Saturday, November 22, 2008

New GAP Holiday Ads are Here!

Just in time to cheer you up (or get your corporate-hating goose on, if that floats your boat) - a new spate of GAP holiday ads online!

For what it's worth, this is my favorite, along with this one.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Face of the Moment: Honolulu City Nights

Picture this: a perfect early Fall evening in downtown Honolulu, as close to the seaside at the harbor as possible. Winds are crisp, the lights are twinkling, and everywhere you go you're reminded that you're only one week away from Thanksgiving, one step away from the full-on holiday season.

A perfect night to go out with one's friends... and have a pint of seasonal ale at an Irish pub.

So this is what I looked like that night:

The stars of this look are three of the most tenacious eye makeup products that I have ever used in my life, seen here in combination.

EYES (done first to avoid errors)

- Base: MAC Paint Pot in Painterly, applied with a Taklon eyeshadow brush. This locks in any and all eyeshadows that will be used during this time. Best base evarrr.

- Eyeliner: L'Oreal HIP Color Truth Cream Eyeliner in Black - using the brush that came with the package, I drew a thick cat's eye line on top lid and a thin line underneath. Believe me when I say that not only did this stuff dry quickly, but it also did not budge or flake all night.

- Shadows: All of the eyeshadows are from Stila. Using a modification of this smoky eye technique (credit goes to Karen at Makeup and Beauty Blog and Gordon Espinet of MAC) I powdered over the eyeshadow with Barefoot Contessa eye shadow, then a matte grey shadow in the crease (try Kalahoo as an alternative), and finally Wheat on the brow bone.

- Lashes: Cover Girl Lash Blast in Very Black. Again, yet another tenacious product in my arsenal. Usually I'm pretty bad with mascara - usually stuff like this runs on me after a few minutes, leaving me with unfortunate dark circles - but Lash Blast keeps my lashes lush and dark all night, even when I get a little teary-eyed. The only downside: I still needed a more emollient makeup remover.


- Foundation: L'Oreal Bare Naturale Mineral Makeup in Sun Beige
- Blush: Bare Escentuals BareMinerals Face Color in Warmth


I started out using Cover Girl's TruShine lipcolor in Cinnamon Shine, which turned out into a pretty sheer nude shade on me. Unfortunately, the sheerness meant that the lip color did not last as long as the eye makeup... but when you're knocking back a burger with blue cheese, who's there to complain?


- Fragrance: Chanel Chance
- Hair: Washed and banana-clipped into a bun while wet, then brushed out and air-dried
- Top: The jacket from Nepal (not belted) on top of a pink Fruit of the Loom tank
- Bottom: Old Navy jeans, re-tailored at the waist so they won't fall off
- Shoes: Madeline Stuart patent mary-jane flats (purchased at Ross for $6.99)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Franken-Body Splash

The bad news: This post is not about the Senate race in Minnesota. The good news: This post is inspired by an ongoing discussion I've been having with Karen at Makeup and Beauty Blog about my tendency to "juice up" my drugstore body splashes with essential oils.

It all started, simply enough, with a bottle of pina colada-scented body spray. I received it as a gift (brand withheld to protect identity of the person who gave it to me - don't want to give away the game here) and was wearing it for a few days when I noticed that it was way, way too sweet for me. The coconut note in the spray wasn't even the fresh buko juice accord that I usually associate with fine sun protection products, but the overly cloying, candied coconut flavor that I associate with - yep, you guessed it - supermarket pina colada mix.

Well, then, I figured: Back in college I kind of liked the combination of patchouli and coconut essential oils, so why not juice up the body spray with patchouli oil?

So that's what I did: went to the nearest health-food store, bought a bottle of patchouli oil, and proceeded to goose up the aforementioned pina-colada fragrance with it.

If it was possible to come up with an after picture of what happened afterwards, the end result would be similar to pineapple soda:

Suddenly the pineapple was pushed forward onto the top note, with an uncharacteristic fizziness that came from the mingling of the "coconut" with the patchouli. The end result turned what could have been a garden-variety body spray into something that smelled like something I shouldn't be wearing for work - the olfactory equivalent of a Valerie Joseph cocktail dress worn with chunky jewelry and the strappiest of strappy sandals.

Mind you, the experiment is actually ongoing as we speak. I actually bought an oil blend called "Money" in Cleveland at the hippie/wiccan store Scribe and I visited on Coventry - it smelled intensely spicy, which I then proceeded to blend into a blackberry spray that turned too sweet on me. Voila - the refreshing (and un-candied) scent eventually became my lucky fragrance, since I wore it to all of my job interviews and has helped me land my short-but-sweet work experiences at my last two jobs. This same oil is currently being road-tested on another fruity spray that I've also started wearing to work.

There's something very Jo Malone about this - playing with the olfactory elements of certain fragrances to come up with one's own special signature blend - and I'll admit that it's a great way to make certain fragrances smell warmer or spicier, especially when the weather starts dropping. So far, however, I only do this with my inexpensive stuff, since there's more to go around and my finances don't extend to splurging on designer juice at my next trip to Sephora. For now, it's all about striking the perfect balance between sweet predictability and dark maturity - a sort of cautious optimism for the times ahead, if I should say so.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

You Are My Other Constant

Guys, remember how I've been slacking on getting the MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack? Well, it looks like I've been able to score a worthy drugstore substitute in the meantime...

Check out that lower left hand corner: The texture of this product is a little more buttery than the Fluidline (which made it hella easy for me to load my eyeliner brush) but the staying power is practically comparable - identical, even. (And doesn't it look like a Toffifay inside the jar?) Best of all is the price - I got mine on sale for $9, while the MAC one has an SRP of $15.00.

Oh, did I also tell you that my new favorite eyeliner happens to be part of L'Oreal's incredible HIP line? And that I would never have bought it if it hadn't been for this review?

You'll have to wait for the pictures of me wearing the stuff, though. But take my word for it - the L'Oreal HIP Color Truth Cream Eyeliner is a worthy contender.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November Birthdays, Part 2: About La Familia de Meimei

The next November birthday on my calendar happens to be my sister's, which happens to be a certain landmark one for her... and she's celebrating it (a few days late, but still) in the best way I can imagine: by spending the weekend in Reno to meet up with her former classmates from high school. You go, SisMei!

That said: My sister's birthday is also the reason why I am taking this picture of myself out of the vaults...

Okay, so I don't really look too much like my sister here (it's an unspoken Meimei family policy to not post any non-self pictures on non-networking sites sin permiso) and the background is obviously not Reno (it's actually the Excalibur in Vegas), but it is the perfect illustration of all the style tips that my sister and I have inherited from our Mom.

Note that I said "inherited": for many years my sister and I have been looking at our own pictures (like this one) in which we've found ourselves remarking that we're both beginning to look like our own mother. But now that we think about it, our Mom still looks pretty good for her age... so we can definitely say that she taught us pretty well.

- The accessories are always key. Note the scarf, the purse, and the gold-dipped orchid pendant: not all of them are "designer" accessories, but together they elevate the otherwise basic top. Mom was the kind of person who spent well on her accessories; there's a reason why my preschool self always got in trouble for raiding her closets of silk scarves and oversized sunglasses. And while my sister and I would rather go to the mall for our purses and bags, we learned from our Mom's fake-designer shopping jaunts in Bangkok that good construction and classic design always trumps trends, regardless of label or price.

Also note that I am also not wearing earrings in this picture; Mom was a very strict adherent to the "take one thing off" rule, which partly explains how I've become a slacker when it comes to the jewelry I've inherited from her.

- People will always pay attention to your shoes. "Wait," you may ask, "you told us last month that your Dad was the one who taught you about shoes?" Well, if you haven't noticed it yet, we are a shoe-lovin' family: Dad's Ballys, Mom's cork platform wedges, my sister's pointy boots from Ann Taylor (which, in a hilarious turn of events, was once mistaken by Mom for my own shoes when she saw them lying around at my sister's house). Very few pairs of shoes go out with the trash - and if they do, it's more than likely that they look more like what my brother's Asics sneakers would look like after three straight years of marathon training: beat up beyond recognition, and completely unusable. The rules always apply: polish them well, wear socks when necessary... and as long as you can get them to the nearest shoe cobbler, a good pair will always last you for ages.

- Preventative care helps, too. Mom grew up in the Philippines at a time when women who wore makeup were not looked upon too kindly - which explains why her makeup repertoire had always remained on the neutral and sheer side for the most part, except for her standby coral and berry lipsticks. (If there's anyone who had ever nagged us to wear more, in fact, it would be our Dad - he was the one who always reminded me to "powder up" so I wouldn't look pallid coming out of the door.) Again, makeup and skin care was a place where our Mom didn't skimp - she's been a devotee of the Clinique 3-step program for years, and every year we take her to Macy's and Sephora for her foundation and lipstick - so we learned to cleanse and moisturize (and wear SPF) when it matters.

- Better to be polished than underdressed. Last spring, Mom injured her ankle a few days before arriving in Honolulu for my graduation. Even though she had to spend the rest of her days with a cane, an occasional wheelchair, and Velcro sneakers, you would barely - if ever - have noticed them in the pictures, because she was impeccably dressed throughout the entire time in silk jackets and scarves, or even a long-sleeved shirt on her most casual days. More than that, however, her posture remained as sprightly and confident as ever; not once did I ever notice her slouching in pain, her face contorted into a "woe is me" frown. (Meanwhile, I'm the person who leaves the house in sweats and a scowl if I should read so much as an anger-inducing op-ed piece.)

- Stick with what works. For as long as all three of us have been alive, we always remember Mom for her wardrobe staples: long pants, shift dresses, interesting blouses, tank swimsuits, leather satchels. Doesn't matter if she bought them or had them made (since she has her own dressmaker in the Philippines), as long as they fit her. There have been times when we've asked her to change it up a bit (to which she'd always reply, "But what will your Daddy think?")... and yet, even when she's physically not around, we - and by this we mean the two sisters - always end up walking out of whatever store we're in with almost the same stuff that we would remember from Mom's closet.

- It's never too late to start being stylish. The first piece of jewelry that my niece inherited from her Grandma Mei was a necklace of pink plastic beads that she used to chew on as a toddler. This is the same niece who easily incorporated "ooo, shiiiiny" as a catchphrase after spending part of her childhood years watching QVC and Style Network alongside her mother. Now this little girl is in her (pink-shunning, vampire-novel-reading) early teens, and while she's more interested now in science projects than shopping, we're still holding out hope that some of this advice will reach her as well. Who knows, maybe ten years from now, it'll be her closet that will be packed with the same shift dresses, silk scarves, and fine leather dress shoes.

(Would that the same be said for the two nephews in the family, however. My brother's son is catching up quickly, but my sister's little boy... well, we finally managed to pry him away from the Crocs, but we still have to convince him to wear socks or risk having his shoes smelling like dead animals all the time.)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

These Are Not the Pants That You Are Looking For...

...And yet, I still bought these low-rise "trouser jeans" from Old Navy because I needed jeans for my current job assignment (part of the dress code), but I was already short of money and had no time to have a proper pair hemmed.
Right now the denim on these babies are as stiff as heck, so I'm working on wearing them every day to get them as stretched-out as I possibly can for the next few days. I know, I know - they're supposed to be capris, which explain why they're tight in the cuff area (about half an inch above my ankles) - but I've shopped for pants at Old Navy long enough to know that they always end up getting that desired beat-up softness in a few wearings, no matter how tight they are in the beginning.

Besides, I kinda like how my butt looks in 'em.

Monday, November 03, 2008

November Birthdays, Part 1: The Scribe

Today marks the birth anniversary of one of my great friends and favorite people on this God-given earth, about whom I can say nothing that couldn't be said better. Hard to believe that it's actually been a year since she last came to visit us here in Hawaii, and less than six months since my own turn to visit her and Mr. Scribe in Ohio - but here we are, looking forward to the future with open hands and hearts.

While I can't really speak of Scribey without getting too wistful or teary-eyed, I will admit that it was our mutual love of style and shopping that brought us together in the first place. While she continues to be befuddled by makeup, I will admit to being more than envious of her insanely unedited wardrobe, which not only includes clothes and shoes from her "costume dramas of one" but also various items that have carried her through various fluctuations in dress size and mood. (It also helps that we share the same shoe size.) And while I may never get to fit myself into the same vintage-quality tunics and maxidresses that she has been wearing lately, I will admit that I've borrowed elements of her personal style to match my own, to wit:

- Taking risks with fashion. Yes, those leather boots looked ridiculous on both of us in the middle of the tropics - and my pair didn't survive the Great Wardrobe Weed-Out of the last two years - but if that's what it takes to up the fearlessness factor, then so be it.

- Shopping inside your closet. "Fashion is cyclical," she always says - which explains how her mother's blouses and suede Ferragamo boots from the '70s have ended up with her in Cleveland. (Though it probably does not explain why her cat seems to have developed an attraction to those boots.) True, it may sound ridiculous and selfish to keep weeding out... but when times get tough - as they often do - it always helps to have those investment pieces at the ready.

- When everything else is in doubt, dress bright. Believe me, this was a hard lesson to learn for both of us - and especially in my case, since I've always thought that we were always going to be the creative/emo types who were destined to roam the world clad in all-black Prada, with the occasional Happy Bunny tee thrown in for extra snarky flavor. Lately, however, she has opened my mind to embracing swirly prints, dreamy fabrics, and bright colors to convey a never-ending sense of hope - not to mention a conscious celebration of our shared Filipino heritage. Yeah, you can go ahead and blame all of that on living in Cleveland's answer to Haight-Asbury, but I think it's the kind of wisdom that comes with age. Speaking of which...

- It really is all about the eye of the beholder. We may be imperfect, but we never realize how much our imperfections can be the very things that people admire about us. Scribe took a long time before she could truly embrace the very Eurasian features and cultural traits that many people have admired about her, which in turn has given her a newfound sense of purpose and advocacy. I, in turn, have learned from her to acknowledge my own feelings about my body - especially the fleshy parts that I have kept covered up for years - which has led to my ongoing path towards building a better sense of self-acceptance. Not to mention it has also led me to choose cuter dresses and take better pictures while wearing them.
So then: Cheers to another great year of life, dear friend. :)
Stay tuned for Part 2: A Salute to the Women of Hacienda de Meimei.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Happy Halloween, Y'All

Two things that are making my stay-in, oh-was-I-supposed-to-get-dressed-today? Halloween this year:

1) Eddie Izzard's Dress to Kill, which should be in the mailbox by now thanks to Netflix....

2) ...and an Eddie Izzard-worthy mascara in the form of Cover Girl's Lash Blast, which has been giving me dramatic, wall-to-wall, false-looking lashes for the last three weeks. One swipe is all I need on the days when I am expected to look more like myself. :)

Stay safe tonight!