to go home and do a Google search for recipes. I've had good experiences finding recipes that are very similar, if not exactly the same, to the dishes I've loved at restaurants.

I thought I'd throw out your question to other readers, particularly those who've worked in restaurants. Is requesting a recipe an impolite gesture? Do chefs ever give out their recipes?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Whitewashed Runways

In recent weeks, the lack of racial diversity in the modeling world has been the talk of the fashion community and I couldn't be happier. It's disgusting to think that we've actually gone backward in the last ten years when it comes to representing women of color on high fashion runways and in the pages and advertisements of women's magazines, but we have. Despite the fact that 30% of the US population is not white, there's a black man running for president, and black women spend more than $20 billion per year on apparel, there's a stunning absence of non-white faces in the modeling world.


Why does this matter?

First, the fashion industry sets the standards for beauty, and by not choosing non-white faces to represent their brand and style, the message they're sending is that only white women meet their standards of beauty. Girls and women are constantly reminded that they don't like "right" when they flip through magazines and rarely come across a woman who looks like them.

Second, high fashion is and has always been an elite pursuit, limited to those with the financial means to afford extremely expensive clothing and accessories, and the designers, marketers and journalists who gained access to this elite world in order to study and understand it. Models are the public face of the industry and by only using white models, it further reinforces the message that the fashion world (as producers and consumers) is closed to non-whites.

Of course, when the members of the fashion industry are questioned about the lack of non-white models, they play the blame game and insist that it's someone else: the casting directors, the magazine editors, the modeling agency... it's always someone else's fault that so few brands have non-white models representing their brand.

The question arises whether it all boils down to racism. At a recent debate on the subject among fashion insiders at the New York Public Library, one magazine editor recounted that while working on a story for Vibe magazine, Manolo Blahnik refused to loan the magazine shoes for a shoot (a very common practice among magazines). It took a personal call from supermodel Iman to Manolo himself to get the shoes. There are many stories of designers who have asked modeling agencies only to send them Caucasian girls, or designers who send models back to agencies after realizing they were given a non-white model. The default category for models is "general market," which means Caucasian or Caucasian-looking. Unless a brand specifies "African-American," "Asian," or "Latina," they're only going to get headshots of white girls. There's no reason why general market equals white, but a brand would have to specifically request a non-white model for them to be eligible for the job.

I think racism definitely plays a big role in the lack of non-white models, but it's also a systematic racism which affects the whole industry. Non-whites are under-represented at every level of the fashion hierarchy, and I think that when magazines, fashion brands, casting companies and modeling agencies begin to hire more non-whites, we're going to see more representation of non-white faces on their pages and runways.

But this doesn't explain why we had more non-white models 10 and 15 years ago than we do today. The only explanation I can come up with is that the fashion industry has a problem conflating race with trends. The New York Times article points out that "the current taste in models is for blank-faced androids who don't offer much competition to the clothes." I think it's a pretty weak argument to say that a woman of color would inevitably "compete with the clothes." 15 years ago when the trend was for more individualistic, fierce-looking models, there was far greater representation of women of color. This obviously plays into racial stereotypes, but it also suggests that the industry can't seem to separate the color of a model's skin from her "look," and that they fear that by using non-white models, the focus will be on the model's skin above all else.

The message to consumers is that, if you're lucky, your race or ethnicity will be the trend this season, but if not, don't expect us to tell you you're beautiful or included in this industry.