Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Arts & Crafty 101

As a kid, I was totally into arts and crafts. In school, at camp, in the home, wherever, whenever. In fact, there was a brief period during my childhood where I proclaimed that I was going to be an artist. You know, as a career. I loved to draw and paint, I even dabbled in lanyard key chains and friendship bracelets. For awhile there, I actually felt I had some talent. Soon enough, however, my little girl dreams were brutally crushed when I learned the unfortunate fate that befell most artists: poverty. At the time, I probably couldn't even comprehend what it meant not to make any money, but based on the tone of my parents' voices when they explained this to me, I came to the conclusion that it was not a path I would want to take.

Despite no longer yearning to be an artist, I did not lose my creative tendencies, but rather, I began to channel them into different mediums - clothes, shoes, bags, and jewelry. I found a way to express my creativity through fashion, and instead dreamt of becoming another kind of artist. I considered many options, from writing about fashion, to personal shopping, even styling. I have toyed with all of these ideas, but one recently stood out to me as the perfect opportunity to put my latent artistic talents to work.

As an accessories freak, I tend to look for fun jewelry at stores like H&M, Forever 21, and Urban Outfitters in order to build my collection without depleting my bank account. Sure, it's not the best quality, but it's inexpensive, and I can get the look of gold jewelry at a good price. However, because cheap "gold" jewelry is nothing but painted metal, the longer you own it, the more it loses color and starts to look like silver instead.

In the past few weeks, two pairs of my earrings were getting to be so faded, that they resembled nothing of their former selves: what used to be shiny gold looked instead like dull, gray, sadness. ::Pause for dramatic effect:: The choice was clear: my cheap earrings were in need of a serious makeover. See, that's the other great thing about not investing in jewelry. When you purchase something for $5, you lose that squeamish feeling at the thought of getting a little experimental. The task is simple, all you need is a few minutes, and a few bottles of nail polish. (And we all know how I have more than that!)

About a month ago, in a discussion with a friend of mine when wearing one of my lackluster pairs of earrings, I spoke to how I was most likely going to revive the muted metal by coating it in gold nail polish. My friend, being ever so crafty herself, explained that I did not necessarily have to stick to just gold, but that I could paint them however I damn well pleased. Poetic license, if you will.

So guess what? That is exactly what I did. I brought out some neon polish, a little glossy topcoat, and created my very own masterpiece:

Now, if that is not modern art, I am not sure what is. Class dismissed.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Step (It) Up, To Bat

We live in an age of artificial enhancement. You can fix almost any aspect of yourself that you find fault with, which, in turn leads people to constantly pose the question: "Are those real?" Even I am no stranger to such an inquisition.

Get your mind out of the gutter, people. I'm talking about my eyelashes.
Sure, when it comes to the debate between what is real and what is fake, one's eyelashes don't normally figure into the picture. Or so I thought. Sure, I know how easily one can waltz into a drugstore and purchase false lashes, but I never thought it could be possible for someone to assume that those same people would want to put that kind of effort into their everyday routine. I mean, I get it if you want to dress up your make up for a special occasion, hell, even for just a regular night on the town. But to work?

Let's get this straight. I love makeup. I like experimenting with different looks and I am not afraid of color. But the idea of having to apply false lashes every day before work sounds incredibly tedious. And if you know me at all, you know that laziness is one of my best qualities.

Okay, I am not going to deny the fact that I have naturally long eyelashes just to sell you some product. But they are blonde and you can't see them. As a self diagnosed makeup maven, I'm telling you, if you want the look of fake lashes without the effort of applying the real thing, just follow my two simple beauty rules:

1) Always use an eyelash curler
2) Follow with a single application of Yves Saint Laurent Volume Effet Faux Cils mascara (on both top and bottom lashes)

TRUST ME. I have sold tons of my friends (and random strangers) on this mascara. It works. It's the best. I have used a over dozen different brands and formulas, and this is the only one I've stayed loyal to for years.

Many of my friends have expressed a fear of using an eyelash curler. You know what I say to that? Get over it. You must not be afraid of the eyelash curler. It is not your enemy, it is your friend. Sure there is the slight possibility you might pinch some of your eyelid, so be extra careful. A steady hand is key. Don't be nervous, and you'll be surprised how much easier it is than you anticipated. If you are too scared, however, I refuse to be held accountable if the mascara alone does not do your eyes justice.

Okay, so that was a lot of talk. You are probably asking for me to provide proof that these two simple rules are truly the key to flirty eye makeup. So, if you still don't believe me, I have provided the following evidence.

Exhibit A: Yes, I like dramatic, winged black eyeliner

Exhibit B: A better view

And finally...

Exhibit C: Just in case you are yet to be convinced

And with that. I rest my case. Batter up!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

An Outfit Not Waisted is Just a Wasted Outfit

It's official: I am totally into belts, they are my new crush. I can't stop thinking about them. How to wear them. Where to wear them. What to wear them with. And ultimately, that I could use some more. I mean, think about it: you and a belt could have the perfect inanimate relationship. A belt is good looking, quiet (yet can speak volumes about your sense of style), and it gives just the right amount of hug.

In high school, and even into college, I thought of belts as just a friend. You know, the kind you turn to when you need--dare I say--a pick me up. They were function over fashion, and they bored me. You also have to know that I wasn't really into cultivating my personal style until I moved to New York City, so the idea of experimenting with accessories other than basic jewelry did not enter my field of vision. Not as if belts actually worked with sweatpants anyway. Ha.

I was trying to think back to when I first started dating the belt. I couldn't really remember, but I think it was prompted by my first love - my green Gucci. It is kelly green, perforated leather, shiny gold buckle, and was on sale at Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets. I begged my father to buy it for me, promising I wouldn't ask for anything else...that day. When he gave in, I was delighted. I found any way to squeeze it into an outfit, wearing it as often as I could. And just like that, I was hooked.

From there, my collection grew. I picked up Linea Pelle and Theory belts at sample sales. Random nautical striped elastic belt on sale at Big Drop. I turned a long Pucci scarf into one, and bought a brown distressed belt from H&M. Of course, there is also the dePalma belt from the flea market. I belted cardigans. Wore them with pencil skirts. The whole nine yards.

Another great thing about the belt, is that there are so many varieties. You can't have any one "type." You can fall in love with a waist belt, a ribbon belt, a low slung hip belt, a feminine belt, or even the studded, grommeted, bad boy that your mom told you to stay away from, kind of belt. With so many choices, it is nearly impossible to get bored.

Just over Memorial Day weekend, I bought this Michael Stars dress which, while it does have a shape, looks even more perfect and put together with something at the waist. Since being purchased, I have worn the dress three times, changing up the belt and shoes at each wear. I'm obsessed. And you want to know the best part? You get to decide when you are so over them, and they can't dump you first.

Now, if only men were this easy to work with.