Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday's Best of Blogs

Gala Darling ignores Ellen Barkin's terrible advice and writes her own list of 10 rules to live by.

Fashionista discusses the issue of banning smoking ads from women's magazines, as promoted by congress. I'm glad I'm not the only one who was annoyed that the ban would only apply to women's mags, not men's.

The New York Times has a fascinating article on the financial sacrifices many working and middle class women are making in order to get plastic surgery.

I didn't realize that Kiehl's had released a Mexoryl/Parsol 1789 sunscreen until I read Capitol Hill Barbie's post. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that L'Oreal will start using these ingredients in their drugstore brands as well.

For a great time waster, check out this website for Iwanex Studio, a professional photo-retouching company. Click on "Portfolio" and take a look at the before and after pictures of celebrities. You'll be amazed at how much they photoshopped natural beauties like Penelope Cruz and Katherine Heigl.

And if you haven't already, don't forget to enter our contest for a $25 Sephora gift certificate! You can learn more about the contest here.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Finds: Wide Leg Jeans

At the top of my must-have list for my next shopping excursion is a pair of wide leg jeans. I'm normally not one to jump on each new season's trends, but unlike last year's skinny jeans, these are flattering on regular women as well as supermodels, and they're cute and comfortable to boot. But as Jessica, Micha and so many celebs have taught us, the key to looking good in this style is avoiding a high-waist cut and detailing on the thigh, which gives these size 2 starlets huge hips. One rule I like to live by is that if an outfit makes a celeb look fat, I will look like a whale in the same style.

I'm looking out for pairs with a low rise (not super low, but just at my hips), with no pockets or ruching on the front (the back is another story, I'll take all the help I can get there!). I find that slit pockets often make my hips look wider when they're not perfectly flat, so if I buy a pair witht hose, I'll take them to the tailor to get them sewn down.

One style I really like is the trouser cut, which is especially flattering with a wide hem and slimming crease down each leg. They're also a good addition to any wardrobe as a dressier alternative to normal jeans, since they're neater and more formal than a non-trouser style.

Here are a few of my favorite wide leg and trouser style jeans, for less than $70.

Roxy "Kalani" Stretch Trouser Jeans, from Nordstrom, $37.90

Wardrobe Stretch Denim Trousers, from Nordstrom, $68.00

Kat Boot Cut Jean, from Forever 21, $22.00

Fire 'Hillary' Wide Leg Pants, from Nordstrom, $42.00

Shopbop also had a ton of gorgeous styles, and while they're out of the price range I normally feature, they were too beautiful to ignore.

James Jeans Dry Aged Denim, from Shopbop, $133

J Brand Kat Wide Leg Jeans, from ShopBop, $218

Serfontaine Sailor 4-Way Stretch Wide Leg Jeans, from ShopBop, $209

Anlo Alex Jean, from Shopbop, $198

Habitual Icon Side Zip Wide Leg Jean, from Shopbop, $198

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tricks and Tips for Keeping Clothes and Accessories in Top Shape

I have a bad habit of buying things that are cute, cheap and disposable, bought with the expectation that they'll be falling apart by the end of that season. In this age of discount-designer mania (thank you H&M, Forever 21 and Target), I'm sure I'm not the only one.

This summer, my go-to shoes were a pair of simple, gold and white gladiator-esque sandals, bought at Payless for $14.99. For $14.99, I realized I was buying an essentially disposable shoe, but that's what I needed, as I knew they'd suffer some serious abuse from the city streets, and I was prepared to toss them in August. After two months of hardcore city walking (most days I wore them walking to and from work), the soles were black and the straps were stained. They now looked cheaper than they actually were (an accomplishment). I finally got around to unpacking my bags and organizing my clothes and shoes last week, and just as I was walking to the garage to throw out the shoes, my mom stopped me.

"Why would you throw those out? Let me work on them, I'm sure they'll look great if they were cleaned up."

Now, I normally treat my clothes and accessories gently so they stay looking great for a long time, but I was pretty certain these shoes were a lost cause, and I bought them expecting to only keep them for a couple months. They were constructed from materials with long, unrecognizable names, and I had a feeling that even getting them wet might lead to them falling apart.

Mom pulled out the box of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, which are sponges made out of a foamy material, with the "magic" ability to clean just about everything. I would have never thought to try them on my shoes or purses, but when we got it wet and started scrubbing, the stains came out of my shoes very easily, without soaking the shoe or damaging it in any way. Amazed, I pulled out the rest of my scuffed and dirty purses and shoes (excepting those made of leather, which I wouldn't risk, though I haven't had any problems with non-leather soles).

I wouldn't go as far as to say everything looked as good as new, but it took a few months of visible wear and tear off of my things, and they look a whole lot better. Later this week I'm going to go over all of my fall/winter bags and shoes, which is a great way to get excited about your older accessories, instead of rushing to buy new ones when it's not really necessary. I also learned a good lesson about putting the same amount of effort into taking care of my cheap things, since there's no reason why they shouldn't last more than a season.

So I thought I'd throw out a question to all of you (since you've given such awesome advice in the past)... what are your favorite tricks to keeping your clothes and accessories (high quality or low) looking good?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

RSS Feeds, You, and a $25 Gift Card!

Hi everyone! As I pass my 300th post and 1500 visitors per day (it seems like only yesterday that I considered 10 visitors besides my parents and boyfriend a good traffic day), I've started noticing something new about my blog, and about blogs in general. More and more of my readers (now more than 300) are using RSS ("Really Simple Syndication") to read FGB, and I think it's a great development. I've started using RSS to keep up with my favorite sites, and I've found it's an amazing way to follow a lot of blogs, and most importantly, to make sure that I don't miss any posts. Anyway, I know a lot of people still don't use RSS, so I thought I might try to explain it, and why I think it's really useful.

What's RSS?

RSS is a technology that lets blogs publish their posts directly to readers. So, instead of having to go back to a blog to see if it's updated, the user can see a list of the new posts on their favorite blogs by using a "feed reader". My favorite is Google Reader, because it's really easy to use, and I can log into it anywhere to catch up with my favorite blogs.

When you start using a feed reader like Google Reader, you can make a list of your favorite blogs, and whenever the blog is updated, you'll see the new post on your Google Reader page. Instead of having to check my 10 favorite blogs every few hours (which was frustrating and time-consuming), I'm able to follow about 120 blogs and read them at my leisure by checking my feed reader.

Anyway, I really encourage you to try RSS out and subscribe to the Faking Good Breeding RSS feed. For some added incentive, starting tomorrow through this next week I'm going to put a special question in my RSS feed (and it won't be visible on the site), and everyone who responds to the question will be entered into a drawing for a $25 Sephora Gift Card. I'll announce and notify the winner by Wednesday, August 22nd.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Psychology of High Prices

There's a phenomenon at my school that's familiar to anyone who's attended an all-female college. After spending days (or weeks) in the company of women and the occasional male professor, one has put on "Smith Goggles" (or Wellesley Goggles, etc) and can no longer rationally judge men. The average guy is suddenly incredibly attractive, while the loser who you'd normally never give a second glance is dateable, or at least in the darkness of a party, good enough to dance with. You find yourself telling your friends that he has a "scruffy, Colin Firth-thing" going, when really he just hasn't shaved or showered in weeks. You begin to believe your own justifications.

The Wall Street Journal
identified a similar trend among shoppers, where being surrounded by extremely expensive items leads one to view expensive items as affordable. Retailers like Coach set the bar very high by promoting a $10,000 bag, with the hope that when you browse through the racks and come across a lovely $400 bag, it'll seem like a bargain. Ideally, you'll even be congratulating yourself for having the willpower and reason to not succumb to the priciest bag. If that's not brainwashing, I don't know what is.

An article in last week's New York Times came to a different conclusion about shoppers and sticker shock. Just as we often assume that a $4 ice cream cone is better than a $.90 one, shoppers often believe that a $1000 dress is superior to a $300 one. According to a retail consultant interviewed in the article, "For certain people, the higher the price, the more attractive the item becomes." The article continues by arguing that when you expect an item to be a certain price and it's less than that number, it invariably seems like a bargain, even if both prices are out of your budget.

Both articles are referring to clothes and accessories that are so far out of my price range as to be laughable, but I tried to think about whether I experienced the same phenomenon on a (much) smaller scale. I find that I rarely compare an item's price to other things in the store, but I do compare the sale price to the original price and feel like I'm getting a bargain even if I'm spending more than I normally would. I may view it as overpriced, but I still give the original number some legitimacy and am able to justify the sale price.

I also tend to assume that if something's cheap (I'm talking H&M, Forever 21, DSW-level prices) it's not high quality and it won't last very long, even though I've had been burned when many of my expensive clothes have ripped or lost their shape or lustre after washing. I do buy clothes from discount stores assuming they'll fall apart within a year, while I justify pricier items as "investment pieces," hoping I can wear and enjoy them for years (this is rarely the case).

But I'm curious what you guys think. How swayed are you by high prices, and do you find yourself shopping with "price goggles," caving on items outside your budget because they're cheap for that store?

Monday, August 13, 2007

J.Crew Outdoes Itself

Nevermind that I haven't purchased anything from J.Crew in the last 5 years, every month their catalogue arrives on my doorstep like an earnest but annoying ex-boyfriend asking to be taken back. But instead of be impressed by their latest offerings, I entertain myself for hours (okay, more like 10 minutes) by flipping through the pages and laughing at the ridiculous outfits they construct out of over-priced, ugly clothes.

Is it just me, or does it seem like J.Crew is having a serious identity crisis? I've always though of them as offering preppy, feminine clothes with a slightly intellectual vibe to women in their 20's and 30's who want one stop shopping for everything from business suits to cocktail dresses to swimwear. It's also a distinctly East Coast lifestyle that's promoted, and the catalogues always invoke summers on the Maine coast and snowy New England winters curled up by a fire.

But browsing through the latest catalogue, I couldn't figure out exactly who J.Crew was selling to. They've hiked up the prices (as I discussed in this post) and have strayed from their signature look by referencing a number of different disjointed styles, places and periods. I challenge you to take a look at these clothes and tell me who the target audience is. More importantly, I'd be amazed if you could name anyone who actually does dress like this, or wants to start. Without further ado, let's take a peek at their lookbook, which can be viewed in it's entirety here.

You may remember Dick van Dyke in the classic role of Bert the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins, but did you ever think to blend his style with Kris Kross's signature backwards clothes? Luckily J.Crew did! Oh, and in case you hadn't heard, the puffy wrist is the new puffy shoulder.

If this boxy cropped jacket was paired with a form-fitting black pencil skirt and a pair of peep-toe heels, it would be perfect. But what woman wants to look sexy and sophisticated when she can pair a trendy jacket with loose, tapered, light washed MOM JEANS, complete with rolled hems?

Take a good look at this model. Doesn't it look like she's ready to check into a mental hospital? Also, 10 points from Gryffindor (that scarf?) for print overkill and hideous color combinations.

This outfit is for those girls who long for a simpler time, a la Little House on the Prairie, when hard labor was the norm and we lacked indoor plumbing, equal rights for women and shopping malls.

Again with the newsboy cap! Does anyone besides Sienna Miller even wear newsboy caps? I don't think I've ever seen one in real life. It's the last thing in the world I'd pair with this 60's style printed minidress, which looks like a skinny chick's muu muu. And as much as I love printed flats (J.Crew is really loving the printed flats this season), the leopard print with the blue and brown floral is simply overkill.

I'm not even sure how to describe or deconstruct the above outfit, but "wrong" pretty much says it all.