Monday, December 26, 2011

Lips: NARS Afghan Red

Christmas for my family is a low-key affair in which we just open gifts and hang around the house, so yesterday I wore comfortable black leggings under a voluminous white sweater. I had to dress up my lips, however, and I went with one of my favorite standbys, NARS Afghan Red.

Yes, that is a gray streak in my hair. It appeared in college!

I don't know why this lipstick doesn't get more love from bloggers. The only full review and swatch (titled "Unsung Heroes," incidentally) I can find is on the Makeup and Beauty Blog. Other bloggers are missing out, as Afghan Red is a beautiful and effortless garnet.

The finish is a creamy satin, and it goes on like a dream. Afghan Red is not a true red, but a very pink-leaning cherry, which makes it extremely flattering on a wide range of skin tones. It's a classy-casual red that you can dress either up or down.

Easy, versatile, and gorgeous, NARS Afghan Red has earned a place as my workhorse red lipstick.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Nails: Dior Or Divin

I have too many Jewish, atheist, and pagan friends not to feel a twinge of guilt wishing folks a Merry Christmas. So let's go with the safe Happy Holidays route here, and move on.

What's more festive than gold nails? Dior Or Divin is quite possibly the classiest gold nail polish you can achieve.

We've all seen gold jewelry that looks too brassy or coppery, and whispered to our girlfriends, "That's gotta be fake." It's the same with nails. Too orange or metallic, and you just look tacky. Continuing (or abusing) the analogy, Or Divin is 24k gold. Dior has given us a gold nail polish that is a delicate, cool yellow. Close up, teal flecks are visible. The finish is shimmery rather than sparkly. As both Temptalia and A La Peach point out, this particular gold polish is very wearable by cooler complexions.

Application leaves something to be desired, but that is to be expected with such a difficult gold. The polish goes on very uneven and streaky, and two coats are semi-opaque. On the other hand, the shimmer does help camouflage most imperfections. Or Divin lasted about five days on me before it began to chip.

My favorite aspect of Or Divin is how it mutates in different lighting. Under cool lighting, it has a pale sheen. In direct sunlight, it flashes pure white. It also can become almost translucent.

I was going out one night with Or Divin on my nails, and I had the hardest time deciding on what jewelry to wear. Finally it hit me that my gold nails were all the jewelry I needed. Exquisite! Nevertheless, as lovely as Or Divin is, my preference leans toward silver metallics like Dior Silver Lake. I also found Or Divin a bit tricky to wear during the daytime, as it simply clashed with my more casual clothes.

An elegant cool gold, Dior Or Divin is ideal for that special date or holiday party.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Preen Present, and a Thank You

As Best Things in Beauty would say, "Still shopping for you?" I'm always shopping for myself! And it's all the sweeter when I do it at a deep discount.

Carter wool crepe midi skirt by Preen from Net-a-Porter.

Isn't it gorgeous? When it finally went on sale for nearly a thousand dollars off, I pounced. The site had sold out of x-small, and I hesitated over whether the small would be right for my size zero figure; then I reasoned that the skirt still would look great on me, and hit the order button.

As soon as I opened up the package, I knew the skirt was perfect. The colors are jewel deep, the silk-lined wool is luxuriously heavy, and size small fits me like a dream. I would wear it with a dark gray blouse, like the model above, and with my camel Burak Uyan pumps for a bit of contrast. The skirt hits higher on these models, but on me the hem comes down nearly to my ankles. (And I'm a respectable 5'6"!) I may leave it that way, or have it hemmed.

The most color accurate out of the lot.

Merry Christmas to myself! And to everyone reading, happy holidays! My little blog has grown quite a bit in the past few months, and I am grateful to all those who have joined me on this journey.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lips: NARS Russian Doll

NARS Russian Doll is precisely the sort of lipstick I imagine on pale Slavic models marching down the runway of a moody fashion show, blond hair slicked back in severe buns.

The color is hard to describe. One wants to call it a plum-brown, even though it's too dark for a plum and actually contains no brown tones at all. A plum-wine, perhaps. NARS calls it a "true boysenberry," which works as well as anything else.

Russian Doll is not as unforgiving as it could be due to its satin finish. The slightly pale sheen and the intense dark color creates an intriguing tension. I continued the theme by pairing the lip with a white sweater, which made it wearable as a daytime winter look. I can see it also being a rather stunning lip color to wear out to a nightclub with an Ann Demeulemeester ensemble.

Russian Doll has good lasting power, though like most NARS lipsticks I have tried, it has no chance against a meal. Because the finish is satin, it has some slip and you have to take some care not to let it migrate beyond the lip edge, especially around the corners of the mouth. You can fade out the center of the mouth and darken the edges to create a beautiful ombre effect.

NARS Russian Doll may appear impossible in the tube, but it turns out to be an attractive avant-garde plum.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pink Piano and Blues

Design extends to all aspects of my life. There is, for instance, the vase on my kitchen table. On my way home from work I like to browse En Masse, this eclectic tiny flower shop on Market Street in Frederick. The place always has the most interesting selection, much of it local or organic. From these I have made my own bouquets from scratch. This one from last summer was particularly effortless.

Composition: pink piano garden roses and local blue hydrangeas.

Both the pink and blue were so deep and vivid, I simply had to juxtapose them.

I love taking the flowers home, and laying them out. Capricious nature meets the orderly vision of my mind's eye. Next I have my sights set on a white winter arrangement.

I have been unable to decide which I enjoy most: the product or the process.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lips: Dior Versailles

I love the gold in Dior's Holiday 2011 collection. Everything is infused with a rich, pure, pale yellow gold that never turns brassy or shrill. The lipsticks, for instance, contain a very fine golden powder that adds a layer of incredible shimmer. Dior Versailles employs this effect beautifully.

Versailles is a pink-peach-coral with an almost frosty finish. I don't have anything in my collection remotely close to it. At first glance this may seem a relatively subdued shade, but on the lips it's a pop of color that brightens up the face.

For comparison, here are my lips with no color on. Ack! As you can see, Versailles adds quite a bit of color and warmth, but still is wearable by cool-toned girls like myself.

Naked lips!

Application is absolutely effortless; you barely need a mirror. Because of this, I don't mind too much the fact that Versailles doesn't last as long as some of the other Dior lipsticks. Eating pretty much wipes out this color, but you can reapply in a flash.

Nails: Dior Or Divin, naturally.

As Best Things in Beauty says, Versailles is a wonderful fall/winter lip to wear with purple-toned clothing. You can wear it during the day or out to a fancy dinner: it's a sophisticated but inviting color. I can see why Dior named it Versailles, as something about the opulent sun-worn pink-peach reminds me of Marie Antoinette walking the gilded halls of the palace in the late afternoon.

Temptalia declares Dior Versailles one of her favorite coral lipsticks. I second her. It's a simply beautiful, unique lipstick.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Splendid Frost Kaleidoscope or, Christmas Came Early

What's even better than new Le Metier de Beaute kaleidoscopes? Vintage kaleidoscopes, of course. Thanks to Messy Wands who unearthed a cache of discontinued gems, Splendid Frost soon will be the newest addition to my burgeoning collection. I can't wait to wear this treasure to holiday parties.

This may be a good occasion to share my kaleidoscope collection. It is modest, but growing rapidly. Most of these posts are accompanied by eye looks and tutorials.

Come One, Come All
Oscar de la Renta
Silk Road

And then there is Antiquite Poupee, created by Dustin Lujan. It is absolutely beautiful. The shades look almost patinated with age.

Le Metier de Beaute's textures and pigmentation are unparalleled. Some of the kaleidoscopes can be tricky to find, but isn't that part of the thrill of the hunt? In the end you feel like you possess something truly special.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Eyes: Le Metier de Beaute Capitol Kaleidoscope

I was born and raised practically inside the Beltway, so I've always been a DC girl at heart. Le Metier de Beaute Capitol Kaleidoscope, designed by Michael Reinhardt of Neiman Mazza to celebrate the city's savoir faire, just might be the new centerpiece of my makeup collection.

The colors are fresh and sophisticated at the same time. Michael was at the counter when I came in to pick up my preorder, and he demonstrated how he would layer the kaleidoscope on me.

First he applied the top shade over my eyelid. The result was a soft pink matte that instantly brightened up my face. The second shade, a peachy rose champagne with a slight shimmer, went over this. The real star of this kaleidoscope is the third shade -- a glorious shimmering copper-gold taupe.

Michael applied a bit to the eyelid and inner corner, then swept a thick arc along the orbit. This created a pronounced shadow effect, even though the shade itself is so bold and shimmery. The final shade looks like a scary aubergine in the pan, but becomes very subtle on the skin. Perhaps too subtle, as I found myself peering into the mirror in an attempt to find the purple. The overall effect was pitch perfect, though. Michael applied the fourth shade loosely to the bottom half of my eyelid, and along the outer half of the lower lash line.

He finished the look off with Anamorphic Lash Mascara in Aubergine. And . . . that was it. No eye liner. No primer. Nothing along the brow bone, or on the brow for that matter. He took his fresh and sophisticated colors, and created a fresh and sophisticated eye.

For my cheeks, he used Radiance Powder Rouge in Whisper. The pale, luminous pink looked almost invisible in the pan, but on my face it turns into a lovely, just-right blush and highlighter. Whisper is next on my must-get list.

Also on the list now is Sheer Brilliance Gloss in Cap D'Antibes. I came in wearing Guerlain Rouge G in Gisele on my lips, and instead of removing it Michael simply swiped the frosty pearl-pink gloss across the center of my lips. It cooled down Gisele and transformed it into a stunning pearlescent rose. Unfortunately, I went shopping and dining afterward and the color mostly faded, so I didn't bother taking a close-up for you.

Back to the Capitol Kaleidoscope: both Best Things in Beauty and When a Door Closes ... have excellent, and in fact superior, swatches.

I love the approach Michael took with his kaleidoscope. He brought out the gold-green in my eyes beautifully. I'm going to have a lot of fun experimenting with the gorgeous colors of the Capitol Kaleidoscope.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nails: Dior Silver Lake

Can I just say gorgeous?

When I saw it on the Beauty Look Book and Makeup Magpie, I knew Dior Silver Lake had to be mine. And in person it does not disappoint.

First, the color is stunning. It's made up of layers of silver, gunmetal gray, black, and even blue, lending a rich complexity to the look. Close up, tiny flecks of teal are visible. The overall color leans gray, black, or blue, depending on the lighting.

The texture also is intriguing: a cross between a shimmer and a glitter. The surface is not entirely smooth, but slightly rough like very fine sandpaper. It plays with light and shadow in remarkable ways.

Lastly, Silver Lake wears like rock. I have had it on for eight days straight, and my nails still look pristine. (The top coat is Zoya Anchor.) The credit goes to my nail technician, though.

In my eyes, Dior Silver Lake is the ultimate metallic gunmetal nail polish. That's right, Chanel Graphite, I'm calling you out.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

All In an Hour's Work

You know what's a rush? Scoring at a steep discount the very last unit of each of the beauties below, and all in under one hour:

Mixed media fringe bib necklace by DANNIJO from Net-a-Porter.

Suede ankle boots by Ann Demeulemeester from Saks.

And the piece de resistance:

Lasercut satin and leather booties by Nicholas Kirkwood from Barneys.

Between this and Black Friday, I foresee many Shoe Porn posts in the near future.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Depression Era Inspiration

I got called Annie Oakley today. I also received a dozen compliments. And someone else saw influence from the '30s. A successful outfit, I would say.

Skirt: L.A.M.B. Shirt: J. Crew. Necklace: DANNIJO. Shoes: Schuler & Sons (via Anthropologie).

The genesis of this getup was my desire to put my Black Friday steals to use, in particular this wool twill skirt by L.A.M.B. The fabric is of a substantial weight, and as you stride the folds snap and billow out about your toes. Yes, you will trip occasionally.

When in doubt about what to wear to work, I go with an Oxford shirt. French blue is a color I love, and it complements camel perfectly (as evidenced by this Dior nail polish post). One good way to top off a shirt with a collar is a chunky necklace that rests on your collarbone.

Called the Theodora Necklace.
Looking at my shoes, I can understand why some would think I had stepped straight off the set of a western. These are leather booties by Schuler & Sons, a quality company based out of Philadelphia that handcrafts its products.

Note the cute plaid hem.

This skirt is so lovely, let's take a few more shots:

The cut is so flattering to my proportions. I already am small-waisted and relatively long-legged, and this skirt intensifies both aspects. The A-line shape also creates an illusion of curves (my shoulders actually are wider than my hips). I could do a more modern and casual look by pairing the skirt with a cropped sweater.

I haven't been able to take decent swatch photos yet, but I'm wearing NARS Pure Matte Lipstick in 413 Bleecker. A limited edition, it's described as "warm rose brown," and to my eyes it's a funky rust color. The matte texture makes it an edgy yet work-appropriate lipstick, and it fades to a very attractive, natural-looking stain. 413 Bleecker is the perfect lip color for this outfit.

I need to go find a Grapes of Wrath stage production now.

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