Archive for the ‘Beauty Products’ Category

Shades of Greige

In Accessories, Beauty Products, Cocktail Dresses, Jewelry, Shoes, Sundresses on July 29, 2010 at 2:11 pm

I’m sure you’ve heard about greige by now.  The gray-beige color blend earned fashionista-in-the-know status when it popped up as the nail color du jour on runway models at Chanel and Marc Jacobs (among other prominent designers) this past spring/summer season.

Greige nails on the Chanel runway

Greige nails on a Marc Jacobs model

The “It” nail varnish is Chanel’s “Particuliere” ($23, Saks), but this little Magpie is a firm believer in Essie products and insists that you can get the look for less with the “Jazz” color ($8, Essie Shop):

And if you’re either not sold on the color as a nail polish option or would like more of the color elsewhere, look no further.  Take as inspiration the fact that the hue was literally this past season on the runway (and not just on nails!):

(From left to right: Rachel Comey, Shipley & Helmos, VPL, and Thakoon)

Because I think the color is particularly demure and ladylike — a touch warmer than gray, a hair cooler than blush — I think it makes an ideal for-the-office palette.  Consider how chic you’d look wearing this sleeveless blouse (Phi, $264, TheOutnet) with this greige pencil skirt by Valentino ($297, also TheOutnet):

Pair with oversized studs — I am into big florals like these Kenneth Jay Lanes at the moment ($95, Pret-A-Beaute) — and some ladylike taupe heels ($250, Kurt Geiger):

Toss your belongings in a ladylike bag of a slightly lighter greige hue (blending multiple shades of the same color family will leave you looking pulled together but not over-conceptualized or too matchy-matchy) — I love this Furla chain-strap bag ($595, Nordstrom):

And, if you’re like me and tend to have  a heavy hand when it comes to laying on the jewelry, consider adding these gold bangles with a greigey colored stone (Rebecca Norman, $240, Max and Chloe):

Or for a uptown-gal-around-town look, pair this to die for Armand Basi coat ($294, The Outnet) with a simple white tee (“The Artisan,” $29.50, Madewell) and some skinny jeans in a dark wash (Joe’s Jeans “Cigarette” fit in “Kennedy,” $158, ChickDownTown):

Top it all off with these tie-dyed taupe flats (what a find! — $24.90, Alloy) and a big, roomy tote (Kooba, $575, Bloomingdale’s):

The slight contrast in shades is rich in an unstudied chic way — I love it.  I’d probably throw on a gold, layered chain necklace like this Chrissy L piece ($150, Hazel and Harlow) or these almost-too-costumey-but-just-too-cool-to-pass-up earrings (Kenneth Jay Lane, $48, Pret-A-Beaute):

If it’s just too darn hot for a jacket and jeans (my gosh, I have got to stop daydreaming about cooler weather — it’s unbearably steamy here in the District and all I can think about is chillier climes), opt for a breezy patterned blouse in a fresh putty-and-white combo (Armand Basi, $112, The Outnet) with a pair of crisp white shorts (Pucci, $154, TheOutnet):

Slip into these Fendi thongs (on sale for $250, Pret-A-Beaute) and grab a slouchy clay-colored bag (Marc by Marc Jacobs, $330, Net-A-Porter):

If the thought of long sleeves has you sweating (certainly possible given the record-breaking heat this summer), swap out the Armand Basi blouse for this loose-fitting Loeffler Randall ladder-back tank ($225, 25Park):

And spruce things up with this mixed-media “marble” necklace (so versatile! — love the color combination! — $38, Anthropologie):

Take greige out for date night by pairing a simple black tank ($18.50, Madewell) with a flirty little putty-and-black printed skirt (another find — only $17.81, Forever21) and some wear-with-everything greige suede pumps (Jimmy Choo, $645, MyTheresa):

If it gets cool (here I go again) in the movie theater, slip this shawl-collar boyfriend blazer over your shoulders ($135, TopShop):

For something a bit more conservative (dinner with the in-laws?), I like the idea of an innocent white dress (Loeffler Randall, $242, 25Park) paired with bow-toed greige pumps (on sale for $63, Nine West):

Accent with this taupe-hued tie-on necklace ($38, Nordstrom) and a cozy cashmere wrap (Denis Colomb, $425, Barney’s):

I also like the idea of swapping out the heels for a pair of eye-catching flats for a retro look — these Aldo peeptoes caught my eye ($55, Aldo):

But if you’re bananas over the patent pumps, snap ’em up and wear them (and re-wear them and re-wear them) in a million contexts: to work with a skirt suit, on a date with a brightly colored dress (orangey-red would look fab with them), or even to a formal event, paired with something like this silk mini by Rachel Gilbert($690, Net-A-Porter):

Are you as astounded (and fascinated?!) as I am with the endless versatility (and classiness!) of this new neutral?!  Who knew mushroom could be so fetching.

Apply the same color pairing principle exemplified above with the Loeffler Randall white dress to nearly anything in pristine white — some white jeans and a white blouse, or any LBW.  Just throw on some greige accents and voila: insta-chic.  A new way of remixing your wardrobe.  For daywear, I like the texture of both these Steve Madden snakeskin-styled flats ($139, Endless) and these Tory Burch Revas ($231, Shirise):

And this lightweight Alice & Olivia drapey cardigan could go with and over anything (on sale for $131, ChickDownTown):

As mentioned in a previous post, Anya Hindmarch has some gorgeous shades of greige out these days.  Both her “stone” and “light gray” colors are delightfully on point — and check out the luxe factor of this “Maeve” shoulder bag ($650, Anya Hindmarch):

C’est chic, ca!


Just Because.

In Accessories, Beach Wear, Beauty Products, Cocktail Dresses, Jewelry, Shoes on July 14, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Sometimes you just need a little pick-me-up — a little pop of color, a little indulgence — to get you through the day.  (And often those “sometimes” fall on Wednesdays, the toughest day of the week in my opinion.)  All I can say is that when I saw this photo of a Kate Spade – Cheree Berry collaboration card posted on The NeoTraditionalist’s blog last week or the week before, it was enough to perk me up for the remainder of the afternoon:

Inspired, this post is devoted to pure whimsy.  These are the items on my current lust list that may just have to be impulse purchases on otherwise drab (Wednes-)days in the future.  First up: this porcelain-inspired blue-and-white print dress by “Built by Wendy” (currently on sale for $135, Built By Wendy):

Funny that this dress caught my attention — I learned after that Chinese couples traditionally receive “happiness pots” in the conventional blue-and-white porcelain pattern (like the version below — $59, Wisteria) just before their wedding!

But back to the dress: aside from potentially signifying happiness in marriage, its slightly boho aesthetic coupled with the bracelet sleeves make it a slam dunk.  Perfect with a lived-in belt, whether thrown on over a bikini or worn to work on a steamy summer-in-the-District day.  And speaking of bikinis — I am absolutely bananas over a new swimwear discovery: Palma-NYC.  Absolutely love their BRIGHT pinks, corals, and reds and had to snap up a set with the honeymoon in sight.  (You’ll have to order via email —  The sisters that run the operation are absolutely darling — a delight to work with!)

I ordered the above “bandeau” style top (adore the slightly nautical style the rope tie introduces) with the classic “palma” bottom (each piece is $65) in a caliente red color.  Can’t wait for it to arrive in the mail!  While on the subject of vacation-wear, however, I’ve got to gush over another recent lust-list entry: these cashmere striped wraps from Seaton Surf ($348 apiece).  Love the idea of snuggling into one in the cooler evening air:

I’m super obsessed with coral/orange at the moment (hence my recent Essie Geranium kick), so the orange variation above speaks to me in particular.  This may explain why I’ve been routinely wearing my Tarte cheek stain in “Tipsy” (a glowing apricot-coral color, $30, Sephora)…

and it may also explain why I’ve been placing these coral-orange Louboutins in my shopping bag at FootCandyShoes (on sale for an almost affordable $339)…but then withdrawing at the last minute  (too much extravagance the past few months…):

Have you ever seen a more perfect shoe?!  The proportions, the glossy, candy-colored coating?  Die.  I would spruce up an otherwise all black work outfit with these puppies or slip into them with a fun LBD for a night out with the girls…but before I go too far off the deep end with my coral-color obsession, let’s return to the more general subject of footwear I (nearly) can’t live without.  And the designer Tila March’s merchandise certainly falls into this category.  I love their rope sandals above all else (around $200; comes in multiple colors, but you’ll have to contact them to find a retailer that carries them!).  Aren’t they the perfect fun-in-the-sun accompaniments to a splashy bikini?

I’m equally as nuts over their “Papillon” style, which I think would look adorable with a freshly painted pedicure (and yellow is so unexpected!):

Die.  (The above sandals also come in a super-cool and tres of-the-moment “greige” patent color that would be right on trend for this summer’s neutral kick.)  Also die over this easy-on, honeymoon-ready Madame A Paris dress, now on sale for only $99 at Calypso — just perfect for lounging around on the beach, cocktail in hand:

Maybe splash it up with these simple Tory Burch Thora sandals in (you guessed it) sunny tangerine — I just can’t get over my obsession with orange at the moment.  (On sale for $69 at FootCandyShoes.  I’ll admit that I snagged a pair once they dropped in price and then stowed them securely for the honeymoon.  I feel as though unpacking my suitcase will be like Christmas — so many new goodies!)

Ah, the honeymoon — I just can’t get it off the brain.  All I want is to pack up and ship out…especially if I’m able to afford this chic luggage ($1,885-$2,335, The Conran Shop):

…but if you can’t afford those globe-trotting classics, let this excellently styled print from Simply Hue take you places ($22, Simply Hue on Etsy):

I’m especially looking forward to debuting my new married name — such a strange concept, but so exciting!  In eager anticipation, I went ahead and ordered one of these hand-crafted hangers featuring my soon-to-be new name as a Mrs. ($25, Lila Frances on Etsy):

Perfect for hanging my wedding dress.  Love any way of customizing the Big Day — and beyond.  I’m preparing to order a set of these precious little personalized note cards from Rifle Paper Co — they will actually draw a sketch in your likeness if you submit a photo of yourself — how adorable?!  I can’t wait to get a little cartoon version of my (magpie) self drawn up above my new MRS. name!

Other customized goodies that have caught my little magpie eye recently?  These Ex Libris sets (bookplates) for my library.  I own hundreds of books and have them stacked everywhere — under my bed in my current apartment, in the basement and garage of my parents’ house, on my shelves, on my parents’ shelves…ay.  I would love a way of ordering them all or at least stamping those strays currently residing elsewhere as my own.  And how perfect are these engraved versions from ThornWillow ($28 for 16, ThornWillow)?  Love the old Latinate version — so old-school.

Now, it wouldn’t be a Magpie post without some oversized jewelry of some kind or another, so let’s hop to it.  You know how I’ve been pushing the mega-bling, oversized-crystal look lately (thanks, in part to some awesome vintage Kenneth Jay Lane finds I’ve scored on eBay and to J. Crew’s kindred styling in this season’s jewelry)?  I’ve found some awesome (and affordable) baubles at Henri Bendel that will just knock you dead.  Love these slightly vintage-looking sets of danglers (the first — $128, Henri Bendel; the second — $138, also Henri Bendel, and comes in several stone colors) for a BNO (big night out):

I feel like I’m having a glam time just looking at them.  Meanwhile, these Ylang23 Vintage stunners have been on my mind for long enough — into the eShopping bag they’ve gone, and onto my credit card they will go ($120, Ylang23):

They remind me of my favorite flower in the universe — the peony:

(Photos courtesy of A Creative Mint)

And while I’m typically more of a costume jewelry (with oversized everything) I will occasionally stumble across a delicate little wisp of a thing and find it totally arresting.  This Kiel Mead “Forget Me Not” ring is so disarmingly sweet, I just can’t get over it ($200, Kiel Mead):

But the REAL indulgence — the MAJOR item on my wish list?  A puppy.  My sister just bought her own (a golden retriever) and it is the most precious thing I’ve ever seen in my life.  My fiance and I have talked about getting a dog together for some time now, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can get ourselves together and buy one this year.  (We’ll see!)  We’ll be getting a French Bulldog and naming her Lady Brett, after my favorite character in all of literature (she was the impossible wanderlust of a woman from Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, perhaps my favorite book in existence — certainly one of the few I’ve read and re-read with consistent eagerness and investment…just wait til the dagger of a line she delivers to Jake at the very conclusion!)

Dying?  In the meantime, I’ll just satisfy myself (ha) with this quirky little sketch by PopPopPortraits ($10, PopPopPortraits on Etsy):

Just because.

Peachy Keen!

In Accessories, Beach Wear, Beauty Products, Cocktail Dresses, Jewelry, Shoes, Sundresses, Work Wear on June 30, 2010 at 2:59 pm

This may disgust many of my dear readers, but my absolute favorite breakfast for several years of my childhood was a packet of Quaker instant oatmeal in the peaches & cream flavor.  So artificial, so over-sweetened — and so delicious.  I’ve since graduated (I actually don’t ever eat breakfast — not healthy, I know, but I’m just not hungry in the a.m.), but the peach-and-cream combo is as enticing then as it is now.  Who wouldn’t love to wake up to a bouquet of delicate peach-and-ivory rununculas, for example?

(Photos by Lucy Snowe — see her shoppe on to purchase prints)

A soft, warm blush of peach color is flattering on virtually any complexion, and I’m totally inspired to sport the hue over the course of the next few weeks of blazing mid-summer heat.  I’m particularly interested in this breezy Michael Kors caftan top (you know my obsession with the style) — snag your own on sale for $479.50 at TheOutnet:

I like the idea of pairing it with some crisp, twig-leg, ankle-cropped jeans in optic white — pick your favorite.  My favorite pair is by Joe’s Jeans, of all lines, but I’m loathe to recommend a particular cut or brand because I’ve probably tested about 342 different pairs and grimaced at every single one of them until I tried on the Joe’s.  White jeans can be immensely unflattering if they don’t fit just right.

I’d accessorize with one or two long gold necklaces — I love Carol Marie’s variations as they come in slightly different lengths and are perfect for layering ($125, Carol Marie):

And then this lovely coral-accented gold bangle by Kenneth Jay Lane ($160, Shopbop) and a simple pair of chunky, statement-making gold studs (love this versatile pair — on sale for $35, JennyBird):

I’d be reaching for this pair of gold DV by Dolce Vita sandals to boot ($55, Endless):

Other daywear options?  I’m loving this little LemLem peach-palette smocked-top dress ($215, Barney’s):

I’d pair it with these precious Cynthia Vincent for Roxy t-straps ($79, Roxy) and a roomy straw tote (Kate Spade, on sale for $236, Zappos):

Because the look is already so vibrant and multi-dimensional, forgo a lot of jewelry (I know, I know — it goes against my grain as well) and round it out with some peppy little studs.  Maybe this pair of quatrefoil/clover earrings will do the trick (Jardin, on sale for $70, Bluefly):

Alternately, consider pairing a simple crew neck tee in a fetching peach color (on sale for $19.60, J. Crew) with some crisp white shorts (the Milly pair below are no longer available, but you can find a similar version — also by Milly — for $195 at Bloomingdale’s):

You might consider throwing on your gold or white Jack Rogers to complete the look, but a pair of peppy flats adds an interesting dimension to a mid-summer look — refining the entire aesthetic a bit.  I’d opt for either these slingbacks (an affordable $36, TopShop) or these elegantly printed ballet flats ($118, J. Crew):

I’d either layer some gold necklaces (like the Carol Maries above) and add a pair of happy studs (M. Flynn, $130, Max & Chloe) —

Or I’d throw on a statement-making bib necklace — perhaps this Roberta Chiarella piece ($128, Max & Chloe)?

I like the idea of a tone-on-tone necklace-to-shirt look.  Finish with very tiny studs or pearls or…gasp…nothing!  If you’re headed to the beach, you can remain peachy — J. Crew has the perfect polka dot bikini for you ($44 for bottoms, $29 for tops, J. Crew):

Throw on a white cover-up and you’re ready to go.  Otherwise, wear a white bikini with this darling TopShop tunic/dress, which I’d like to use as a cover-up ($58, TopShop):

Ohsocute and Sienna Miller-esque when paired with some nondescript brown leather t-straps and some Wayfarers.  Alternately, cover up with the immensely popular Jen’s Pirate’s Booty (yes, that’s the name of the brand) “poncho” — the ever-glam Alessandra Ambrosio has been spotted in it and you can snap up your own for $122 at Singer22:

For a different (more date-ready) look centered around a peach palette, consider mixing shades of coral, salmon, peach, and white for a perfect summer look.  Start with this vibrantly-hued dress — like this DAY Birger et Mikkelsen knockout (on sale for $137, The Outnet) or the Amanda Uprichard “Joan” dress in salmon ($194, PiperLime):

Add this Wendy Mink quartz cluster bracelet ($170, Wendy Mink Jewelry), some simple gold studs, and a pair of dusty peach heels (the first — $150, Kurt Geiger; the second — $636, ShopSavannahs):

For a bit more festive look, you could also go in a slightly BRIGHTER direction, avoiding the dusty peaches and soft mixed quartz stones and instead pairing the dresses above with these cheerful little David Aubrey earrings ($58, Kitson):

The earrings would also look fantastic with this linen sweetheart neckline strapless number ($198, J.Crew):

Pair with some gold-accented wedges, like these Charles Davids (on sale for $124, Zappos):

and make sure you tuck this YSL peach-toned gloss ($30, Saks) into your little gold clutch ($155, Tory Burch)!

Or maybe you’re getting seriously dolled up  — check out ever-sophisticated Audrey Hepburn in her peach-colored dream of an evening look for inspiration:

Then consider slipping into this ridiculous one-shouldered Halston Heritage number (SJP wore it in Sex and the City II — $325, Net-A-Porter):

Imagine wearing it with your hair up and these bank-breaking diamond and moonstone danglers (Divya, $3,000, Max & Chloe):

High end meets recessionista cool when you pair the above stunners with this lovely TopShop flower ring ($40, TopShop):

Then you’d just need some simple gold high-heeled sandals, a tiny gold clutch, and a peach-hued manicure (the color below: “Cool-Lots” by Essie — $8,  To.die.for.

Get seriously into the color by primping for the night in a vintage-inspired, peach-colored teddy ($60, TopShop):

You may even want some glam mules — I’m in love with these peach-colored Giuseppe Zanottis (on sale for $349, Bluefly):

Don’t forget to powder yourself with this retro-cool puff ($54, BeautyHabit), dotting on a little of Benefit’s Georgia Peach blush (my mom’s favorite — $28, Benefit):

And while we’re in the mood for indulgence, make sure to pour yourself a bellini (champagne and peach puree — my lovely bridesmaids and I enjoyed them on the train up to NYC for my bachelorette party, and nothing could be more festive).

For work, why not wear your white suit (Miss Slick, you know you have it ready and waiting — wear it!) or a white, work-appropriate dress (the gorgeous little threaded-pattern version below is by Fendi, on sale for $425, MyTheresa) with a peaches-and-cream statement necklace (love this Hive & Honey design, $34, PiperLime) and a pair of dusty peach patent wedges (die over this pair by Pour La Victoire — on modest sale for $202 at Zappos):

And leave all your co-workers drooling with envy when you roll up with this wow-worthy peach-toned Michael Kors bag ($448, Bloomingdale’s):

Peachy keen!

All About My Mother

In Accessories, Beauty Products, Jewelry, Shoes on May 10, 2010 at 4:02 pm

My mother has completely shaped who I am, and I find more of her in myself every day — or at least I flatter myself that I do, because few people can claim that they are remotely comparable to my amazing, self-less mother.  I can confidently say that if I don’t share her best qualities (endless patience high on the list), I do lay claim to elements of her mode de vie (way of life) — at least on a quotidian scale.  Like her, my day-to-day living is marked by a comfort with (even a desire for?) a jam-packed, tightly-scheduled day (she’s always on a schedule); list-making (and list-crossing-off); and a slightly obsessive need for a clean kitchen.  (A few years ago, she gave me a dish towel that read: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall — I am my mother after all.”  We laughed, but…it’s actually not far from the truth.)

And while these tendencies may have been subconsciously cultivated, I can tell you that my adaptation of her fashion sensibility was not: I have always watched and learned with wide eyes.   And for that reason I am going to pass along my mother’s pearls of wardrobe wisdom in honor of this mother’s day.

Fashion According to Mom

1.  Don’t be afraid of color.

I used to hate this rule.  All I wanted to do was wear black, and my mother would insist: “but you look so wonderful in color!”  She was a big advocate of taking her girlfriends to “get their colors done” — do you remember this?  ColorMeBeautiful would define your ideal color palette (identified by season — i.e. “you have summer coloring” or “you have winter coloring”) based on complexion, hair color, and so forth.

So next time you head for basic black, consider swapping in a happy aqua-marine (on sale for $69 at J. Crew) or a warm peach color (her favorite –$62, Jackie Cardigan, J. Crew):

2.  Coordinate, coordinate, coordinate.

If my mother were to want to showcase the peach cardigan above, she’d probably have an entire suite of perfectly-coordinated accompaniments for it — most likely a pair of patterned flats ($118, J. Crew) or a printed Pucci scarf (similar style at Forzieri, $298):

Then she’d have a perfectly coordinating bag — this Kate Spade Folley Beach tote has her name written all over it.  (She tends towards ones with structure — $295, KateSpade):

She even color-coordinates her outfit to her makeup, matching sweater to blush (I know she owns and loves this Benefit Georgia Peach blush — $28, Ulta) or lipstick (YSL Rouge Pur Shine in Frozen Mango, $30, Sephora):

3.  Stay groomed.

I mentioned that I get weekly (occasionally bi-weekly) manicures a few posts ago.  Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  My mother has been getting manicures from the same manicurist for decades — she followed her from an Elizabeth Arden Salon to the chic Salon Jean Paul in the Spring Valley area of D.C.  And polish color is just one other way in which my mom coordinates her look — if she’s into “peach” or “hot pink,” she’ll select a complementary shade (she’s into OPI — this one is “Conga Line Coral”):

4.  Bargain hunting is a talent — begin practicing now.

My mom rarely pays full price.  She always has some coupon, some code she read about in a magazine, some special promo or offer to brag about.  Her trick?  Sign up for as many circulars and discount programs as possible — then watch and wait.  We’ve both had good luck googling for specials.  I ordered something from Bloomingdale’s a few days ago and was shocked (!) when I typed in “Bloomingdale’s coupon code” and instantly found a 25% off coupon!  Score.  Of course, this example is small potatoes compared to the savings my mom makes — she’ll pile on the coupons at Lord & Taylor and suddenly pay $13 for a $78 sweater.

5.  Center a travel wardrobe around one color palette.

As you can see, my mom’s central dictum is: pick a color and stick to it.  Look tidy and groomed.  The same is true (even truer?) of travel.  She’ll select one central color and then pack a bunch of separates that can easily mix and match.  She tends to pick neutrals — rich browns and navies in the winter, ivory in the summer — but she’ll usually fold in a pop of color.  She and I both have an affinity for soft lilacs, which remind us of my grandmother Mia (her mother).  She might wear a tidy boxy little bag during the day — she owns this exact Dior handbag in black, but this soft violet just reminds me of her:

Then she’d pack a lilac Longchamp in the event that purchases leave some baggage overflow (she taught me the old trick of tucking a spare one into my bag — $145, Bloomingdale’s):

She’d probably sport a pair of slip-on, slip-off Jack Rogers for summer ($96, Jildor) or lady-like flats ($118, J. Crew) and a cozy cashmere cardigan ($220, White&Warren):

And then she’d top it all off with some lavender enamel jewelry.  She’s in love with the Hermes versions ($510, Hermes):

Add a couple of ivory and gray neutrals (skirts, pants, dresses), and voila!  You’ll be expertly coordinated for the duration of your trip.

6.  Invest in good makeup.

My mom is constantly scouring magazines for reviews on the latest and greatest in make-up and body-care products.  She’s a literal fount of information and has probably test-driven thousands and thousands of products in her lifetime.  She’ll almost always redeem the “get a free sample” coupons she culls from magazines and circulars and then report back.  Her go-to?  The magic balm known as Elizabeth Arden 8-Hour Cream (she must have 34 tubes on her at a given moment — $17, Elizabeth Arden):

Oh, and anything (and everything) by Laura Mercier.  She swears by her line of products — as do I.  I’m a firm convert.  (Check out especially her luminizing “Secret Brightener” pen — I wear it under my concealer and along my brow bone, and it works wonders — $30, Sephora):

7.  Organized bag, organized life.

My mom has a separate pocket, pouch, or mini-bag for all of the hundreds of items she totes around on a daily basis.  (Likely the aftermath of having five children over a period of about ten years — she needed to carry her whole life in it for any crisis that might pop up.)  Ask her for some tic-tacs?  “Second pocket closest to the front of the bag, next to the gum.”  She’s got it all mapped out an organized.  She swears by the Purseket, which I’m just not together-enough to work out, but which Oprah also adores.  It’s basically a set of removable pockets that you can transfer from bag to bag so you always have your stuff in the right place.  It’s a mom’s dream come true ($17.50 and up, Purseket):

8.  Save up for the classics.

My mother is very European in that she buys classics and then wears them constantly.  And by classics, I’m talking about the Dreamworthy Lust List items — a classic quilted Chanel 2.55 bag in black or navy (the accents need to be gold if you’re talking about my mother — she doesn’t do silver):

And then a pair of black Ferragamo “Varina” flats:

Some Hermes scarves:

And, last but not least, some meaningful jewelry my father has had made for her or that she inherited from my grandmother.  She has one ring with five stones in it — one for each of her children — that she wears regularly.  That’s certainly something I’ve learned from her — wear the things that make you happy and that have some sort of meaning to you — heirloom-type pieces that make you you.  (Below, Cartier “Love” ring.)

So here’s to you, mom, for all you’ve taught me — not only about looking my best but being my best!

Belated Mothers’ Day Gift Ideas

I’m a day late in posting this post and — because I know some of us are last-minute (or after-the-minute) shoppers, I have a few gift ideas for your mother in the event that you let yesterday pass you buy.

Let’s face it: we all like to shop.  Consider this peppy strawberry-colored canvas tote by Anya Hindmarch.  How cute?  ($98, Bloomingdale’s):

I saw it in Sassanova a few weeks ago and loved it before discovering that it comes in a number of different styles with quirky-cute drawings and statements on the side — one for laundry, one for ballet, one for books, etc.  You can find them at Saks or Bloomie’s.  I got the beach bag!

If your mother is an entertainer, consider a monogrammed melamine tray in a spiffy, colorful pattern — perfect for the upcoming summer months ($34, LaPlates):

And while on the subject of monograms (obsessed with them), why not consider this adorable monogrammed robe by Leontine Linens ($325, LeontineLinens)?

Now I know that a frame sounds like a generic gift, but not when it’s spruced up a la MRR Designs!  You could have a picture of you and your mother printed in black and white using Shutterfly or a similar service and then tuck it into this fabric frame — comes in a variety of peppy fabrics and can be customized with a monogram ($34, order through MRR Designs Blog):

Happy mother’s day — one day late…

A Bit of the Bubbly

In Beauty Products, Cocktail Dresses, Home Decor, Jewelry, Shoes on May 5, 2010 at 2:40 pm

I’ll be celebrating my six (!) year anniversary with my fiance in just three little days, and I’m already looking forward to getting dolled up for a date night and a couple of celebratory champagne “chin chins.”  And who doesn’t love champagne?  According to a (likely apocryphal) story, the 17th century monk who accidentally discovered sparkling wine exclaimed: “Ah, I have tasted the stars!”

There’s something so retro-glam about the idea of drinking out of a champagne coupe.  (As it turns out, coupes — rumored to have been modeled after Marie Antoinette’s decollete! — are an impractical glassware style, totally unsuitable to champagne tasting.  Long, narrow flutes, on the other hand, are designed to direct the flow of bubbles to the top of the glass and concentrate the aroma.)  Setting these practical matters aside, we can still enjoy the thought of a champagne coupe and all of the glam it calls for, including some sort of fur stole, white gloves, faux lashes, and an updo.  In other words: Marilyn Monroe.

For the modern day magpie, it all begins with a bombshell dress, like this Aminaka Wilmont concoction ($1,125, Net-A-Porter):

Or maybe this body-conscious, Bond-Girl-esque Herve Leger.  I’m normally not a huge fan of Herve Leger, but for a once-in-a-lifetime celebration?  Why not?!  ($1,250, Net-A-Porter).

For something a bit more grounded, consider this lovely gold-spun sheath by Michael Kors ($663, TheOutnet):

Now that you’ve got the basics down, let’s take a look at les accessoires.  I’m thinking white or sparkly enorma-studs ($180, Ylang23 Vintage),  sky high glitter pumps (Christian Louboutin), and hard-case gold clutches (this Amanda Pearl “Sereno” clutch is sold-out, but she has an array of other drool-worthy eye-catching variations).

But even before you slip into your designer duds, why not primp in style?  Try this silk dressing gown ($225, Natori) —

I’m confident that Victoria’s Secret has some less expensive comparable versions, as the wonderful hostess of my first bridal shower gifted me one in a happy cherry red hue.  It’s perfect for pre-event preening.  You might also slip into this uber-feminine, retro-glam set ($158 for bralette and $198 for tap shorts, Anthropologie):

Spritz on some J’Adore by Christian Dior ($88, Bloomingdale’s) — love the bottle and the soft, feminine scent — and add a wash of YSL’s super chicly packaged Golden Gloss ($30, Sephora).  The Golden Macadamia shade shown below is supposed to be universally-flattering, especially if you’re going for a dramatic eye.

And why not go for a dramatic, smokey eye?  A couple of coats of DiorShow mascara or maybe even some false eyelashes should do the trick!  All the experts swear by Shu Uemura’s line of false eyelashes — they look extremely natural and are high quality (handmade, apparently?) so they last for a dozen or more uses.

You can pick a style best-suited to your needs, but definitely glam it up for the champagne debutante look!  They’re available for $25 at Sephora.  (Consider watching this excellent YouTube tutorial on false eyelash application if you’re unsure — the “instructor” does a fab job.)

Other ideas for throwback glamor?  How about this glittering dream of a necklace by up-and-coming designer Suzanna Dai?

Love the idea of pairing it with a simple white sheath for a stand-out, shining star moment.  To. Die. For.  You can snap up your own at Stars and Infinite Darkness for $395, an eBoutique devoted to emerging jewelry artists — although just a couple of days ago, Dai made it BIG and graduated to the better-known Charm and Chain (I frequently pull looks from their cache), who now hosts a small selection of her pieces.  Bravo!

I’m also simply in love with these simple gold drops from Amanda Pearl (an affordable $58!) and this appealingly structured Kotur clutch ($469, Shirise):

And what about these standout be-sequined Kate Spade slingbacks?  Love love LOVE the bow-toe ($375, Nordstrom):

Throw them on with a sparkling little dress and you’ll be as effervescent as the bubbly!  Speaking of which — though we’d all love to stock our fridges with the classic Veuve Cliquot — I often entertain with sparkling wines from Spain (cavas) or Italy (proseccos).  They are frequently less-expensive, just as palatable, and are virtually indistiguishable from their champagne cousin in every way.  (Champagne is a sparkling wine local to a certain region in France, called “Champagne” — all other bubblies are known as “sparkling wines.”)  My fiance and I love the off-dry cava 1+1=3.  It retails for around $15 a pop (pun intended) in fine retailers like Whole Fields — and, for you locals, Best Cellars.  (My fiance and I are obsessed with Best Cellars — awesome, well-organized, and well-edited vino shop!)

We’ve registered for Schott Zwiesel flutes with a sleek, modern design, and I’m eagerly awaiting entertaining with them.  How adorable will they look atop a gold serving tray?  I bought a round variation of the tray below from Pier1 for a holiday cocktail party a few years ago, and have found 1,001 uses for it.  The sides are high enough that my fiance and I like to lay down a bed of crushed ice in the basin and arrange oysters on top for special occasions.  I’ve also used it for hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and just home decor.  Love it.  A place like World Market would probably carry something similar — they have an etched silver version out now for only $24.

And of course we need a luxe-looking ice bucket to keep our drink of choice cool while sprucing up the entertaining area.  I absolutely adore this Mauviel style ($299, Williams-Sonoma):

But then again, I’ve always dreamt of owning a collection of heavy copper sauciers and fry pans.  They are just old-school French in all the right ways.

All we have left are a few finishing touches — a one-of-a-kind glitzy Alexis Bittar ring ($140, Nordstrom):

Some uber-femme soft pink Louboutins:

And, because we all crave a little drama, a stark-white, form-fitting, very bombshell D&G bustier dress beneath a little fur chubby (this one by Cassin):

Perfect starlet form for a taste of the stars!

ADDENDUM: I’ve featured a number of Bounkit enorma-studs on my blog, and have now found a special coupon code — enter MOM2010 at the Bounkit website for free shipping and 20% off through May 8, 2010!

How to Be a Hitchcock Heroine

In Accessories, Beauty Products, Jewelry, Shoes, Work Wear on May 4, 2010 at 5:15 am

When I was younger, my mother and I watched Hitchcock movies together and swooned over the ladylike glamor of their champagne-blond bombshell heroines.  My mother was particularly enamored of Tippi Hedren in “The Birds” — she was nothing short of captivating on screen.

Watching the eerie, inexplicable plot unfold in conjunction with the gradual disarray of her polished appearance is half the magic of the narrative.  (At the climax of the film, her perfectly-coiffed hair “comes undone” — a tidy visual cue underscoring her frenetic emotional state.)  The same is true of most Hitchcock films, where wardrobe and styling contribute to the story-telling.  And what a wardrobe!  Slim-cut dresses and suits with nipped-in waists which, though fitted, are the picture of propriety; feminine capelets; structured doctor’s bags — oh la la!  If you’re as ga-ga as I am over the Hitchcock Heroine look, consider investing in some tell-tale statement pieces, like this luxe framed alligator bag (Brooks Brothers, $5,500):

You’ll need a prim tank watch with a leather or gold band — this Cartier is beyond lust-worthy and, for most of us, beyond practical, ringing in at a cool $20K and up:

You can get the label (and heroine look) for a little less by investing in one of their fine writing implements.  You never know when you might stumble upon one at a vintage/consignment shop (if you’re local to D.C., check out The Christ Child Opportunity Shop, an upscale consignment boutique where all proceeds benefit children in need — my mother has volunteered there for years, and I occasionally join her behind the register):

If you’re hell-bent on a Hitchcock-approved watch, consider this affordable alternative: a surprisingly well-styled variation on the Cartier classic by Anne Klein of all designers ($55, Nordstrom).  When I saw it at Nordstrom, I honestly did a double-take.  It’s lovely.  (I know, I’m a label snob too — but you can’t beat good design!)

You’ll need some lady-like shoes — I owned a pair of the Stuart Weitzmans below (“The Poco”) and literally wore them into the ground.  They are the perfect work shoe and they’ll inspire you to dress like Audrey Hepburn and Tippi Hedren for an entire year ($275, Endless — they also come in a lovely patent nude):

If you’re like my best friend from UVA (we’ll call her Miss Sleek — she’s all about jet black, sky-high heels and tailored lines) and your stomach churns at the idea of a low kitten heel, test drive these puppies (Kate Spade, $298 at Shirise):

Love ’em.  There’s something about the Hitchcock ladies that requires rich patterns and materials  like the snakeskin above — including fur.  (Avert your eyes if you’re a member of the Humane Society…)  Consider this delightful Cassin fur stole:

Like the look but prefer the faux for moral (or price-tag-related) reasons?  Juicy Couture’s had a couple of cool faux fur styles out over the past few years, including this precious little retro-style chubby coat, which I just may have to snag at 70% off (!) at Ssense:

Can you imagine wearing it over a chic sheath dress with the Weitzman pumps above and some enorma-studs?  Insta-Hitchcock-heroine.

The tailored dress above is by Michael Kors ($1,000, TheOutnet), but you can find similar versions (at least in terms of the front of the dress; check out the back of this dress at TheOutnet — it’s to DIE for) for much less at Ann Taylor and Banana Republic.  (Side note: I’m convinced that if someone attempted to remake the Hitchcock films today and was committed to preserving the wardrobe aesthetic, the entire cast would be outfitted by the one-and-only Roland Mouret:

I just wish we all wore dresses like that on a daily basis.  Tailored and tasteful but sexy!)  Back to emulating the cool, coiffed screenstars of yesteryear: you’d need some casual-glam gold accents, like these polished, patterned enorma-studs by Gump’s ($2,750, Gump’s):

Grace Kelly rocked a similar pair in “Rear Window”:

Kind of makes me want to start drinking cocktails out of a snifter (below, by Riedel — 2 for $66 at Zappos) and seriously looking into mint green as a color option for my daily wardrobe.

In other words — kind of makes me want to be her.  She was perfection.

But back to gold baubles for the Hitchcock babe: you might also consider investing in a timeless gold signet ring by Tiffany ($1,200, Tiffany):

Word to the wise: J. Crew has a nearly identical-looking gold signet ring for $295!  And Tippi wouldn’t be caught dead without hers:

I know we shouldn’t buy into the idolization of cigarette-smoking in these old films, but don’t you kind of want one of those cool hard-sided gold cigarette cases anyway?  Just for kicks?  It’d be pretty on a dressing table…

(You can find an inexpensive but similar style at Gunther’s Gifts.)  And, if you declined to invest in the leather watch look, consider this eye-catching gold bracelet watch by Accurist ($152, Asos):

Love the feminine face against the sculptural, thick gold link chain.  A perfect feminine-masculine balance.  You might also throw on some gold-adorned glasses — like these obscenely expensive DSquared enorma-shades ($450, Bloomingdale’s):

While you’re piling on the accoutrements, try accessorizing with a Birkin-wannabe by Italian bag-maker Forzieri (fairly expensive in it’s own right at $498!):

Imagine resting it on the crook of your arm, casually patting your brut champagne blond up-do into place after a zip across town in your 1950s convertible…and while on the subject of ladylike arm candy, I’ve got to share another “FashionMagpie Dream List” item I’ve been ogling at for the past couple months (it’s up there with a classic Roland Mouret dress and those nude Louboutins) — don’t you die over this nude colored Ferragamo frame bag ($990, Saks):

It’d look lovely with this dreamy Erdem dress ($548, TheOutnet):

I feel as though Grace Kelly might have worn a similar look in “Rear Window” — a fab edge-of-your-seat thriller.  I swear you’ll want to adopt her high-society, patrician’s-daughter intonation for a solid week after:

If you’re going the Grace Kelly route, you’ll also need pearls, pearls, pearls (the strand below is by the industry classic Mikimoto — Kelly was the face of his ad campaign — and the studs are David Yurman):

Other musts?  Fantastic outwear — I’m talking boxy chubbies, dramatic swing coats, and even capelets.  I’m head-over-heels for the bracelet-sleeve coat/robe/muu-muu that Tippi sports in the scene from Marnie below:

(Yes, that’s Sean Connery on the left.)  You can test out the look with this textured coat by Milly ($624, MyTheresa) or this dreamy cashmere-blend cape by Stella McCartney:

Why not add some smart-looking reader glasses?  The pair below were fashioned by the uber-chic Barton Perreira — you can snap them up at Barney’s for $350.  Try them on to score the Grace Kelly librarian-chic look:

As if you need any further proof as to the staying-power or eternal chic-ness of the Hitchcock aesthetic, consider the fact that the late, great, and always fashion-forward Alexander McQueen bought into the entire look — horn-rimmed glasses and all — for his fabulous 2006 runway collection…just lovely:

Of course, as you may have noted in McQueen’s homage to the look, to be a true Hitchcock femme, you’d need siren-red lips or nail lacquer.  One of the common threads uniting all of Hitchcock’s leading ladies?  Though they initially appear the picture of cool, poised self-possession (even sangfroid), they slowly show their true colors: a tendency towards the wild and uncontrollable.  Hence the bold red lips and scarlet fingernails that so many of them adorn.  The YSL lipstick case below looks glam on its own — just imagine the punch you’d pack wearing it yourself (beware: this can be a tough look to master, so proceed with caution):

(I found the tube on sale at a fraction of the retail price at an Amazon vendor — $15 instead of $43! — how is that possible?!)  If you’re not ready for rouge lips, try Essie’s “Turning Heads Red”:

Or, better yet, some glossy red pumps with an otherwise staid outfit (Hitchcock’s ladies were known for their peep toes) — these Peeptoe brand pumps ($250) have a lovely arch to them and resemble the lust-worthy, more expensive Jimmy Choo “Quiet” pumps:

You might consider adding a classic trench to tone down their sassiness — you could go for the traditional Burberry (lovely, lovely), but I’m also digging this DVF “Spy Trench” ($495, Diane Von Furstenberg):

My uber-chic boss snagged a similar version from Land’s End of all places — she’s over the moon about it in terms of style and hue, and it costs less — $199!:

Imagine how fashionable you’d look with candy-red pumps, an all-business trench, and maybe this fab structured bag by vintage-chic designer, Brahmin ($275):

Love it.  And maybe, just for kicks, throw on some ladylike kid leather gloves?  I bought a pair of soft pink ones from a glove-maker in Venice, Italy, and was surprised at how much use I got out of them before they got too dirty to salvage (pink gloves = impractical).  Why not give it a try yourself?  This feminine dove gray pair hails from Imoni — you can find them for $119 at ShopSavannahs:

And of course — where would you be without the central prop from Hitchcock’s “Dial M for Murder” (also starring Ms. Kelly — he certainly had his favorite leading ladies):

You can snag your own at Pottery Barn ($59-$79) —

But only if you’re prepared to answer in a dressing gown with a luxe Grace Kelly lilt.

Bronzed Goddess

In Beach Wear, Beauty Products on April 17, 2010 at 2:18 pm

A few of you have alerted me to the fact that a) I have been featuring a lot of white and b) I have made you long for skimpy little sundresses — while c) it’s still mid-April and we’re all blindingly pale.  Point taken!  (What, you wouldn’t feel comfortable blending in with your white bikini?!)

And so — while nothing beats an authentic mid-summer glow — I want to highlight a couple of faux-tan tricks and tools that have helped me through the worst of winter wanness.  I’ll begin by saying that I’m not a huge fan of self tanners because they all smell wretched and an even application is difficult to come by.  They also (on the whole) tend to make you look orange.  However, if I’m really desperate for some serious color, I use Clarins Gelee Auto-Bronzante Express.  The scent is minimal and the color is as natural as self-tanners come.  I always mix it with scented body lotion prior to application — it ensures a more even application and neutralizes the scent.  Sometimes I’ll mix a dab in with my face lotion when I’m looking especially washed out, and it seems to do the trick.

For the most part, however, I use washable bronzers.  They work like a charm!  I love Lorac’s TANtalizer Award Show Glow — it’s a concentrated bronzing mousse that I smooth onto my shoulders and decollete prior to heading out on the town, and it looks totally believable (and you can wash it off with water if you go overboard!)

I’ve been tentatively test-driving St. Tropez’s Instant Glow Wash-Off Body Lotion, but the jury’s still out.  The “lotion” comes out alarmingly dark and syrupy and it takes awhile to dilute it enough to make it look natural.  I picked it up on a whim while replenishing my candle supply at Blue Mercury (love that store) and have not yet come to use it over my Lorac go-to.

But the real trick to faking a tan?  Adding luminizers.  I always wear a bit of body oil on my shoulders, decollete, and legs — it makes the tan look more believable by adding a little “sun-kissed glimmer.”  I am crazy about Bobbi Brown’s Beach Body Oil, although the scent is strong and difficult to mask; if you don’t like the Beach scent (literally smells like sand, sunscreen, and water — amazingly nostalgia-inducing), you should probably pass on it.

I tried to switch it up and use Nars’ Body Glow, but discovered that I’m not thrilled with the scent — it has an almost plastic quality to it — and was less than enamored with the consistency, which turned out to be thick and glutinous.  I do, however, ADORE the Guerlain Terracotta Huile du Voyageur Dry Oil.

It smells phenomenal and leaves a glossy, tan-boosting sheen.  It also costs an uncomfortably high $59.  I unfortunately dropped my bottle on the bathroom floor when I had about half of it left, so I decided to be more responsible and go with Bobbi Brown’s $30 counterpart (which is in many ways just as good).  For those looking to legitimize the splurge, I should also add that the Guerlain stuff lasts — I’d had my bottle for nearly a year before it broke, and it was still half-full.

When traveling, I always bring Michael Kors’ pocket-sized Leg Shine.  It bears the Kors signature scent (which I love), leaves legs (and shoulders — you can use it anywhere) smooth and lustrous, and is a cinch to apply on the fly.

For the face, I wear Nars’ Casino bronzer on a daily basis, applying it not only to the cheekbones but on the nose (just a touch) and along the hairline — which really does wonders in terms of making the bronzer look believable.  (You’re basically hitting all the spots that the sun would.)

I like to add a dab of Benefit’s High Beam luminizer on the apples of my cheeks and, for a big night out, on the brow bone.  But be weary of over-application — you can quickly look oddly oily and shiny if you don’t know when to stop.

Speaking of not knowing when to stop — I should also mention that too much of anything is a bad thing, and the same is especially true of any of the tanning products above.  (We’ve all seen Snooki-esque tanning disasters, and it’s not a good look.)  But until mid-summer rolls around, do what you gotta do to get a little glow going!

Keep It Clean

In Beauty Products on April 16, 2010 at 2:11 pm

A little early-morning mini-post for you — I felt compelled to write this after realizing that I have recently become something of a hand sanitizer addict.  I know I’m a little late on the bandwagon (I recall that it became all the rage to carry around a little tube of Bath & Body Works sanitizer in some cloyingly sweet scent in about the 6th grade), but ever since I reached to open the door of my cab up in New Haven and found an old, shriveled pepperoni slice in the handle well (and I actually touched it…sick), I’ve been compulsive about throwing one in my bag.  The experience has left me grateful to my “cleansiness” tools (those of you who watch Real Housewives of New Jersey will recognize/appreciate that gem of a Teresa Giudice neologism), including my Molton Brown body wash in Suma Ginseng:

My fiance turned me on to Molton Brown a few years ago, and I haven’t looked back since.  The Sumo Ginseng is gender-neutral — a tad on the soapy-cologne side if anything — and it’s among the most invigorating, “clean,” and appealingly spicy (a touch of cinnamon, a hint of Juniper berry) smells I’ve found.  (It also yields a great, sudsy lather, which I love).  I also keep Molton Brown Naranji hand soap in my bathroom.  It smells light and fresh — “light” being the operative word there.  I hate hand soaps that scent whatever you touch/eat for the rest of the day.

I fell in love with Roger & Gallet’s line of bath soaps when I lived in Lyon, France.  I’m fairly certain they don’t distribute the product within the U.S. (or at least I haven’t been able to find them), so I’ve been doling out the last few precious bars of soap over the past few years.  They are beautifully-scented, rich bath soaps in the true French tradition.  I loved the Vetyver scent (earthy, mossy, and — well — “soapy clean” scented in the best of ways), but they seem to have retired it permanently, even within France.

Switching gears to haircare, the real oh-my-God-how-did-I-live-without-it product?  Oscar Blandi’s Dry Shampoo.  O.M.G.  If you’ve been using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder as an antidote to second-day hair, you have another thing coming.  It smells phenomenal (like a freshly-squeezed lemon) and it works like a charm every time.  I thought I’d test-drive it when I saw it on sale on Gilt Group last year (it came in a bundle, with some volumizing hair care products — all of which were decent but nothing to write home about) and quickly had one of those “I can’t believe no one told me about this” moments.

(Apparently they have some great “root-touch-up” tools for those of you with color-treated hair, but I’ve never dyed or highlighted my hair, so I can speak to them.)  If I have the time to shower and blow-dry, I always use Frederic Fekkai’s volumizing shampoo and conditioner.  They smell wonderful, and they actually gives some body to my otherwise straight, straight, straight hair.

Can’t live without it — just wish it weren’t so pricey ($23 for shampoo should be illegal).  I can legitimize the expense (…) because I always buy a cheap body scrub.  I’ve tried loads of brands, but I always come back to Neutrogena’s Body Clear Body Scrub.  It’s inexpensive, widely available, and — though it’s no frills (and somewhat scent-less) — it leaves you squeaky-clean.

(A close runner-up?  Bliss Lemon & Sage Body Scrub.  I’m not bananas over the scent — or any of the Bliss scents, for that matter — but it’s a nice option.  When it comes down to it, though, I’d rather save a few dollars and just buy the cheaper workhouse classic.)

For the face, I’m a devotee of Philosophy’s MicroDelivery scrub.  It’s not too abrasive (the grain is small — I think you could probably use it every day) but it scrubs your pores and leaves your skin soft and unirritated.

A good drugstore alternative?  St. Ives’ Apricot Invigorating Scrub.  CVS usually sells it in a travel size, so I’ll take it on the road with me.  But when I’m at home, I’m all about the Philosophy version.

Until later…

Miracle Workers

In Beauty Products on April 7, 2010 at 11:23 pm

It occurred to me today that I have been using the same essentials in terms of skincare/makeup/hair care for a couple of years now.  I honestly don’t know what would happen if any of those items were to be discontinued…This terrifying thought occurred to me when my mother found that she had misplaced her always-in-her-purse tube of Elizabeth Arden 8-Hour Cream (a sticky ointment that — according to my mother and 50-something-women everywhere — cures everything, from chapped lips to minor cuts to sunburns), and nearly went into a full-blown panic, digging through her bag.

(Then she remembered that she also keeps a tube of the magic balm in the console of her car.  She also tucks one into her bedside table, the top drawer of her desk, and every single bag she’s ever carried.)  It had me thinking: which of my own favored tools and products would induce such a sense of panic if they were to permanently leave the marketplace?

My mind immediately jumps to my favorite beauty product of all time: Dior’s DiorShow Mascara.

Now, I could write an entire post about the dozens of mascaras I’ve test-driven.  I am a mascara FIEND.  I literally cannot keep my hands off of new mascaras promising fuller, thicker, darker lashes.  I even dropped $30 on that gimmicky Givenchy spikey-ball applicator (you know the one) — it promised to “grab corner lashes” and all that jazz.  (It was terrible.  It left my eyelashes stiff and breakable.  Yuck, yuck, yuck.)  Diorshow leaves my lashes full, dark, and — what I like best — still flexible and, well, eye-lash-like.  I go through a tube a month!

Which reminds me: if I were stranded on a desert island and could only take 3 beauty products (a good litmus test as to which products “make the cut” in terms of the “absolutely-gotta-have-it” factor), it would be: Diorshow mascara (a case of it, preferably), Almay makeup removing pads (oil-free), and Nars bronzer.

Those Almay pads just about make my life.  They leave no residue, never sting, and are surprisingly powerful at removing even the darkest of mascaras (i.e. Givenchy’s, which basically stained my face black).  The Nars bronzer is pretty much a staple in any girl’s makeup bag — I like it in the Casino shade.

(Funnily enough, one of my go-to tools is a big black all-purpose blush/face powder brush I picked up at CVS years and years ago.  It is the sturdiest darn thing and I love the way it applies powders and blushes.  I can’t find an image online, but it just goes to show that sometimes you can make do with the generic brand…)

On the less glamorous front, I’ve got to admit that I’m addicted to Proactiv.  Say what you want about their cheesy, B-grade-celebrity-studded ads — the stuff just works.  I’ve used it since I was an acne-prone teeny-bopper and have used it ever since.  And — not to toot my own horn — but I literally never see a blemish.

For face lotion, I’m constantly swapping in and out of products, so I don’t have any oh-my-God-I’ll-die facial lotions…that being said, I can’t imagine braving another feisty, drying winter without Kiehl’s Ultra Face Cream (a recent discovery):

But the REAL winner in my book is Laura Mercier’s stellar pair of facial primer and tinted moisturizer.

It is SO natural-looking, but it really provides some solid coverage.  Can’t get enough of it.  Plus, it comes in all different “versions”: oil-free, moisturizing, light-reflecting, etc. — AND it has SPF20.  The last couple of months, I’ve been addicted to Fresh’s “Sugar Rose” brand lip balm/gloss.

I had all but sworn off lip gloss for life — I absolutely detest the feeling of sticky, gummy lips (or, worse, your hair being stuck to your sticky, gummy lips) — when I stumbled upon this gem.  I can’t live without it.  It adds a little color, tastes delicious, and leaves your lips moisturized.

I’ll round out the list of “Miracle Workers” with my hair regimen products.  Oh.  My.  God.  My life literally changed when I discovered Frederic Fekkai’s volumizing conditioners and shampoos.  They smell phenomenal and really volumize.  I swear.  And  have the flattest, straightest hair EVER.  (Caveat: they do cost a fortune, and I feel sheepish/guilty when I admit to using them on a daily basis, but they just…work.)

Second most important product for beautiful hair?  A spectacular curling iron, like mine by Hot Tools (1 1/2 inch barrel).  It heats in a second and delivers seriously shiny, beautiful curls.  I use mine just at the ends of my long hair and people think I get a blow out.

Other “musts” that speak for themselves in the hair department?  Goody bobby pins (I buy them in bulk and somehow lose them over the course of a year) and Scunci “ouchless” hair ties.

Because I tend to blow-dry and curl my hair fairly regularly, I try to use a masque on my hair every ten days or so.  I LOVE the Bumble and Bumble Coco de Mer masque for this reason:

It smells great and it leaves my hair silky, silky, silky.

Man, I cannot imagine my life without these staples!  Here’s hoping that they never abandon me.  Oh — and how could I forget to include a girl’s best friend???  Her favorite pair of Tweezerman tweezers.  I lost the absolute most phenomenal pair EVER (permanently sharp) and was almost brought to tears…I’ve since replaced them with another pair that is almost as good…