Move Over, Lipstick Index

My latest polish indulgence--Ciate's "New England Fall"

My latest polish indulgence–Ciate’s “New England Fall”

While most say the “lipstick index”–that harbinger of a low economy proposed by Leonard Lauder of Estee Lauder–has been largely discredited (or replaced by the “foundation index” or “nail polish” index), there’s no denying that a small luxury in an otherwise chaotic existence can be somewhat grounding at times.

I think our impulse to indulge every once in a while is our body or mind saying to us, “I need you to take care of me.” When we refuse ourselves fun or novelty for too long, or race through our days without really living for too many days in a row, our “self” wants satisfaction–and will take it in whatever form is convenient at the time (there’s a reason that old cliché about eating a pint of ice cream in one sitting rings true).

I’ve found the best way to fend off that uncontrollable urge is to strategically indulge in little luxuries I know I’ll appreciate most, because when my “self” feels taken care of on a regular basis, I’m much less starved (figuratively and literally) for the unanticipated temptation (whether it comes in the form of skipping exercise, staring at my computer for 8 hours straight instead of taking lunch, or crashing on the couch instead of getting together with friends).

For me, this has always taken the form of nail polish. My feet are not exactly my best feature, so it always makes me feel pampered to have them gussied up a bit. And while I love the process of a pedicure (that hot stone massage, though!) my secret snobbery has been that I usually feel I produce a better end result than any of the salons I’ve visited.

My penchant for fancy nail polish began in grad school, when I was working through a particularly rough class. After you’ve spent every weekend studying for nearly a year, your eyes start to twitch a bit, and your body feels pretty neglected. I had recently seen an ad for Chanel’s Coromandel (although where, I don’t know, as I had zero time for magazines then) and immediately fell in love. While I had never before dreamed of spending $25 on nail polish, my spirit was running on empty, so I promised myself I would buy that polish if I made an “A” in the class.

I’m sure you can guess how that ended-I made the grade and drained that bottle to the last drop. And my love affair with luxury polish began. I probably buy 3-4 bottles a year, and at $100, that’s less expensive than two pedicures.

If you want to try out a home manicure or pedicure, read my previous post with tips for getting the best results, and if you’re wondering what colors are big this fall, check out this slideshow for inspiration.


Stuff for Your Soul

Some time ago, a friend who is uncannily accurate at trendcasting (anyone see a sudden influx of Korean beauty products recently? Yeah, she predicted that) told me about a new online boutique specializing in enchanting wonders called Lesouque. Being the new(er) mom I was, I was able to shoot a few quick peeks at the site on my phone, but then got sidetracked.

While I loved what I saw, I barely had time to bathe, much less shop. But recent events brought Lesouque back to mind, and a revisit to the site seemed to only serve to prove my friend right–many of their offerings had sold out, and their collection has been expanded.

The thing I love about Lesouque is that the site is full of beautifully handcrafted treasures from all over the world. There came a point in time in my life that I suffered from “stuff overload.” I had a bit of a violent reaction to collecting stuff for its own sake and moved into a tiny 500-square-foot apartment with a bed, a couch, and a borrowed table. And even though it has meant going without a full set of matching plates for 3 years, I vowed to only add possessions as they spoke to my soul. And if the objets d’art of Lesouque don’t speak to your soul, you might want to have your soul’s hearing checked.

I originally had 10 “favorites” I wanted to share with you, but since you’ll probably just head over to the site to check it out for yourself after seeing the first couple of lovelies, I submit to you my official “Pining For” list of five:

Riveting Clutch by Ece Pinar Demirel, Instanbul, Turkey

This jade color is everything.


Drops of Color Scarf by Aish by Napur Goenka, Kolkata, India

Made from 100% Cotton Handloom Muslin, this scarf is light enough to wear in the Florida autumn and will pair wonderfully with all the bright lips going on right now.

Geometric Gemstone Bangle in Gold by Jessica Tata, Austin, Texas

For the girl who loves a stacked statement and the girl who favors a more delicate suggestion.

Trifecta Pot (Small) by Lisa Jones, Portland, Oregon

I love beautiful things that can serve multiple functions. Should this bowl be the new home for my keys, bracelets, or a delicate fern?

Navy Rectangular Serving Platter by Sebnem Berker, Istanbul, Turkey

I once had a burlap-impressed bowl I absolutely adored. I loved the feel of the texture on my hands, so I used it all the time. Alas, it disappeared during a move; this platter would be the perfect tactile replacement.

You’re Doing it Wrong–How to Wear Jeans to Work

I love “casual Fridays” as much as the next person, but if your colleagues ask if you mowed the lawn before work that morning, you’re doing it wrong.

I encounter this phenomenon way too often, so when I saw “casual attire” listed as the dress code of a recent work trip, I decided to use it as an opportunity to showcase Jeans At Work done right.

Apologies in advance for the poorly-lit, pre-coffee hotel room selfies.



Jeans, vintage Armani Exchange. Tank, Everlane. Blazer, Elie Tahari. Belt, Everlane. Shoes, Cole Haan. Earrings, Silpada. Necklace, Polk Museum of Art (craftsman unknown).

On Monday, I opted for a slight flare-leg with a classic tank and tweed blazer. Simple but polished shoes and bold, artsy accessories send an “I’m a professional” vibe. Note–if your shirt is tucked in, and your pants have belt loops….well, you know where I’m going with that one.



Jeans, Level 99 via Hattie’s Branches. Silk tank, Elie Tahari. Safari Jacket, J. Crew. Calf-hair leopard shoes, Nine West. Earrings, Sorrelli. Necklace, Polk Museum of Art (craftsman unknown).

On Tuesday, I paired dark-rinse skinnies (I’m not ready to give them up just yet) with a drapey silk tank and cinched safari jacket. Tiger’s Eye and leopard accessories add a hit of sophistication.



Jeans, Tommy Bahama. Tee, J. Crew. Jacket, Ann Taylor Loft. Jewelry, vintage and gifts.

Since these flares are a bit faded (but not ripped or holey, which is key in a professional environment), I dressed them up a bit with sparklies. I love the layered brooch look that Prada is doing, so I decided to do my own rendition with gifted and vintage treasures from my jewelry box. Simple pearl earrings keep the polish, but don’t compete.


Jeans, GAP. Tank, Everlane. Sweater, J.O.A. via 5th and Hall. Loafers, Coach. Earrings, Babe’s Apparel.

After sitting in class all day and studying all night for three days in a row, my brain was mush (I believe I’m staring longingly in the direction of the coffee maker in this shot), so I went for comfort on Thursday. Slightly faded boyfriend jeans, an untucked tank, a sweater instead of a structured jacket, and flat loafers are more casual than I’d normally wear to work, but put-together enough to avoid giving the impression I just rolled out of bed.



Jeans, Level 99 via Hattie’s Branches. Sweater, J. Crew. Belt, Everlane. Camouflage calf-hair booties, Nine West. Earrings, Babe’s Apparel. Long miniature skull necklace, Banana Republic. Shorter gold chain, custom-made.

Back at the office on Friday tackling my overflowing inbox. I’ve never been so happy to burst through the front door of HOME on a Friday evening.

Pack It Up, Pack It In, Just Where to Begin?

Packing dresser all

Anna Wintour is my whimsical little piece of “home away from home.”

I love traveling, but I hate packing. I feel like I’m participating in that “you pass three of your friends standing in the rain at the bus stop but your car is a two-seater; which one do you pick up?” exercise. It just seems like I’m always forced to leave some of my best “clothes friends” behind.

That was certainly the case on a recent 4-day work trip, where I had to look polished despite a “casual” dress code (read: no flip-flops here).

Because every inch counts in a weekender bag, I like to physically lay out my outfits down to the underpinnings (not pictured here) and accessories (I think I can safely show you those) to minimize the chance of leaving behind any key players.

So while I did forget my pyjamas, I managed to remember everything I needed to wear in public, including a scarf for the always over-air-conditioned conference centers.

In the next post, I’ll show you how I navigate casual but professional attire, but in the meantime, do you have any strategies that have revolutionized your packing game (maybe I can avoid having to sleep in the nude next time)?


You Are the Elite

Embossed trench profile blue

A little while ago, I was reprimanded (deservedly so) for mocking cargo shorts on my personal Facebook page. My gripe with the ubiquitous article of clothing stems mostly from just that—they are EVERYWHERE and many people (especially men) buy them by the drawer-full just because they’re so easily accessible.

I was accused of being a snob (guilty) and elitist (doubly guilty). But while most snobs want to maintain their distance from others, I want everyone else to join me in my snobbery. Not to clad everyone in high-end gear, but to encourage everyone to develop a style of their own—not the one Celine or Target or I or even the Holy Vogue would confer on them.

My particular brand of elitism involves self-awareness and individualism. First, know yourself. Clothes are a language. What do yours say to the world? What do you want to say to the world?

When I was growing up, my mom sewed much of my sisters’ and my clothes to save our family money (that was during a time when you could sew for less than buying). That was nearly the equivalent of social death to a girl growing up in a town where individual style wasn’t highly valued–you were only cool by having expensive clothing (as long as it was the same expensive clothing everyone else had). As a result, I came to equate style with money until I started really delving into the world of fashion. It turns out that I didn’t know what a treasure I had in a mother who taught me how to sew! Through vociferous study of style mavens the world over, I gradually realized that one can have all the money in the world—a closet full of Louis and Louboutin—and not have style (and conversely, positively ooze fabulosity on a tight budget).

As my values changed, I started to notice and appreciate the personal touches (and even outrageous style) of friends and people I meet on the street (or stalk through the coffee shop—sorry about that, lady from this morning’s coffee run). I love it when someone cuffs an awesome pair of Adriano Goldshchmeid’s just so, rocks a bag by an independent designer, or my favorite—says “I MADE this!” when I beg them to tell me “WHERE did you get that?!”

So the next time I express my discontent over cargo shorts, just remember it’s because I know you’re not boring. And you’re certainly not ubiquitous.


Just Add Plaid

Just Add Plaid

Cotton plaid shirt, American Living via What’s New Consignment. Cutoff denim, Express via 360 Unlimited. Belt, Banana Republic. Shades, Vila,. Bag, Boondock Studios.

I’m crazy about all the black and white combos I’m seeing in the fall fashions, and it inspired me to pull an item out of the back of my closet I haven’t worn in a while.

I bought this American plaid button down (for $10!) at What’s New Consignment a few years ago. I love the simplicity of the pattern, and while the ruffles were a little too frilly for my taste, I didn’t let that stop me from pairing the shirt with everything from pencil skirts to black jeans to cutoffs.

But upon the most recent viewing, I was suddenly REALLY weary of the ruffles. So with about 3 seconds forethought, I snagged a pair of scissors from the drawer and trimmed down one of them. After looking at the shirt anew for a few minutes, I kind of liked the one-ruffle look, so I left the other one (I can always cut that one off later if I get another whim).

One thing I love about clothes on consignment is that I can make even major alterations and even if I hate it, I’m usually not out a huge sum.

Before divesting yourself of a once-favorite piece, give it one more look-over. Could a small tweak or even drastic overhaul catapult it back into rock-star status in your wardrobe?