Thursday, July 30, 2009

What's Your Fantasy: From Father to Son

Hello, I'm Stellan Skarsgard.

While Meimei has no shame about crushing on me (especially after Mamma Mia! and my bashing of Dan Brown), I am here to discuss my son, Alexander.

(pauses sinisterly, as if to contemplate certain death for anyone who confuses Alex with Peter Sarsgaard)

You probably have already seen him wear that horrific blond wig for his role in True Blood, so there's no need to see it now. Nor is it time for you to watch that Lady Gaga video that he starred in... unless you really do need to watch a grown woman dancing around while wearing what appears to be a combination of Mickey Mouse ears and stainless steel lingerie.

Instead, I have asked Meimei to share with you some of his earlier pictures from when he was only the sexiest actor working in Sweden.

Yes, these pictures are nothing like the filthy, badly-accented vampire that you are used to seeing on your television screens right now. (Ed's note: The Philippines is currently on Season 1 of True Blood; check listings for Cinemax Asia and/or HBO Asia for details.) Admit it, though: You do find him so alluring, do you not? You may even be surprised by your own urges to touch his own real-life head of hair, which seems so soft and silky compared to that hairpiece. And you, like the vampire-averse authoress of this blog, would like to see him - and I quote - "wearing less clothes more often."

And while I do not want to begrudge your feelings towards my own flesh and blood, I also know that you are thinking the same thing that I do: What on EARTH is this boy doing for his anti-aging regimen?

Look at me, again, and tell me if my genetic contribution has anything to do with dear Alex having such excellent skin throughout his career. Do I look like I actually encourage my boy to feast on the blood of vestal virgins?

Now if you will excuse me, I need to compile some recommendations for a good moisturizer.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Coffee with Jon Hamm (Yeah, Right)

Okay, so this picture doesn't really tell the whole story... but if you've ever fancied yourself as a walk-on extra on Mad Men, get your keister over to and create your own '60s-inspired avatar. I love how the final versions of each avatar actually come in different sizes, from IM-size to full-on widescreen wallpaper for your desktop. Cute!

Now, if I could only reshuffle the TV-viewing schedule in this house so I can catch a few back episodes...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Working Wardrobe

As much as I love the crazy fashion scene we have here in the Philippines - and by extension, Southeast Asia - I also can't deny the widespread impact of the current global recession on people's lives. At a time when skilled overseas workers from the Third World are being sent back to their home countries and budgets are getting slashed across the board, there's no reason to think that anyone's job is anywhere near safe.

Suffice it to say that, as a professional who's entering the Philippine job market for the first time, I am facing quite a challenge. Back in Honolulu, I was practically ready to hire if I showed up at a job interview wearing a button-down blouse, long pants, and covered shoes; considering the weather, the field I was in, and the laid-back corporate culture, I didn't need to be dressed in a suit to be taken seriously. That's not the case in Manila, where a global approach to economic growth demands a more conservative approach to dressing... even though the climate isn't exactly blazer-worthy.

Thus, I turn my attention back to creating another capsule wardrobe on Polyvore.

The inspiration for this set, of course, comes from the packaging for the Pretty Polly nylons that you can see in the middle; the pic itself suggests a naughty-secretary vibe, but I wanted to go for something equally edgy and mysterious without the accompanying conniptions from the HR department. Since I'm currently trying to make a career transition into a corporate-but-creative setting, my picks may be a little less conservative than expected.

Nevertheless, the rules still apply...

- Separate, but neutral. Let's face it - unless you are working in a very conservative workplace where you do have to deal with numerous high-rolling clients, most of us don't really need a full suit system. Regardless of where you get your suit-like separates - like jackets, pants, and skirts - what does matter is to stay as close to a neutral palette as possible, without breaking from tradition. The J. Crew blazer that I chose for this set, for example, is similar to the khaki blazers that I have in my closet, and appropriate for the warmer climes in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim. This would definitely be fine if you're working someplace creative and casual, but for a more conservative setting - like, say, a law office or a major financial institution - I would've either matched up that jacket to the navy skirt (again, similar to something I already own) or made a "suit" with matching khaki pants.

- Tailored to perfection. What I wanted to avoid in this set was the same mistake that I had made for most of my professional career: not paying attention to proper fit. I say this because I have spent most of my career in Hawaii wearing the same shapeless black cardigan to work every single day, which made me look dowdy regardless of what I wore with it. When I made the decision to move to Manila, I ended up chucking the black cardi in favor of tailored blazers. Now, I'm not saying you should dress like one of the old boys - and we'll get to more on that point later - but you do want to make sure that what you wear to work conveys power and competence. Tailoring your skirts and jackets to fit makes a lot of difference in doing that; so do adding conservative touches such as wingtip-style high heels or a structured leather bag, like the Mulberry Bayswater shown here.

- Feminize it. Where I part from all the power-dressing rules is my insistence on softening the suit-y parts of the work wardrobe with comfortable, feminine details. Again, keeping the climate in consideration here, I chose to pair the blazer with short-sleeved blouses - but not your usual bow-tied froofy blouses from the '80s (see also: the movie 9 to 5). I like the flattering neckline on this Celine blouse, which doesn't choke at the neck but still keeps the cleavage covered; I love how the whole thing drapes from sleeve to hem. But I also like the vibrant color and basic design of the Dorothy Perkins shirt, too, which provides room for both tradition and comfort. I can also see myself wearing these blouses without the jacket, too - still professional while beating the heat and humidity - and, if I'm feeling adventurous, I might even wear them untucked with a slim leather belt. Any combination of design and color would work, too, as long as it flatters the body and the skin tone.

- Flattery takes you far. My rule is that the closer I wear anything to my face, the softer and more feminine it should be - thus, the color and shape of the blouses. I also chose the rose button earrings for the same reasons, since they're designed to add a little bit of adornment without clashing with either my skin tone or the rest of the outfit. (As much as I love dangly earrings and such, I would rather not faff around with fussy jewelry when I'm working - better to just put something on and forget about it until you get home.)

- Within due bounds. Now, as for avoiding looking like the "sexy-tary," I do make a few concessions in the name of corporate professionalism: sticking to full-coverage shoes instead of stilettos (easier to walk in), wearing nylons (because, let's face it, even Manila isn't ready for bare legs in the office), and sticking with a structured bag that's not festooned with all sorts of designer logos or alien textures. I also want to add that it's important for highly qualified job seekers like me to avoid the pitfall of wearing makeup that's too heavy and/or too bright. (Let's just say that deep red lipstick has cost me a few jobs here and there, and leave it at that.)

Now, are we ready to face this market together, or what? ;)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

When Hateful Shoes Happen

I hate these Gareth Pugh platforms. HATE.

Just looking at these makes my blood boil. One of the girls from Preview's Best Dressed List wore these throughout her shoot, and it made me want to hunt down the person who thought these things were a good idea.

Seriously, people: Are you kidding me? Why would ANYONE want their feet to look like they've been propped up and bandaged after they've been mangled in a horrible accident? It's practically been cut and designed to make both ankle and foot look like they've been reduced to a mere stump of toes. Nothing about the design is anywhere near sexy, or powerful... come to think of it, everything about this pair screams "foot binding," and we all know how well that turned out.

I don't care if Gareth Pugh is some kind of design genius or anything (although this post from the Manolo says exactly what I think of him), I will never consider these shoes fashionable. EVER. Even that thin black wedge in the back looks uncomfortable. I can't look at anyone wearing these shoes - no matter how beautiful and fabulous they, or their outfits, happen to be - without thinking about how desperate they could be for attention.

I don't know about you, but I want my shoes to look like shoes, not crazy experimental art projects. My feet may not be beautiful, but they certainly are no place for any of your Bauhaus-Dadaist statements on beauty or democracy or what-have-you. If I wanted art in shoe form, wouldn't I be asking too much for it to look wearable?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Makeup News, for Once: Alexander Wang for Shiseido

So: It has been a while since I wrote a beauty post. (What's Your Fantasy posts and random pictures of myself don't count, haha.) It's funny because I haven't found a lot of things to write about for the last week, since things have been mellow out here and the Pinoy blogosphere has covered practically everything I want to write about, up to and including the cuteness of Mr. Chuvaness. (Hi Cecile!)

ANYWAY... the good news is that being in the Philippines puts me at an advantage as a beauty blogger, because I can start talking about the only-in-Asia exclusives for your favorite brands.

Exhibit 1: Alexander Wang's collaboration with Shiseido for the Maquillage line.

(Screencap, mine.)

While Shiseido Maquillage does have a website for Southeast Asia customers, this screencap comes from their Japan website. Unfortunately for the rest of us, I have no knowledge of the Japanese language whatsoever, so I can't translate the text for you. From what it looks like, though, the shade range does fall in line with the color schemes from Wang's Fall '09 collection - smoky eyes in neutral shades, and rosy but barely there lips.

UK blogger A Touch of Blusher reports that the lipsticks in this collection are, indeed, on the sheer side. (I didn't see the lipglosses on the Shiseido site, though, but from the descriptions I've read I'm guessing that they're equally rosy and juicy.) And if that wasn't enough, the packaging itself was designed by Alexander Wang himself - just as edgy and sexy as the clothes themselves. Not to mention that these products are pretty much exclusive to Asia... and that also includes Shiseido counters in Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, and the Philippines, in addition to the usual markets in China, Japan, and Korea.

That said, however: I'm several miles away from the nearest Shiseido counter, so I can't tell you anything about finishes or lasting power apart from what I've tried with existing Shiseido products. (Long story short, based on my "research" from the HNL branches of Sephora and Shirokiya: worth it, but it'll definitely cost ya.) There's also a good chance that I won't cave on this, either, since I already have one too many neutral shades - and rosy-nude glosses - in my existing arsenal. But I'm excited about this, nonetheless, because I think the packaging and colors are really pretty - and it's inspiring me to create my own smoky eye/ rosy lip combos in the future. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who loves good design and high quality Japanese cosmetics... and if it does especially well, I won't be surprised if they bring this collection over to the States and other markets, too.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What's Your Fantasy: A Placeholder Reunion

, Meimei and the Son of Pettigrew: reunited, and it feels so good.

(Yep, that's him at the 0:30 mark, singing "Heart and Soul" on the piano. Nummy.)

That said: It wouldn't be a placeholder reunion without the new Official Blog-Boyfriend of Domesticity himself, so...

The Statham wants to remind you that he may be older, but he's better-looking with his shirt off and PapaMei likes him so much better. Also, The Statham doesn't care that you find his movies crappy, but at least he has not agreed to participate in any cheesy romantic comedies, let alone unnecessary remakes of E.M. Forster's work. And so it goes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Statement of Purpose

It has been an emotional two weeks since my return to the Philippines, and since then the changes have been unprecedented. Not only do I have to adjust physically (humidity, argh) but I also have to adjust mentally and emotionally. Suffice it to say that I can't always expect things back home to stay the same as they were during my last visit, and it's taking a lot more time for me to accept that.

I will say this, though: While I obviously shouldn't, I do care what others think of me, to a certain point. I care enough to wear a bra under my shirts when going out in public, and cover up my cleavage in places where that sort of thing is not welcomed. I care enough not to laugh too loud and not to drink too much. I care enough not to pose any pictures of myself or my family - in this blog, or any other searchable Internet forum - that would be deemed too personal and too intimate for public perusal. I care enough to iron my shirts, brush my hair, even scrub my own bathroom sink when necessary. I care enough to use proper grammar and correct spelling... or at least put my entries through several edits, in case I catch one error too many.

In fact, I obviously care enough to put my own blog entries through the editing process in the first place. Why? Because I don't want to make a mockery of myself. End of story.


In moments like these, when my emotions get the best of me, I like to think of the people, things, and places that lift my spirits. I'm obviously surrounded by these in the Hacienda, of course, and I couldn't be happier... but that doesn't mean I don't need anything else.

For the days when I do need the reinforcement, I turn to visualization. And in this case, I envision myself with these shoes...
...wearing this dress...

...with my makeup done like this...

...and (AND!) with THIS GUY as my date.

Watch out, world.

Hometown Glory, Part 2

And now... Adele.

I like it in the city when the air is so thick and opaque
I love it to see everybody in short skirts, shorts and shades
I like it in the city when two worlds collide
You get the people and the government
Everybody taking different sides

Shows that we ain't gonna stand...

Shows that we are united
Shows that we ain't gonna take it
Shows that we ain't gonna stand...
Shows that we are united

(lyrics from radio edit)


On a personal but decidedly ambiguous note: When somebody asks the same question more than once, and gets the same answer more than once, but persists on asking the question again... does this situation say as much about the questioner than the questioned? And does the answer even count any more?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Publication Watch: Preview, July 2009


Longtime readers of this blog would know that Preview is my favorite fashion magazine from the Philippines; like Allure, I practically fell in love with Preview at first read - and possibly from the first issue. Any new issue of Preview that comes my way is still a must-read for me, even if I inevitably end up getting annoyed with the articles/ fashion spreads/ skin-whitener ads/ whoever they end up putting on the front cover.

I take it as a good omen that the July 2009 issue of Preview has Maricel Soriano on the cover. Say what you want about the Balmain-ish jacket she's rocking here, but I think this picture captures my favorite things about the Diamond Star herself - it's practically a homage to the roles that have made her an icon in Philippine cinema, from the ice-queen hair and makeup (taray!) to the ripped tomboy jeans. She's also surprisingly at ease with the avant-garde Balenciaga and Jil Sander dresses that she poses with in the accompanying fashion spread, too.

The list of "Best Dressed" women they have inside the magazine is nothing to sneeze at, either - although I'll be the first to admit that I barely even recognize half of the folks they've featured for this list. It's an interesting and eclectic mix of models, socialites, balikbayan hipsters, and fashion-industry insiders - some of whom may not be easily recognizable to regular folk like you and I, and some (like current It Girl Divine Lee, who's basically Manila's answer to Ivanka Trump) may be deemed more quirky than pretty - but totally memorable and stylish all the same. Not to mention the spread devoted to the plain white T-shirt, styled and modeled to the hilt by all ten ladies on the list. My only quibble with this list, however, is that there's not enough attention paid to local retail; name-checks for Topshop and Target may be fine, but I'd think that, in tough times like these, at least somebody on that list would have bought or worn something from a locally grown brand or store, let alone Divisoria or Marikina. I'm sorry, but there's got to be something wrong with the picture if the HK-based boutique franchise On Pedder gets more mentions than Shoemart and Rustan's combined.

That said:

- I have Preview to thank for my current girlcrush on Paula Taylor, who is obviously not Filipino (she's English and Thai) but has that certain breezy quality about her, which is a throwback to the socialite-bred mestiza models that used to populate Filipino print ads and magazine covers back in the '70s and '80s.

I hope BroMei and his friends from high school are reading this, because Paula really looks like the kind of girl they would've crushed on twenty years ago.

- Recurring theme #1: Fil-Am hipsters. Scribey and I spent the good part of 2008 making fun of their American Apparel-shopping, shutter-shade-wearing counterparts in the United States. Now it's 2009, and the Pinoy hipsters who have shown up in this month's Preview... do not annoy me, surprisingly enough. True, they're still singing the praises of neon-colored hightops and granny glasses, but at least our Pinoy hipsters look like they're really having fun - with their clothes and their lives. No wonder hipster icons like Steve Aoki and The Cobrasnake lurve Manila right back.

-Recurring theme #2: So much avant-garde, so little closet space. We're looking at scarves attached to shirts, jumpsuits cut like onesies, deconstructed everything, and the return of Hammer Pants... nice if you're into that sort of thing, but: again, not exactly something you'd wear to a job interview in the middle of a recession, you know?

-Recurring theme #3: Fierce shoes. If I told you that these Givenchy sandal-boots were butt-ugly, I would be lying to your face right now. (Though, after seeing Mary-Kate Olsen's cankles in these boots, I'd have every right to be hesitant about this.) And even if I don't get a hold of these right away, who's to say that I won't be scouring the shoe stores of Manila in search of bondage-inspired sandals and safe-for-work "promote me" pumps any time soon? You just watch, folks. You just watch.

- And in the category of "Preview Recommends, Meimei Approves": LUSH Squeaky Green Solid Shampoo, which I purchased in Honolulu but am currently using at Hacienda de Meimei. Believe me when I say that this shampoo has not only kept my hair clean, but has also given my flat hair amazing Farrah Fawcett-y volume. Just plain gorgeous.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hometown Glory

What you are looking at here, right now, is a close approximation of the trends I've been seeing out and about since I came home from the Philippines. Again, let us not mind the price tags or sizing schemes; let's talk about the components.

- I've always found that Manila girls are totally into their shoes and bags, but not in an "OMG DESIGNER!!!111!!!!" kind of way. Since we do have a lot of talented artisans working with high quality materials in this country, it's pretty normal out here to get yourself all kitted out with both a nice bag and a hot pair of shoes for as low as US$30. (Just make sure they're not scuffed, though - maintenance is definitely key!) That said, the town where Hacienda de Meimei is located has a more laid-back aesthetic than Metro Manila, so a bohemian approach to accessories is in order - thus, the Rafe New York bag with the rattan frame and woven-leather detail (designed by former Manila boy Rafe Totengco - yep, that's Rah-fay to you, and not to be confused with this guy), and the brown Aldo slides for showing off a well-done pedicure.

- Over the last two weeks that I've been here, I've noticed a lot of girls wearing tiny, tiny bolero jackets with sleek, streamlined tops in bright colors - which I can't exactly explain, other than to assume that this must be something that got picked up from haute couture in Japan or Korea. Some of these tiny, shrug-like jackets have ruffles and embellished details that would look cute on most petite Asian women, but I chose the H&M bolero for its airy feel and clean lines - perfect for playing down wide shoulders and heavy arms. The yellow T-shirt is definitely a statement - political, of course (in honor of Corazon Aquino, who's still battling cancer), and fashion-wise, as a way of fighting off the rainy-season blahs. This jacket-and-tee combination can practically go anywhere... though, if I was wearing this to work or to church, I'd look for a similar top that shows enough skin around the neck and clavicle area, without going for full-on deep cleavage.

- The girls I've seen rocking the above tiny jacket/sleek top combo tend to pair their outfits with skinny jeans or pencil skirts. In this case, however, I decided to go with basic dark brown khakis instead, to go with the warm neutral palette we've established with the bag, shoes, and jacket. Black would've made this whole look too severe and bumblebee-ish.

- Since we're working with a Pacific Rim-inspired look, I thought I'd keep the makeup as simple as possible; thus, the pink Sephora gloss. Depending on how formal we're going with this look, I'd also go with some mascara, black (or brown) eyeliner paired with a metallic-gold wash over the lid, a warm bronzer or highlighter to bring color to the cheeks, and tousled waves or a low ponytail; anything that's too "styled" would only look way too severe.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

This Is Going to Be The Last Michael Jackson Tribute Entry From Me, I Swear

I've been trying my darndest best to avoid writing about MJ - not because I don't love him, but because I'm up to my ears with tributes to the guy. How many days has it been since the memorial, anyway? And the papers here in Manila are still flooded with one tribute after another to you-know-who.

It's sad, because copyright restrictions have prevented me from posting one tribute that does matter: the full version of the number performed by the inmates of Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, complete with "We Are the World" flag-waving sequence. We'll have to settle for the news footage instead.

Speaking of Jacko, and the Philippines: I just picked up the July issue of Preview the other day (more on that in the next few entries) and nearly every page kept talking about "the Balmain jacket." Being someone who lives in the literal boondocks, I had no idea what on earth they were talking about... until I did some Googling.

Well, well, well: wanna be startin' somethin', indeed. Not that I would want US$11,000+ worth of epaulets on my own person... but if style warriors like Beyonce and Rihanna can make it work for them, I'm sure The King of Pop won't mind at all.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Scenes From an Airport

A little placeholder post (of sorts) while Meimei is still in recovery mode at the old Hacienda in the Tagalog region.The Duty Free Store Galleria at this particular section of Honolulu International Airport is the next best thing that I could get to a last-minute run at Sephora. A number of great brands are here: Chanel, Lancome, Clinique, Benefit, Bobbi Brown, Anna Sui, Dior, MAC, Estee Lauder, L'Occitane... and the list goes on and on.

This was the song that was playing while I was eyeballing the Style Warriors collection at the MAC counter.

Because I was still in a post-move haze, I took too much of my sweet time browsing through all the travel exclusives at the DFS. (Juicy Tubes! Glossimers! EEEEEE!!!) Eventually, though, I settled on this sweet little set...

Since I'm the kind of person who takes forever to finish a single tube of lip gloss, I think that this set of Clinique's Long Last Glosswear SPF 15 glosses in tiny tubes are perfect for me. From left to right: Sunset (bronze/gold shimmer), Air Kiss (pink with gold shimmer), Kissyfit (bluish pink with shimmer), Mystic (purple with silver shimmer), and Fireberry (bluish red with gold shimmer - basically MAC "O" as a gloss). Haven't worn them yet, but can't wait to take them out for a test drive!