Saturday, October 13, 2007

Saturday's Best of Blogs

Fashion critic Suzy Menkes has a great article in the New York Times Style Magazine about the differences between the way men and women perceive women's fashion.

Jezebel discusses the "blatant racism" of modeling agencies.

Capitol Hill Barbie
reviews her favorite Bobbi Brown products.

sits down with 10 of the most powerful women in Hollywood to discuss the state of women in the movie industry.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Finds: Rain Boots

It's been raining non-stop for over a week here and I've practically been living in my trench and rain boots whenever I'm not in my room, curled up in bed with my laptop and a cup of tea. It's hard to think about pretty dresses and high-heeled shoes when you're spending most of the day avoiding puddles the size of swimming pools, but that doesn't mean I'm not trying to inject a little style into my outfits. In the last couple of years, the classic rubber rain boot has become trendy, with high and low-end designers creating signature versions. The colorful, printed boot is now ubiquitous, and seeing people walking around wearing leopard print rubber boots is the norm, not the exception.

I'm not a huge fan of the crazy prints, as most of them are pretty juvenile (clouds? skulls? no thanks.) but there are still plenty of cute boots in stores right now. Here are a few of my favorites:

Metallic Tweed Rain Boot, from Urban Outfitters, $38

Tretorn Plask W, from Zappo's, $129.95

Xhilaration Zandra Rain Boots, from Target, $19.99

Hunter Original Rain Boots, from Zappo's, $98.95

Houndstooth Rain Boot, from Target, $19.99

Plaid Rain Boots, from Urban Outfitters, $34

Thursday, October 11, 2007

When Everyone's a Style Critic

The New York Times had an interesting story recently about the proliferation of style critics. You know, the people who fill our makeover shows, red carpet commentaries and tabloid "best and worst dressed" lists with snappy remarks about who or what is "hot" or "not" this week. Many of these critics are hired on the basis of their comedic abilities, not their knowledge of fashion, and generally seem to prefer witty insults over serious criticism (even Tim Gunn falls into this trap on his new show). This focus extends from "girl on the street" makeover shows like "What Not To Wear" all the way to television shows, blogs and magazines devoted to breaking down the best and worst dressed stars at the Oscars.

And of course, there are those of us bloggers, regular people willing to share their take on the style scene, who often are not ashamed to admit that they have no experience in the fashion world. With the popularity of blogs and online forums devoted to the fashion industry, street style and celebrity fashion, we're all critics.

But does one need qualifications to write about fashion? Obviously if you're applying to be the next Cathy Horyn it's a necessity, but for everything else, what makes someone qualified to be commenting on another person's clothes? The NYT article suggests that the person doing the criticizing should have a solid sense of style and dress well, but if style is subjective, it's hard to use that as the test.

I have mixed feelings about the explosion of fashion criticism. One the one hand, I think it's great that more people's views are being represented, particularly those of the people who actually wear clothes on the street and must be creative in styling themselves, often on a budget. Regular people are elevated to style stardom after being featured on "The Sartorialist" or New York Magazine's "The Look Book," not to mention the hundreds of blogs that document the party scenes in various cities.

On the flip side there's a snarky and often mean-spirited attitude that permeates discussions of style. As much as I love "What Not to Wear," I often cringe at the insults Stacy and Clinton make at the "before" pictures of the women. Red carpet and tabloid fashion critics are the worst though, ripping stars to pieces for every fashion misstep. It's a way of humanizing the rich and famous, but I think it's had a negative effect on fashion.

More people than ever are paying attention to what they and others wear and I haven't decided yet whether this trend has been positive or negative. I can see it leading to an increase in people's willingness to take fashion risks (they see interesting style combinations on blogs and have the courage to try new things) and realizing the importance of controlling how others perceive you through how you dress. But I can also see it making people more conservative, lest they attract negative attention for their style. I think celebrities fall into the latter category, since landing on a worst dressed list can really hurt an actress's career, while being known as a style icon (even Jessica Biel is being called one these days) can boost their fame.

What do you think about the rising popularity of fashion criticism and commentary?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Happy Anniversary, FGB!

I can't believe it, but this week marks the one year anniversary of Faking Good Breeding! I've written about my experience as a blogger in the past, but I just wanted to take this post to thank you, readers and commenters, for making this blog into more than just a little vanity project.

The idea that people actually care enough to read what I've written on the topics that interest me still amazes me after a year. Your insightful comments have elevated the site and taught me so much (more than once I've changed my position on an issue in response to a great group of comments). Knowing that I have such intelligent, thoughtful readers motivates me to think harder and write better, and you inspire me to stick with this site through good times and bad. Writing this blog has given me a tremendous amount of fulfillment in my life and I thank you for sharing the experience with me.

Happy anniversary, FGB!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Product Review: Trish McEvoy Lip Color SPF 15

As my friends and family know, I'm often very finicky about the things I put on my body. It annoys me when my clothes don't fit exactly, when my jewelry jangles around and when my makeup feels heavy. This is especially a problem when it comes to lip color.

I'm always conscious of my lips when I'm wearing lipstick or gloss, and I usually spend too much time trying to avoid messing up my makeup. I have a bad habit of rubbing my lips together unconsciously this often results in smearing color onto my teeth. Unlike my beloved lip balms, most glosses and lipsticks taste gross when you accidentally lick your lips or are eating something. It drives me nuts when I'm walking outside and my hair gets stuck to my lips. I hate having to think about reapplying during the night. For a while, I gave up on wearing any lip color because it just seemed to be more trouble than it was worth.

But a couple of weeks ago I decided to break my lipstick/gloss boycott. My senior pictures were coming up and I decided that I did not want my grandchildren looking at my college portrait and saying, "Granny is pretty, but where are her lips?" Still riding high on the success of my earlier concealer and eye liner purchases from the Trish McEvoy counter, I returned to Nordstrom with a list of lipstick or gloss demands for a very understanding sales associate.

"I'm looking for a lip color that is very natural looking but not boring nude, one that will show up in pictures. I need it to last for hours without requiring additional applications. It can't dry my lips out like most stains or longwear lipsticks. And I don't want it to feel heavier, goopier or stickier than a lip balm. Is there anything that meets even most of those qualifications?"

She thought it over for a minute, and brought me a few tubes of the Trish McEvoy Lip Color SPF 15. I hadn't thought to even ask for SPF, so that was a nice surprise. I tried on a few of the "sheer" colors, and had the best luck with Sheer Baby Pink and Sheer Passionfruit. Sheer Baby Pink matched my pale complexion perfectly, a shade that's essentially my lip color but better, while Sheer Passionfruit is slightly more bold, but due to its sheer consistency, still very natural looking.

The product glides on smoothly and feels as light as a balm. All the lip-rubbing in the world won't make it ball up or become gloppy. I found that when I applied multiple coats, the color got stronger, so it's very versatile for days when you want more or less color. It doubles as a lip stain, so even after a night of dinner and drinks, I could still see the color (though it was no longer glossy). It even fades evenly, so you aren't just left with a ring of lipstick around the outside of your lips.

I've also found that these two colors are flattering on a wide variety of skin tones. I did a number of my friends' makeup in preparation for their own senior pictures, and they all gushed over how pretty and natural looking their lips looked. I can't guarantee they'll work on everyone, but the shades complimented the wide variety of my friends' skin tones.

Seeing as this is the third rave review of a Trish McEvoy product, I feel compelled to mention that I have no connection to the company at all (I do, however, receive an affiliate commission whenever a reader buys something from Nordstrom through my blog). I've never received promotional information from them, I don't get discounts on their products and no one has given me free samples. I just stumbled up on the brand on a shopping trip this summer and have been a loyal customer ever since.

Since I'm not a huge lip color collector, if I find a lipstick or gloss that I like, I tend to use it for a long time and rarely buy more than a tube or two a year. For this reason, I wasn't too bothered by the $21 price tag, but I do realize that that is pricey for a lipstick, especially if you're a lipstick addict. But aside from the price, I have nothing but positive things to say about the product, and definitely recommend it to anyone else who hates most lip products.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Life as an American Female Soldier

It's not often that we hear first-person accounts of war from women in the military, so my interest was definitely piqued when my friend Neil sent me this Marie Claire article featuring three female Iraq war veterans talking about their experience as soldiers.

After reading it the first time, I had to read it a second, and then a third time, as I found their stories to be so moving. It's so easy to watch the news, listen to the political rhetoric and read the death tolls and not think about the individuals involved, but reading this reminded me that the women in our military aren't just soldiers, they're daughters, girlfriends, wives, moms, best friends...real people with lives outside of war.

I wish the article had been longer, that more women were able to voice their experiences, but being a typical women's magazine, it's not surprising that only a couple pages would be devoted to a subject that won't boost advertising sales. This, and the fact that this is an unpleasant, uncomfortable and politically fraught topic, are the reasons that more women's magazines don't shed light on how women are impacted by the war.

But I'm frustrated that the more progressive women's magazines, websites, blogs and feminist organizations are not doing more to address the concerns and publicize the stories of female soldiers and veterans. As if fighting overseas wasn't difficult enough, female soldiers have a boatload of additional issues resulting from their gender, and someone needs to help them get their voices heard and advocate for them. Sadly, soldiers are too often associated with the politicians who sent them to war, and progressive and feminist groups can't get past their political single-mindedness to help the people who need it.