Chopin Liszt

That title only makes sense in relation to an old friend I had back in college who was a piano teacher. On her refrigerator she kept a magnetic notepad which functioned as her grocery list, and it was titled “Chopin Liszt” instead of “Shopping List.” I’ve always thought that was clever, and every time I start to write a shopping post here I consider giving it the same title. So, I finally did it. Sorry, classical music lovers who stumble onto this page by mistake. Unless you want to read about eyebrows, purses, and Stitch Fix. Moving on.

It’s still Sunday when I’m writing this, so in my mind Spring Break hasn’t officially begun yet, but I’ve already taken 240 photos. As usual, give me a little time off and the camera starts flashing! But more on that later. It’s definitely worked out nicely that our Spring Break is a week behind almost all of the public school districts in Houston; usually having the week off is nice, but everything is so crowded with high school students some of the thrill is lessened. Doug and I were going to take advantage of the free week by going down to Kemah, a part of the city that usually gets packed when students are out of school, but considering last week’s little trip to the emergency room is probably going to cost us a couple thou, we decided to bow out of any major expenditures. Still, it’ll be fun to run around town all week and feel like the only person in the world who isn’t working. Good times.

For more fun, let’s talk about my eyebrows. For a few months now, I’ve been getting them tinted when I go in for threading (which I do about once a month). The tint fades pretty quickly, but it’s only another $10 or so, so I always figure why not. Now, I’m perfectly familiar with the fact that the day I get them tinted they’re pretty dark, but that they start to fade after the first face washing. So I’m not sure just what happened yesterday; if the technician really did put much more on than usual, or if the fact that I wore no other makeup yesterday (when I usually have a full face on) made my brows appear more, erm, dramatic than usual. And it’s not like she didn’t give me a mirror and show me how the brows looked before I went on my way, but what can I say – as always, I barely pay attention when in the salon because I’m in a hurry to get out of there (usually for lunch), so perhaps that’s what happened; or maybe it was because I didn’t have my glasses on when I looked at them, who knows. As it turned out, even after leaving the salon and getting lunch, stopping into a few shops, and hitting the grocery store on the way home, I still hadn’t given them a good glance. It wasn’t until I’d come home and gotten settled that I looked in the mirror, and saw this:

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Yep, that was me on Saturday, walking around, gettin my Groucho Marx on. I swear I’ve never noticed them looking quite this painted on before, but as I said, it could have been my lack of other eye makeup that made this happen? Either that, or the tech just went overboard. It’s also nice that I had my hair all pulled back like that, to really allow everyone a good look at my freakishness. Fortunately, by Sunday morning, things were looking a little more normal:

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Still no makeup hence the filter

But I definitely need to remember in the future to go straight home after a brow tint, or at least keep my hair down. Moving on.

Now, shopping! First I’ll share a few quick Stitch Fix shots from my March box. They sent some nice stuff, but I only ended up keeping one thing as the others were all near misses. There’s three SF items in this first shot:

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The cardigan is called the Vivianna Open-Draped Knit Cardigan , and it’s the only piece I kept. I need another long cardigan like I need a kick in the throat, but this one was light and cute and comfy so I couldn’t resist. The coral top is called the Micah Embroidered Bib Top, and it was SO almost a keeper; it’s a nice, light jersey-type material and the fit was loose but not too big. However, coral is a horrible color on me (in spite of how nice it might look here – THANKS PHOTOSHOP) and as much I liked the cut and feel of this I knew it would end up being given to my best friend who looks amazing in this color after it hung in my closet for six months without being worn. So bye. And then – sigh – we have the Anita Skinny Pant in, of course, black. I believe this is the third pair of black skinny pants Stitch Fix has sent me, and I’ve yet to buy any of them as well as giving feedback on each pair that I do not need any more black skinny pants. These weren’t a jean and were not quite a legging, so they were nice, but again, just don’t need them, plus they were a size 26 which, as hard as it is for me to accept this, is too big for me now. Even in skinny pants. Crazy. Back they went.

Also – I wish you could better see the shoes I’m wearing here. These are from Free People and are by Jeffrey Campbell; they’re a pointy-toed flat slide called the Dayna Point Flat, and they are awesome. I bought them in a brown snakeskin back in October when they were full price (they no longer sell them, just have taupe and black now), but they were hella uncomfortable, so I stuck them in my closet and forgot about them since it turned cold right after that and I went deep into Ugg mode for the winter. I never did want to send them back because I knew if I could get them broken in I’d wear them forever – they have just the right amount of dressiness to be worn with nicer clothes, but are still casual enough for everything else I wear. A few weeks ago I pulled out the snakeskin ones and wore them around the house for several days, as well as putting some moleskin inside to make the fairly stiff material feel softer, and lo and behold I eventually wore them down. They almost immediately became my favorite shoes, so when FP put the black ones on sale I snatched them up, even though they’re suede and I’d like them much better in plain leather. I don’t think there’s anywhere else you can get these, so if you like them, go snatch them up now, because they’re marked down to $49 and selling out fast. In fact, I am going back to get the taupe ones now…yep, just bought ’em.

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Sadly, no more snake print

Annnnnd now, let’s get ready for a big HELL NO from Stitch Fix:

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I couldn’t even take this shirt seriously enough to take a decent picture

This is called the Marietta Chambray Top, and it’s one of those tops that has plenty of photographs on the internet, with most women (at least the ones posting pictures) liking it. I knew, however, just from seeing the pics online that I was going to hate it. Oxford-style tops are very difficult for me to wear. I don’t know what it is about them that doesn’t work on me; maybe it’s the formality of them more than the fit? Anyway, I don’t like the cut and that silly fading in the middle (oh, and that’s not a pocket you see there, it’s the imprint of a pocket) makes me think Hee Haw (does anyone else remember that show?). Hee Haw Hell Naw! Back it goes.

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This falls into the “meh” department, so it went back also. Again – black, why so much black, Stitch Fix? It bores me. And it’s another jersey-knit maxi dress of the sort I’ve bought many times before and ended up getting bored with pretty quickly. This one in particular is called the Jessie Basket Weave Detail Jersey Maxi Dress (not very catchy, is it) and it’s by a label called Gilli that I’ve worn before (my poor abandoned ModCloth sells a lot of Gilli dresses). All the Gillis I’ve owned have been cute, and comfy, until the second or third washing when they start pilling and looking worn out. So no on this one for me this time, too, Stitch Fix. But thanks for the cardigan. Seriously though, this isn’t a bad Fix, and sending most of it back had more to do with not needing anything new than it did with being disappointed in what I received. So we’ll see what next month brings. And now: purses!

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When I bought my first Vuitton back in November and quickly became obsessed with the bags, there were a few things I knew I wanted to add to my little collection: as far as purse styles, I knew I wanted an Alma (the bottom one) and a Speedy (third up to the right, below the checkerboard bag with the pom tassel), and as far as different lines besides the monogram print I knew wanted a Damier Ebene (more photos of that one here) and something from the Epi Leather line (the ivory one). The denim and the little mini-Ellipse got snatched up while looking for the other things, since they were good deals. So happily, I have now found all of what I wanted, and don’t feel the need for anything else from LV right now. Not that I don’t still enjoy looking, but brand-new items are out of my price range (although OMG the Spring and Summer line looks AMAZING. Can’t wait until I can buy some of it used in, say, ten years) so my online shopping mostly involves finding good deals on used sites rather than breaking the bank on new stuff. Although…

Louis Vuitton, Ready to Wear Spring Summer 2015 Collection in Paris
Anybody care to loan me three grand?

Oh, and those two little purse tassels on the ivory and checkerboard bag are from Banana Republic; Vuitton makes bag charms that cost up to $500 used, but the Banana ones are $40 which is much more reasonable, and they are real leather. Yes, I’ve even begun decorating my handbags. I’m in deep, people.

So deep that even though I’m all caught up on LV, I’ve also gotten obsessed with an older bag from Fendi that was, apparently, all the rage about ten years ago. Seriously, type “Fendi Spy Bag” into Google images and check out every single female celeb imaginable carrying them around, oh, 2004-2007 or so. I never had any idea, of course, because the bags retailed for well over $1000 so there was no way they would have ever crossed my path, but now that they’ve been discontinued for several years they can be found on the resale sites I frequent, and there are loads of old posts singing the bag’s praises over on the Purse Forum where I’m now a member.

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I’d love to find one in this color

In fact, it was on the forum where  I first stumbled across a post or two about them, and at first I thought they were hideous but soon they grew on me; they do have everything I love about a bag – they are huge, and they are slouchy, and those woven handles are gorgeous – and I decided I’d like to own one. Sadly, I did not notice when first reading the forum posts that they were all years old, so when I went searching for more information I was surprised to find they were no longer being sold. This means they re-sell for more than I am comfortable spending, but I’ve been watching a few closely since December as they’ve slowly gotten marked down ever further over at Fashionphile (I’ve also been bummed to watch a few disappear that I was really wanting to buy and waiting for further discounts, because someone else was wiling to spend more scratch than I – grrr). There was one that hit a price I was willing to spend, but at first I was still unsure if I should pull the trigger, because even for a Spy bag, it’s pretty unusual.

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This one was a limited edition Spy, and even though it looks a little freaky, it was pretty exclusive. The Fendi Moncler Spy was released for Christmas in 2006 and was only on sale for three months, at a few exclusive stores. Only 500 of them were made in the US, and well, now I own one of them! Most people hated these when they came out; they were made in collaboration with an uber-expensive line of ski wear called, of course, Moncler, and yes, it is made of the same down-filled nylon as the ritzy ski-wear label’s winter gear. It came in red, green, and black (I would have loved to find a red one) and retailed for around $2100, and most people thought Fendi was insane to charge so much for something so, well, ugly (apparently Paris Hilton got a red one, dammit, as did Ashlee Simpson. I still want one in that color. I’m sure they’ve both given theirs to their dogs by now to use as pet beds too, or something). I was unsure about getting this one, but when the price went down to $550, and under the influence of all the exclusivity and limited-edition-ness hype, I decided to give it a try. And – I freaking love it! It’s not much of a spring/summer bag, but the best thing I can say about it is that last weekend when I got so sick and had to go to the hospital, it was very cold and raining here, and I took my Moncler Spy with me and cuddled it the whole time I was in the ER as if it were a stuffed animal, or my favorite blanket, and I swear to you it made me feel better. It was so cozy and soft and warm, and it withstood the awful weather without a single smudge or water stain, and it got loads of compliments and carried absolutely everything. And also, there is a reason these bags were named the “Spy” – secret compartments!

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The top of the bag is open, without zippers or clasps, but there is a large “flap” that folds over the top and essentially keeps it closed (see the top left picture). The cool thing is, that flap is actually a little mini-purse. It’s pretty deep, so open it up and you can fit quite a bit of stuff in there – I can put my ID holder, a little tube of hand lotion, my full set of keys, and a glasses cleaning cloth in mine (I think you’re supposed to put your makeup in it, but whatever). Then, hanging off the end of the mini-purse/flap closure is what Fendi called a “wand” – it looks kind of uselessly decorative, until you pop it open at the bottom and realize it’s hollow. The basic claim is that it’s for a tube of lipstick, but give me a break. Maybe a lip LINER would fit inside, but it’s way too narrow for ordinary lipstick of any kind. I honestly can’t figure out any way to use this feature, but hey! Secret compartment!

I think you know where this is headed. Yep. I have two more Spys on layaway over at Fashionphile – a brown Nappa leather and a metallic gold (the brown one I just paid off on Sunday and should have in my possession by the end of the week). But I swear after that I’m done. I think. I’m pretty obsessed with these babies right now, but, they are pretty HUGE bags, so there’s only so many I have room to own. Although, if another gorgeous teal green Spy like the one I missed out on when someone else bought it shows up over there, I may have to grab it too…Moving on:

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…to the last Fendi I own, which I actually bought quite awhile ago. It was listed on eBay in December, and the photos in the ad were horrible, so it had not sold even though the seller had re-listed it several times. She had a “best offer” option on the current auction, so I thought, what the hell, and sent a real low-ball offer ($180), which she accepted. Even though it’s quite used, I was pleased to see it looked much better in person than the seller’s online photos, and it still looks great to carry around – plus I don’t have to worry too much about it. It’s another from the Spy line; Fendi came out with many variations and sizes designed along the same lines as the original but without the massive size or any bells and whistles. So, no secret compartments in this one, but I love the Zucca print and those woven handles  get me every time. It’s my favorite feature of these bags. And notice how nicely those handles have held up over the years; the sign of a well-made handbag for sure.

Ok seriously, people, if you don’t want to go out and buy something by the end of this post, you have a self-control problem (namely, way too much of it). I hit y’all up with a lot of shopping in this post (I didn’t even get to discuss my excitement over a new season of RuPaul’s Drag Race or the Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul), so I promise the next one will be strictly photos. Happy Monday suckers – I’m on break! And probably still sleeping!

Purse Post: The Free People Slouchy Vegan Tote

I have to rave about this Slouchy Vegan Tote I bought recently from (no surprise) Free People. I loved it so much, I bought three of them.

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Simon likes the brown bag best

I am actually not a big purse person (a “purse-on”?); I tend to find one I really like, then keep it for several years, or buy the same style for several years in a row. My last favorite was a large tote by Tory Burch that was very big (I love a huge purse) and square and open (love a big-mouthed purse too; one I can just toss things into from across the room) and most importantly, it had pockets on both sides that made it incredibly convenient to place keys and cell phones in them and know exactly where they were. But in the past year or two TB quit putting side pockets in the totes, which made them decidedly less fabulous in my book, so when I realized the huge blue one I’d carried for two years needed replacing (I am VERY hard on handbags), I needed to find something new.

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My pics are unedited and kinda sloppy, sorry – had a lot to do tonight so I had to prioritize.

I wanted something big, of course, and floppy, because I much prefer soft purses to sturdy, structured ones (again, I like to throw tons of stuff in there and sort it all out later, so floppy helps with that). I also wanted something a bit bohemian, perhaps with fringe or some interesting print – but it was not to be found. Apparently, my current style obsessions are not IN style, at least not in the purse world. I’ll skip over the part where I bought a Coach bag on sale in a snake print, just because it was the closest thing I could find to an interesting print and it was good deal, and skip right to two weeks later, when my friend Candace and I spied this bag on the way out of the Free People store in the Galleria. It was floppy (check) and big and square (check-check), but then we discovered so much more when we looked inside. It also had a very large zippered clutch-type removable insert (people in their reviews refer to this as a laptop case, then complain that laptops don’t fit in it, which leads me to believe it was not intended to be a laptop case in the first place, but I could be wrong about that) and a third, small zippered bag roughly the size of a large square wallet. It also had an extra-long strap, and – here’s the real clincher – the purse is also reversible. It’s also NOT leather, although it looks like it (in fact, most people who’ve asked about the bag since I started carrying it were under the impression it was quite expensive) and it feels buttery soft, so it is both cruelty-free and inexpensive – the bag retails for $68.

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A peek inside the smallest pouch.

I bought one, then a few days later decided I needed a few more. One reason for that is the one I’ve been carrying around since I bought it is starting to “peel” a little around the edges (see pic below), so I thought having a few others to switch around might help slow that down a little. I don’t really care about the peeling so much though, and mostly wanted a few more just because I love this bag to death and was feeling spendy. When it comes to bags, I am not opposed to handing over some decent cash (although I’d never pay the cost for a Louis Vuitton or anything like that, at least I haven’t up to this point) for whatever it is that I like, and since this one was not expensive, I figured getting two more still kept it in a good price range for me.

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A close-up of the peeling – you can also see the magnet that holds the purse closed no matter which way you’ve reversed it

The cool thing is how many ways I can mix and match all these pieces. Because the bag itself has nothing going on inside (no pockets of any kind), I have everything I regularly carry arranged to be either in my wallet, my makeup case, or one of the two pouches that come with the bag. My ID holder/debit card and cell phone fit perfectly into the smallest bag, I think it’s obvious what my wallet and my makeup bag hold, and the big zippered pouch holds everything else. This way, it’s super-easy to switch purses by grabbing those four pieces and stuffing them into another big purse; no pockets to go through and organize or anything. If I have time I can do some color-coordinating, of course, by taking all my stuff out of one colored pouch and putting them into another one, but if I don’t want to mess with that, the switch can be made in about four seconds.

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A peek inside the larger pouch – Simon was interested, too

I’ve also found that the small zippered pouch works well when I don’t want to carry the big bag somewhere, as I can just pull it out and go, and the larger zippered one is easy to pull completely out of the purse and dig through for whatever it is I’m trying to find. The only downside I’ve discovered so far is that the inside of the big zippered pouch is black, which can make it hard to find what I’m digging for. And, I found the dark brown one to be stiffer faux-leather than the black or the natural one, so the softness of the vegan material isn’t consistent I suppose. But other than these two things, I am in love with these bags. I got six purses, really, for the price of three (although the reversed color of the black is almost identical to the natural colored one, it’s just a touch lighter) plus 6 multicolored pouches to play around with, and in total I spent about $210 for all of it.

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The black purse – the reversible side is the same cream color as the small pouch

I’m not one to go around switching bags to match my outfits, but for that price and for how easy it is to do with these, I am going to start. It’ll also help each bag last longer to switch them out, because as I said, I am hard on bags. I’ve carried all my usual stuff, plus my lunch, an iPad, and an extra pair of shoes in this thing a few times (when going to work) and it can handle all that and still look great, but I know from past experience that won’t last forever. Fortunately this appears to be an incredibly popular bag at the Free People site, with a lot of color options they keep updating, so I think it’ll stick around for a season or two if I ever need more. It certainly feels sturdy to me, even when loaded down and requiring the bigger strap to carry, so I hope they last awhile.

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The brown bag reverses to cobalt blue

Now I just have to figure out what to do with that Coach bag that I only carried for three weeks and no longer want…if anyone wants to buy it off me, make an offer!

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The bags reversed!

Pant-a-palooza

More Free People! These pants photographed great, but they are the least flattering to actually wear, since the white stripe going down the outside of my body tends to widen me as opposed to the other pair I own, which has a darker stripe going down the side to make them slimming. But whatever, they looked great in photos, and such are the perils of shopping online. I was conflicted about which shots to process since I liked so many of them; I liked all three of these but to reduce repetition since they’re all so similar, I made use of the collage feature in PIxlr:

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I also think the shots taken in this particular outfit turned out so well because this was done at the beginning of the shoot; it’s not uncommon for me to get sloppier as time goes by and I start to get tired. I think my focus was good here as opposed to later when everything got blurry and soft. I actually had a tighter focus here too, which made it harder to fit myself into the frame (that’s why I’m hunched over in all of the collage shots) but that helped me get my face into focus.

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There’s those other yoga socks I was talking about yesterday. They have slip-resistant soles and little cutouts for the toes; cute as heck and I can see where they would be very helpful for yoga. As I already mentioned, I like them for making my feet look more graceful when jumping. Now this next one is rather weird…

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…but I liked how the shape of my hair mimicked the shape of my legs/pants. If you squint your eyes when looking at this, it looks like a vase someone tossed into the air. This last one is a mirror pose of the wreath one, so maybe I didn’t need to process almost the exact same shot, but I did it anyway:

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Obviously I added a little texture, which I ended up not liking, so I went back and took it out later. Anyway, in the future I need to remember that a closer focal length is a good thing. The farther away I get, the softer everything gets; makes sense, I just forget it from time to time.

For these next shots, I remembered to pull them into Photoshop and play with the burn tool again to enhance shadows and midtones; it’s such a new process for me that half the time, I forget to do it. Since I forgot to do it in all the shots above, you can scroll up to compare the difference the burn tool makes. It really adds some nice depth:

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And yes, my backdrop was wrinkled,  but I was too lazy to edit it out. I tried occasionally to conceal the wrinkles with textures, but it didn’t end up making enough difference to keep doing it. In fact, it may have made them appear more prominent:

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I thought ahead about the cat hair and glitter all over the floor of the backdrop in these shots, and really blacked out the entire area rather than going in to delete every little speck, but wouldn’t you there’s one stubborn piece of glitter that’s still over there on the lower right-hand side, twinkling away. Oh well.

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I liked this next leap, just for something different:

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And I don’t actually know what else to say here, as I’ve posted a lot of pictures and have run out of steam, so I’ll just post the last one now to close out this set, finally. This is every outfit I photographed on Saturday, so who knows what photos I’ll be sharing in my next post. Lord knows I still have plenty to process! Since Luanne loves them so much, maybe I’ll upload more antique-district pics tomorrow. 🙂

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The Many Colored Duster-Jumper

Remember my post about shopping, and my desire for this duster?longprint

Well, Friday morning as I was drinking my tea I went wandering over to the Free People website and discovered this little “check store availability” button one can click for any item. I clicked it, and discovered that the Galleria store had just gotten three dusters in stock that very morning. Three! Of course I had to launch myself into my car and get down to the shop before three other undeserving females ended up with MY duster, dammit. And it is fabulous, albeit very unusual – you know you are wearing something unique when your husband looks at you after you put it on and asks, quite innocently, “So, does that serve some sort of purpose?” because he can’t imagine it could actually just be a duster (he also likes to call me Geddy Lee when I wear such things). Or perhaps he’s just worried someone’s going to come along and throw me down a well and dip it in goat’s blood or something. Moving on.

I’d been considering taking photos of some of the cool stuff I’ve gotten from FP lately, especially since so much of it is just the sort of clothing I like to photograph – I’m not sure if this is a good thing, but I am starting to dress more and more in clothes I’d also love to take pictures in – but I didn’t want to just do another one of my “here’s me in some cool outfits” posts I used to do. There are various reasons for this, one among them is that it’s kinda boring, to shoot and process as well as to view. But another reason relates to an issue Beth and I were discussing recently, which is the way in which websites use such photos when they are shared in the social media sections clothing companies are starting to cultivate. I’ll keep it brief, but in a nutshell my change in attitude towards sharing “here’s my outfit” photos on clothing websites started when an online wig store took a photo I’d shared as part of a review on their site and put it into a print catalog they then sent out as a major mailer to all their site subscribers. I found out about it from a friend who got a copy of the catalog, and like most people, she assumed I’d be flattered that out of the thousands of photos uploaded to the site they chose one of mine to be put in print. But I was not flattered, or thrilled at all. I was, if not pissed, at least irritated by it. Because they didn’t ask me to use my photo in that manner, and if they had, I would have declined (shout-out to ModCloth who actually DID email and ask my permission to use my photos for promotional purposes, which I did decline).

Yes, companies encourage end users to upload photos and reviews to their sites  under the guise that doing so helps others make better decisions about what to purchase, when really what the company wants is a lot of reviews and photographs of their merchandise that help them sell stuff without having to put out any advertising dollars to make it happen. “Here,” they say to the customers,”take a photo of yourself in our merchandise and help others make informed decisions about how to spend their money. Do that and you’ll be a good member of our community.” (Nowhere is this altruistic attitude more cultivated than in the wig community, where most women who are buying the companies’ products are doing so in a state of duress due to illness or medication.) But then – once you’ve uploaded that photo or review, the company owns it and can do whatever they want with it. At least this is what they claim. Including take that photo and stick it into a catalog that kills loads of trees and junks up mailboxes and replaces the work of real photographers who would have made real money at their jobs had the company not been trying to hike up their own profit margin by yanking crappy photos they got for free from customers who uploaded to their website (the picture they used of mine, by the way, was NOT a high-quality photo, but was taken with my cell phone and looked like anything you might upload to Facebook just to show where you were eating supper). Most people still see it as something exciting and cool without realizing that they’re kinda getting ripped off, but personally if my photos are going to be used as advertising I want to get paid for it, even if only a little. It’s not actually the money, it’s the principle of it that bothers me – I uploaded that photo under one premise, and there turned out to be this entirely different motivation on behalf of the company to encouraging me to do so in the first place. The realization made me feel naive, and duped (and perhaps the whole internet already realized this and I really am the last one to figure it out), and the whole thing put me off uploading photos and reviews entirely, so I no longer do it. And once I wasn’t enjoying sharing pictures of my outfits on places like ModCloth, I saw even less reason to take them in the first place.

So all that is to say that I didn’t want to take just any old photos of me in my new duster-of-many-colors; if I was going to show off some new clothes I would at least be jumping the process.

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Perhaps this is a way I can continue to share and review things I’ve bought that I like and want to share with others without getting taken advantage of: take photos and share them, but be sure they’re photos no company would want to use in its advertising.

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But then again, maybe photos like this aren’t useful to anyone. Meh, I’ll probably just quit doing it and jump around in new stuff when I want to share it here.

As far as the photos go, they suffered from some poor focusing in my opinion, and most of them weren’t as sharp as I would have liked. Also, I’ve had this black backdrop hanging on my wall for over two months now, so the part that I fold out onto the floor has gotten pretty dirty,  and try as I might to clean it off and subsequently edit out the little spots that show up against the black, a few specks made it into the finished photos anyway. These were just for fun, so I’m not real worried about it.

One thing that was happening while trying to shoot these photos, though, was that although the duster was light and had great movement it was flowing in a manner that didn’t show it off all that well, and I was getting more of the inside of it than the detail on the back. So, I ended up putting the thing on backwards and taking photos of it that way.

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I didn’t do this for very long, though, because the top was so floaty that every time I jumped, the fabric flew up into my face and right into my lipstick – this was not a cheap article of clothing, so I wasn’t about to risk mucking it up on the first day of wear. And I did go ahead and shoot a few other things I’ve bought recently, but I’ll save those jump shots for another post. Happy Monday everyone!

Whee People

Warning: This is a frivolous post about shopping, so if that isn’t your bag you might want to bypass this post. Also, at the end of the post I put a link to every item I discuss here; since I stole Free People’s pictures I figure it’s only fair.  

As I mentioned in a previous post, my friend and I went to the Galleria Friday as a kick-off to summer vacation. She and I have been good friends for about ten years, even though there’s a 14-year difference between us and our lives are pretty different – she has two small children and I, of course, have none, and she keeps very busy and involved in her church and community while I, of course, like to hole up in the house by myself when not at work. But we have a love of shopping in common (among many other things) and we have a definite routine we follow: we like to get to the stores right at 10 AM, and usually break for lunch around 11:30. Then it’s a few more hours of bustling about before we head for home, timing our departure just as the Galleria starts to get crowded. We’ve followed the same pattern for years.

Photo Jun 06, 11 47 14 AM
Chicken pot pie at The Daily Grill, and yes, it is amazing

I’ve been on the prowl for wide-legged pants lately, as I am starting to see them re-appear in fashionable stores and I am quite over the skinny-leg trend at this point (with my pear shape, they’ve never been great on me, but as with all trends I have found ways to make it work). I am what you could call a clothing optimist: there are a lot of cuts and styles that I love even though they are terrible for my body type, and I will continue try those styles on anyway under the assumption that eventually I will find the one or two magical pieces that will look good on me. Pencil skirts are one such style; the cut in no way works on my body type, but after about two years of trying them on repeatedly I found one that actually worked, so I bought it in two colors and was happy. The same goes for maxi dresses and long flowy skirts – not what typically works on my frame, but if I try enough on I’ll eventually find some that work.

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Me in a rare pencil skirt that fits

But back to the wide-legged pant thing, and one of my favorite stores that rarely has anything that looks good on me, but I always try: Free People. I adore their clothes, but if you check out their website, you’ll get a good idea of the body type that works best in their designs – super-tall, cylinder-shaped twentysomethings. I pretty much love every single thing Free People sells, but 94% of it looks horrible on me. Everything is ruffled and pretty shapeless and overly embroidered, but fabulous in its own way. I hit up the Free People store every time we go to the Galleria and drool over everything, but usually only end up buying jackets and tops from them because the dresses and bottoms accentuate my lower half in a non-flattering manner. But again, I am an optimist, so I always try a ton of things on when I go in there. I’ve gotten over feeling ridiculous being a good 15 years older than everyone else in the dressing room, because I trust myself not to buy things that will make me look like a middle-aged woman shopping in a store geared towards teenagers even if that is what I’m doing (and interestingly, checking out the reviews on their website reveals that a lot of middle-aged women do love their clothes. So I’m not alone).

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I own this cardigan in four colors, and it’s amazing

So, in to Free People we go, and my friend sits in a chair while I browse because our tastes are completely different, and she probably wouldn’t be caught dead in anything from that store (I’m a boho kind of dresser, while she is very classic in style). I find several long flowy jacket/tops not too different from the cardigan I posted above, and on my way to the fitting room I spy some wide-legged rayon pants in a rust color with a pretty floral pattern. Both of us commented on how horrible they were going to look on me, but being me, I decided to try them on anyway.

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Lo and behold, they looked fab! When I walked out of the fitting room in them, we were both a little speechless; Candace even appeared afraid to actually say that the pants looked good on me, because it was so unbelievable, but the mirror didn’t lie – the pants looked great. They were baggy, yes, but in all the places I really needed them to be, concealing my flaws without accentuating them. They weren’t overly long, and even though they had slight pleating around the rather wide elastic waist, the pleats weren’t bulging out the hips and making me look larger than I am. And, even though they were in a drape-y fabric (I usually require a sturdier fabric on my lower half) they still looked marvelous. I was in love. Being Free People pants, though, they were not cheap, and neither was the amazing jacket the salesgirl found for me to wear with them, nor the other long flowy top I tried on that was also awesome, but I went ahead and said to hell with it and got everything.

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The jacket I got to match the pants is on the left (but I got it in a cream color), and on the right is the other top I splurged on. I blame Candace; she completely talked me out of putting anything back.

Then we went to lunch, and I did what I always do when I discover a long sought-after item of clothing that works on me – I realized that the pants were so fab I should look them up on the internet to see if they came in any other colors. They did, but they weren’t in stock at the Galleria store, so I ordered them to ship to me. They fit so perfectly that I figure when these wear out (and FP’s clothes do not generally wear out quickly) I can take them to a tailor and have more made, because they are just that awesome.

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The black pair that will be in my possession soon…

I really have no point here except to say that no matter your age, stores to which you are drawn can still have some amazing, unique pieces you can own. It’s well worth a look as long as you are willing to try everything on and be OK with the fact that a lot of it will make you look shapeless and terrible – it’s totally worth it to discover the awesome things that you’ll adore forever. I love the items I’ve bought from FP over the year or two that I’ve been shopping there, and the pieces have all become signature staples in my wardrobe.

Here are a few more pieces I’ve picked up there recently that have become favorites; the poncho was pretty cheap (for Free People anyway) at $48, and even though it was a risky purchase as it felt flimsy as hell and I was half convinced it wouldn’t last three wears, it is still going strong (and I wore it out one day when it was really windy and even Candace mentioned how great it would look in pictures); I’m not going to mention how much the tie-dyed tee-shirt was, because it was pretty ridiculous, but the colors were so unique I had to get it, plus it’s super-soft and I’m a sucker for soft comfy fabric.

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To finish this off, I’ll share one more collage of items I am currently lusting over from the website. If anyone wants to get on my good side, feel free to buy me any one of these things.

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OMG that printed duster! It has to be mine at some point.

And now, here’s a link to everything I posted a picture of in this post: