Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hometown Heroes

When I first got into the non-toxic beauty scene last year, it seemed like every product I ordered was coming from somewhere far away from where I lived. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem– seriously, no problem–with online shopping, but it appeared that I was trying to insert myself into a community that existed primarily on the east coast.

Boy, was I ever excited when I found a couple brands of natural skincare made right here in Washington.

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1. The Moody Sisters

I was introduced to The Moody Sisters by one of my favorite beauty blogs, Beauty by Britanie. When I read her review of their Coffee Body Polish, I looked into the brand a little further and was delighted to find that these products are made right in my backyard. I’ve tried a few of their products now (although still not the body polish–I’ve got to get in on that!), and my favorite by far is their Coffee Body Butter. I’ve been a coffee drinker since age fifteen and I’m telling you: if you love coffee, you’ve got to try this stuff. The ingredients are coffee infused oil blend, shea butter, mango butter, beeswax, cocoa butter, vitamin E, and essential oils. Can’t argue with that list, huh? I have some OCD tendencies, and one of my bad habits is washing my hands too much. Let me tell you, my hands are especially dry and ugly in the winter. This body butter makes even my mitts velvety soft–but not greasy! I hate it when a product feels like you’re rubbing bacon grease all over your hands, and this, thankfully, is not like that. I find it to be powerful and pretty quick to absorb. It’s such a treat for your body. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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Before I stop raving, I have to mention the incredible price point of The Moody Sisters line. One of their brand goals is to be affordable, and none of their products are exorbitantly priced. The four ounce jar of body butter is just $18.95–if you’ve been around the natural skincare block at all, I don’t have to tell you that that’s an amazing price. A nice option for those of us with school loans and skinny wallets!

2. Pollen & Wax

I learned about this brand from Megan of Seed to Serum, and, well, she kind of made me infatuated with this Seattle-based line. The more I read, the more excited I was to try these products. It reminds me of a skincare version of couture fashion–luxurious and tailor made for you by a master of her craft. Bee, the creator of Pollen & Wax, is the sort of person I wish I could meet and befriend. She’s not only gracious and helpful–I know because I’ve contacted her with questions a few times–but she also knows her stuff. Her products make taking care of my skin enjoyable and relaxing rather than exasperating. She created a skin regimen for each skin type, which I find so helpful. With so many products on the market these days, it’s refreshing to find a simple explanation of what your skin needs and what specific products will help it and why.

My skin type is what she has classified as a “July” type. In other words, it’s all kinds of trouble. A lot of beauty bloggers look like they have practically flawless skin, and I am sadly not one of them. My skin is oily, it breaks out, and it’s all-around really high-maintenance. I’m slowly accumulating some of the products that Bee recommends, and I’m loving them so far. My first purchase was the Orion facial tonic. Here’s what Bee writes about this stuff:

Orion Facial Toner is packed to the rafters with an energizing blend of herbs and essentials. Licorice, sea kelp and white tea brighten and even skin tone. Hibiscus and rose hip deliver a hefty dose of vitamin C, a powerhouse that supports collagen production, fights sun damage and aids in brightening and clarifying. 

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Umm…count me in! I’ve had this tonic for several weeks now, and it’s fresh-smelling and invigorating for my face. I use it morning and night and plan on keeping it around in my beauty cabinet.

I just recently received my bottle of Sinatra Blue facial serum in the mail, and oh. my. goodness. it smells yummy. I’m coming around to the idea that oil-based serums can be good for oily faces because a lot of smart women have told me so, and their arguments make sense. Replace the bad oils on my face with the good oils of a serum? I can get behind that. This serum feels sumptuous on your face and especially wonderful right after or mixed with the Orion tonic. Important note: make sure you leave this serum some time to absorb. Obviously this isn’t a problem right before bed, but I think in the mornings I’ve been trying to put on makeup too soon after rubbing this on my face. And you don’t want to mess with the work of this serum. Look what Bee says:

Chamazulene (compounds found in the blue flower extracts) exert powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. Manuka and myrtle are potent anti-microbial agents – tackling the pathogens which infect and further inflame the sebaceous glands. Sea buckthorn, lavender, geranium and palmarosa nourish the cells and aid in regenerative repair of blemish scarring.

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I love her detailed knowledge of plants, don’t you? In a world full of chemicals that hurt us, our animals, and the planet, it’s such a hopeful and redemptive thought that there are people like Bee who know how to create something beautiful from the earth without harming anyone or anything. I can’t wait to try some more of her concoctions!

It’s such a joy to support the product lines of women in my own state as well as to know that I’m buying things that are good for my body. Shop local and stay healthy, everyone!

xoxo

j

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a 20’s necklace & all that jazz

One of my deep, dark fashion shames is that I don’t know how to thrift or dig up vintage finds. *hangs head.* These are skills that I feel every fashionista should have, and I don’t have them. When I walk into these sorts of shops, I get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of germy, mouldering clothes and tacky accessories, and I walk out with nothing. Then I hear about Sophia Amaruso finding a Chanel jacket for $8 and I think, “I have to get in on this.”

That being said, my boyfriend buys most of his stuff used and knows his way around thrift shops and yard sales. Earlier this year, he surprised me with a gorgeous piece of 1920’s jewelry that he bought at a yard sale.

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Am I the only one who thinks Eli did really well here?

Not only does it add an instant Gatsby feel to any look, but it’s charming to imagine its previous owner. Who was the first woman to wear this necklace? Was it a gift from her husband on their first wedding anniversary? Did she wear it with a little black dress and opera gloves? Did she love red lipstick as much as I do? I don’t know, but I sure wish I could meet her.

I’m all about doing what’s unexpected with your outfit, so I have to admit that I love this paired with my chunkiest plaid sweater. It makes for a look that’s part glam, part frumpy old man, but somehow it works for me.

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Do any of you thrift, and if so, how do you sort through the junk to find the treasures? Teach me your skills!

xo,

j

 

The Hippie Starter Kit

Real talk: I’m pretty keen to get you on the hippie train.

Don’t feel too special–I’d like to recruit everybody on the planet, including my mom and my boyfriend (who, by the way, called me the other day and said, “I bought basil-scented fabric softener because that’s the only natural one I could find…and I have basil hand-soap and basil housecleaner and a basil plant…so everything in my place smells like basil.” That’s my boy.) The more I learn, the more I think it is unconscionable what skin care and cosmetic companies have been doing to us–pumping our products full of ingredients that they know have the potential to hurt us, and in some cases, even refusing to tell us what those ingredients are. We can’t know because those are “trade secrets.” Don’t believe me? Read Siobhan O’Connor’s well-researched (and surprisingly up-beat) book No More Dirty Looks. I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but I can already promise you that you’ll be surprised by your favorite companies in the worst way.

I’m calling it.

I don’t want to stand for this anymore, and maybe you don’t either–but perhaps, like me, you feel overwhelmed at the prospect of overhauling all the products you’ve used for years.

I’ve only dipped my toes into the expansive ocean of non-toxic beauty products, but from what I’ve learned (and experienced), please allow me to present to you: The Hippie Starter Kit.

Most of us can’t afford to replace our toxic products with clean ones all at once, but we can start to do so just a few products at a time. I suggest first investing in the products that you use every day: shampoo, soap, deodorant, and lip balm. Here are a few clean alternatives to your mainstream favs:

1. Acure Organics Shampoo: I’ve been using Acure Organics shampoo & conditioner for months, and it’s now an essential for me. It gets my hair soft, silky, and CLEAN…plus, it smells yummy, which is always ideal. One of my favorite things about this product (frankly) is that the price is right. It may cost a little more than the shampoo you use, but for something that’s non-toxic and performs well, I think the price is very competitive. They’ve got a few different kinds of shampoo to match different hair types, so check it out.

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2. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap: I started out with the bar soap version but most recently (at the YouTube recommendation of the lovely Britanie) have tried the liquid peppermint kind, which is AMAZING. It makes your skin feel totally refreshed and invigorated. The ingredients are very simple: olive fatty acids, peppermint oil, vitamin E, etc. You can’t argue with that. I bought a big bottle of this at my local Fred Meyer, and it will last me forever.

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3. Soapwalla Deodorant Cream: Before I ever got into the hardcore hippie game, I switched to a natural deodorant. I had heard of the possible connection between aluminum deodorant and Alzheimer’s disease, and I finally decided I wanted it out of my beauty cabinet for good. Before you label me paranoid, check out some negative effects of aluminum. I’ve been using Soapwalla for the past few months and have been very happy with it. Even if you’re not committed to going totally green, I really recommend that you invest in a good deodorant. It’s important.

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4. Lip Balm: An essential. I’m not the first person to say this, but I can’t stress it enough: we eat our lip products. If you wear any kind of balm or lipstick on a daily basis, some of it is getting into your tummy with every sip of coffee and every bite of pizza (I don’t recommend pairing those two, but separately, I consider them two of the main food groups). That being said, shouldn’t we try to put good things on our lips just like we try to put (mostly) good foods into our bodies? A lot of lipstick contains lead, but thankfully, we’ve got some gorgeous natural alternatives. Since I love lipstick so much, I’ll discuss it in depth in a later post. For now, allow me to suggest starting with a natural lip balm. I have one from my local health food store, but there are many options. I’d personally like to try Rooted Beauty products and Hurraw Balm in the not-too-distant future. Whatever you choose, make sure it has the kind of ingredients you wouldn’t mind ingesting–because you definitely will!

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Here’s to healthier bodies and utilizing the beautiful, simple ingredients present in nature.

xo,

j

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3 Things

Wow, it’s good to see you. It’s been a while. It’s Tuesday, and I need some inspiration. Let’s get to it: three things that are bringing some life to my fashion world.

1. Buttoning my top shirt button.

I feel like somewhere along the line, someone tried to convince us that looking “feminine” or “pretty” is synonymous with v-necks down to our navels–as if to say we have to show off our bodies to be beautiful. Now I’m not one to walk around with a tape measure telling people that their skirts are too short, but this concept of wearing next to nothing to be “beautiful” troubles me. Which is why I couldn’t be more excited to see some women challenging the status quo and buttoning that top button. In a world that tells us to flaunt our bodies, the buttoned-up look is unexpected, edgy, and yep, I’m going to say it–straight-up classy.

My favorite recent example of this look is Lady Gaga at the 2013 YouTube awards. I love the checked, buttoned-up shirt with the big hat and the big hair.

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In my own wardrobe, my favorite shirt to button allll the way up is my camo jacket. It takes the military trend just one step further.

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2. An enormous purse.

Earlier this year, I was blogging about how much I love clutches, so I guess maybe we’re left to conclude that I just love purses in general. When Nasty Gal recently did a one-day sale on some of their handbags, I copped one of the biggest ones of the bunch: the Hot to Handle Bag. I can fit anything in this purse–it’s magical. Faux-fur scarf, book, a small dog, you name it, it could fit in this purse. It can be styled to look uber professional or laid-back casual. When you’re short of cash, you gotta love those versatile wardrobe pieces.

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3. Reminders that at the end of the day, it’s just another pair of shoes.

Fashion, like most beautiful things, has its dangers. I’m grateful for the occasional reminder that fashion will disappoint and destroy if we make it the ultimate goal.

That was a role it was never meant to fill.

xo,

j

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Throwback: Boyfriend Jeans

I’m a girl who loves NEW–new trends, new makeup, that I-just-clipped-the-tags-off-this-awesome-sweater-new kind of feeling. But sadly, my wallet can’t keep up with my styling preferences. Consequently, sometimes you have to choose between two options: being the greedy little pig that can’t afford to go to the market, or working with and loving what you have.

Fortunately for us, most if not all of fashion is retrospective. When I was a teenager, bellbottoms cycled back through; adults loved to say incredulously, “These were in style when I WAS A KID.” Now the ’90’s are coming back with crop tops, oversized sweaters, and the like. What is my point in all this? Sometimes using your old pieces is right on trend. If, like me, you’re on a budget, this is good news.

Flash back to circa 2007: flipping through a J. Crew catalog I saw baggy, holey jeans paired with a high heel. Even with my muddled teenage-girl brain I knew that this was genius. I’m a huge fan of the contradictory and unexpected in a look–something masculine, like baggy jeans, paired with something incredibly feminine, like high heels. I came, I saw, and I bought the Vintage Slim model.

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When I put these on today, I was reminded not only of how cool these were, but also of how much I need to get them taken in. Without a belt, we would’ve nearly had ourselves a pants on the ground situation. Regardless, this fit is still making appearances in the fashion world, and I’m happy to see it. Styled correctly, these jeans can be a totally dynamic and straight up cool-girl look.

When I first bought them, I loved them with a wedge heel, but now I like pairing them with ankle boots. Faux fur and military-inspired vest never hurt a tough outfit either.

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xo,

j

How I Became A Hippie [alternately entitled Manifesta]

After performing an organic apple cider vinegar/water rinse on my hair a couple weeks ago, and smelling the lingering effects of said rinse for a remarkable number of days afterwards (essentially, my hair smelled like wet dog), I couldn’t help but think man, how the times have changed. I used to be a woman who often slept in trace amounts of Clinique red lipstick (shade: Ginger Flower). A woman who wore so much LOREAL liquid eyeliner that my eyes, in a feeble attempt to cleanse themselves, would cry out whatever I hadn’t wiped off before going to sleep. But I jumped into all this hippie-dippy stuff so fast on the blog that I never actually told you how I got into it in the first place. Let me break it down. Three Reasons I’m Now A (Sort of) Hippie:

1. I suddenly realized that my makeup could damage my health much more than I ever imagined. 

When my sister started drinking the KoolAid of green beauty, I thought it was utter craziness. C’mon, I thought. It’s not like you eat your makeup. Then I learned that your skin can absorb a whole lot of what’s put on it. And check out this sobering statistic from researchers Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt in their book No More Dirty Looks:

…only 11 percent of the 10,500 ingredients determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be in use by the cosmetics industry have been tested for safety by a publicly accountable agency. Of the ones we do know about, some are flat-out dangerous to our health, others are questionable at best, and most are doing almost nothing to improve the quality, feel, and health of our skin and hair.

And you mean to tell me that many of those mystery makeup ingredients are hitting my bloodstream? This troubled me. Especially when I considered that I must eat a lot of lipstick since it was on my lips all the time (because oh, how I loved my lipstick). I’m admittedly not the healthiest eater ever (my favorite food is pizza and my second favorite is cheese), but I do want to take good care of my body to the best of my ability. And if the makeup that I wear all day every day is putting my health at considerable risk, it’s enough reason for me to change my habits.

2. I don’t want my products tested on animals.

I’m going to take my tongue out of my cheek for just one second here and get totally serious. To be brutally honest, animal testing didn’t figure in at all to my initial decision to go green. I did it primarily for my own health. But I have grown to deeply respect the green beauty industry’s commitment to no animal cruelty. It features prominently in many of the brands’ packaging and is obviously something they make a high priority. See, I practically came out of the womb begging for a dog. When I was a child, my family thought I would be a veterinarian or a park ranger because I love animals. And the idea of any animal–even if it’s just a lab rat–suffering so that I can have the shade of blush I want doesn’t sit well with me. Actually, it makes me angry. I love makeup, but I don’t want any animals experiencing pain for it. To cement this point, I obviously can’t miss this opportunity to showcase my absurdly cute dog:

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3. The green beauty industry just seems like a smart industry to me.

I know that’s a very unscientific and unspecific thing to say, but it’s true. Rubbing makeup with green tea extract in it makes more sense to me than rubbing unidentified chemicals on my face. Additionally, I love the heart behind many of these product lines. They’re smart and generous entrepreneurs. Mordecai Alvow of Yarok Hair is committed to protecting Amazonian rainforests. Tarte has given back to Sustainable Amazon Partnership, Habitat for Humanity, and St. Jude’s, to name a few. Rooted Beauty has a beautiful program for empowering women who are disadvantaged and poverty-stricken. I love this kind of vision.

Finally, because I am an English major with an obsession for story, I will leave you with the perspective of Rose-Marie Swift. She used to be neck-deep in the mainstream cosmetic industry until her health took a sudden turn…and the doctors gave her what I thought was a shocking and telling diagnosis. If you don’t read this whole page, just scroll down to the Q&A part.

 

So there you have it..how I became a makeup-loving, apple-cider-vinegar-hair-rinsing hippie. What about you? Are you all jazzed about green beauty or on the fence about it?

 

xo,

j

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3 Things I’m Loving

I’ve never been a fan of small talk, so let’s cut the chit-chat and get right to the point: what fashion trends am I obsessing over these days?

1. Black Body Suits

It has come to my attention that in her “Applause” performances, Lady Gaga has been sporting a black body suit for parts of the song. While I’ll be the first to admit that she probably has a deeper symbolic meaning than I can possibly guess, it does seem that it’s partly a matter of practicality. She has always done a remarkable amount of costume changing, and what better foundation exists than all black? Not to toot my own horn or anything (so obviously I’m about to toot my own horn), but I think I may have figured out the black magic (not the creepy kind) before Gaga. It was my go-to look of Winter 2012. Almost every day, I would put on a black tank top and black leggings, because you can do absolutely anything with that as your base. You can dress it up or down. You can pair it with heels or flats, faux fur or oversized sweaters, glitzy tops or bland loungewear. Not to mention, it’s super comfy, which is always an unexpected bonus in the fashion world. Seriously ladies–you gotta get on this bandwagon. It makes life easier.

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2. Femme Fatale Makeup

I’m permanently intrigued by makeup looks that are not traditionally “cute” or “pretty.” I’m inspired by the woman who everyone can agree is powerful but whose “beauty” no one can agree upon. This season, I’m seeing women who look like they’re ready to run the world in smoldering eye makeup and dark berry lipstick. I’m over-the-moon for Taylor Swift’s Glamour cover look; check out her tough-girl eyeliner paired with that military-inspired hat. And what about Lana del Rey with those red talons, big hair, and dark lips? What a babe.

 

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3. Leopard Print

I wrote more extensively about animalia over at She’s Charming, but this is one of those trends that I think I may still be sporting even if/when it goes out of style. I always find that one or fifteen pieces of leopard print in my outfit make me feel sassier, tougher, and prettier. So yeah, you bet I wear it a lot.

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xo,

j

From the Archives: The Leopard Hat

When I was in Ireland in 2011, I bought a weird hat that never ceases to be cool to me.

It’s an accessory with ears; no one can hate that.

It even has a scarf attached. A scarf and pockets. That’s a lot to process–take all the time you need.

It was one of those things that I agonized over: should I spend this much money on a hat? Is it really worth it? Should I go for something cheaper?

It won’t surprise you to hear that no, I didn’t go for something cheaper. I went for the leopard hat in all its furry glory.  I throw that thing over dresses, skinny jeans, pretty much anything. This year I want to pair it with some high-heeled ankle boots. Because what’s more surprising than an elegant boot outfitted with a fake-leopard-ears hat?

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I see a few primary benefits of this particular accessory:

1. It’s just off-the-beaten-track enough that I’m not sure it was ever totally in fashion, and consequently I’m not sure it can ever be totally out of fashion either. Which means I intend on taking it with me to the grave.

2. I have college loans, and this is a time of economic hardship. If things get worse, I’m pretty sure I can put this on, hide in someone’s bushes, jump out and scare them, then charge them for the couture safari experience. BAM.

3. It’s one of those accessories that instantly frees my spirit. Have you ever experienced that? Something in your fashion armory that just makes you feel the most you. 

Here’s to many more years of leopard print being on trend.

xo,

j

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Tarte, muah!

These wispy eyelashes have seen a lot of mascara in their day–everything from Covergirl to Clinique–but I’ve sworn off my old favorites and taken a greener point of view. Why even bother? you may ask. What harm could mascara do? Unfortunately, a LOT. In her very helpful article, Certified Nutritionist Sarah Oechsli explains that the coloring in most mascara is thought to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing) and that mascara often contains Polybutene, an ingredient used to formulate glues. Imagine a variety of other toxic ingredients coating your eyelashes, flaking off into the pores around your eyes, seeping into your bloodstream, and BOOM, the typical mascara wand is suddenly less magical.

Never fear: we have alternatives,

For the past few months, I’ve been using a vegan mascara called “Lights, Camera, LASHES,” by Tarte and been really happy with it. Not only does it come in super cute faux-snakeskin packaging, but it glides on really smoothly and easily. I have pretty small eyelashes, but I’m amazed how much this mascara can lengthen them. It’s free of sulfates, parabens, synthetic dyes and fragrances, petrochemicals, and phthalates. Instead, it’s formulated with super hippie-dippie stuff like rice bran wax, vitamin B5, and olive esters. To slightly paraphrase Macklemore, walk into the club like WHAT UP I WEAR RICE BRAN WAX MASCARA.

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I don’t wear mascara on my lower lashes, so the Tarte product is only featured on my upper lashes.

XOX,

j

1-2-3, you can count on me

Oh, fashion. My head is thick with ideas, and my wallet is thin with cash. I texted my daddy recently and asked him on a scale of “one” to “of course” how he felt about lending me money for new shoes that would be very editorial for my blog (if you bring your writing into it, doesn’t that trick encourage your dad to give you money?)

Totally didn’t go the way I planned.

Those high heeled leopard print boots are still on Zappos, doggonit.

Sooo…three things from my own closet that are giving me a little inspiration.

1. Weird Handbags.

I love weird purses. I really do. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting glammed up and elegant some days, but I’m almost more intrigued by the girl who chooses something quirky, something…dare I say…tacky. For example, I’d love to sport Betsey Johnson’s boxing glove purse or Nasty Gal’s lips purse. A girl who can wear something like that without batting an eyelash? That’s a honey badger who don’t care. And I love that.

I took a look around my room to see if I had any unusual purses, and BOOM, I found one: the nerd bag:

I'm wearing my Wolverine t-shirt, don't worry about it.

I’m wearing my Wolverine t-shirt, don’t worry about it.

Back when I didn’t have a day job and studied British women writers with feminist fervor, I got a handbag with a drawing of Jane Austen’s face on it. I haven’t used it in a while, but I’m suddenly thinking it could be sort of awesome. With black jeggings and high-heeled ankle boots, it could be just the sort of dork-cool I’m looking for.

 

2. Toning It Down (a little…sometimes)

I’m a girl who loves fiery red lipstick, costume jewelry, and clothing that’s just embarrassing in a small town. But this summer, I’ve done something totally radical (well, rad for me) and ratcheted it down a few notches. I’ve chosen a nude lipstick that makes my lips paler and some light eyeshadow that’s barely-there. It allows me to shoot for a sort of surprising blandness, a striking pallor, if you will. Unusual for me…but I kinda like it.

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3. The Coat

As I was studying my VOGUE September issue, hanging off Anna Wintour’s every word in her letter from the editor, I latched on to her verdict that a cool coat was the must-have for this season. Back to my closet to see if I had anything: houndstooth coat from the clearance racks of last winter. A broke girl does what she can.

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Until next time, enjoy my favorite September song.