Fashion & Beauty

Don’t call it a pocketbook: A guide to handbags

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A few of my favorite things.

It’s recently come to my attention that I have too much stuff. This slow-burning realization was of course catalyzed by my move across the country, which has forced me to take a hard look at my belongings and truly contemplate the meaning of the word “necessity” in a way I never really had before. (It’s a weird and annoying word that just sounds prissy and precious, in my opinion. Let’s do away with it.)

We’ve all read articles about how to pare down your wardrobe and do more with less. That’s all well and good when it comes to clothing, and it makes sense when your living quarters afford limited room for excess. But one area where I refuse to compromise is in the handbag arena.

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Fendi oyster bag, Paul & Joe Sister tote, Cambridge crossbody.

I get questions all the time (from concerned friends and family, not like, the media or anything) about why I need so many bags. “Don’t you just use the same one every day, anyway?” (This is my dad.) The answer here is a resounding no.

I can be a reasonable person when pushed, but I’m not budging on this. If you’re hauling around a faded, fraying, ancient leather sack with the intention of replacing it only after it releases a final groan of agony and sends your laptop and gum wrappers tumbling to the floor, please just delve deep into the reserves of your compassion and put the damn thing out of its misery.

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Tan clutch: Aimee Kestenberg, mini backpack: Coach, black tote: Botkier, tan/cream tote: vintage Dooney & Bourke.

You need more than one bag. You don’t need 20+, but you do need more than one. Like shoes, bags are designed for different occasions, and there’s no one-size-fits-all fix. The tote you use to lug your computer to work just isn’t appropriate or practical to carry at a wedding, or out on New Year’s Eve. A bag is meant to make a statement and complement your look, and while it serves a functional purpose, it shouldn’t just be something you’re grudgingly dragging around because you need somewhere to stash emergency tampons. That’s sad, and in my opinion, wrong.

Rue La La has done a great job piecing together this [actually informative] guide for handbags with a simple breakdown of classic handbag silhouettes. There’s even a section on authenticating designer bags if you’re inclined to splurge on vintage or consignment. Based on the guide, here are my personal MVPs for building a collection from the ground up:

— a classic, polished tote for work & everyday
— a larger hobo for weekends and the days you’ll need to carry more
— a small clutch or evening bag for more formal occasions

I’m obviously a person with a passion for purses, and I do understand if that’s just not your bag (ha). But there’s nothing that can class up an outfit more quickly than some arm candy. And unlike your favorite pair of jeans, a bag won’t look shittier on you after a weekend of bingeing on beer and pizza.

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Gucci tote, vintage YSL tote.

Happy shopping!

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Fashion & Beauty

Boston Wedding

I mentioned that I was headed out of town for a wedding last weekend, but I haven’t gotten around to writing a post about it until now. Our friends Paul and Amanda got married in their hometown of Boston, and had an incredibly lavish, super elegant reception at the Boston Public Library. Seriously unbelievable.

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Cocktail hour in the courtyard.

My boyfriend was a groomsman, so we were invited to an equally gorgeous rehearsal dinner at the Hampshire House, a historic mansion in Beacon Hill. I had a feeling this weekend would be one of the nicest events I’d get to go to this year and I was absolutely right. I had a few things lying around to wear, but I wanted to supplement them with… other, newer things.

Rehearsal Dinner

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Dress: Rebecca Taylor (consignment), Shoes: Badgley Mischka (ebay), Clutch: Aimee Kestenberg (ideeli), Earrings: unknown brand (ideeli), Bracelet: Lou Lou, Rings: Melinda Maria (maxandchloe.com), Makeup: Lancome Hypnose mascara, MAC smudgeproof liner in Buried Treasure and Urban Decay 24/7 liner in Smog, Burt’s Bees lipgloss in Autumn Haze, Benefit Watts Up! highlighter, Airspun translucent powder, Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelee in Honeymoon Honey, Tokyomilk perfume #57 Sencha Blue

I scored this dress a few months ago at one of my favorite consignment stores in DC, Secondi, and had been looking for an opportunity to wear it. I didn’t have too many options by way of formal heels, so I decided to buy a pair of strappy stilettos in a light, neutral gold. I love Badgley Mischka shoes, and had been obsessing over their signature embellished pumps, but I decided to go with something a little more understated and versatile. I found this brand new pair on ebay for a mere $60, which is less than you might pay for a standard shoe from many a lesser brand. This is why I basically never walk into a department store, or really any store, and just buy things off the rack. (I’m getting anxious just thinking about it.) Then again, I enjoy sifting through options and searching for bargains, and some people don’t.

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For makeup, I basically dressed up my standard cat-eye. I’m half-Japanese and I don’t have a ton of eyelid real-estate, so I don’t usually use shadows, at least not in the traditional sense. Instead, if I’m looking to get fancy, I smudge a liner across my lid after using a translucent powder to hold everything in place. I used Smog by Urban Decay this time, which is a rusted-copper brown. These liners have kind of a cult following because the colors are rad, and they’re creamy and easy to blend. Once they set, though, they don’t budge. I followed this with MAC smudge proof pencil in Buried Treasure, which is dark brown with tiny flecks of gold, for the cat-eye. I used Benefit’s Watts Up! highlighter on my brow bone, blending it onto my lid, and finished with Lancome Hypnose mascara on my top and bottom lashes. Josie Maran’s Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelee has become my go-to blush, because it’s so easy to apply and it looks completely natural. The consistency is reminiscent of Jell-O, so it’s also fun. I mean, for me it is, but maybe I have low standards.

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Drinking wine by a mirror.

Wedding

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Dress: BB Dakota (Piperlime), Shoes: Badgley Mischka (ebay), Clutch: Ann Taylor (consignment), Earrings: Kate Spade, Bracelet: Tahari (ideeli), Rings: Melinda Maria (maxandchloe.com)

I love the big fat graphic floral print of this dress. I got it on sale from Piperlime for $50, which I thought was more than reasonable, but the price has been reduced even further since then (you’re welcome). A few days before the wedding I stumbled upon this Ann Taylor Loft clutch at Secondi (you should be sensing a theme, here) which I was pretty ecstatic about. I have been lusting after one of the classic Bottega Veneta ones for years, but LOL at that ever happening. I love the aqua/coral combo, especially paired with gold jewelry. I happened to snag the Kate Spade earrings months ago (for another wedding, naturally) on one of their sneaky online super-sales. They matched perfectly– what are the odds?

I ended up doing the same makeup routine the second night as well, minus the copper lid. Yes, I am a one-trick pony.

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Truly sorry for the awkwardness of this crappy iPhone photo.

Now let’s ogle this venue…

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Holy cats.

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Dining hall/study hall.

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And, most importantly, congratulations to these two.

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