Fashion & Beauty

Pink hair, don’t care.

I realize I’ve been delinquent in my duties here. Like, really bad. Maybe worse than ever before. So it’s probably not the best time to congratulate myself on the fact that this blog came into existence almost exactly two years ago! Despite the fact that I’ve done a less-than-stellar job in recent months, my malformed brainchild maintains a pulse.

So on that note, I’ll get down to business. A few months ago, my lovely stylist Lauren updated my ombre with some vibrant pink and red. The result was beautiful, as expected, but as soon as I left the salon I was hit with the melancholy realization that I’d be unable to maintain the color on my own. I’d fly back to San Francisco and it would likely fade in a matter of weeks, even with the most delicate care and attention. I’d watch the fruits of her labor (and my time and money) circle the drain while crying into my loofah. The world would end and everything would be terrible, etc.

We all know that color-treated hair demands a little extra finesse– more time between washes (cold water only), extra hydration, touch-ups and more frequent trims… You know, the basics.

Well, it turns out there are some things that even Cosmo (or Harvard Law) can’t teach you. Enter oVertone Haircare, a relatively newish line of color-depositing conditioners that help to preserve your existing color or tint your hair gradually with consistent usage. The conditioners don’t bleach or lighten hair, they simply infuse it with a dose of semi-permanent dye each time you condition.

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Miserable face, messy desk, sub-par under-eye concealer.

If you’re a true Cosmo Girl, you know that color-depositing conditioners aren’t novel. What makes the oVertone line different is the fact that it’s actually good for your hair. Their conditioners lack the heavy alcohol content of regular dyes, so they won’t dry things out. They’re made of all plant-based ingredients and are gentle enough to use every time you condition. And, you can even use HOT WATER to rinse. Anyone with color-treated hair knows the pains of hunching over the bathroom sink to avoid a frigid shower.

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Another thing that I love about the line is the ability it gives you to customize your color. Each hue comes in different tones– pastel, vibrant or “extreme,” (the deepest of the three). You can also mix colors or use more than one conditioner at a time on different pieces of hair. Sounds like a lot of effort to me, personally, but if you’re an overachiever, be my guest.

Ultimately, I feel like the fact that I’ve used this stuff for the past three months with highly favorable results is a testament to its staying power. My hair feels as healthy as it ever had before dyeing, which is equal parts shocking and awesome. (I hate Halloween wig syndrome.) (You know what I mean.) And if you’re looking for a gradual, low-risk, semi-permanent way to try out a new look, this is it. So try out that lavender hair I know you’ve been coveting, y’all. Life is too short.

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Fashion & Beauty

Consignment and Resale: A Manifesto

It’s been forever, I know. I’m sorry. Things have been really busy around here. What with the holidays and work and a weird compulsion I suddenly developed to slog through all six seasons of Gossip Girl in five weeks, I could hardly find the time to do anything productive. You know you love me, xoxo.

To be honest, I’ve had a bit of writer’s block lately. I’ve been racking my brain to come up with a topic with which to christen the blog this Year of Our Lord 2015. (I wanted it to be both interesting and useful, so you can understand why it’s taken me two months.) The topic I kept coming back to was one that I’ve had multiple friends ask me about: the world of shopping and selling second-hand. I’ve come to understand that this is something people may find intimidating and confusing. But fear not, I’m gonna tell you what I know.

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I would say somewhere between 50-60% of my clothing was originally owned by someone else (like a Saudi Arabian princess) (true story). Certainly the most valuable and unique pieces that I own are ones I’ve bought second-hand. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Why spend your hard-earned dollars on mass-produced, mediocre mall wares when you could score something way more awesome?

Well, turns out there are a few reasons, and they’re all psychological. That’s right, you’re crazy. Here are the concerns I hear most often:

1. I’m overwhelmed and I don’t know where to start.
I hear you. Walking into a consignment or resale store can be intimidating, as they’re often organized differently than mainstream retail stores. Since the merchandise is all unique, racks are usually organized by item type and then subdivided by size. The good news is that you can look through all the size small sweaters at once, for example.

2. I can’t find what I’m looking for.
Here’s where you’ve got to redefine your expectations. If you’ve developed tunnel vision looking for the perfect LBD or a pair of great fitting jeans, you may miss out on the best of what’s actually there. These stores don’t often deal in basics, so if you’re looking for classic wardrobe staples it’s probably best to buy new. Instead, keep your mind open to the novelties.

3. I don’t know if I’m getting a good deal. 
The short answer here is yes, you probably are. Resale shops price clothing well below retail price– as they should, because it’s often (though not always) used. I would advise against buying brands like H&M, Gap, Banana Republic et al. secondhand– in fact, many stores won’t take them because they simply don’t retain their value after they’ve been worn. (Why buy these brands used when they go on sale frequently enough as it is?) Instead look for higher quality/designer items. This is your chance to score something you might not normally be able to afford. Most stores sell their merchandise at less than a third of retail price, and the luxury items are often priced to sell at even less.

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A recent (lucky) find.

Now that you’ve got your neuroses in check, let’s move on to the process of selling your clothes. I’ll first point out the distinction between consignment and resale. Consignment stores will pay you for your clothing if/when it sells, while resale shops will offer you cash or check immediately. While resale is obviously the route to instant gratification, I have found that these stores tend to offer a bit less because they’re assuming a risk if your pieces don’t sell.

In the spirit of actual research I checked in with an employee at one of my favorite SF resale stores: Wasteland, in the Haight.

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Erica gave me the following tips on selling your unwanted clothing:

  • Shops are looking for modern, on-trend pieces from luxury brands or designer vintage. They tend to eschew major brands.
  • Leather is always in style. Certain pieces like moto jackets do well, often regardless of season.
  • No low-waisted jeans. High-waisted pants and skirts are on-trend.
  • No basics, betches. Basic items simply don’t sell as well, unless they’re designer or super high quality.
  • Stores do their shopping ahead of season. Start spring cleaning now!

Another thing to remember is that while shops can appear fickle about the items they accept, they keep track of the items that do and don’t sell and often base their buying decisions off of these trends. You may find that working with multiple shops is the best way to sell more of your unwanted goods.

Happy shopping, and selling!

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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

Current Obsession: Elizabeth & James Nirvana Black

I’m on an unending quest for the perfect fragrance, and seriously, there are so many good ones to choose from. But when fall rolls around I find myself distancing myself from floral scents in favor of fragrances that are a little richer and more sophisticated. It would be great to be richer and more sophisticated, as a general rule.

You know who does that really well? The damn Olsen twins. The success of their fashion/beauty empire has actually managed to completely eclipse any memory of their acting career[s], at least in my eyes. I’m not even getting paid to say that. I’ve always loved Elizabeth & James clothing, so when I received samples of their new Nirvana Black & White dual fragrance exclusive from Sephora, I was intrigued. Real talk: both of these scents are to-die-for.

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I opted for Nirvana Black, which is deep and earthy with notes of sandalwood, violet and vanilla. I wanted something woody with a slight hint of sweetness; a counterpoint to the fresh, green notes I’m usually drawn to during the summer. If I had named this scent, I would have called it “wealthy former hippie.” Basically, this perfume smells like the Bay Area. Like when you’re barefoot in your Calypso St. Barths tunic tending the herbs in the community garden, organic fair-trade soil between your toes, and it starts to get chilly so you run inside and grab that that trusty old Alpaca throw you bought with your last ten pesos the third time you quit your job to go backpacking in South America. Those days are long gone now; you made it big at a tech startup and could buy all the Alpaca throws you’d ever want, but that’s not the point. When you breathe in the smell of Nirvana Black, you’re bound to reminisce about life’s adventures… so many adventures. That’s what it is for me, anyway– an olfactory scrapbook of all the awesome shit that I haven’t done, but possibly could have done if I were that kind of person. The kind of person with stories to tell.

Nirvana White, on the other hand, is floral (peony and muguet, which is a fancy French way of saying Lily of the Valley) with a hint of musk (there’s that rich sophistication factor again). That description is probably a little reductive, but I liked it a teeny tiny bit less than Nirvana Black and therefore my brain is having trouble finding more words. Motivation is a fickle thing.

The Sephora salesgirl I spoke to did have an interesting suggestion: layering the two fragrances. I haven’t tried it yet, but gosh am I excited about the prospect. Like yin and yang or Mary-Kate and Ashley, the marriage of these scents just seems right. Who knows, it may even bring me to a state of enlightenment.

I’ll let you know if I get there.

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Marcia & Suzanne

Since moving to the West Coast, I’ve made a wealth of new connections for whom I’m truly grateful. I’ve even been lucky enough to acquire some brand new family out here: my self-appointed adoptive aunts, Marcia and Suzanne. After three months, I feel like I’ve known them forever– and I hope to.

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On Suzanne: Calypso tunic. On Marcia: Anthropologie top and pants.

Suzanne and Marcia have been together for nearly 25 years, and after the long-awaited repeal of DOMA they decided to make their union official. Surprisingly, their decision to marry wasn’t a given. After being together for so long, they wondered if they really needed the pomp and circumstance of a wedding. They felt married already, having shared a life together (complete with a dog, three cats and four chickens) for more than two decades. After some thought and gentle prodding, though, they realized that they did want to honor their commitment to each other with a celebration– not just for themselves, but for the family and friends who had supported them throughout the years.

They settled on a gorgeous estate in Lagunitas for their venue. Marin County is such an impossibly majestic place that it almost feels like human intervention could shatter it to pieces at any moment. As such, it was fitting that there was nothing showy or frivolous about this event. The raw beauty of the place was complemented by delicate and understated decor– a perfect reflection of the couple themselves.

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Suzanne and Marcia are very close to their gaggle of adult nieces and nephews, and decided to have the group serve as the wedding party as well as the officiants of the ceremony. It was such a unique and touching gesture, there probably wasn’t a dry eye in the house/forest.

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So much of wedding culture these days revolves around the material, and it’s always heartening to see a pure and joyous celebration of love bereft of any of the bizarre, contrived trappings I usually associate with modern marriage. (Sorry for getting weird and deep, guys. Maybe I’m just a little jaded.) I mean this as a compliment to the brides: two people who would have heartily consented to spending the rest of their lives together without a party or a marriage license or the recognition of the outside world.

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Despite the fact that it’s only recently become official, they’re perhaps the most quintessential example I’ve ever known of a marriage done right. Endless love to you both.

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Congrats, Suzanne & Marcia!

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Fashion & Beauty

Malibu

Anyone notice my new header photo? Apparently I’m the last person in the free world to figure out how to take a panorama photo on an iPhone! How cute and endearing!

You can stop guessing about the location; I spent a lovely 4th of July weekend with my family in Malibu. It was perfect because I’m one of those incredibly lucky people that has family members who would be cool enough to hang out with even if we weren’t related. I’m pretty sure this is a rarity.

In all seriousness, the women in my extended family– on both sides– are really cool, and have fantastic style. Each of them has such a unique and inimitable aesthetic that when I’m around them, I find myself feeling a lot like I did when I was young and clueless and still wearing Talbots. My outfits are like stirrup leggings and Keds compared to their effortless, eclectic chic.

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On Dana: J Brand tee, BB Dakota overalls, Converse shoes, vintage Coach bucket bag and bracelet, Madewell bracelet.

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On Megan: Le Specs sunglasses, “cheap Asian store” Marilyn Monroe crop top and maxi skirt, BC shoes.

We spent a gluttonous weekend lounging on the beach and hunting for celebrities (well, I did, because I’m declasse and also not accustomed to being around people who are on TV). Ladies, Brody Jenner ain’t all that. His bro, though.

And of course, there was a little bit of shopping. I got a couple of new cosmetics that I’m really excited about: Santigold for Smashbox’s Limitless Double-ended Liner in Azurite/El Dorado, and Benefit’s Cha Cha Tint and Sun Beam Highlighter. How beachy is this look?! (Ignore my unkempt eyebrows, please. Or don’t, ’cause summer is for letting loose, and I just can’t be tamed.)

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Benefit’s stains can double as lip & cheek color.

But anyway, here are some pics of my gorgeous fam.

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On Megan: Daughters of the Revolution caftan. On me: Tom Ford sunglasses, Rachel Roy caftan, stolen hat from my aunt and uncle’s beach house.

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On Dana: Prada sunglasses, Planet Blue bikini top, Zara shorts.

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On Tina: Old Navy Dress, Vix swimsuit, Tom Ford sunglasses, Wanawake hat, Stella and Dot tote.

And of course, Snackers, the unrequited love of my life.

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Hates me.

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Lately

A picture is worth a thousand words.

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Ocean Beach, SF at sunset.

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Ran from my apartment to the coast after work. Still kind of in awe that this is a real thing that I can do now. Unbelievable.

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ROGA (running+yoga) event on the Santa Monica Pier with celebrity trainer Juliet Kaska. Sponsored by Vionic. Working on a Saturday has never been so painless.

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ROGA is over for the summer, but picks up again in the fall. Check out http://santamonicapier.org/roga/ for more information.

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My neighborhood. The Richmond, SF.

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This weekend’s hike. Sea Cliff, SF.

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Rad Theory sweater that I scored for $20 at Wasteland (more on that obsession later). H&M necklace, Tahari pants, Vionic sandals (on sale now!).

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New nose stud and ragged hair. Passed the two month mark without a cut before conceding that something had to be done. Miss you, Lauren!

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Awkward face, double chin, fresh layers via The Cutlery SF. Highly recommended!

That’s all I got for now.

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