Monday, November 25, 2013

Sweater Weather tag

I have to give credit for this to the adorable and informative Little Red - I added and changed a couple.  **If you're reading this, consider yourself tagged**

1.  Favorite candle scent - I'm going to start off with a buzzkill right of the bat I guess.  I don't use candles.  Unless there's a blackout.  Then I use whatever I have stuffed in the back of my bathroom cupbord - usually cheap gifts from 10 years ago.  I don't hate christmas, or ambiance.  I kind of get it.  But I think I won't be a candle person any time soon and here's why: 1) I have small children 2) I have an almost obsessive compulsive fear of my house burning down, every time I light a candle for halloween or an outside bbq I start feeling paranoid that I'm goign to forget about it and hit the sack and wake up in a pile of flames.  In fact I didn't even use candles this halloween, I used those LED lights.  Thank god for those.  3) I used to be into candles but however delicious the scent, I would always get tired of it after a while.  4) I am an anti-hoarder, I don't like keeping non-essential things around.  Candles fall into that category. 

2. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate - it depends on the time of day, I like them all.  I typically have a mocha in the morning and tea during the day and evening.  I LOVE warm drinks.  They are so therapeutic.  I don't drink caffeine though, I kind of wish I did.  But it makes me too shaky and nervous, like a chihuahua.  So I drink a lot of decaf coffee and espresso and for tea I like mint. 

3.  Favorite memory of fall - watching the rain outside my parents huge picture window.  They have a beautiful lot and really tall lush redwoods providing a backdrop so when it would rain, you could see each individual drop.  And the room and window were so big and tall that you felt like you were right in the downpour, only you were warm and toasty at the time.

4.  Which makeup change do you prefer: dark lips or winged eyeliner? - this is tough.  I'm going with winged eyeliner.  So many people are pulling it off in very subtle ways.  I think it's so current and beautiful and it even works at the office.  Dark lips are fun for special occasions, but if everything else about your makeup and look aren't done right, it can look goth or cheap. 

5.  Preferred body fragrance - PRADA candy.  Flowerbomb is a close second.

6.  Favorite thanksgiving food - Tofurkey.  I'm a vegetarian and I've tried ALLLLLL the turkey alternatives and most of them are seriously gross.  This one is a perennial winner.  I can't wait!

7.  Does your skincare routine change in fall?  I have to take more incessant care of my lips and hands.  They get dry so much faster.  I use a lot more vaseline, my dirty little beauty secret.  And hand/nail treatments.  My face routine doesn't really change.  I always use a pretty rich cream morning and night. 

8.  Most worn sweater- honestly this year the award goes to the drapy black cardigan from WHBM that I described here.  It was an impulse purchase that I felt kind of guilty about, like what do I need this for?  But now I don't know what I would have done in the past couple months without it.

9.  Most worn fall nail polish? - reds.  And dark colors - dark navy, garnet, emerald. 

10.  Puddle jumping or sitting by the fire? The fire, for sure.  I get a lot of both with kids.  Puddle jumping and walking around in the rain is fun (for like 20 minutes) and I can pretend its exercise, but I much prefer being warm and cozy.

11. Skinny jeans or leggings - I am a skinny jeans girl.  I LOVE leggings and despite having a pretty decent bod (if i do say so myself), I think I am over the age limit for leggings unless I'm wearing them with a dress. 

12.  Favorite starbucks seasonal flavor? salted caramel.  I love caramel, and I love sweet and salty anything.  Seriously, I put sea salt and sometimes pretzles on my ice cream.

13. Favorite thing to watch on TV when it's raining/snowing?  Same as what I like to watch when it's not cold out.  I like reality tv.  I love million dollar listing, some of the talent/singing shows, Parenthood (I know, not reality), the Shahs and the Real Housewives.

14.  What is the fall weather like where you live? I live in northern california and it gets to be in the high 50's, low 60's during the day, and it rains every few weeks.  Pretty innocuous.

15Does your exercise routine change in the cold weather?  I don't really have a "routine" per say right now.  I do some walking and running outside and that takes some warm gear if it's cold or rainy.  I'm usually decked out in lululemon. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Christmas Shopping!

Are you one of those people who can't get a round of xmas shopping in without treating yourself to a little something?  Well consider yourself forgiven.  You deserve it for dealing with gridlock parking lots, rain, kids (your own or others'), lines, and paralyzing indecision (again, your own or others').  Here's what I got myself during yesterday's gift haul:
It's so great.  I saw it in a gift set and went directly to the Chanel counter to get the full-priced single.  What can I say.  When you see "the one" you just know.  This is actually my first true red shade.  I never thought of myself as a true red nail or lip kind of girl but I am going to have to re-think that because I'm in love with this.  It's the perfect holiday color too. 

The first coat went on a little fuchia but by the second coat it was true to the bottle, and even a bit more burgundy than it looks in the picture (which looks downright pink on my monitor - sorry, again with my dreams of getting a real camera).  Chanel gets a lot of flack for chipping but I've found that this stays on as well as any of my Dior shades, although not as well as Guerlain or Illamasqua. 

I also found these amazing gift sets for some lovely ladies on my list: 

These both feature Philosophy's  miraculous shampoo, shower gel, and bubble bath-in-one as well as an extra matching festive product.  There were even more selections at Nordstrom and most are around $25 and under.  Perfect for teachers, friends, in-laws, people for whom you need to get a "little something" and more affordable (and more useful imho) than a starbucks card. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The transition

I wrote about an impending change in work and financial circumstances in my opening post.  Well, the change is upon us.  I am currently a somewhat highly-paid professional with a lot of stress and little time for my kids and hobbies and this winter I am finally going to make the move to a new career.  It will pay probably about half (or less) of what I'm making now which means my choices in fashion and beauty will be somewhat different.  Particularly in fashion.  No more burberry coats, no more tall leather boots and Manolos.  Not for a while.  In fact, my new year's resolution this year is not to buy a single pair of new shoes.  You read that right.  I think I can do it because I have classic style and thus far have had expensive taste - the collection I have should last me for a while both in terms of being fashion-forward and high-quality.  Since I don't know what kind of office culture I will walk into on my next job, I am also at a loss about what to wear there.  But stay tuned.  Cosmetic choices will probably vary a little less, the price point on luxury beauty items is typically just not as high compared to designer clothing.  And I am very committed to quality skincare and makeup.  With clothes, it's easier to fake being expensive-looking.

This transition should make my posts all the more interesting and relevant.  And I may cover more than just my own spending and hauls in these two categories.  E.g. it's the giving season and I plan to include a lot about what to buy discerning family members, particularly when they're used to luxury goods like retail-priced Kate Spade wallets and Coach watches. 

But first, in the way of some eye candy and review material, my last two lululemon purchases (for a while):

Dog Runner ($118): For dropping the kids off at daycare on a stay-at-home work day, or going to the beach or for a hike on the weekends.  This is flattering, technically appropriate, and appropriately casual.  The lining is so so warm and is almost a separate legging, but is sewn into the looser shell at the top.  I got inkwell.

Stuido Pant ($118 with liner, $108 without): Similar to the Dog Runner but more rouched and without the clingy lining.  I have THREE pairs of studio crops and wear them all.  A lot.  During the summer.  This is the perfect addition to my fall casual wardrobe.  I will probably get them in black.  They serve basically the same purpose as the ones above, just a slightly different style.  The unlined version serves as a nice cover up on your way to yoga or a loose long sport pant, the lined version is for cold wintery outings. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Winter Warmth

Here is my collective winter haul for this year.  Tim Gunn once said in his "Guide to Quality, Taste, and Style" (a must read) - don't buy it unless it will be the best piece you own (I'm paraphrasing, he said it better).  That's how i feel about all of these in different ways.  They are not all fabulous and chic; some are for casual days.  But the tags are all clipped off and I don't know what I would do without any of them.  Starting with the most fabulous...

Burberry Brit Double Breasted Peacoat ($ 895) - this is the second burberry item I've purchased (the other is the obligatory Balmoral trench, below).  I don't do this often.  It takes a pretty special item for me to spend almost a grand on it.  I have returned more burberry coats than I own for not being just right.  But this one is just. right.  It fits WAY better than the Balmoral.  It's a little more forgiving in the arms and chest (I have a very modest sized chest area but still have problems with the tightness of the Balmoral in the same size).  The fabric is from heaven. It's a wool blend with a hint of cashmere and it's super soft and stays structured-looking without giving up comfort.  I love the length, you don't feel like the coat is wearing you.  And the styling is amazing.  Very typical conservative peacoat in the front (I was afraid it looked a little too military on the models but it is fine in person), no ridiculous flashy old fashioned buttons, and the pleating in back makes it so feminine without being too girly.  I'm in love with this.  I also wanted something other than the typical black that wouldn't show dirt too much and navy is so classic.  See I can't stop talking about this one.

Burberry Brit Balmoral Trench ($750):  This is a standby, I've actually had it for a year so it doesn't count as part of the "haul."  I only wear it on super gray rainy or drizzly days because it is just a shell (not very warm on its own) and also because it has to be a pretty crappy day in California to be able to pull off a trench.  Also it's not the most comfortable thing in my closet.  As I mentioned above the shoulders and chest area are really tight (e.g. you can feel the fabric straining a little when you lift your arms up to grab the steering wheel).  It is best worn with your arms strait down at your sides which is not entirely practical.  But it is very sharp looking and protects well against the elements.  I LOVE that it's machine washable, packable, and the perfect trench color. 

Draped Collar Cover Up from White House Black Market ($88) - I was in WHBM for something totally unrelated and the saleswoman put this in my dressing room to try and I haven't really taken it off since.  The picture doesn't really do it justice.  It goes with everything and adds style to whatever else I'm wearing.  And it didn't break the bank like the first couple items.  It's really warm, unlike some other flimsy cardigans I have from some other mid-range, trendy stores who shall remain nameless.  And it resists pilling or looking old even after having worn it for a hundred days in a row (I'm exaggerating a little but I am impressed at how well it holds up).  It's also an amazing length, covers the muffin top zone and hangs low enough in the back.  It's styled well too, the drape collar looks more like a subtle ruffle collar and I love the angle the front hem is cut at. 

Unfortunately this next one is no longer available (maybe on ebay?) but I've also been wearing it a lot lately and there are similar jackets out there.  This is also from WHBM and cost a bit more than the last, $395 I think.  It's their "tiered" leather jacket from last year.  This thing is so cute, the front has tiered panels and the bottom has a little peplum style ruffle that goes all the way around to the back.  Some of the reviews warned me not to try it on if I wasn't prepared to buy it.  They were right.  It's so cute and so comfortable.  I have never owned a leather jacket and don't think i will ever need another.  While this one is playing to the ruffle and peplum trends, it may end up being a classic since the detailing is more feminine than trendy.   

BCBG Zoie Shawl-Collar Cardigan ($228).  Thanks to the beautiful Julia at Gal Meets Glam I got this at a discount.  It's so great with tall boots and skinny jeans.  Gives that casual vibe without being frumpy.  Covers everything you want covered without being baggy.  I will say the wool is a little scratchy (it has yak hair in it too).  But it's not so bad that I'd return it.  Like the WHBM  cover up, it's warmer than most cardigans.  I hope the fabric holds up and doesn't go all shabby on me like wool
 has a habit of doing.  At this price point (and with drycleaning) it should be ok. 

Splendid colorblock sweater ($118).  This is so unflashy. I wouldn't have even looked at it on the rack.  But an associate at Nordstrom brought it into my dressing room and off I went with it.  Very comfy and surprisingly flattering, for how simple it is.  It looks like it would make one look topheavy but for me, that wasn't the case.  Simple high-quality style.  A definite casual friday contender for work. 

Lululemon's Keep it Cozy jacket ($148).  Again, unflashy, but the most comfortable fabric you will ever touch.  Outside and in.  It feels like a velvet marshmallow on the inside and just a marshmallow outside.  And is so warm and super lightweight.  I basically wear this all weekend now that there's a chill in the air.  Even though I'm not working out much these days I live in lululemon gear on the weekends.  It's not work appropriate which makes it hard to justify the cost.  But it is such a cute sporty piece, I like that there is no hood (when does one ever use the hood part of a hoodie?) and SO functional and presentable that I'm not sure how I used to get through weekends without it.  I'm thinking about getting one for my sister for xmas.  I hate lululemon's return policy though, she wouldn't be able to exchange it. 

What didn't make the cut....

Burberry Brit quilted peplum jacket.  Despite the cute silhouette and great color on this, and even the great fit, it just wasn't right.  I felt like a spaceman and it was far too light to add any real warmth.  The style is a little off for me.  A failed ultra modern?  Too...quilted?  I've never been a fan of Burberry's quilted offerings.  I tried to like this, it is really flattering on, but that's not enough when a coat is so expensive.

WHBM tunic ($98).  This looks amazing on the model.  But the fabric is thick-yet-stiff such that it doesn't hang or rouche when one moves around, it just bulges.  It just looks off as a tunic.  It would have been great as a dress and I am still mourning the fact that it isn't a sweater dress (just three more inches!!).  It is true tunic length, it looks appropriate with just leggings only if you're super skinny and under 22 and it looks silly with jeans because it looks like you are trying to put a sweater dress over jeans.  So disappointing.