Monday, November 21, 2011

Have We Become "Too Casual" In Modern Society?

This past weekend, I started reading my new (1955 edition) Emily Post Etiquette book I bought off (only $8.00 USD!), I visited Old Town Alexandria with my sister, niece, and nephew, and yesterday afternoon I watched the last two Season 3 episodes of Mad Men on AMC (they are re-showing two episodes from previous seasons on Sunday mornings).

On Saturday, I met with my sister and the kids (ages 17 and 15) and we spent the afternoon visiting the shops in Old Town before enjoying a fantastic meal at a quaint Italian restaurant. It was so fun hanging out with family while browsing the racks in a few consignment boutiques, including an overpriced vintage store that seemed to think 80s and 90s was 'vintage.' I did, however, find a beautiful 50s lucite and silvertone metal 'basketweave' bag on display in a window but it was scratched and filthy (yet they wanted $145.00 for it).

Before heading out to meet my sister, I shook off my lazy morning repose, put my makeup on, and dressed. I wore a 50s plaid wool pencil skirt, stockings, saddle shoes, a 50s black wool collared cardigan, pearls, and a lightweight, 50s era cashmere and alpaca blend, taupe-colored coat. Basically, I was wearing my usual Fall attire. Nothing 'fancy,' it was just another day like any other.

As the gang and I walked around town, I noticed quite a few people staring at me like I was a crazy woman. I get the odd look now and again (especially here in the DC area) but I am used to it. But, the number of stares seemed to be peculiarly high. Most of the 'gawkers'  were clad in North Face jackets, jeans, baseball hats, and college hoodies.
(Above: my alma mater)

I have nothing against hoodies or North Face. As an avid skier, I have several North Face items I love and rely on heavily during season. I even have a GMU hoodie and tee. I graduated from Mason twice (BA and MA). I often wear my hoodie and/or tee to the gym, when I am cleaning house, or when I am sick.  I know 'style' is a personal choice. If someone wants to wear hoodies to a nice restaurant or a baseball hat to Sunday brunch, who am I to judge? And more importantly, how does one's clothing (especially a stranger) effect me? In addition, how does *my* choice to wear vintage effect others? The answer to those questions is, "it doesn't."

Not taking personal taste into consideration, I would like to know why we, as a society, have become so casual. When did a nice hat, suit, and tie morph into "business casual?"

For example, these two looks below:

Became these:
The suit, tie, and hat have been replaced with untucked blouses, shapeless blazers, and tieless, unbuttoned shirts paired with pleated Dockers. Instead of day dresses and a sharp sweater (for the gents) on the weekend, we see hoodies and baseball hats.

This casual vein has permeated every locale from the workplace, weekend errands, sporting events, airline travel to cruising. When I was little, I actually remember dressing up whenever my family and I travelled on a plane. Even when we dined out, all of us dressed nicely. Nowadays, whether it's seat 11B on United Flight 916 non-stop to Denver or the corner table by the window in Ruth's Chris, people wear everything from Juicy Couture tracksuits to Old Navy tees.

On a recent flight to Fort Lauderdale, I saw a mother and teen daughter decked out in matching Victoria's Secret "Pink" tracksuits. What is funny is how the mom looked at me (wearing a 50s warm weather suit) like I was yesterday's garbage. Her face actually made a wide-eyed, scrunched nose look. Priceless.

Again, I am not judging anyone for their choice of wardrobe. I am trying to figure out how dressing super casual became the norm. Also, why do I get odd looks when I am dressed nicely and tastefully? Now, I am sure the main reason(s) people stare is simply because I wear vintage. I understand that seeing seamed stockings and saddle shoes on someone nowadays is not typical whatsoever! Despite the vintage element, I am still dressed well. I do not judge others' style. Sure, there is a part of me that wants to "call them out" on their audacity to stare at me like I am the weirdo when they look like they stumbled out bed. But, I refrain from doing so. It's not fair nor it is my place.

So, the questions are: why did "casual" become mainstream? And, is there such a thing as 'too casual?'

Friday, November 18, 2011

My Daily Makeup Essentials! (Pic Heavy)

I would like to share with you all my daily, essential beauty products/items. In the 20+ years I have been wearing makeup, I have experienced the good, the "meh," and the downright bad.  Whether it was discovering Besame lipstick or finding out that Chanel foundations tend to be too yellow for my complexion, I have finally tailored my daily routine down to a select, 'tried-and-true' items.

For foundation, I cannot say enough about Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($59.00 USD)!

I know it's expensive but if you are going to splurge on anything beauty, it should be on a good-quality foundation! Foundation provides the backdrop, the canvas if you will, for your overall look. This formula is light and is buildable. The lightweight fluid simply melts into skin and imparts a natural finish with a soft, dewy glow. I was previously using Guerlain's Parure Gold but I realized it was a bit too golden (yellow-based) for my pale, cool skin.

For eyeshadow application, I refuse to put on shadow without a good primer. I have used Urban Decay and Too Faced. Both are wonderful. But, Nars Smudge-Proof Eyeshadow Base ($24.00 USD) outpaces them.
I love how this primer makes my shadow last for hours and hours without creasing but I hate the doe-foot applicator/packaging. It tends to waste product.  I prefer a squeeze tube like Too Faced Shadow Insurance. When my tube seems to be running low, I shake it and I get more product. If Nars would make this primer in a tube form, I would be ecstatic.

Speaking of eyeshadow, nothing beats MAC eyeshadow!

You can buy individual shadows in a flip top pan for $15.00 USD or single palette pans (for inserting into palettes) for $11.50 USD.

When it comes to maintaining my brow shape, I get them tinted and waxed professionally at my local salon every 5-6 weeks. To keep my brows looking up-to-date between appointments, I use MAC's Penultimate Brow Marker ($17.50 USD).

It is like a sharpie for brows! This marker comes in one color, a medium-toned, neutral brown. The super-fine tip can draw fine, whispy lines to more intense lines for precise outlining and filling in. The color can also be layered without heavy build-up or creating a "Mommie Dearest" look.

To ensure my brows' shape during the day, nothing beats Maybelline Great Lash Mascara in Clear ($4.24 at my local Target)!

The lightweight, clear gel formula keeps brows in place without making them feel "tacked down" or coated. The gel quickly dries down to a feather-light feel while helping brows look perfectly groomed.

For lashes, I swear by MAC Opulash Mascara ($15.00 USD). It only comes in black. Until Cover Girl cruelly discontinued their coveted Marathon Mascara a few years back, I had been searching high and low for a good dupe. I tried everything from Revlon to Yves Saint Laurent and nothing came close to the long-lasting, waterproof magic that was Marathon. Even though Opulash is not waterproof, it holds up well all day without smudging, flaking, or causing raccoon eyes. However, if I get my lashes wet (e.g. laughing so hard I cry, crying at the end of "Strictly Ballroom," putting in contact solution, tearing due to allergies, and/or skiing without goggles), this formula will flake off. Now, it will not come off in a grey, watery mess, it simply "balls up" and crumbles off. Nevertheless, Opulash imparts black, lush lashes that look defined and classic.

For creating a 50s/60s cat wing eyeliner look, I adore Urban Decay's 24-7 Waterproof Liquid eyeliner in Perversion (a solid black) that retails for $18.00 USD.
This liner comes in a total of 11 different shades ranging from solid black to glittery silver to bright jewel green, pink, blue, and gold. The super fine brush expertly draws the thinnest lines as well as thick, bold strokes. I have worn this liner all day at work and even all night at VLV and it does NOT move. I sometimes notice *slight* fading at the inner corners of my upper lash line but nothing glaring or obvious. However, when I used Chanel Automatic liner or MAC Fluidline, I was left with raccoon eyes and upper lid transfer. Other than a little tiny tendency to fade in the inner corners after several hours of wear, Urban Decay Perversion is the best.

For concealing dark undereye circles, blemishes, scars, and discolourations, nothing is better than Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer.
Now, despite it's slightly hefty price tag of $30.00 USD (for .5 ounce), this concealer packs a serious punch! The formula is very concentrated and a little bit really goes a long way! For example, when I do my daily look, all I need is a little dot and a MAC 195 brush. That little amount totally covers everything from undereyes, rosacea, acne, to pimple scars! The formula touts itself as "waterproof" but I have not tested that claim yet. However, this concealer does not migrate, cake, slide off, or settle into lines.

For helping my lipstick stay in place all day, I rely on Trish McEvoy Flawless Lip primer ($26.00 USD).
This slant-tip primer goes on like an emollient balm and it dries down to a grippy, matte finish. To use, simply swipe on the primer and let it set for about a minute. If you immediately apply lipstick, the balm will make your lipstick whiteish and slidey! Not a good look! The trick is to wait for the formula to dry down and then apply lipstick! The primer will help lipstick last longer, prevent feathering, and assist in intensifying color.

For gorgeous vintage, pin up lips, nothing surpasses Besame Classic Color Lipstick ($22.00 USD)! My favorite shade is Besame Red!
Besame Red is cool, bright red that stays true all day! The semi-matte forumla feels creamy without being too emollient and is long-lasting without drying out lips. The color fades evenly and it will not turn pink (as some red formulas tend to do) The level of pigment is high and the result is totally opaque, intense color!

When it comes to lining lips and/or preparing them for red lipstick, Bobbi Brown Lip Pencil ($20.00 USD) is red is a must-have for red lipstick gals!
Bobbi Brown's "Red" is a true, neutral bright red that can be worn with many shades of red (e.g.  Besame's "Besame Red," MAC "Russian Red," Julie Hewett's "Femme Noir," MAC Mattene in "Eden Rouge," Bobbi Brown's "Red" lipstick, Revlon's "Love That Red," and Julie Hewett's "Rouge Noir"). The pencil formula is creamy but the pigment stays in place without feathering or creeping. Moreover, the pencil ensures a crisp, precise line that is a must when doing a strong lip!

Now, the absolute "must-have" for any face is a good set of makeup brushes! Whether you prefer Ecotools, MAC, Japonesque, Smashbox, etc, brushes for face, eye, and lip are vital for proper application! I prefer MAC brushes.
When I was a teen, just starting out with makeup, I used the little sponge applicators that came with eyeshadow and I applied foundation with my fingers. I had no clue what I was doing and when I look back on high school photos, it shows! Nevertheless, I cannot see myself being able to do my face without a good set of brushes. Brushes, whether they are for smoothing on liquid foundation, applying shadow on lids, perfecting brows, polishing cheeks with blush, or setting your look with loose powder, can make all the difference between makeup and "wow factor" makeup!

To conclude, the one item I rely on to keep my makeup fresh all day is a set of oil blotting sheets. I like the ones from Clean and Clear ($4.49 USD for 50 sheets). I periodically use a sheet a couple of times throughout the day to absorb surface oil. If needed, I will then apply a light dusting of MAC Blot Powder Compact in Light ($23.00 USD) to keep shininess at bay.

So, what are your go-to beauty essentials?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Latest Vintage Finds (Picture Heavy)

During my recent 'back and forth' trips to my hometown of Mechanicsville, Virginia, not only was I able to hang out with my best friend of 23 years, she and I got to visit the Cold Harbor Antique Mall on Rt. 360 in Mechanicsville.

Due to the many pictures in this post, I will keep my commentary to a minimum.  I was floored with the number of mid-century goods, especially lamps and furniture! If I was richer and/or had a bigger car, I would have bought so much more!

I bought this blond wood, mid-century side table for $15.00 USD!
I got these two lovely "TV cats" for $7.00 USD and $5.60 USD.

Another view:
I purchased a Starglow platter for $9.00 USD:
And I bought a pie plate for $7.00 USD:
I was so happy to have found this set of 4 cocktail glasses for $18.00 USD:

I love the still crisp detail of the design:
Look at this gorgeous flour container! It is deadstock and I only paid $12.50 USD!
I adore this green glass sculpture ($14.40 USD) and TV lamp ($38.00 USD):
Here is a detail view of the sculpture:
I bought this mid-century, Danish pewter circle candle holder for $10.00 USD:
This cute, 50s-era metal music stand was $25.00 USD:
Now, here is the "piece de resistance!" My first-ever, genuine mid-century lamp!
For so long, I have pined for an Eames era lamp but the prices on Etsy and eBay tend to be quite high and the shipping alone (understandably) is steep. Nevertheless, when I saw this lovely priced at $85.00 USD, I knew I had to bring her home!

Here is the detail of the shade:
And an up-close view of the ceramic base:
I cannot get over how wonderful the Cold Harbor Antique Mall's selection was! The prices were so reasonable and the staff was a delight! I will always be sure to make a trip there part of my visits home!

A Fist Full of Sundays

As of late, I seems like I am wavering between actively posting on this blog and periods of absolute stagnation. "Feast or famine, "all or nothing," "stationary and static."

 Despite my chaotic absenteeism, I do have 'good reason' for my lapse in posting and leaving comments on others' blogs. My father has been going through some health issues and as a result, I have been spending a majority of my time travelling between my parents' house and mine. I am experiencing a sense of deja vu as I write this. (I have already stated this in previous posts).

I feel like my current mood is like Morrissey's song, "Every Day is Like Sunday."  The images of closed stores, listlessly walking down a cold, empty boardwalk, and wishing to be somewhere, ANYWHERE, else harbors a sense of familiarity. The hours spent driving back and forth, the doctor visits, trips to the store, drives to the shops, and the endless barrage of unpacking, packing, and doing laundry make the days seem seamless. The days blend together like the packet of Splenda melting into my morning coffee.

In spite of my blasse state of mind, I would do all of this over and over again. My parents need me and my love for them erodes any desire to kvetch about my situation.

What makes these current state of affairs difficult is seeing my dad enduring all of this. Regardless of what is going on with my father, he is strong and he positive outlook is inspiring. As for my mother, she has been through a lot already this year. She lost a sister and a cousin over the summer.So, whenever she calls me, I am there, ready to hop in the car at any given notice.

I am not sure what to think and/or feel right now. I waffle between feeling super positive to feeling totally vexed. I have been so busy travelling, I have neglected the gym and my blog again. And writing and working out is probably what I need right now, big time.  I need to conquer this "listless Sunday" feeling.  It seems to be hovering over me like an old itchy, heavy wool blanket, ready to pounce.

I cannot allow myself to wallow in worry and indulge in empty stares out my living room window. I need to be the beacon of positive energy for myself and my parents. I need to trade in this "fist of Sundays" in for mornings at the gym and projects on my sewing machine. I find that when I am active and busy, I am happier. But whenever  I feel this "meh" attitude, it tends to steer me away from what brings me focus and inner peace. Funny how that works, isn't it?

While I cannot promise that I will be "super blogger gal," I will try. (Heck knows I need it!) Nevertheless, I look forward to connecting with you all. I miss you, gals and your great blogs!