Notes from the Editors of The Lipstick Page Forums: A Dedication to the Art of Beauty and Fashion.

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· The Weekend Blogger: Supima fever
· The Weekend Blogger: Close a door, open a window
· Fashion Notes: FitFlop Review
· Fashion Notes: What I Want
· Fashion Notes: Shoegasm!
· Fashion Notes: Trekking through Etsy
· Fashion Notes: A Mom pendant
· Fashion Notes: Labradorite necklace
· Fashion Notes: Earring synergy
· Fashion Notes: Something I've been fiddling around with
· Fashion Notes: Development of a jewelry stash
· Fashion Notes: Happy Valentine's Day!
· Fashion Notes: Green amethyst and emerald earrings
· Fashion Notes: Labradorite necklace
· Fashion Notes: Sterling and sapphire earrings
· Fashion Notes: Freddy & Ma custom handbags
· Beauty Notes: Adventures in home hair color
· Fashion Notes: Polyvore it!
· The virtual model is back!
· Fashion Notes: If I didn't make jewelry, I would buy it here.
· Beauty & Fashion Notes: Ruminations on aging, and finding that perfect pair of pearl earrings
· Fashion Notes: Addicted to J. Crew?
· Beauty & Fashion Notes: The Buyer's Guide to Independent Art and Design
· Fashion Notes: The Sartorialist
· Beauty and Fashion Notes: this 'n' that
· Fashion Notes: Dain's hyperconsumerism commentary
· Beauty & Fashion Notes: this 'n' that
· Fashion Notes: Is the bride too beautiful?
· Fashion Notes: finding jeans that fit
· Fashion Notes: Metal sensitivities (earrings)
· Beauty Notes: In Search of Wisteria in the Bay Area
· Fashion Notes: Mom clothes
· Fashion Notes: Polyvore
· Culture Notes: Absolutely Fabulous
· Culture Notes: Shabnami Surayyo
· Fashion Notes: making your own jewelry
· Quick bit of indie fashion
· 1980's style: Cyndi Lauper vs. Madonna
· Oscars 2007

· August 3, 2008 11:10 PM by Blogger Dain
· July 26, 2008 11:36 PM by Blogger Dain
· May 30, 2008 9:47 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· April 27, 2008 1:17 AM by Blogger Dain
· April 29, 2008 8:38 AM by Blogger Dain
· March 24, 2008 9:25 PM by Blogger Carol
· March 24, 2008 9:51 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· March 19, 2008 10:34 PM by Blogger Dain
· March 20, 2008 2:18 AM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· March 17, 2008 11:12 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· March 19, 2008 2:38 PM by Blogger Duygu
· March 19, 2008 6:51 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· March 12, 2008 6:52 PM by Blogger Dain
· March 12, 2008 9:26 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· March 14, 2008 1:08 AM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· February 15, 2008 8:50 PM by Blogger Dain
· February 16, 2008 3:25 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· February 16, 2008 3:56 PM by Blogger Dain
· February 17, 2008 9:56 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· February 19, 2008 8:08 AM by Blogger Carol
· February 19, 2008 11:18 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· February 21, 2008 11:02 AM by Blogger Dain
· February 2, 2008 8:02 PM by Blogger Dain
· February 2, 2008 9:48 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· February 2, 2008 11:42 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· February 3, 2008 2:28 PM by Blogger Dain
· February 3, 2008 2:56 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· January 27, 2008 10:28 PM by Blogger Dain
· January 14, 2008 2:54 PM by Blogger Dain
· January 14, 2008 5:21 PM by Blogger Dain
· January 15, 2008 1:11 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· January 6, 2008 9:55 AM by Blogger Dain
· January 6, 2008 1:51 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· January 3, 2008 4:45 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· January 3, 2008 9:52 PM by Blogger Dain
· January 3, 2008 11:10 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· December 8, 2007 8:53 AM by Blogger Chez Moi
· December 9, 2007 6:51 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· November 10, 2007 7:40 PM by Blogger Dain
· November 10, 2007 8:38 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· April 20, 2008 1:32 PM by Blogger cyberpenguin
· April 20, 2008 1:34 PM by Blogger cyberpenguin
· November 6, 2007 1:58 AM by Blogger Dain
· November 6, 2007 2:10 AM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· November 6, 2007 2:29 AM by Blogger Dain
· November 6, 2007 2:31 AM by Blogger Dain
· November 6, 2007 2:34 AM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· November 6, 2007 2:37 AM by Blogger Dain
· November 9, 2007 12:35 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· November 2, 2007 2:47 PM by Blogger Dain
· November 3, 2007 1:36 AM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· November 3, 2007 1:37 AM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· October 20, 2007 12:25 PM by Blogger Dain
· October 20, 2007 10:57 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· October 11, 2007 3:08 AM by Blogger Dain
· October 11, 2007 12:58 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· September 18, 2007 7:32 AM by Blogger Dain
· September 18, 2007 6:25 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· September 18, 2007 6:39 PM by Blogger Dain
· August 15, 2007 8:26 AM by Blogger cmm
· August 15, 2007 12:43 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· August 17, 2007 7:33 AM by Blogger cmm
· August 17, 2007 3:07 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· July 19, 2007 2:41 AM by Blogger Dain
· July 19, 2007 2:08 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· July 7, 2007 4:16 PM by Blogger cmm
· July 7, 2007 7:29 PM by Blogger Dain
· July 7, 2007 10:06 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· July 7, 2007 11:36 PM by Blogger Dain

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The Lipstick Page Forums Beauty & Fashion Blog

The Weekend Blogger: Supima fever
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, August 03, 2008 1:09 PM (Eastern)

I'm becoming intrigued by Supima cotton.

Mind you, I'd never heard of Supima until a few days ago, when I came across it in a clothing catalogue. At first I thought Supima was a patented type of cotton, but it's not:

Founded in 1954, Supima is the promotional organization of the American Pima cotton growers. The Board of Directors of this non-profit organization is composed of Pima growers from the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. All members pay a voluntary per bale assessment to support Supima's marketing and promotional activities.

Supima's primary objective is to promote the increased consumption of American Pima cotton around the world. Supima is a major sponsor of research programs to improve the quality of American Pima. Supima also works closely with cotton industry organizations and government agencies to ensure a fair and viable marketing environment for American Pima cotton growers. Supima also provides timely crop and market information to its grower-members and licensees.

At the core of Supima's promotional activities is a licensing program in which select, high-quality textile mills, apparel and textile manufacturers, and retailers are granted a license to use the Supima® trademark. Licensees use the Supima® trademark to market and promote their textile, home fashion and apparel products made of 100% American Pima cotton. Over 300-fine count textile mills, manufacturers and retailers from around the world are licensed to use the Supima® brand.

In order to promote its awareness of the Supima® brand, Supima advertises in both consumer and trade publications. Additionally, Supima staff members regularly make presentations to customers both in the U.S. and abroad. To the extent possible, Supima staff personally visit major fine-count textile mills in locations around the world. Supima regularly participates in major international home fashion and apparel exhibitions and events.

Okay, I was going to bust this down to a bite-sized blogger blurb, but I think it's interesting. One of my chief complaints about clothing which doesn't cost hundreds of dollars, after all, is poor material. Not poor construction, which I can fix myself in ten minutes with a needle and thread. Shoddy material, you can do nothing about; you simply watch in horror as your clothing dissolves in less than a year.

Is Supima licensed cotton better?

Scanning their merchant list, I see the familiar Brooks Brothers and Land's End. Not listed is Eddie Bauer, where I first stumbled across the Supima reference.

I will say a word about my small obsession with made in the U.S.A. products (or in this case, grown in the U.S.A.). I don't think it translates to people who don't remember when Americans...manufactured, when we made stuff.

I don't propose we return to that era; the cost would be prohibitive for certain things, it wouldn't make sense. But we've been far too quick to throw out every kind of manufacturing, to not give our own citizens something to do.

On a more personal level, my own industry, software engineering, went out the same window as all the rest, the making of shoes, steel, of...dishes, of major appliances, of everything. Pure consumption is not the same thing as production. It's not only the dignity of earning a paycheck, it...kills your brain, if all you do is consume. When you make something, you have to make the decisions...the materials and sourcing them, the design and engineering, the actual process of fabrication.

We've lost that, we have become incredibly impatient as a nation, because all we do now is buy, which takes less than a minute.

Hence I have taken an interest in whatever is made here. It's a personal thing, it's based on my budget, and I'll emphasize it's hardly altruistic. I live here. If there's some small way I can support whatever people are up to here, I'm in.

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Colleen Shirazi continues to blog here: Life of Colleen
1 comment(s)  
August 3, 2008 11:10 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Hey cool, I was thinking of getting Brooks Brothers shirts, now I've got good reason to. They look real nice, and the non-iron aspect is pretty awesome.

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The Weekend Blogger: Close a door, open a window
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, July 26, 2008 11:06 PM (Eastern)

Hm, there's nothing quite so magical as the hour of 5, post meridian, on a Friday. Eyes begin to sparkle, steps wax lively; there is harmony of motion, towards the elevators, towards the street, towards mass transit.

So, what have I been up to? There are masses of summer sales going on right now, just when you're being mauled by the exorbitant prices of gas, health care, water (I kid you not; after years of pissing rain around here, our municipal utility district has the nerve to cry "water shortage"), rice ($20 a bag at Costco for the good stuff), oh, what's cheaper to be a cocaine addict than to be an ordinary citizen.

Hence, the extraordinary summer sales. No one has cash to spend, so, logically, retail has to cut prices or else sit on their summer merchandise. Banana Republic, The Gap, J.Crew, Eddie Bauer, Land's End...those are the obvious have prices comparable to those of way crappy stores. Like any other good sales, you have to dig, and the sizes do tend to run from extra small to small, then jump straight to extra extra large, and the white blouses tend to be, in the words of Lloyd Cole (ask your mother)...gone, gone, gone, pretty gone.

I had this cute number in my cart today:

...a bit stunned at finding a nice-looking white top at a good price. It's rayon, not the cotton I was seeking--The Gap has some nice white cotton blouses on sale right now, but not the ones I want in the right sizes--and it is sleeveless, which is okay I suppose.

I had this number in the cart along with some stuff from their 30% off sale. The latter are not clearance items, so all the sizes are there. Plus it's a flat $7 shipping. Plus you can use the same $7 for purchases across The Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Piperlime.

It's all been a bit of a shock.

Take this yellow dress:

Isn't it nice? I'm talking about for someone who isn't twenty years old. Pima cotton/modal rayon/spandex, machine wash, that sweet detail of tiny ruffles at the hem. It's really pretty darn decent.

I went to Eddie Bauer recently and got this...creamy...pima cotton tank top, with all the details: smaller arm-holes, so you don't get "side boob"; slightly higher neck, wider straps, longer length with these teeny side vents. Lovely light yellow (a killer clothing color for blondes) and a light aquamarine blue--for $10 each. The same price for dreary tank tops at Target, which don't cover bra straps, don't conceal "the vault," straps fall down, et cetera, et cetera.

That's probably it for clothes shopping for me, until cooler weather sets in. What I'd like next entails boots, possibly shoes...more planning involved. I'll likely tap the outlets in Napa for those.

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Colleen Shirazi continues to blog here: Life of Colleen
1 comment(s)  
July 26, 2008 11:36 PM, Blogger Dain said...

It's $30 more expensive, but down from $443, so a much more designery option: Madame a Paris, elegant and simple and a cool color.

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Fashion Notes: FitFlop Review
Posted by Joy Rothke, Thursday, May 29, 2008 3:05 PM (Eastern)

I admit I was skeptical--more than skeptical. How can flip-flops [excuse me, "FitFlops"] "tone and trim my legs while reducing strain on my feet, knees and back"? They look like conventional flip-flops. Can they be worth a rather steep $49.99 to $59.99?

I had to test these for myself, and received a pair from Fit Flop's PR rep a couple of weeks ago. I read all the enclosed data about how they were "biomechanically engineered" by a team of scientists at South Bank University in London. I reviewed the chart showing twice the duration in muscle activity in the gluteus maximus and rectus femoris of women who wore FitFlops versus conventional shoes, and that the cushioned FitFlop sole apparently extends by ten percent the time the slow twitch muscles are engaged during each step. (Slow twitch muscle fibers produce energy by converting fats to energy aerobically.)

But how do they feel--and would they work for me?

Except for a thicker than normal sole, they felt just like the flip-flops I'd been wearing all my life. I slipped on my new FitFlops and took my dog for an hour-long walk. They felt a bit stiff, and the thong between my toes rubbed a bit. FitFlops aficionados suggest you start slow, but I began wearing them all day, every day.

In the words of my 16-year-old niece, they are like, awesome. Are my calves and ass firmer? A bit, perhaps, but the best result for me is in my knees and hamstrings. I've had tight, aching hamstrings as long as I can remember, and nothing--including exercise, stretching, massage and various types of bodywork--has helped. My knees are almost 56 years old and creaky from osteoarthritis and loss of cartilage. I was used to them aching.

After a couple of weeks as a FitFlop wearer, my hamstrings don't ache any more and my knees ache a whole lot less. This result is enough for me to love these shoes.

According to podiatrists, FitFlops are not appropriate for people with flat feet or those who use orthotics. If you don't fall into either of those categories, give them a try. You'll be strengthening and toning your core muscles without even knowing it. FitFlops just may be the perfect summer shoe.

Currently, FitFlops are available for women only, but reportedly a men's version is in the works. Available in a variety of colors at Bath and Body Works, Amazon, FootSmart and Bliss.

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Colleen Shirazi continues to blog here: Life of Colleen
1 comment(s)  
May 30, 2008 9:47 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

I was skeptical about these...because I remember back when Dr. Scholl made a similar claim about their sandals...the kind with a wooden sole? They were supposed to tone your legs. All I remember was how uncomfortable they were, and they didn't seem to tone anything.

Glad the FitFlops worked out!

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Fashion Notes: What I Want
Posted by EZE, Saturday, April 26, 2008 11:23 PM (Eastern)

I truly love this sandal. It reminds me of the lines found in 90s minimalism. I think this shoe could easily have come out of that time, which is fine by me. That's my favorite period of fashion.

I love the lines. To use the obvious word, they are minimal in the best sense. Not a single line is wasted, and every one flatters the foot and the wearer. It could easily be worn with daytime shorts or a full-length, flowy gown. lists the definition of the word elegant as "displaying effortless beauty and simplicity in movement or execution." This is the definition of an elegant shoe.

It's also $540 at Barneys. Honestly, if I had the discretionary income, I would blow it on this shoe, that's how much I love it. That said, I would really be blowing it. Sandals simply don't last that long. To be fair, designer sandals may fare better if they really have superior construction and materials. But this shoe simply doesn't look sturdy, no matter who made it. It's essentially strips of leather on a leather-covered board.

I guess it's no great loss. Anything wrapped around my ankles only makes my legs look bigger than they are, and that's not very minimal, is it? Still, I'm not much of a shoe gal, and it takes something special to get me this pumped about them. So keep in mind, my birthday is in late November, and I am not above bribes and favoritism.

This beauteous picture was found at

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2 comment(s)  
April 27, 2008 1:17 AM, Blogger Dain said...

I believe Pierre Hardy did a minimalist sandal for a collaboration for the GAP. It was $98, iirc.

April 29, 2008 8:38 AM, Blogger Dain said...

$78, actually. Size 8 left only, unfortunately.

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Fashion Notes: Shoegasm!
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, April 03, 2008 3:09 PM (Eastern)

shoes by cydwoq
Shoes by Cydwoq

My initial thought was to dub this post "Fashion Notes: This shoe is like an onion. It makes you want to cry."

I'm not into the prevailing high heeled shoes. I wasn't when I was a teenager, when--until Sam & Libby emerged in the 80's, with their flat dress shoes--heels were de rigeur, unless you wanted to wear sneakers.

Neither can I wear the equally omnipresent ballet flats; I'm too old. It's a youthful look, best left to those yet within the Spring of their lives.

Neither is my personal shoegasm...and I have spent some days now, looking for shoes. The closest I've found online is a rather prosaic low-heeled pump made in Italy, retailing for $150.

But what I really want are Cydwoq's, which, by the way, are made in the U.S.A. These edge out my previous obsession (Cole Haan's hidden Nike Air pumps), if only because Cydwoq's shoes look unique.

Mr. Cydwoq is Rafi Balouzian, a shoe architect who in fact studied Interior Architecture and Environmental Design; you can see the architectural influence in the shoes. I grabbed six pairs that caught my eye for the above image, but some of the models are more outré than what I've got up there. They make boots too, and men's shoes.

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Fashion Notes: Trekking through Etsy
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, March 24, 2008 8:23 PM (Eastern)

Back when I was fiddling around with these:

prehnite and peridot silver earrings wasn't the norm to make earring frames. Standard practice was to buy readymade frames, attach stones and call it a day.

Lately however there's been a bit of innovation in handmade earring frames. I was scrolling through Etsy last night, looking for ideas for spiral earrings, since I had it in mind to make some.

One of the nicest merchants I stumbled across was the Nina Rossi Jewelry site:

Part of the fun here is "How did she do it?" but I'm seeing a lot of square wire, with fine-gauge wire "soldering" the pieces together. Really dig her combination of herringbone weave and beaded bezel techniques to frame the black garnets.

On to the Natural Jewels shop:

These examples have a slightly more rustic flavor (though she has pieces on the site which defy gravity). I love how she used graduated shades of hessonite to produce a vivid, yet also subtle, line of color.

Kelly Lyn Raspa:

Got a bit sidetracked here, but what a killer heart pendant. She has hammered skull earrings breathing fresh air into the skull motif, a ship necklace, and much more.

Finally, the spiral design I was seeking, at Jewelry by Natsuko:

Mind you, I'm not going to duplicate these exactly. But they are the perfect spiral, balanced off by longer "stems."

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2 comment(s)  
March 24, 2008 9:25 PM, Blogger Carol said...

How do you wear those last ones?
'Cause those are pretty sweet looking!

March 24, 2008 9:51 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Hey, how are ya?

I just made a pair based on this spiral, though they're quite different from Natsuko's. I didn't oxidize them, so they don't have that blackened look (it's not hard to oxidize silver, you can use a hard-boiled egg to darken it, then you can use silver polish to brighten the areas you want to highlight).

Mine are hammered but not chased, so they're flat and shiny in places, and hard (hammering hardens wire) but not textured.

You just take the straight side and put it in your ear lobe. The stem balances the spiral so the earrings hang straight rather than leaning forward.

I put three little moonstones on daughter did some of the wrapped wire on a couple of them. I had to laugh when she did it, because it took me years to do a good wrapped loop.

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Fashion Notes: A Mom pendant
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, March 19, 2008 7:32 PM (Eastern)

mom pendant

This is difficult to photograph. It won't stay still when it's on, which is the point of it (lots of movement, catches the light).

This is one of the few odd sentimental pieces I've made; each stone has a meaning. I have my kids' birthstones on top, and small stones to signify the years I've spent with them. The tiny sapphire heart is for the blue sky, the smooth citrine coin is for the sun, the moonstone is for cloudy days (I have some with blue flash but didn't use it here), and the aquamarine is for the sea. These are all symbols of my happiest memories with them.

It actually has two tiny chains at the end, not one. I'm sort of debating about the chains; one is old, from a shop I no longer go to, and one is new. It seemed a bit trite to cut the chain off altogether from the end, so I cut it and reattached it, and added the small piece of old chain.

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2 comment(s)  
March 19, 2008 10:34 PM, Blogger Dain said...

What if you made a chain with the significant stones, that way you could have something close and sentimental with you always, and just switch the pendant around for fun?

March 20, 2008 2:18 AM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

That would be very interesting, since the stones don't really "match." I'll have to give it some thought. I had the idea first to make one of those small hoop pendants with the stuff hanging from it, but there's no reason why the elements can't be on the chain itself.

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Fashion Notes: Labradorite necklace
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, March 17, 2008 7:52 PM (Eastern)

handmade labradorite necklace

I had to lean at a funny angle to take this pic, because I wanted to capture the "schiller," or "flash" in the stones (which did sort of work). Otherwise the stones do hang properly. This is more accurate:

handmade labradorite necklace, different angle

I'm still fiddling around with this, though I like it on this chain.

It's occurred to me I gravitate toward Indian stones. Not just the stones, but the Indian cut. There are several different types of cuts; most of them more precise than Indian, but that's why I like it.

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3 comment(s)  
March 17, 2008 11:12 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

This isn't something I'd wear every day, it's for something rather specific. IRL it does have a lot of flash.

March 19, 2008 2:38 PM, Blogger Duygu said...

I make jewelry..This seems pretty easy to make and looks so cute.

March 19, 2008 6:51 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Thanks! You do? Do you have a site?

Yeah, it's pretty straightforward. I saw a similar one on Etsy for $400+...they did theirs on silver with some ruby rondelles. Still I like mine better. :) The stones were so nice, I didn't want to detract from them too much.

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Fashion Notes: Earring synergy
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, March 12, 2008 2:51 PM (Eastern)

citrine and labradorite earrings

A venture into one of Dain's ideas of combining two contrasting stones. Here is citrine and labradorite, utilizing Eni Oken's herringbone weave (based on "french beaded flower techniques" and basketry).

I didn't have soft wire in this gauge on hand, and didn't feel like waiting to get some (with six or more gauges, two commonly-used tempers and two or three metals involved, I feel fortunate if I do have the exact wire on hand), so went ahead using "half hard." Hence the appearance is less basket-y--the soft temper would enable more exact placement of the wire--and more like the sloppy bun I happened to be wearing in the pic. :D

These, and some previous earring endeavors:

madeira citrine earrings
green amethyst and emerald earrings

...mark my first conscious attempts to make earrings that work with a specific hair color.

Earrings are generally regarded as a "facial accessory," and often the advice is to choose pieces which work with your face shape, and possibly your hair style and length...but the cosmetic aspect, the idea of earrings as a form of makeup, is a bit underplayed in my opinion. It's well to try earrings on in front of a full-length mirror, in the same way you would model a jacket, as well as using a customary hand mirror; it's as much about what the composition can do for you, as it is about the composition itself.

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Colleen Shirazi continues to blog here: Life of Colleen
3 comment(s)  
March 12, 2008 6:52 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Hm, that citrine looks a bit too watery, but it may be the light.

I was thinking about why I automatically thought, "Colleen might like this" when I sniffed Bellodgia. I think it's because it really smells like the flower. Sure, there are other notes, but the flower really shines through, which is the case for the Montales and Joy. I'm gonna have to mail you this one. I have Normandie coming, and that's my carnation.

March 12, 2008 9:26 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

I tried it out with a deeper citrine...the thing is, the hair. The deeper citrine imo competed with my hair color, where this gives a sort of silvery pale golden look. For a pendant, a more golden citrine would be more striking, that's for sure.

Then there's a bead show I'm hoping to hit this weekend...I'll see what they have.

I dunno, carnation? I don't think I've ever smelled a carnation perfume.

March 14, 2008 1:08 AM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

My daughter wants to go to the bead show...that decides it! I'll see what they have.

I'm also going to try the weave out with soft wire...but that will have to wait until I can buy wire (it's much cheaper to buy it in bulk).

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Fashion Notes: Something I've been fiddling around with
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, March 04, 2008 1:08 AM (Eastern)

handmade london blue topaz necklace

So I bought three smooth London Blue topaz "pears." And a sample of oxidized sterling silver chain.

(London Blue is just a loose classification for "deep" blue topaz. Swiss Blue is lighter, Sky Blue the lightest of the three. These colors typically are produced by heat-treating topaz. Oxidized silver uses chemicals to darken "bright" silver; usually areas of the piece are then polished to highlight them, though it's trendy now to leave more of the piece dark.)

The block of four photos:

Upper left: The first version involved cutting the chain into four pieces and joining them by passing a sterling wire through each pear and wrapping it to the section of chain. I've seen this done many times and somehow thought it would be a snap. Not so; one of the pears proved to have a very small drill-hole. Though it is possible to ream out the hole to make it bigger, I don't own a bead reamer (and there are several kinds of these), and I'm not sure of the risks of reaming out such a stone to begin with. What if you chipped the hole?

Hence, the wire I used for that stone was quite thin. Wrapping the stone directly to the chain...the link needs to be reasonably strong. Plus, there was a level of stress on the wire where it joined the stone. Bend it back and forth a few times and the wire would break.

Upper right: Back to the drawing board. Decided to join the chain using heavy gauge sterling wire, which is very strong. My daughter decreed this design to resemble "three people with garnet hair and blue faces" or "vases with flowers in them." Interesting, but a bit too much frou-frou here.

Lower left: Elected to try constructing a long drop in front with the garnets. Not bad, kind of eccentric really, but ultimately I felt the garnets were too much.

Lower right: Tried shortening the drop.

Top center pic: Finally, it occurred to me to revisit the original concept of three blue stones. What's satisfying here is the sheer strength of the construction; even with the thin wire, the wrap is pretty sturdy (the new style with two loops at the top).

Is this the final design? Only time will tell. It's rather like eyeshadow in the sense, what looks great in the pan is not always the shadow you end up wearing day by day, and the shadow which strikes you as ordinary, or hard to wear, can end up a staple. It takes months sometimes to determine the usefulness of something you make. It's quite different from making something to sell, where the priority is the sale.

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Fashion Notes: Development of a jewelry stash
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, February 28, 2008 2:08 AM (Eastern)

jewelry stash psd

This is a "Photoshop document" or "psd"--the file format used when you wish to preserve the layers in a document (same concept as this perfume psd). There's no reason for me to keep versions of the psd; it's a single file. All I do is take snapshots of it by saving it periodically as a jpg image.

The point here is "stash at a glance"...I've taken the items that have worked and put them together. What do the items have in common? What's missing?

You'll note I have no bracelets up; that's because I haven't made any good ones. Some of the pieces need to be redone--I've started to use better materials, which must be used sparingly, for designs that already work. I've changed some of my techniques. It's subtle. When I look at a piece of handmade jewelry in this vein, I can immediately tell how far along the learning curve the jewelry-maker is.

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Fashion Notes: Happy Valentine's Day!
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, February 15, 2008 4:22 PM (Eastern)

handmade rose quartz necklace with hill tribe fine silver pendant

Okay, I didn't get to photograph this until today. This was my Valentine's Day present to my daughter, using her fine silver Sakura pendant, grade A round faceted rose quartz, and a gradeless (probably C, but nicely done) oval faceted rose quartz I got well over a year ago. The toggle is also Shiana hill tribe fine silver.

Debated some whether to string on colored beading wire, though the dull silver color of the Softflex used is unobtrusive in real life. Something lighter might end up looking dirty quickly. There is a new sterling silver Softflex beading wire out...if I do decide to restring, it will be on that (a trade-off; I've heard the sterling Softflex is stiffer than the regular one).

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February 15, 2008 8:50 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Wow, what a great present! I like how the strands twist around each other. I imagine there are some uses for lower grade gems. Sometimes the occlusions give a nice texture to the look.

February 16, 2008 3:25 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Yup...well, I do want to make better pieces this year. There's a surprising amount of complexity to it. It's a bit like programming in the sense, people look at the surface of an application; sometimes they can be very impressed with appearances. But I'm always thinking, what's behind it?

I went through two different handmade silver hook closures (and have two silver hooks lying there as a result), as well as a larger silver toggle. The balance has to be just right.

Sometimes you want a sort of rough look. I have some rough-looking freshwater pearls that look better than smoother ones. Or say you have an oxidized chain, you might want slightly flawed stones to go with that.

I'm still a bit fuddled what to do with your pearls. They're nice pearls, I'm just...fuddled.

Thinking of ordering some chain...for example, the oxidized silver chain. There's a big trend now for the oxidized look, and it's mostly just that, trendy, but I would like to do a bit of it. It can look nice.

Then thinking of a more textured goldfilled chain. I'm skipping the big-link chain trend. Next year you won't see it.

February 16, 2008 3:56 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I like the colors here. I find the combination of purpley blue, soft rose, and the creamy pearls particularly resonant in this gold setting. I'm not sure which stones, or which cuts would work best in an earring. But there's no rush, my ears aren't even pieced.

February 17, 2008 9:56 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

You're right. There is something special about pairing a rich gold with an intense color such as purple or blue.

February 19, 2008 8:08 AM, Blogger Carol said...

That is beautiful!
Lucky girl!

February 19, 2008 11:18 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...


February 21, 2008 11:02 AM, Blogger Dain said...

I bet you when other girls exclaim, she's like, yeah, my MOM made it. And all the other girls squirm in jealousy. ; )

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Fashion Notes: Green amethyst and emerald earrings
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, February 02, 2008 6:49 PM (Eastern)

green amethyst and emerald earrings

These are some earrings I've been fiddling around with over the past few days. They began their brief life as prehnite earrings: two prehnite briolettes wrapped at the top, sort of like these (only step-cut): Jennifer Evelyn Artisan Jewelry: Prehnite, gold fill earrings. I had them mounted on golden hoops rather than on leverbacks. My prehnites weren't big enough though; they looked fine, but vanished once you put the earrings on.

Day two: made smaller hoops, with the prehnites done with a lighter wrap. Instead of bringing the wire down to make a bead-cap-looking thing at the top, I did a small wrap to let more of the stone show. Added tiny gold beads to space things out, and three goldfilled chains hanging in nested loops.

This looked better, but again with the disappearing prehnites. That's when I started stringing these infinitesimal emeralds, the ones at the ends of my graduated strand. I made them into a U-shape around each prehnite.

Better, but eh...

Day three: where's Jack Bauer? Will these earrings ever work? Got some green amethysts in the mail. Really nice, probably Indian stones. Decided perhaps the prehnites just didn't work in this design. Ruminated on some cosmetic concepts such as making stones "pop." Perhaps a more blue-toned green stone was in order, to contrast with the yellow gold color. (Prehnite is a watery yellow-toned green, where green amethyst is watery, but blue-toned.)

Got rid of the prehnites, as well as the emeralds. Now I had a vision. The two smallest, flattest green amethysts (weight is extremely important when making earrings), surrounded by a frame of the emeralds (which are so tiny, you have to lay them flat when stringing them). Got rid of one of the hanging chains.

These are finished now; my son has already approved them. nods

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February 2, 2008 8:02 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Hm, I know you're done with these, but, some color pairings (mostly drawn from looking at too many eyeshadows). Since the prehnite is such a delicate color, perhaps a very delicate contrast? I've always noticed, for example, that the perfect contrast works better than a near match. It seems crazy, I know, but perhaps you are not getting the color resonance you desire because the greens are similar, but in their very similarity, compete.

The prehnite might work better set against opals, or sort of watery raspberry, or a smoky grey, something with very cold fire, because anything truly strong will, as you noted, make them disappear. Even the gold might be competitive. Whereas the emeralds might resonate better with warmer, stronger colors: coral, amber, ruby, amethyst... um... yeah, what do I know?

February 2, 2008 9:48 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Actually I think you'd be great at designing jewelry. You have excellent design and color senses. I've thought it would be neat to go into a partnership...where you come up with the designs, and I make the stuff. It's not practical now...and I haven't even gotten into metalworking, which is the Mecca of jewelry-making. Once you can do metalworking, you can make any kind of jewelry. I'm not sure when I would be able to do that...but I haven't ruled out the concept.

I'm better with prosaic designs, like...I need a pair of green earrings. That's about as far as that gets.

I've concluded that the prehnites I was trying to use were too small for earrings. I have seven of them and was planning to make a necklace. I'll probably go back to that idea...I have something similar, it's just seven or so stones on a chain.

February 2, 2008 11:42 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Argh, I fixed that tiny bend in one of them. It's good photographing jewelry for that reason--anything wrong with it is gonna show.

February 3, 2008 2:28 PM, Blogger Dain said...

It's interesting how there are new challenges with every piece. When you first got into this, I was like, ok, hm, odd hobby but who am I to talk? But ever since you sent me those sites, I've been looking at each piece and thinking, now how did they do that? And it's sometimes amazing how it's all put together.

February 3, 2008 2:56 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

The craft itself has evolved a great deal over the past few years. It sort of exploded at one point...there were tons of people getting into it, people like myself, who had never crafted sweet fanny in their lives. And other people who were already crafty of course.

The market became saturated, and many people dropped out. Basically they went into it to make money, and it's incredibly difficult to make money making jewelry in a saturated market.

It reminds me a bit of programming, that is how it was. A massive explosion, tons of people jumping in on the promise of making money. The "market" for programmers was never saturated, could never be saturated; what happened was, once the people here had developed the software field, it could then be shipped elsewhere. You'll note any real software innovation is still happening here.

The similarity continues in the sense of people dropping out, and the people who really like doing it, remaining, and turning it into something ever improving.

You have to be willing to start at the bottom--that is like programming, where you start with DOS command-line programs. No one is impressed by these: to the non-programmer, programming means fancy animated GUI-based programs. To the programmer there is no difference. One looks different, but the mechanics either work or they don't. The prettiest program that

Over the next few years, we should see ever-improving materials for handmade jewelry. The people who remained in it are switching to better stuff. And because there are fewer of them, they all sort of "know" each other, so they influence each other.

Goldsmithing is really the thing. Or silversmithing. sighs If I were rich, I'd build a small factory.

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Fashion Notes: Labradorite necklace
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, January 27, 2008 7:44 PM (Eastern)

labradorite necklace

labradorite necklace clasp detail

labradorite necklace pendant detail

Working on this piece today. So far, I've switched the clasp from one side to the other. It has to do with the pendant, getting it so it doesn't flip easily.

The idea of putting anything in the back has to do with the weight of the pendant. These are vermeiled Bali sterling beads; they don't look like much (in fact they're hollow) but so far, the counterweight seems to be working.

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January 27, 2008 10:28 PM, Blogger Dain said...

That looks really good, as nice as some of the stuff in novelty shops, if you ask me. Simple but elegant.

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Fashion Notes: Sterling and sapphire earrings
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, January 14, 2008 2:49 PM (Eastern)

sterling silver and sapphire earrings

Here is my weekend project...and part of the idea I had for this year, that I would make fewer...few, even...better pieces. (My next step is metalworking, but that isn't going to be this year.)

I used the Midori Jewelry hoop design, with a slight twist. When I did these hoops, for some reason the wrap at the top wasn't tight. If I grabbed the short end and tried to pull it out, it pulled out. I went through all the niceties of pressing the wrap with my pliers, nothing worked...finally, figuring I had nothing to lose, I put it on the block and started hammering the wrap with a metal hammer. Voilà!

For the sapphires, I went with grade over size, so these stones are really quite small, but translucent, with areas of transparency. Most precious stones you see in handmade jewelry are opaque, for obvious cost reasons. In the sense I had to use a lot of them to make an impact, but I think it was a good decision. The color in the finished piece is unmistakably sapphire blue.

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January 14, 2008 2:54 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I'm mired in a project too, though not as much fun. I'm tailoring my skirt to fit properly, and velvet is not happy about being sewn.

And hey, those hoops on the bottom will you give you more places to attach stones, should you want it, so I'd say it's a good design if you ask me.

January 14, 2008 5:21 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Poo, "I'd say" and "if you ask me" are redundant. Too bad you can't edit comments.

I had a (very) small brain wave. If there was some way to add a horizontal bar across the big hoop, across which you could hang the little ones? That way, you'd have them more evenly spaced since they're hanging vertical, and they'd be inside the bigger circle. You'd still have a similar effect, but you'd have much more control over the placement of the stones.

January 15, 2008 1:11 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

On this design, no...the hoops are too small to do anything inside them. I tend to make bigger earrings, but these were deliberately small. The challenge was to get the stones to show up on small earrings, and have them show with the "hair factor"...hence, the idea of putting the stones on the bottom.

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Fashion Notes: Freddy & Ma custom handbags
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, January 06, 2008 2:54 AM (Eastern)

This is a post from our deprecated Fashion Blog. I started to miss it, so am reposting it here.

freddy&ma custom handbags
freddy&ma custom handbags

freddy&ma custom handbags

This is not a press release (although they do have one). It's pure word-of-mouth, or word-of-Net these days; I got this link from another board.

thanx for making us look good
Gabrielle Union with freddy&ma handbag
image courtesy

They do have a completely interactive bag-designing website...which I can admit I thought would be a bore. I'm not a bag person, I loathe all-Flash websites in the main, who needs to spend time designing a cetera.

When I got there I realized the bags were good. Started out with the fine intention of making a bag from each designer on the site...about six bags in, I realized this was not a good idea at 3 o'clock in the morning. So, the samples above are just from the first 8 designers.

They have solid colors too, will soon have more selection...all-leather bags and so forth. They have some special bags to benefit charitable causes. I will emphasize again that there are many other designers and their patterns, many ways of putting together "your" bag. You may email "your" bag to your friend for her to critique, as well.

Most intriguing of all, according to their press release, these bags are made in the U.S.A. I had to read that two or three times for it to sink in. There is not much about that fact on the freddy&ma site, which I think is a mistake. There is an enormous, not-talked-about-much sentiment for Americans to "buy American." Not just American designers (but thanks anyway), but especially American labor.

The price range is in the two to three hundreds, which admittedly is more than I pay for a bag; however, I will guess the quality of these bags is up there with the (far more expensive) imported designer bags.

I will leave you with a size description from the charming copy on the site:

Dims: 14.5" x 13" x 4.5"
Carries: new gossip rags, afternoon protein bar, new blouse you bought during your afternoon 'dentist appointment'


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January 6, 2008 9:55 AM, Blogger Dain said...

These are fun to browse, but I wish they offered customizable leather bags. But I suppose that's much harder to do and more expensive.

January 6, 2008 1:51 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Definitely. I don't do cloth bags myself, they don't wear as well as leather, they tend to get dirty easily... I think their original idea was to use designer prints, but it wouldn't hurt to develop custom leather bags.

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Beauty Notes: Adventures in home hair color
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, January 03, 2008 3:25 PM (Eastern)

loreal mega blonde developerloreal mega blonde color liquid

So L'Oreal discontinued one of the Feria color liquids I've used for some years. I tried buying it twice: the first time, I thought it was out of stock, but the second, I asked and discovered they weren't going to reorder it. mumbles... (You can purchase developer and color liquids a la carte at beauty supply shops such as Sally's.)

I could either search the four corners of the Earth seeking this liquid (it was the sole beige amongst the lightest Feria shades), or I could switch to something else, so I got Preference Mega-Blondes instead. This involved a different developer and proportions, so I also picked up an inexpensive plastic bottle with the pointy cap, and half-ounce markings on the side.

It's what I'm doing right now! Please keep your fingers crossed for me. The only time I ever switched formulas mid-roots was when I went from Preference to Feria to begin with, and Feria does have a reputation for being difficult to color over. Since I'm just doing the roots, in theory it should work.

images courtesy

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January 3, 2008 4:45 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

This is amazing, it won't publish.

January 3, 2008 9:52 PM, Blogger Dain said...

That's too bad. I hate it when companies discontinue stand-bys. Maybe it is a sign to explore a new color? Far be it from me to divert anyone from a signature hairstyle, as I've been wearing the same bangs for years, but might as well take a fortuitous turn to cosmetic disasters, I dare say.

January 3, 2008 11:10 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

I tried out the Mega Blondes today...I had it in my hair when I was writing the post. :) It seems to have come out well.

The thing is to see how long the color lasts. Feria lasted better on me than Preference, but then I never tried Mega Blondes, and it's been years since I used Preference anyway. It could have been reformulated.

I think with L'Oreal, they almost always replace whatever they "discontinue" with something very similar. It gives you less reason to switch brands even though you have to go through the aggravation. But if they keep this up, I'm thinking of trying Wella instead. I've read on various boards they have superior haircolor, particular for red.

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Fashion Notes: Polyvore it!
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 2:17 PM (Eastern)


Okay, it's not can capture just about any image on the Net, but some images won't work inside the sets. Still, once you have a virtual model up, you can shlep on quite a few things.


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The virtual model is back!
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, December 12, 2007 1:21 AM (Eastern)

my virtual model

In case you've never done this before and would like to try it out: My Virtual Model

I'm doing this because my old Virtual Model is still wearing Levi's.

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Fashion Notes: If I didn't make jewelry, I would buy it here.
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, December 11, 2007 7:19 PM (Eastern)

It takes two to three years to make jewelry, even from a non-metalsmithing perspective. Sounds like a trifling period, but you need dedication to start from nothing and continue on for upwards of three years.

After the first two years, you undergo a transformation. No longer are materials and methods an issue. You know exactly what to use--which temper and gauge of wire, where to buy it, how much to buy, what tools to use, what techniques to employ. Now it is far more a matter of what you wish to convey, which is a variation on the concept of design. Mass-produced jewelry tends to be all about selling a pretty design, and I'm not knocking it, but handmade jewelry tends to be one-of-a-kind and far more intellectually conceived.

It's also an easy way to buy American. The best form of charity, after all, is not charitable: you give someone the opportunity to work, to produce. Our decline in major production...the United States was once at the forefront of manufacturing...has spawned cottage industries such as jewelry-making, independent clothing houses, perfumery, and so forth, at an ever-increasing level of quality. So if you're looking for baubles this year, you might try some of these sites first.

Ava Luxe on

I first encountered the hands, heart and soul of Ava Luxe when I tried some of her perfume oils. I had mentioned a copy of Chanel No. 5, which I love but am allergic to, and was amazed she had replicated it perfectly. Another scent I loved was Ingenue, a resurrection of the long-discontinued Deneuve fragrance (yes, Catherine Deneuve once had a celebrity scent).

Ava Luxe was on sabbatical recently; a small selection of the perfumes are available now on the Etsy site. Her recently-added jewelry really strikes me though, as having jumped forward into that intimate, almost spiritual zone.

ava luxe golden lotus necklace

The Golden Lotus Necklace ($99) just looks sweet, from its long-and-short golden chain to its (Hill Tribe?) vermeil lotus bead, delicate pink topaz accents and limpid rose quartz drop.

There's more, of course, from a wicked good pair of fine silver earrings to an ethereal elf bracelet and beyond.

Midori Jewelry

Midori Jewelry is my personal jewelry-making hero. There is a quality of peace in her pieces, a languor, a leisure in her careful selection of exactly what to put in each. I feel Midori Jewelry has been widely copied (in fact I borrowed one of her handmade hoop designs, it was so good) yet there's nothing quite like the original.

midori jewelry hecate necklace

I love the Hecate necklace ($70); it's sheer genius. You get the look of a lariat, without the annoying strangly or loose feeling.

midori jewelry plum blossoms necklace

The Plum Blossoms necklace ($70), with its hand-etched sterling silver dog tag pendant, bequeaths a gentle touch of Spring to your mood.

There are several "water" pieces on the site that are truly lovely as well.

SkyDreams on

Sky Dreams' pieces are opulent and gem-oriented (she also has a "Sky Dreams Light" site on Etsy for less expensive jewelry).

What's been on my mind is this piece:

sky dreams peridot, amethyst necklace

This Peridot, Amethyst Sterling Silver Necklace ($159) is not something I'd normally consider. It's, well, a whole lot o' gems, but its thoughtfully-chosen spring green color, popped by purple, of all works. It makes me think of a lush green meadow with a touch of violets.

There's a close-up of the wrapping detail on the site; each green briolette has been worked into the chain by hand.

images courtesy,,

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Beauty & Fashion Notes: Ruminations on aging, and finding that perfect pair of pearl earrings
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, December 07, 2007 4:36 PM (Eastern)

handmade freshwater pearl and argentium sterling silver earringsCool, eh? After fiddling around with pearl earrings for years, these just sort of emerged. They're not even chased, just hammered flat. The hoops are more of a bugger to make than it would appear (it's surprisingly easy to fluff the wrap at the top) yet, once made, they are beautifully round, and, well, tight. There's no way the wire could bend or pop loose; the entire hoop becomes quite solid.

I've given some thought to aging, as our culture becomes more and more engrossed with cosmetic surgery. A few years ago, I would have dismissed anti-aging procedures as simply too invasive. Or perhaps a bit too Dorian Gray.

Intuitively, I didn't feel aging, in the cosmetic sense, could be all negative. What I studied in college was logic, and I am likely the world's worst Catholic; I've never been that interested in theory, or in what you are supposed to believe. Does it work? Are we all doomed to cosmetic procedures (lucrative, if that's your field; an amazing drain on finances if not)?

Then I got older, and found out for myself. No, I don't think we are all going to get Botox and plastic surgery. Some people will do it. And it will become more and more common, certainly more acceptable. But there will always be a substantial group that doesn't, either for monetary reason (as the pressure to open your wallet and let the money flow toward plastic surgeons increases), or from plain old cussedness...a belief, on whatever level, that God created you as a spectacular work of engineering. Paying the lesser engineers to fiddle with your

The part that no one tells you is that you can feel more beautiful as you age. shhhhh... When you're young, it is much easier to be beautiful, and in fact you should make yourself beautiful, since you have only one youth. When you're old, it's no longer theory as to what you'll look like when you get old. If you can remain attractive for your age, it is akin to a naked body as opposed to one that is fully clothed. The concealed body may contain any number of surprises, where, with the naked one, what you see is what you get.

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December 8, 2007 8:53 AM, Blogger Chez Moi said...

"Paying the lesser engineers to fiddle with your"
HeHe,love that line!

The closer I get to 40, the less and less "Looks" obsessed I get. I've noticed that the people closest to me also could care less about aging. I did have a few folks in my life who are obsessed with getting older and losing their youthfulness, but I just don't have the patience anymore to have people like that in my life. Its just far to "high school" for me. Plus, a 35 year old woman wearing tons of makeup, bleached out hair and dressing out of the juniors department just looks pathetic. Not me, a "friend" of mine. I just don't get it. She is married, has a nice husband, a beautiful 2 year old baby boy and she's just crazy-obsessed with wanting to attract men's attention. I've tried telling her that she is worth so much more than that, but she is just totally deaf to it. She's smart, she works hard, she is not an unattractive gal. But all she cares about is having guys (preferably young, hot ones) hitting on her. I've given up on the friendship with her and it's just sad.

Anyhoos, your article made me think of this quote that I had posted awhile back on my own blog,

"Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art."
Eleanor Roosevelt


December 9, 2007 6:51 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Hi! Nice to see you. :)

Yeahhhhh...well, some people want to see if they still have it. I've found that doesn't change with age, it doesn't matter what your circumstances are either. I'm not against that, in fact I think it is important to keep up your looks, because it affects your morale.

It's more that you have to draw a line...if you don't draw a line, you're going to be pressured throughout your life to pay for procedures or products that really don't do that much for you. Right now there's a tremendous push for the sort of cure-all for everything. And I think it's bullshit, as a cure-all for everything.

The funny part is actually getting old yourself. You find out so much of what you've been told your entire life is, well, fiction.

The only thing I miss is being able to stay in shape easily. For a very long time I was naturally strong. Now I have to work at it. There are many things you can do to keep strong though, the thing is to keep going.

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Fashion Notes: Addicted to J. Crew?
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, November 10, 2007 6:14 PM (Eastern)

JCrew-a-holics R Us: Resistance is Futile!

I had come across this blog before, a while ago. I can admit I don't belong to J.A., but I have owned some J.Crew items and consider at least some of the addiction to be legitimate.

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November 10, 2007 7:40 PM, Blogger Dain said...

They make good clothes, durable but thoughtful basics. I always feel slightly apologetic for liking J. Crew (how collegiate, how New England, how preppy), but it beats out Banana Republic by a long shot for quality.

November 10, 2007 8:38 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Definitely...Banana Republic went down the tubes some years ago. It used to be very good.

I prefer J.Crew myself, although I'm thinking more and more about American Apparel, or fiddling around with indie houses.

April 20, 2008 1:32 PM, Blogger cyberpenguin said...

This post has been removed by the author.

April 20, 2008 1:34 PM, Blogger cyberpenguin said...

Hi Colleen,

Thanks for the shoutout!

As you can see from my blog, "JCrew-a-holics R Us," (, I write no-nonsense reviews of JCrew fashions. Sometimes I like what they do, & sometimes I don't; either way, it's all detailed there in my blog. The blog is written from the customer perspective, & while, I'm certainly a fan of their clothing for the most part, I don't work for the company at all. (I run my own fashion retail business, Ferlanti Couture,, & also do fashion consulting via Liveperson (

I wouldn't necessarily classify my own fashion identity as preppy, as I like to take inspiration from various fashion sources, but JCrew's clothing still appeals to me a great deal. Sure, they're great for basics like their chinos & perfect-fit tees, but what I really like about them is their quality, out-of-the-ordinary pieces in bright & unusual colors that can't be found anywhere else. That's why I look forward to shopping there.

JCrew has evolved a lot since their humble beginnings as a small catalog company & is not just for the college prepster crowd anymore. ;-) While it's true that a lot of preppies & college kids do like their clothing & that they excel at basics & classic clothing, JCrew has also significantly expanded their product lines & revamped their brand image, to appeal to a more fashion-forward audience. Prime examples of this include their limited-edition JCrew Collection line, & the accompanying JCrew Collection flagship store on Madison Avenue, & new signature pieces from their women's line (i.e., like the Camilla jacket, which I just recently blogged about:

These are the kind of innovative designs JCrew is becoming known for all over the fashion universe. Of course, this relatively recent shift in JCrew's fashion zeitgeist is no coincidence; the changes are due, in no small part, to visionary CEO Mickey Drexler, who was hired in January 2003 to revitalize the company's brand image, & move it forward into the future.

If you're curious to read more about JCrew's ever-evolving brand image, etc., you're welcome to read more about it on my blog, ;-)

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Beauty & Fashion Notes: The Buyer's Guide to Independent Art and Design
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, November 09, 2007 1:49 PM (Eastern)

Trunkt: The Buyer's Guide to Independent Art and Design

I stumbled across this site; it's a blend of indie and Etsy (in fact some of the shops linked to are on Etsy).

Etsy, btw, has become a respectable site, after a rather slow beginning. Check out their Chiyogami page; it alone would be worthy of a nicely-illustrated blog post.

In regards to Trunkt, each category has a sample photo of what's being made, so the sections are a lot bigger than they would appear to be. Click on the sample and you are directed to a page of more samples and a bio of the company. Click on the samples here and you go to the company's website, where you may browse further.

I could use something like this:

And this:

$70, custom made, comes in a multitude of colors in hemp or cotton lycra, reversible (ruffles in front or ruffles behind; the latter looks sassier imo).

How about a purse?

They've got ton loads of other stuff on there, such as bath and body products, jewelry, items for your home, ton loads more bags, just a whole lot of interesting things.

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Fashion Notes: The Sartorialist
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 1:32 AM (Eastern)

The Sartorialist

And a nice video clip:

Fashion Forward: The Sartorialist

This is one of my favorite fashion-related blogs (besides this one, of course :) ), if only for its interestingly democratic feel. What it must be like, to walk down the street in New York City, and have Scott Schuman ask you if you'd mind a quick photo. That must mean you've made least, ah, sartorially.

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Beauty and Fashion Notes: this 'n' that
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, November 06, 2007 1:51 AM (Eastern)

I was reading through Dain's Beauty Notes: Color Theory (part 1) and realizing how different we are. I don't mean deeply different, more like superficially so.

It's a good thing. I dislike sites where everyone has to agree with everything all the time. I'm American; I treasure the concept of there not being any one righteous path. To me it's dull and stifling, and ultimately stagnant.

Yet I can acknowledge that finding one's "look" is important, and confusing. It's a jungle, and sometimes it's good to have a guide.

I've just never done anything that way...hmmm...okay, I can agree with her first point. Skincare first. Dain was the first to emphasize this back in the misty days of twentieth-century beauty boards, while everyone else was going ga-ga over color cosmetics.

After that, for
  1. Skincare first. I tend to view it more as an internal thing, likely because of my acne. Nothing topical ever worked, but changing my diet, birth control pill, vitamins...these cleared my skin.

    The one conventional skincare product I advocate is the Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Cream. The stuff is killer, from its finely smashed whole almonds, to its gently oily film (keeps skin from producing too much oil), to its touch of alcohol, to whatever herbs it's got going on there. I am very skeptical about skincare claims (again, acne sufferer...have heard tons of promises of miracles), but this delivers as an exfoliant and overall skin refiner.

  2. Hair. Finding the right hair style and color is key. Why do you think nuns cover their hair? Hair is attractive, sexy; it's your "crowning glory." The color has to be right; the style has to fit. Not that you have to go to a salon (I don't); go if you want. Finding your hair groove is slightly more important imo than building a wardrobe...not that you shouldn't build your wardrobe...but the best clothes in the world, paired with a lousy hairdo...I'd rather see great hair and lousy clothes.

  3. Perfume. I wrestled with this for more than a year before buying a full bottle of anything, and finally decided on Montale as my house. How you smell is as important as how you look. I've never been a great collector of scents...even now, when there are so many to choose from, I'd rather own two or three bottles at a time and work through them.

  4. Lipstick. People look at your lips. A pretty color lifts your mood, brightens your face, makes the world go round... I don't collect these either, I had too many of them go bad in my experimental days. It takes half an hour to buy a lipstick and a year to use one I prefer something like two or three lipsticks at a time.

  5. Overall health. I don't diet or exercise much either, but I have found it easier to stay relatively slim, than to find clothes that look good on you if you don't. I'm very sincere in this; to me there is a strong economical factor. If you put on weight, you can't wear regular clothes, you are constantly shopping for clothes that don't make you look fat. And there's a tendency to put on even more weight, meaning you have to buy even more clothes because your old ones don't fit. I've been through all that. It's expensive and annoying.

    As far as the unrealistic anorexic body image, I rejected that too, actually for much of the same's high maintenance and unhealthy.

These are the basic things...if your skin is at its best, your hairdo works, you smell good, have a nice lipstick on, and have a reasonably regular body weight--not too thin, not too fat--the rest is a lot less important. Or, if you're looking at it my way, you can get away with a great deal more cheapness and laziness.

The lipstick is the one item on my list that isn't a true foundation; it's not even a face foundation item like Dain's One True Blush. It's just a random item, pure luxury (since you could as easily go for an untinted lip balm, as far as function).

I know these things seem screamingly obvious, but we are living in a capitalist society. Fixing your foundation, instead of constantly buying patches for it, is, well, cheaper in the long run (although it can be more expensive up front).

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November 6, 2007 1:58 AM, Blogger Dain said...

o lord! I forgot perfume!

November 6, 2007 2:10 AM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

We're still living in Blogger Hell? I went to their help section, I saw three posts bitching on their ftp service. The problem is they don't put anything on their blogger status page, you are to use voodoo to figure it out.

Well, my guidelines are laziness and tightwadded-ness. How little can I do and still look as if I made the effort?

The problem with perfume is finding an inexpensive one that works as well as a spendy one...I gave up on that a long time ago. What attracted me to the Montales, besides they smell good, was the sheer lasting power, the idea of not having to touch them up.

It's what I didn't like about Diptyque...nice scents that don't last. You'd tear through the bottle.

I left jewelry off my list, it's not crucial, yet it adds a lot.

November 6, 2007 2:29 AM, Blogger Dain said...

Yup. It's as sluggish as anything. I've been thinking of writing a post on "things you don't need to spend a lot of money on", but I'll agree that unless you wear, say, oils from a headshop (I know a girl who wears jasmine perfume oil only, it's really lovely on her...), it's a lost cause with scents.

Your Montales makes me as happy as if I owned them myself. Lol. It's queer, I haven't even smelled them.

November 6, 2007 2:31 AM, Blogger Dain said...

Looks like we're back.

November 6, 2007 2:34 AM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

I've only just smelled them? I got Annick Goutal's Passion EDP too, a small bottle of it. That's it for now. I wanted to see how long the Montale's keep.

November 6, 2007 2:37 AM, Blogger Dain said...

Bah, premature. Oy, but I agree, we're all about difference of opinion on LP. Debate is important, it means that people have something to say.

But I dunno, that, say, our current administration follows your creed of Americana.

November 9, 2007 12:35 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Our current administration didn't come from the moon. The problem is not the current administration, the problem is having alternatives to it, which is the part people outside the U.S. don't seem to grasp (as well they shouldn't; they don't live here).

I remember post-Roosevelt, pre-Reagan America in every's how I grew up. It's hard for me to imagine not having that experience. Once you've seen the potential, you don't let go of it. Or, I dunno, you don't let go of it easily.

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Fashion Notes: Dain's hyperconsumerism commentary
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, November 01, 2007 11:52 PM (Eastern)

I quite agree with the minimalist concept, of narrowing down your wardrobe...much the way we have been narrowing down beauty routines, which was Dain's concept to begin with. I'd say I've been far less organized about the fashion aspect of my own life; I've seen it more as a matter of what you do. From what you do, you tailor your wardrobe around that.

Back when I worked in offices, I had ton loads of office clothes. It didn't bother me. You always need something to wear to the office. At one point I had enough office clothes and I stopped buying them. I still have these attire doesn't actually change much from year to year, or even decade to decade, as long as what you have fit well in the first place.

I mean I'll go to a fashion forum and people there will spend their time dissing, say, stockings. Apparently it's the faux pas of the millennium to wear stockings (this may be a West Coast thing) but I don't care. My legs look good in stockings...stockings are conservative...I've pretty much figured out how to keep the darn things from cetera. No need to change the stockings routine. A couple of years from now, women will be wearing stockings as if nothing had ever happened anyway.

Shoes...I will actually need some shoes, some time. My office shoes are on their (bad pun warning) last legs. They still look nice, but they're getting a tad worn-looking. I hate shopping for shoes (I hate shopping anyway) and I don't wear heels. I need one pair of good-looking office shoes with a low heel.

So that's it for office wear, for me...I would probably go back and see what still fits, and fill in the blanks with something along the lines of machine washable dresses. Most of my old office clothes are dryclean only; it costs a fortune and uses chemicals.

Casual clothes...I've had to wear these for the past eight years or so. I have a lot of them. It's more along the lines of khaki or olive green pants, fitted tee shirts...stuff that isn't going to go out of style. If I had bought a lot of low-rise pants with flared bottoms, I'd be screwed, but again I agree with Dain. A moderately low rise and bootcut sort of bottom always work. You can always throw in something stovepipe-y if you've got the legs for it (I don't so that's outta there).

Fitted tee shirts...sort of happy with the Mossimo ones. If Banana Republic still made the kind of tee shirts they used to, I'd buy those, but they don't. I still have one, here it is in 2004, back when I still wore jeans:

banana republic tee shirt

The shirt was already a few years old if I recall correctly, and it's only now starting to show signs of wear. I've worn and washed it a bazillion times.

I started making jewelry at one point, it's hard...there was a burst of interest in it (no doubt coinciding with a burst of layoffs), but I've found the newer suppliers tend to sell materials only at a certain level. If you want better supplies, you have to go through refineries, which means going through the Patriot Act, which is annoying. I suspect the suppliers who stay in the game will eventually sell a higher level of supplies, if only because the people who stay in the jewelry-making business will want to buy them, but that will probably be a few years from now.

That's already covered the main aspects of my life. I can't really dress up doing the mom thing, it wouldn't make sense in any sense, but I've never espoused dressing badly as a mom. That wouldn't make sense to me either.

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November 2, 2007 2:47 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I just don't want to be bothered any more. I'm so sick of the current attitude towards fashion and beauty: the halfwit celebrities, the ecstatic editorialists, the glut of useless products. No one's forcing me to take part, of course, and I'm sure it'll pass, but I am just disgusted.

November 3, 2007 1:36 AM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Well, some things have changed...we got rid of our Fairness Doctrine. We deregulated the number of advertising minutes per hour on tv. I think it was 13 minutes per hour before, now there is no limit.

The regulations themselves may have been relatively new, but the media have become more omnipresent. i.e., if you turn on a tv, you are inundated with advertising, 24/7. If you turn on a radio, it's less jammed with ads, but then the content is controlled by a single corporation; the content itself is a sort of subliminal ad.

The Net is still there...I hate to be pessimistic about it. I keep thinking it's inevitable the Net will go the way of all other media preceding it. But is it inevitable? You still need geeks to run things. Geeks have never been all about the money (they can't be, since a lot of what they do doesn't pay relative to the time involved).

I'm not sure if it's harder to watch this scene if you remember pre-Reagan America too well. Maybe it's easier, since you then feel that things can change, that this is all a sort of phase.

November 3, 2007 1:37 AM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

In any case, I've always thought your minimalist philosophy was a good one.

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Beauty & Fashion Notes: this 'n' that
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, October 19, 2007 9:37 PM (Eastern)

I have been busy lately...I have to finish up a project involving jewelry. I placed an order with a company I'd been planning to buy from, for...months, possibly even a year or more. It's one of the few jewelry supply companies that is Fair Trade certified, they're based in Thailand, and the majority of their items are fine silver (.999). Only a few items are sterling. They also vermeil and according to them, their vermeil exceeds legal standards.

Aside from this, they have this totally droolworthy site with a glut of stunning items, everything from beads (some solid, which I'm kicking myself I didn't buy), pendants, earring components, chain, charms, all sorts of things. They carry rose gold vermeil as well as yellow, but I find rose gold difficult to work with since most vermeil components, not to mention goldfilled, are yellow. If you'd like to check it out:

When I got the package, I literally had to sit down when I was opening it. The images on the site really do not do the items justice. Part of it is the weight of each item, the soft yet bright silver, the sheer quality of the workmanship. Take this pendant:

silver rose pendant

Here it looks nice enough, you're thinking eh... In person, when you run your fingers over it, there is not a single rough edge. All of the many edges are as smooth as silk. The balance of the pendant is perfect; it's handmade yet the symmetry is also perfect. It's just an amazing piece.

That's what I did today, made a necklace out of that pendant, some lapis, some of these:

silver butterfly beads

...and some odd Bali sterling components. It's a bit tricky to design with fine silver because of the weight first design had two strands of lapis and silver along with the pendant. I loved how it looked, but it was too heavy to wear more than a few hours, so I went back to the drawing board and made it a single strand.

I hope you take advantage of our Parfums Raffy coupon code for 10% off. Parfums Raffy has a diverse selection of perfumes, and the prices are competitive. They have modern mainstream perfumes, classics such as Joy and Fracas, niche brands such as Creed and Montale, Raffy's own original perfumes, and even this:

bill blass nude perfume

This is Nude by Bill Blass. I've never owned it, never even tested it, but let me tell you this. This perfume drove me crazy one day at Trader Joe's.

If you don't have a Trader Joe's, they tend to have relatively small aisles (at least ours do) and to be perpetually crowded. So I was there one day shopping, and I smelled the most wonderful perfume. I mean it was magical. Normally I don't notice perfumes, but this was extraordinary...I kept smelling it, as I made my way through the aisles, but it was so crowded I couldn't pinpoint who was wearing it for the longest time.

Finally I figured out who it was and I asked her what was that perfume, and she said it was Nude by Bill Blass.

Hopefully I'll have some jewelry pics and other features soon.

images courtesy,

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October 20, 2007 12:25 PM, Blogger Dain said...

How pretty. You have my interest piqued in the Bill Blass now. Which Montale did you get?

October 20, 2007 10:57 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

I've never tested Nude, I only smelled it on someone else. I read some reviews on Basenotes, where it was described as "artificial" and "synthetic," yet it did get four thumbs up (out of four reviews).

:D I'll post about what I got when I get it...

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Fashion Notes: Is the bride too beautiful?
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, October 11, 2007 2:28 AM (Eastern)

"I want to give women an artificial perfume," said Chanel. "Yes, I really do mean artificial, like a dress, something that has been made. I don't want any rose or lily of the valley, I want a perfume that is a composition." No. 5 is famous for being the first perfume to heavily rely on synthetic floral aldehydes as a top note. Before synthetics, perfume either had to be applied very heavily before going out to ensure that the fragrance would last, or frequently throughout the night.

Chanel applied the French aesthetic theory that "ugly" placed next to "beautiful," by contrast, makes the beautiful object appear more so. In this era almost all perfumes were floral and "pretty" - designed to enhance a woman's beauty with more beauty. Instead of the scent of flowers, Coco wanted a perfume that "reflects my personality, something abstract and unique." She believed that a perfume should serve to spotlight a woman's natural beauty using contrast - i.e. the artificial perfume would make the woman's natural beauty more evident.

From Chanel No. 5 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I read the Chanel quotes quite some time ago, about No. 5 being a deliberately "un-beautiful" scent, but it took me a long time to fully grasp the theory. I think we are conditioned to perceive if we choose the most beautiful cosmetics and accessories, it will make us the most beautiful overall, but it's been some time since I believed that.

I feel there is a balance, or should be, between the beauty of your accoutrements, and your own natural beauty. In short, whatever you're wearing, should not be too much more beautiful than you are. (Nor too much less so.) It should complement (often misread as "compliment") and enhance, rather than dominate.

It's a fine balance, and I've seldom seen it done well these days. I suppose the obvious example would be modern celebrities, who are dressed by modern stylists. Most of the time I hate their look. Not that I hate how they look, most of them look great, if a tad thin these days; what I dislike is few stylists seem as interested in enhancing their clients' looks as in making some kind of artistic statement (presumably to get other, better stylist jobs). It's not the same thing.

I stumbled across this amazing, if short-lived, blog: An Alabaster Brow, and was struck anew at how customized the older film stars' clothing, hair and makeup were, relative to what you see today.

joan crawford

Check that smokin' Joan Crawford! (Crawford was incredibly beautiful in her youth, before The Brows.) Some of the looks are really quite simple, others lush, even jaw-droppingly elaborate; what's consistent is how perfectly each look is tailored to the actress.

I also propose that online shopping has contributed somewhat to a gap between what looks good "on paper" and what looks good on. Where women would have tried on each item before even considering buying, we now tend to decide first what we might buy and then try imagining what it looks like on. I'm not saying it can't be done, but it is well to be conscious that that's what we're doing; that the focus of clothing and accessories has subtly changed from (or reverted to) "is fabulous on" to "looks fabulous in a picture" or "sounds great in a description."

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October 11, 2007 3:08 AM, Blogger Dain said...

It's freakin' Lucky! The whole wear-it-all-at-once, reference-everything, describe-cheekily thing is such a plague. They're always yammering about new talent and "ideal counterpoints", which usually means weird clothing that looks interesting on the rack but isn't really that flattering on, and some outfit that has six items layered willy nilly, like sartorial throw-up. When you've got to dissect every single piece--it's about the clothes, not the woman. I mean, it's great to break the rules and follow your own intuition, but it's like what they say about poetry, it stretches language to its limits, you've got to know in your bones the rules of language before you break them. I think it's the same with style.

[sighs] I love old Hollywood. I'm glad that retro is back, except... I suspect it's the same contemporary obsession with the possession rather than the woman, just in a different guise. I once heard, of all things in an anime, "When you look back on it, fashion is always born and cultivated in an idle era".

October 11, 2007 12:58 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

I rather think our "capitalism returns with a bang" period has already peaked.

Americans are a funny group...America is still more "a country people go to," than "a country people come from." Since most of us came from somewhere else, often quite recently, we do have first-, second- or third-hand (still not bad) experience with at least one different culture.

Ultimately it's hard to sell us a way "we have to be." It works temporarily but never over the long run. You're talking about people who didn't accept it wherever they were from. Why should they accept it here?

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Fashion Notes: finding jeans that fit
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, September 18, 2007 1:35 AM (Eastern)

Find perfect jeans for your body type

Basically a plug for, a site that will help you find jeans to fit your body type via a short questionnaire.

The video features three "ordinary" women (read: not models) along with the jeans recommended to them by the zafu site.

Mind you I've never tried using zafu myself. Playing around with it, I was intrigued to pull up 86 matches, including brands I'd never heard of, in a wide price range. It returned the exact models, and where to buy.

zafu also had a new "find my bra" feature, but I was less impressed with the results. What made "find my jeans" nifty was the range of jeans returned...different prices and styles; some of them looked like something I would be interested in.

"Find my bra" was more limited in brands, styles and price range. Frankly, nothing in the results caught my eye. Still it seems like a promising feature. It may be well to check back on it after a while and see if more refinements have been made.

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September 18, 2007 7:32 AM, Blogger Dain said...

Wow, what a useful site. Except, I don't wear jeans myself. : )

September 18, 2007 6:25 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

I stopped wearing jeans after a point...basically after reasonably-priced jeans started becoming so bad.

I had a couple of pairs of jeans that went bad after less than a year. It's hard to adjust to if you're used to jeans lasting year after year...people used to really abuse their jeans, they would splatter them with bleach and "soften" them in the washing machine to break them in. But they lasted many years.

I've found it much easier to find khaki pants that last decently.

All of that said, I would probably try some of the results jeans see if there's anything to it.

September 18, 2007 6:39 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Agreed. I wear chinos (same difference?) instead. They're less casual, which I think is more versatile, but not lacking in durability.

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Fashion Notes: Metal sensitivities (earrings)
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, August 29, 2007 10:43 PM (Eastern)

argentium sterling silver hoop earrings with swarovski crystals
argentium sterling silver hoop earrings with labradorite
argentium sterling silver hoop earrings with freshwater pearls

I've had earring metal sensitivity for many years; in fact, I had it when I got my ears pierced, about thirty years ago. It's just that people didn't talk about it much back then and I wasn't sure what was wrong.

I remember dunking the earrings in rubbing alcohol, in the vain hope it was simply a matter of sterilizing them better. And I tried many an earring labeled "surgical stainless steel" only to find it just as irritating as the "non-surgical-stainless-steel" variety.

At one point, there was this sort of clear nailpolish-like substance you were to paint on your earring wires to seal off the irritating metal. I tried this too and ended up having to return it.

Later on, I tried Simply Whispers earrings. For what they were, they were expensive, but at last I could wear regular pierced earrings. Some time after that, drugstores started selling Simply Whispers-type earring wires, so I converted all of my earrings to these.

When I started making jewelry, I discovered niobium, which works even better than the Simply Whispers type. There's also titanium (which, like niobium, can be annealed into colors, albeit not as vivid, nor as varied as niobium).

I can wear 18 karat gold earrings, it's more a matter of "oy the price tag" (still have it in mind to make some though).

The latest wearable metal for me, it turns out, is argentium sterling silver (pictured above with Swarovski crystals, Bali sterling beads, labradorite and freshwater pearls). Argentium is a patented alloy of silver, containing the same percentage of silver as standard sterling (92.5%). However, argentium sterling uses less copper and an element called germanium in the alloy.

It's been widely marketed as highly tarnish-resistant, so if sterling seems to turn instantly black on you, this may also be of interest to you. (Folks living in high humidity tend to have their sterling tarnish quickly.) I do believe I was on the forum, someone mentioned argentium, I thought, what the heck, let's try it...

Now I can have nice shiny silver earrings--admittedly, the dull silver color of unannealed niobium isn't quite as pretty.

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Beauty Notes: In Search of Wisteria in the Bay Area
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, August 16, 2007 8:18 PM (Eastern)


This was a complete and total bust. The image above is from Wikimedia Commons.

There's one place around here I know has wisteria (the nurseries don't generally carry it, maybe they have it, maybe they don't)'s in front of a vacant lot. I went there today, since it was en route to the local Target.

Editor's note: those Go! designer collections aren't bad, although you do have to avoid anything with a ginormous logo on it. I got a few of the Proenza Schouler tanks and short-sleeved tops last time around; they're nice and soft, look better than regular old tanks and short-sleeved tops, and seem to be wearing well after several washes. What they have now is Libertine; I got the puffed-sleeve top (it's way cuter on than it looks online, it's fitted and the neck is scoopy) and some of the lace-inset Indonesian tanks.

I even brought my camera, hoping to take a picture of the wisteria. I realized, in reviewing Diptyque Olène, it's been years since I smelled an actual wisteria flower. It's probably been more than twenty years. I have a fairly strong memory of the scent, but why not smell the real thing?

Once I got there, I could find only two, dilapidated blooms. Wisteria in the South, I'm sure of it, blossoms the entire summer. Bleh! And they both smelled terrible. I got a tiny bit of real wisteria (and haven't changed my assertion that Olène does not smell like wisteria) but not that dense, wondrous cloud of scent. Oh well.

I'm betting Berkeley has wisteria. Can you imagine, a Southerner looking for wisteria?

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Fashion Notes: Mom clothes
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, August 14, 2007 10:46 PM (Eastern)

I have to smile a bit when people complain about the current trendiness of "maternity clothes"--those ubiquitous empire-waisted dresses and tops. Back when I was pregnant, there was no such trend. It's not the maternity clothes I ever had a problem need wear them only part of the nine months, they don't have to look that good. You will wear them only a few times in your entire lifetime. What I found a bit mind-boggling, was what to wear after you had the kids.

Here--like everything else associated with pregnancy and childbirth--you were assumed to have become an entirely different person. An entirely different creature, really. I was fuddled at first, having to retire my closet full of dryclean-only suits, blouses and dresses, to replace them with...what?

The answer, friends, is jeans. Lots and lots of jeans. They can be nice jeans, but they have to be the kind of jeans you can put in the washing machine, because it takes two seconds for the jeans to have a greasy handprint on them.

With the jeans, you need fitted tee shirts. Lots and lots of fitted tee shirts. Again these must be machine-washable, greasy handprint-able.

It goes on that way for some years. You really can't have nice clothes.

It's been only the past couple of let's say five years' worth of jeans and fitted tee shirts...that I've been able to move on, to actual non-jean pants. You no longer get greasy handprints, yet you don't have the time or money to wear dryclean-only clothing.

I've moved on to khaki pants. Lots and lots of khaki pants. Moms don't have time to shop, and when they do, they have to shop with the kids, so there is a tendency to buy a lot of whatever works. I like these khaki pants actually, just as I secretly liked the jeans and fitted tee shirts; it's a uniform, and like any uniform, its purpose shines through and makes it noble.

I'd like to say I've gone on to better fitted tees, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I'm still wending my way through the black, white, and grey-brown batch I got the last time I made a fitted tee shirt run (actually I didn't like the color selection, that's how I ended up with these; I'm just saying).

But I had an interesting experience recently: dresses. I have not bought dresses since...ah...probably since before my first kid. I'm drawing a blank. Recently I bought some dresses for a specific reason; I had to buy dresses. It was...reminiscent somehow of that scene in M.A.S.H. where there was a truck loaded with silk dresses, and the women found out about the dresses, and they all went running in a crowd towards the truck. There is something magic about dresses. Perhaps the symbolism...but let's not be dreary. There's nothing like a dress.

I went a little nutty and bought six dresses. I was tempted to take some pics today (I tried all the dresses on again, to figure out what jewelry I would need to make for each) but I'll probably do that later on.


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4 comment(s)  
August 15, 2007 8:26 AM, Blogger cmm said...

oh. I love dresses! I rarely wear them but I love them.
WHERE on earth were you able to find SIX dresses? I've not been able to find any in the stores around here. Other than trendy juniorsized dresses that would look ridiculous on a 30-something year old mother.

August 15, 2007 12:43 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

I can send ya an's a seeeeecret store.

August 17, 2007 7:33 AM, Blogger cmm said...

speaking of mom clothes-
I'm not exactly sure how I stumbled upon this blog last night, but it is great. A mom after my own heart!

August 17, 2007 3:07 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Cool blog! :)

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Fashion Notes: Polyvore
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, August 13, 2007 1:32 PM (Eastern)

This is kind of interesting:

Polyvore - Discover or Start Trends

I haven't played with it much, but you're supposed to be able to "import" clothes from other sites as well. According to the text, what you see in the editor, was imported by other people using the editor.

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Culture Notes: Absolutely Fabulous
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, August 11, 2007 2:57 PM (Eastern)

I found it! 0:50 (or 9:00 since we're going backwards)

I saw this ages ago and never forgot the line: You only work in a shop you know, you can drop the attitude. rotfl

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Culture Notes: Shabnami Surayyo
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, August 03, 2007 1:23 PM (Eastern)

"Az kudumi safar" (fan version), Shabnami Surayyo, uploaded by a3u3

Shabnami Surayyo is a Tajik singer; there are many of her videos on youtube, along with musical videos from seemingly every place on Earth.

This song in particular--and no, I don't understand a word she's singing--really grows on you, the more you listen to it. The fan video contains clips from some of her other videos, including some from a charming duet with a singer named Parvina.

You'll note the duet video makes inventive use of architecture; a beautiful film from a limited budget. I also enjoyed the use of traditional Tajik clothing, which features intricate handiwork. Eat your heart out, Beyonce & Shakira! (okay just kidding)

"Kulobi Man," Shabnami & Parvina, uploaded by spantadil

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Fashion Notes: making your own jewelry
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, July 31, 2007 3:44 PM (Eastern)

various beadsI haven't done this for a while; every year, since I started in 2005, I've taken a few months off from making jewelry.

The short version is it's an exhausting process. Unless you have the fortune of apprenticing with someone else, it's on you to winnow the vast number of suppliers and supplies (mastering the techniques is easy relative to that).

Even something like wire...there are four kinds of goldfilled wire, generally sold at two tempers, with four widely used gauges (and more gauges than that). Wire labeled "goldfilled" is meaningless, except it means 1/20 of the wire is karat gold of some sort. Silver...could be fine silver, sterling silver, or argentium sterling silver (recommended), with the same range of tempers and gauges.

It's worth the struggle; I've never doubted that. Making something concrete, in the sense of picking up tools and raw materials, exercises a different part of your brain than that used in creating something abstract. Take software, for's largely created on paper. You can type the finished result into a text file really hard, or really softly; slowly or quickly; it's not going to affect how the program runs. It's all brain work, rather than a fusion of brain and hand.

I was rifling youtube (it's truly momentous btw), looking for an example of the "forgotten 80's." (Why 80's? perhaps it's better-documented than prior decades.) What people remember are the neon colors of clothing, makeup, shoes even; the big hair, the overall...daffiness? innocence?

Of course that's not how I remember it, exactly; the better part of the 80's for me was colored by the late 70's. And in fact this video is from a song released in 1979. But keep in mind, whatever was happening in England in 1979, took several years to percolate down to the villages in the States. lol And that's where I was, in the first half of the 80's.

Why this song? I wanted to illustrate the concept of taking nothing...raw materials...and getting up on a stage and producing something. Concerts these days (oh wait, let me get my walker), seem to have come full circle to the Big Production of the mid 70's--which is what the smaller bands rebelled against in the late 70's, and the energy of that period, imo, fueled much of what is remembered as the 80's.

"Concrete Jungle" by The Specials

Beading Blog -

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Quick bit of indie fashion
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, July 18, 2007 8:02 PM (Eastern)

I doubt I could describe myself as a fashion doyenne, but I'll throw my hat into the ring. My prediction for American fashion is simply that it will move more away from mainstream designers, and more toward independent ones.

Why? Because mainstream designers suffer from the same globalization we all do these days. I suppose a few have kept a tight lid on their production, but, it seems to me, more and more clothing is being produced in the same factories...there is a sameness, which runs counter to the very concept of style.

Enter the independent fashion houses. (Or do they? Some of them are pretty good.) I found out about this one by "word of Net": Smashing Darling

Check out this cool dress by twospace (Niagara Dress, $117.00). The dress is comprised of a skull print, which makes it up to date, yet the skulls are arranged so nicely it doesn't scream "skull print"! Made from rayon jersey.

I also liked this skirt by Mergirl: Fancy Mesh Skirt, $125.00

The art lies in the sheer layer, paired with the diagonal line of the upper layer. If you put this on, and you were young, and had fabulous would be sexier than a miniskirt.

You would have to wear it with an utterly plain top imo, or else risk looking like a pastiche of really odd clothes, but keep the rest of the look plain and simple, and this piece will be memorable to all who see you in it.

Here is a nice tee shirt: Che Baby Tee - Gold, $25.00 by Che Woo Design.

The sort of...funny head pattern...makes this top stand out. You need only find a pair of jeans or khaki pants to have an instant complete look.

Another nice one: Style# 0001 Funhouse Pinup Girl Tank, $20.00 by Nancy Wells.

The detail on the front image is extraordinary. The style of the shirt itself is a bit punky, so it should fit in with our current 1980's motif. All you'd need would be a leather jacket of some sort (or vegan jacket if you will), tight black pants, yadda yadda...

Am I the only one who doesn't rag on "skinny jeans" btw? I was getting tired of what, to me, are recycled bell bottoms or hiphuggers.

Of course you will need a bag. This may be your bag...IMAGINE, $275.00 by Anne De Pasquale...or it may not be...but I can guarantee you, you will never have to search for your handbag at the handbag table, should you decide to go with this design.

Thanks for indulging in indie fashion with me!

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July 19, 2007 2:41 AM, Blogger Dain said...

Wow, what a great site!

July 19, 2007 2:08 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

The indie sites are getting better... I do think there is a viable future for independent designers and companies. Our system supports it. Just as there is no protection for American workers, so there is also nothing standing in their way. (I think it is more difficult to do a start-up in more restricted economies.)

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1980's style: Cyndi Lauper vs. Madonna
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, July 07, 2007 2:05 PM (Eastern)

True Colors by Cyndi Lauper (1986)

Madonna - "Get Into the Groove" Music Video

Madonna eclipsed Lauper at one point; it could be argued it was a matter of style over substance, as Lauper was the (tremendously) better singer of the two.

However, Madonna deserves credit for her sheer creativity--a quality which must not be left out of our mid-2007 resurrection of the 80's. Madonna was never about spending money. She was, in her own way, as much a working class hero as Lauper. (In my memory of the period, the two are more twined together than opposed.)

Fashion historians, note Lauper's iconic, flamboyantly dyed orange hair, which has been sprayed and teased to form the ginormous hair (or "big hair") of the day.

Madonna's style contributions are many and varied, from the "wall of bracelets" (she was the first to do this that I know of), to thrift-store chic (perfectly captured in Desperately Seeking Susan)...she borrowed from punk in her all-black ensembles, wore lingerie as if it were outerwear...I remember quite clearly, as I'd thought for years that something as beautiful as lingerie should be seen, somehow... Madonna can't be credited with making inch-long dark roots fashionable, exactly, since Debbie Harry did that in the mid 1970's, but she went a long way toward making DIY a positive thing.

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July 7, 2007 4:16 PM, Blogger cmm said...

oh, now you're gettin me all teary-eyed and nostalgic!!
off to search Youtube for more videos. Its been awhile since I've heard "Papa Don't Preach"......

July 7, 2007 7:29 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Madonna is such a pop maverick. I think it's been only recently that she's gotten tasteless; she's always been a tastemaker. Imo, it was when she copied Angelina Jolie and adopted a kid. It may have been a generous gesture, but it was so transparently a publicity gesture, and I don't know... it's ok in showbiz to pretend to be bad because people do it all the time, but somehow, I resent the appearance of virtue. And I think the public does, too.

July 7, 2007 10:06 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Carol: Youtube is nothing short of amazing. There are videos for very nearly everything, stuff you thought you'd never see again, ever. Plus stuff from around the world.

Dain: Madonna...she had guts. She was one of those people who actually went to New York City to make it...and she used to eat popcorn, because she couldn't afford to eat properly (popcorn fills you up).

She was a lousy singer, no doubt about it, but she worked very hard to become a good singer. Anyone else would have taken the money and run.

It is different when you "knew" famous people when they were young, when you were young... It's like...Chuck Berry. To me he was always kind of, not an old man, but an older gentleman. But the people who grew up listening to his music, were fanatical about him.

July 7, 2007 11:36 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Madonna kind of reminds me of Justin Timberlake now.

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Oscars 2007
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, February 26, 2007 9:22 PM (Eastern)

Blogged in The Lipstick Page Forums Fashion Blog.


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