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Life of Colleen: August 2008

Posts This Month
·· On washing "dry clean" clothes
·· The ever-elusive White Shirt
·· Planning your wardrobe: Photoshop idea
·· Perfumes of the stars, and rambles
·· Avalon Organics Lemon Clarifying Shampoo review
·· Explanation of the little purple jumping guy
·· Avalon Organics Lemon Clarifying Shampoo
·· On cleaning out closets
·· Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Milk review
·· How to unshrink a shrunken wool sweater

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On washing "dry clean" clothes
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-08-31 at 11:21 AM (Pacific)


It's been a bit of a bugger. Drycleaning is now prohibitively expensive...I was quoted ten dollars for one dress at a local "green" drycleaners. After a paltry few wears, it would become cheaper to buy a new dress.

Some "dry clean" clothes can be hand-washed, but it's at your own risk. Silk can shrink. Some rayon does too, particularly rayon with a matte texture. Wool sweaters are the biggest bugger, since agitating them at all can produce "locking."

Clothing manufacturers have made more of their products hand-washable, that's for sure. Nine years ago, the majority of my office clothes had to be drycleaned. That worked back when drycleaning dresses cost three dollars. You simply took very good care of the dress, and wore something underneath it to stretch out the times you needed to dryclean.

But now...who has the time or money for so much fussing and drycleaning?

I feel strongly, manufacturers should re-engineer more of their clothes--aside from suits, coats and the like--to be hand-washable. You're not going to put drycleaners out of business any more than they already are out of business. They'll still have enough suits, jackets, formal dresses, et cetera.

It's a matter of design. If you know the silk or rayon is going to shrink the first time it meets water, then engineer the garment accordingly.

Basically--accept there is no longer "a wife" to take care of all of this stuff. It's the wife who needs business clothes now, and the wife doesn't actually have a wife (more's the pity).


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The ever-elusive White Shirt
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-08-30 at 9:05 PM (Pacific)

white sweater
This one's pretty nice, actually

Been doing some "recession-ista" shopping lately, culling items from the amazing sales out there.

I should say I've been through recessions before. The minute you wish to tighten your belt, the sales become fantastic. It does make sense: people aren't buying, so stores have to recover at least some of their money. I've concluded it's probably the best time to go shopping--but not for frivolous items. Rather, buy higher quality items than you'd normally buy. The prices for these now are the same as, or lower than, the prices for crap.

Since returning to the 9-to-5 culture, after nine years of being a stay at home mom and working as a contractor, I've found myself in a rather continuous search for White Shirts.

By this I don't mean the feminine equivalent of a men's White Shirt. There has been a trend of women trying to create a female version of men's clothes. I'm not knocking it...there are reasons for the development of men's business attire in the first place. Shouldn't women's business wardrobes follow the same reasons?

Yet there's a part of me that wishes women didn't have to present themselves as "men lite" in order to succeed. Women have power, independent of the traditional "man's world" of work, and perhaps it's best we hold on to that power. Both men and women gravitate towards women, in almost any given social situation, which is why women are often better in marketing and sales positions. If we dress a bit too much like men, will it appear we see them as the great role models? If we dress like ourselves, we become our own role models. Maybe men should dress like us. lol

Oh yeah, back to the shirts. I've seen some horrible white shirts out there. And some okay ones. Precious few magnificent White Shirts. Why is that? It's usually much easier to find a nice non-white Shirt.

I'm tempted to believe the White Shirts get scooped up first, but in all likelihood, there's a gap between what the customer wants to buy, and what the customer wants to see. It's always lovely to see lots of color choices in the shop. But in reality, I own a very limited range of shirt colors, and it's the white and off-white ones that get worn first.


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Planning your wardrobe: Photoshop idea
posted by Colleen Shirazi at 11:43 AM (Pacific)

psd of wardrobe ideas

One thing I like to do in Photoshop, is keep a Photoshop Document (.psd) of various items of clothing which have caught my interest. It's rather the electronic equivalent of a scrapbook. Now that most merchants have a website, it's pretty easy to do.

The idea is not to have a perfect snapshot of your current wardrobe, of course, unless you wish to go to the trouble of photographing all of your items. (Which can be done, but would be time-consuming.) Rather, it's an overview of what you tend to gravitate towards, what you've found "tried and true"--what works for you.

Once it's in psd format, you can add and delete layers, move the layers around, sort of see what looks good with what. And yes, it's fun...harks back to when you were a kid, playing with your paper dolls. If you wanted to be fancy, you could add a full-length picture of yourself, and try to scale the clothing pics to it.

I realize Polyvore has a similar interface, and I'm not knocking Polyvore, but I've found it limiting. You can't control the quality of the images; you're limited to those which still look good after being run through Polyvore's image capture.

I've got some Cydwoq shoes at the bottom; dithered a bit between these and Frye. Cydwoq of course has a much wider selection of shoes (Frye does have some though), and the made-in-the-U.S.A. section of Frye boots tends to be too casual for office wear. More etailers carry Cydwoqs now; there are sporadic instances of Cydwoqs at b & m shops. Really I'd prefer my next, "investment" pair of shoes to be made in the U.S. (Since I'm set for shoes currently, I'm not actually sure when this investment is going to roll around, but I've got my eyes open.)

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Perfumes of the stars, and rambles
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-08-28 at 9:08 PM (Pacific)

jean patou sublime

Here's a site dedicated to the "perfumes of the stars": Celebrity Fragrance Guide: A Guide to Smelling Famous.

It's occurred to me, one of the most useful items in my wardrobe is...a camisole. Camisoles are seldom lauded as fashion essentials, the way shoes and jackets are, yet a good camisole can make an outfit work; a bad camisole, or no camisole at all, can ruin the entire outfit, just like that.

I own some stretchy ones...the trick is to find ones of sufficiently thick fabric. I don't mean you have to dress like a nun, but the thin see-through stuff defeats the purpose of wearing a camisole. I have a lace one too, of a nice light rayon material.

Yet I sense a "wardrobe hole." I'd like to own at least one more camisole; two would be nice. It's not something I'd drop everything to shop for (seeing as I already own several), but if I happen upon a good one whilst shopping, I'm sure to buy it.

I've never thrown away this sort of thing, until it's totally worn out.

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Avalon Organics Lemon Clarifying Shampoo review
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-08-25 at 10:45 PM (Pacific)

avalon organics lemon clarifying shampoo

By this time I have realized I never actually reviewed this dang shampoo!

The thing with shampoo is this: it's as complicated as skincare, and then some. When you "wash your hair," you are in fact washing your scalp, and then your hair.

Hair itself seldom needs much in the way of true cleansing. Hair is silk; it's a natural fiber. Like any silk cloth, it gets dusty and grimy, but unless you've been playing football in it, your silk cloth needs only minimal washing in order to be clean.

Your scalp now, is skin. If you use harsh cleansers on your skin, it balks and itches and produces flakes and/or excess oil. In fact one major complaint of skincare, at least for oily or acne-prone skin, is that it "works at first, then stops working." Isn't the same often remarked of shampoo?

Hence, naturally cheap as I am, I am willing to spend a bit more on shampoo. I stopped using mainstream, drugstore shampoos quite a while ago. It's my belief that these changed, and became harsher...have you noticed even regular bar soaps have changed? Have you tried Irish Spring lately? It's hard to believe now, but it used to be a decent soap.

The Avalon Organics shampoos are rather like good skincare: they don't impress, up front. In fact they seem a bit funny. They don't lather particularly well, nor impart a luxurious sensation. They smell good (though Avalon Organics did reduce the scent at one point). But, you're thinking, eh. What's the big deal about a low-lathering shampoo that seems neither creamy, nor astringent, nor...orgasmic, particularly?

Again with the skincare comparison...the thing is this. I've repurchased Avalon Organics shampoos many times. I'm not a big re-purchaser of shampoo. But if something works, I always return to it.

That's not to say I'll never try anything new ever again, but there is something to be said for a basic shampoo that neither strips nor weighs hair down.

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Explanation of the little purple jumping guy
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-08-24 at 10:05 PM (Pacific)

My daughter made this, pretty much on her own. I put the sequence together, but she came up with the concept and drawings.

Here's her version of the four seasons:



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Avalon Organics Lemon Clarifying Shampoo
posted by Colleen Shirazi at 8:25 PM (Pacific)

avalon organics lemon clarifying shampoo

I started to write: "I already reviewed this on LP," before realizing I'd failed to actually write the review. Instead I'd uploaded the above image, and had likely reviewed it elsewhere on the site.

Today I repurchased this, again, and that's saying a lot. I'm a "shampoo whore," albeit reformed. Or...am I? I had a bottle of Nature's Gate Organics Asian Pear and Red Tea shampoo in my hand at the checkout line only just today. What can I say? It smelled good? Came in a snazzy reddish opaque bottle? I really have no excuse. When the people ahead of me in line began disputing a coupon, I returned to the shelf and picked up trusty Avalon Organics Lemon instead.

I have tried Nature's Gate Organics shampoos before, back when they came in clear bottles. Eh. Not bad, but not as good as Avalon.

Also visited a Super Target today, to pick up some last-minute school stuff for my son. The place was a madhouse, but oddly a refined madhouse. Very little rudeness. Little worth buying, either, beyond odds and ends, basics.

I recalled when I would have spent at least an hour perusing the clothing section, digging through, looking for...oh, I'd bought this really cool, made in India white cotton top there. A simple design, spaghetti straps, double layer of fine cotton, a natty drawstring, even. I've always loved Indian textiles.

Now...my eye skimmed the vast section, and everything there screamed, "Go ahead and buy me, and throw me out within the year." A true cheapskate won't buy. A $20 top that lasts one year, is more expensive than a $40 top that lasts three years--or even a $40 top that lasts two years, given your shopping time, gas, wear and tear on the car, et cetera.

Oh well, that's my day in beauty and fashion! lol


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On cleaning out closets
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-08-23 at 11:50 PM (Pacific)

kitty drawing

That's what I'm doing this weekend: cleaning out my closet. It hardly sounds monumental, but I suppose it represents the close of a distinct period in my life: that in which I stayed at home with my kids, working only as a contractor.

So some of the stuff in there goes back years. It seems reams have been penned on the noble activities of men--their wars, their careers, their...importance. But so little has been written on what women do, other than the aspects of their lives which are congruent to those of men, such as college and career.

Normally I dislike stockpiling, I don't like to accrue. Either it has a purpose, or a sentimental value, or else it goes. Space has a value too; G-d knows it costs enough around here! And I prefer order--not perfect order, but near-perfect order, if that makes any sense. I may not put something in exactly one place, but I like to narrow it to two or at most three places I'd need to look in order to find it.

But, I did not have time to even clean out my closet, during the years I raised my kids. And so I'm finding a Hello Kitty bag I'd meant to give my daughter "when she was older." It contains a pair of tiny Hello Kitty pink gloves, which would have been perfect for her, a few years ago! Once those gloves had seemed so big. Now when I hug her, I'm surprised to see how close her face is to mine.

That's something seldom extolled, the moment when you realize how big your daughter has become. When I look at her, I remember clearly the moment she was born, and when she was a tiny baby, then a bigger baby...everything up to this moment. It's magic.

I found other things...a music box filled with the expensive hair things she wore as a baby. I never liked buying her cheap hair stuff. In retrospect, I'm not sure what I was thinking. But now it all seems right. Here is the music box, with the little collection of barrettes of various metal flower designs and rhinestones. It's hard to find them in stores now.

I found two Eddie Bauer denim skirts on a hanger, both size 8. What are the odds? lol At first I thought, eh, too casual for my job, but then I tried one of them on. (Didn't bother with the other? They're exactly the same.) It's great. The denim is stretchy, so you don't get that stiff skirt o' denim feel, yet it's not tight. Just add a sweater and boots.

I found a pair of casual sandals made in Italy, in a box. I'd always thought they were too big, hence the idea of putting them in the closet, but they're not. I'm wearing them right now. They're really nice.

Of course these are the highlights; there was a ton of junk in there too. Old hats, old clothes, old...shoulder pads. Yup, I found a bag full of shoulder pads.

It's going to be more than a one-day project, but I already have space to hang my work dresses without squashing them.


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Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Milk review
posted by Colleen Shirazi at 10:09 PM (Pacific)

dr. hauschka cleansing milk

I'm on the dregs of my Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Milk. It's good skincare, no doubt about it...the strength of Hauschka seems to lie in treating oily or problematic skin.

The packaging...truly sucks. It's bottled in glass, so the only way you could use it in the shower would be to port it into plastic. When you get towards the end, the stuff stops coming out of the pump. You have to pump in water and shake it around. Cheap skincare is easier to use.

All of that said, I've never tried anything like it. The philosophy of Hauschka--"like treats like"--sounds simplistic, but it works. Oily skin fares best with oily products--not products which remove oil. As counterintuitive as that sounds.

I've been playing with the idea for some years, since a poster on the old Lipstick Page board turned me on to jojoba oil in 2001. I went from that to jojoba butter, and now to the Hauschka Cleansing Milk, as well as their Cleansing Cream. All of these products leave a delicate film of oil on the skin, rather than rinsing clean.

This has lasted me a good five months and then some, so I shouldn't complain overly much about the cost. (I will anyway, I'm just saying.) The Cleansing Cream lasts about that too, making my skincare cost in the range of $60 every five months, or $12 per month. Not that bad.

On a side note, I stumbled across this...


It's a song people loved to make fun of..."aaaaaaaan-jay"...but here, it's rendered beautifully. And I always liked that song, when I was a kid. Recall we didn't have cable tv or Internet in those days. Radio was king.

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How to unshrink a shrunken wool sweater
posted by Colleen Shirazi at 6:33 PM (Pacific)


This is something I've been meaning to try for a long time. I had a wool sweater, and some bozo washed it in the machine and dried it in the dryer. It wasn't quite "doll clothes," but was too small to wear, so I put it aside until I had time to play with it.

The thing with wool is--heat causes genuine shrinkage, I think, but agitation causes what only appears to be shrinkage. Similar in concept to dreadlocks, where you have fine natural fiber, with a tendency to knit together and "lock." If the thing is doll clothes, then I say go ahead and toss it, but if it's "only just too small," it's worth a shot trying to stretch it out again.

The idea is to take your sweater and soak it in a mixture of cold water and hair conditioner. For this I got out my trusty L'Oreal Feria Deep Conditioner (you can buy it separately at a beauty supply shop like Sallys). It's what I use on my hair after I color it, so it's heavy duty.

The conditioner won't dissolve in the water, but it'll break up into little chunks. Once the sweater has soaked completely, you can rub the little chunks into the wool, gently (you hardly wish to cause more "locking"), and then stretch the sweater out. Depending on how small the sweater got in the first place, you can be fairly aggressive about stretching it.

So far it seems to be working. You won't get the sweater to its original dimensions, but soaking and conditioning the wool to relax it, then pulling it out area by area...you may get it to the point you can wear it again. (Just don't let other people dry your clothes!)


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