Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Vote in the New Beauty Poll

I've added a poll about where people buy their cosmetics to the right side of the page. If you have a minute (or less) of time, be sure to vote.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How to Make the Most of Bargain Hunting

I recently had an occasion to go clothes/accessory shopping: a job interview. (Woot.)

Actually, I wore clothes I already own to my first interview Friday with a Maryland newspaper: black slacks, a black blazer with subtle blue stripes and a dusty blue camisole (read: juniors tank from Target). Several hours passed before I realized the tank was inside out during my interview and most of the day. Good thing it was cotton and the faux-paux wasn't noticeable from the I never took off the blazer.

I figured if I another place called me for an interview this week I could wear the same outfit. What I didn't anticipate was that Friday's publication would invite me back Monday for another interview, this time with the publisher. Thankfully I keep a plain black blazer at my boyfriend's apartment in case/with the hope that I'll be in D.C. when a potential employer contacts me for an interview on the fly. Unfortunately I didn't bring any other interview-worthy items to Washington this trip to match the black jacket and pants.

Thus, shopping. Which helped me realize three valuable bits of knowledge when it comes to bargain shopping, which is the shopping I like to do.

First, you're not saving money by buying a sale item you will never use. Common sense, but it is sometimes easy to be swayed by big price reductions. That's why when I go shopping I look for things I know I will use now or for which I have a pretty clear idea about using in the future.

Deep sales can be a great time to test the waters of a new style with not a lot of financial risk, and in that case go for it, try something new you've been dying to try! But a sale might also just make an item you normally wouldn't find attractive seem appealing...the worst is when this is an item that doesn't quite fit or isn't of decent quality. Watch out for temporary appeal! Would you give it a second look or admire it if it wasn't on sale? Are you buying it because you like it or because it seems like a good deal? What are you going to do with it when you get home? Will it collect dust in a drawer somewhere? Keep these questions in mind as a guide.

Trying to keep a level head around yellow and red discount stickers helped me be judicious in my purchases...and I was, and I picked up something I absolutely adore! These earrings by Cousin Claudine with little pinkish pearls and gold-colored rounds that say "love" on them. Cheesy, perhaps...but so dainty, so feminine. I was subconsciously craving something girly as a change of pace from my serious journalism ways. Just over $8 on sale - yipee! And I got a nice pair of trouser socks for a dollar which I wore to the interview.

Second: You can stretch your dollar further in the long run by spending money wisely on long-lasting, high-quality products instead of poorly-made crap that is super cheap at the register. This is especially true when buying things you will have for a while: a comfy but stylish pair of jeans, a business jacket, shoes you wear all-day at work and walk a mile in on your commute home, etc. Nicer fabrics will drape better on your body, hold up better and look more attractive. That does not mean it has to be expensive -- you just need to look for quality in the material and the way it is put together. Michele Phan has a great Xanga entry elaborating on how to select quality pieces that won't fall victim to fads and won't break your budget.

For me, this meant not shooting straight to the clearance rack to find clothes for my interview. I shopped at Loehmann's and Filene's Basement - already discount department stores - and purchased a $16 red shell in a viscose/silk/nylon blend, a $14 dark gray peal necklace and a $10 set of matching earrings. Quite the outing for someone who mostly wears $10 tees rom Target. It was definitely worth it, though. Getting the right pieces for a good price was better than getting ill-fitting things for less money...especially since these clothes fit perfectly with my black pants and jacket and made me look very professional at the interview. Being a recent college graduate doesn't mean I can't look like a pro. Which gets me to the last point...

Think 'inexpensive,' not 'cheap.' Perhaps they are the same by definition but you all know they can be worlds apart. 'Cheap' looks like it didn't cost a lot, feels like it didn't cost a lot and starts to fall apart in your washing machine the second week you own it. It's okay to own, especially when it comes to casual and lounging stuff, just know what you're getting into. Fortunately there are an increasing number of stores that sell decently made, 'inexpensive' clothing - items that don't cost too much but don't totally skimp out on quality. Think Loehmann's, Filene's, even Target and Kohl's, etc. (At Target I usually go to the misses section since it usually has a dependable selection of well-made tees in many colors and styles. Juniors can be a bit iffy, but if you're very small it might be the only option size-wise. I'm 5-feet-tall and busty and a misses XS is sometimes a bit big...maybe if won't be if you're taller.) Inexpensive fashion can look great and feel great without breaking a budget. In fact, it probably looks more expensive than what you paid.
So it fits well, looks nice, is your new wardrobe staple and didn't cost a lot? Now that's a bargain!
Most importantly...did I get the job? I'll let you know when I find out.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Upcoming Posts

I'm still alive and still blogging...just been so busy this week preparing for a trip to Washington D.C. for a job interview and seeing friends. My writing agenda includes: praise of lovely, girly (inexpensive) earrings and where you can buy them; my quest for facewash; interview-appropriate makeup; and hopefully some new product reviews.

It's funny how I am so busy even before landing a job! But in this market, looking is probably one of the hardest tasks. I hope I get something soon because I actually like having a set schedule and doing work that interests me...and I like health insurance and money too.

Cheers to life's little joys and my future career. :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Skinny Jeans for Not Super Skinny People...and Shoes I Never Thought I'd Wear

Flats. Flat shoes. I now own a pair and wore them today to a daytime wedding service.

The picture doesn't do them justice. These canvas Nomad flats are very adorable in person and comfy. And for $5 on sale at Marshall's I was very willing to make the investment.

Part of what makes me "little and lovely" is that I'm just over five feet tall. Since I'm short and not a size 00 (despite manufacturers thinking that 'petite' either means skin and bones/AA cup or dowdy grandma), I didn't think flat shoes were for me. I didn't think skinny jeans were either, however a recently acquired pair of those changed my mind too.

I hadn't been in Delia's much since high school but decided to try something on there a few weeks ago while walking through with a friend. I have an hour-glass figure and am wary of clothes potentially tailored for juniors sizes with no hips. These Morgan jeans actually fit like a charm the moment I tried them, however.

What I like about them:

  • Dark wash. They come in other colors but I just adore dark denim.
  • Enough sizes: 'petite,' 'long,' 'regular' and 'short.' I'm not certain what makes 'short' and 'petite' different - I assume leg length versus altered proportions - but the latter is what worked for me.
  • Not super skinny which just is not my style. In fact, they have a nice line that accentuates the slimness of my legs and makes them look longer. Meaning I look taller and slimmer.
  • Sturdy yet comfy material.
  • Attractive without overly obnoxious stitching/details.

They are also only an inch or so too long for me! (I expect this from most pant legs since I'm on the shorter side of petite. An inch isn't bad for me...) The little extra length makes them great with shoes with a little heel because why would a short girl ever wear flats?

Oh, um, yeah. Because as my friend pointed out: you can't wear athletic sneakers with skinny jeans. Heck, she doesn't like athletic sneakers with any jeans...which is basically my wardrobe, plus tee shirts. The fact that the beloved sneaks I wear almost every day are getting pretty beat up also made me think it was time to get some new shoe options. And it feels like an unusually hot New York summer so something light-weight was also an important point. Not more sneakers though! Despite how I love them...

Thus, a $5 price tag inspired me to take a chance on some adorable, feminine, non-sneaker, summer-appropriate flats. For a short girl. (I also love polka-dots, that was really the factor that pushed me over the edge with the purchase.) The great thing is that with the skirt I wore to the service today they looked great. It is a white, peasant-style skirt that falls just below the knee with little eyelet flowers along the bottom. I can't find a picture but I got it at the Gap a summer or two...or three ago. It would look good with heels but also looks cute with flats, and shows enough leg to be stylish but low-key. I also wore a red tank top and a medium blue short-sleeved cardigan over it. Wearing something besides jeans and I tee shirt felt really nice for a change.

So I'm slowly working towards embracing flats. For summer, for certain occasions, for outfits with which running sneakers would look really horrible.

By the way, the bride was absolutely stunning. For my part, I'm mostly glad I just looked decent and not like a wreck for her big day. But I'm a few years away from thinking too much about my wedding gown...!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Say No To Skanky Phone Pics

Alright, I just figured I'd post something quick about this...what is the deal with people taking illicit cellphone pictures? I bring this up because of a recent blog leak of 'scandalous' Miley Cyrus photos. You can click on it yourself...nothing incredibly saucy, but obviously meant for private eyes.

Which still makes me wonder why people take racy pics to send via their phones. I mean, I understand why you would -- it's easy and fast to capture a moment, then convenient to share with friends. However, this is why I don't take naked cell phone pictures and then send them to people. What if my mom picked up my phone? Or worse, my recipient's mom? Or a third person picked up either of our phones and sent the picture around? Print and digital photos are risky, sure, but tend to be guarded more securely. They're not something I casually carry around and whip out every five minutes to text message my friends.

Maybe I'm too old for this trend? I missed the boat by five years? Because I would not think of naked cell phone pictures as a way to flirt. (Unlike the kids in this article, which is a bit too panicked but you get the idea.)

Point being, be very careful what you photograph. Last thing -- how did Miley take that first picture in the shower with her phone? Did she have it on a tripod or something? Again, way too much work to me!

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Unique Appeal of Nail Polish

The three products I'm most likely to use if hurried are mascara, lip balm/gloss and moisturizer (with SPF, gotta watch those sun rays). I'm not in the market for new moisturizer because I like the Aveeno stuff I've used the past several months and its four ounce pump lasts a surprisingly long time. Though I like trying new mascaras - just picked up my first clear one -I'm largely satisfied with my main tube, Maybelline's Full 'N Soft. Plus I usually stick to either black/brown or just plain black mascara so there's not much need for drastic experimentation.

Lip we're talking. In the back of my mind I'm always on the lookout for new lippies that are smoother, more moisturizing and better colored than what I have. If it's a better price, well, that's even more tempting! But I'll usually buy three or four products within a few weeks and then stay satisfied with my rotation for a while.

Tonight though, I realized my biggest 'vulnerability' is nail polish. I actually purchase it quite infrequently. Most of my polishes were collected over the last five to eight years, many of them my mother's castoffs or clearance items from a now-defunct drugstore. Yet whenever I see a rainbow of inexpensive, attractive polishes I just want to go look, to open the bottle tops and sample. I love that with nail polish I can quickly and subtly go from prim and proper to rebellious and free spirited.

Most of my other makeup is within the similar color families to which I'm naturally drawn. Since I'm just trying to break the habit of applying eyeshadow with my fingers it's really for the best I that move in baby steps. (So what if navy blue is my most daring eyeliner shade??) Nail polish, on the other hand (no pun intended, heh), is something I really enjoy playing with. It is also straightfoward and easy to apply. Yes, it takes effort to make it look really good but it's still more simple to do at home than contouring your face. And as I mentioned before, it's fairly subtle. I think this is what I like best. People will quickly notice a wild haircut, facial piercings or sparkly neon pigments on your lids. They have to look a bit more closely for the nail color.

Plus, the nail polish I'm wearing that day will probably mean something you won't know about -- you can just wonder why I picked a certain red or deep, dark green or pretty pink. Usually I pick my polish for a certain mood. (Is that weird?!) Rarely to match an outift, but sometimes an event, like a muted neutral pink for a job interview or a rich magenta for a weekend out.

Which brings me to my purchase tonight --Sinful Colors "Forget Now." It's a medium pink with pink sparkles in it...very sassy. A reviewer on Makeup Alley said it is difficult to get opaque so I might layer it over another pink, we'll see. I will post pics once I do the manicure. So far it looks good. :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Would the Real Hayden P. Please Stand Up?

She just will see different versions depending on which magazine you read.

I still don't know how to say "Hayden Panettiere" aloud and I must be the only person who's never watched Heroes but I found this Jezebel analysis of her magazine cover appearances interesting. The 18-year-old starlet appears on three recent Hearst titles: Cosmo, Seventeen and Seventeen Prom. Basically, it's what you'd expect...the mags targeted to a younger demographic feature more demure covers and sugary-sweet lingo. Cosmopolitan is all va-va-va-voom in looks and subject matter.

It's reasonable for a young adult to have many facets of her personality and life. It's reasonable for a magazine to write features geared toward what their audiences want. (Granted, I haven't read the articles but even stick with the cover photos, but obviously a teen mag won't be vamping it up the way a publication with a lot of adult, sex-related content does.) But I wonder if Hayden's personality is driving the different stories or the magazines are the ones crafting these different personas.

It'd be very smart as an actress to make your appeal as wide as possible, of course. Is that something someone this age calculates? Sure the entertainment industry ages kids fast, but 18 (almost 19) seems pretty young to worry about crafting yourself as a brand. And if you are...well, I think that must be pretty stressful to live up to, especially under all the public scrutiny. Like, erm, bloggers dissecting the aspects of your public personas.

Really makes me appreciate the perks of relative anonymity.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Great Video Tutorial: Kim Kardashian Eyes

I generally enjoy watching good YouTube makeup tutorials but this one is really something. MakeupLovesMe hit the nail on the head by saying she was "mesmerised" by Marlena of Makeup Geek TV doing a Kim Karsashian look. I'm mesmerized by the below clip too! It's kind of like watching Bob Ross turn a blank canvas into a mountain landscape with just a few happy clouds and soft tree strokes. (Minus the 70s 'fro.) It looks so easy that you don't know how it happens right before your eyes and it's so soothing that you can't turn away. That's how I felt watching this makeup tutorial.

I especially like that it shows you each step with the specific tool and color she uses. If I try it out I almost certainly won't use the exact same palette but I get a good sense of what I should use to mimic the look. Like picking a matte black versus one with shimmer -- little details like that which might not make or break a look but certainly contribute to its overall polish.

I like watching makeup being applied as an art. I still sometimes just use my it helps give me motivation to upgrade! The rest of this woman's Web site it pretty cool too, in particular I like her reviews section. Lots of good cosmetics tips, like advice on eyeliners and building a brush collection.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My First Review: Pantina Cheek Sweeps

Product: Pantina Cheek Sweeps
What is it? Cream blush in a stick
Purchased at: Rite Aid
Price: $5 - 6 (I can't remember exactly, probably $5.50)

I'm new to this beauty blogging thing, so bear with me as a figure out how formatting posts and publishing pics is best. I'm starting with one of the most uniquely packaged products I've seen -- the reason I felt compelled to buy it in the first place. Pantina cheek sweeps blush. It comes in two colors: radiance (pictured) which looks coppery brown in the container and tru bliss, a creamy, rosy pink.

The package immediately reminded me of a mini-deodorant. It sort of looks like that, right? And like many deodorants it has a nob at the bottom to turn and release more product. Maybe this isn't the association the company would want a customer to make, but hey, I bought it.

I have fair rosy skin, blue eyes and dark blond hair. No tan. I turn lobster-red with too much sun. I like a blush that will just make me look a bit more flushed than normal, particularly when I haven't had enough sleep and totally lack color/look like a zombie. Therefore tru bliss would have been my go-to, safe choice since its a nice rosy pink. But my undertones are pink enough and I am happy with the pink blushes I already have.

So I picked radiance and I'm glad I did! In natural light, the tru bliss I swatched on my wrist in the store was too intense and made my skin look genuinely irritated. (A little too natural for me.) The texture was smooth and the color might look pretty on someone with a darker complexion. Radiance, on the other hand, looks like a peachy/pink/sun-kissed nude once you rub it in. It has similarly peachy/pink shimmer in it, which is very subtle and I find attractive, though it might be better for the beach than for the office. It looks natural, blends well and is really easy to apply -- just don't go overboard and swipe too much on at one time. It even makes pale little me look like I've gotten some rays without damaging my precious skin!

What I really like is that this would be easy to travel with. I'm not sure I would get it again since I'm only first getting the hang of bronzers. I'd recommend this color if you're going for a subtle, sun-kissed glow.

I don't know much about Pantina since it has little mention on Makeup Alley and the company's Web site looks pretty, they have up the premier of the Spring/summer 2007 collection. And no mention of the cheek sweeps. But it seems that Pantina products are newly hitting drugstore shelves, so guess we'll keep our eyes peeled.

A little bit about the blog and me...

About the blog: It's dedicated to luxurious living on an affordable budget. Remember, inexpensive doesn't have to be cheap.

About me: Twenty-two-year-old New Yorker who moved to Washington D.C. where I received a B.A. in journalism in May 2008. First and foremost, I love to tell stories. Anyone who knows me well knows it is part of my being. I love a good turn of phrase and hope to write books one day.

What else? I just got my first full-time job as a reporter for a newspaper. (Click on the My Day Job link to see my other blog, links to awards I've won, my resume and journalism samples...please!) And I'm often torn between my desire to do big things -- ie: put my five years of Russian language study to use by becoming an international correspondent unearthing global injustice -- and indulging in the pastimes I enjoy, like cooking, crafting and creative writing. I'm passionate about living life to the fullest...even while remaining a bit on the cautious side. I think a lot with my head but also try to listen to my heart, as well as my gut instincts. I like to get my thrills from exploring new places, trying new recipes and doing almost anything hands on.

I have no background in cosmetics, I just know what I like. (Oh, and you'll see that I tend to be pretty frugal, love my drugstore finds!) I have no training as a chef, other than being an apprentice to one of the best cooks I know - my mom. (Really, she is great.) I do, however, have training as a journalist, administrative assistant, screenwriter, copy editor, researcher and tap dancer. So if you need someone to catch Oxford commas while doing double time steps, I'm your gal. With the rest...well, I guess we'll both wait and see how this blog experiment turns out.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Hello world!

This is my foray into the world of beauty blogging. We're gonna have fun.