Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Woot! Great Shoes on Clearance at Brooks Brothers!

Yesterday I moseyed over to to see whether they had any merino turtlenecks. I didn't find any, but I did happen upon a major, major shoe sale. If you're a size five or six, you're really in luck, but even my size 9s found plenty to choose from!

Because purple is the new black, I loved the purple tweed frame handbag with a matchy-matchy pair of purple tweed slingbacks.

They're kind of Miss Marple-ish, but in a good way.

There was a pair of lovely chocolate brown woven leather pumps, marked down from $198 to $59.00. You'll have to click to see it, because Blogger is acting up.

These brown Monk Strap pumps would look great with pants:
These brown tweed Donegal pumps with the brown leather cap toe are too cute ... I had to have them:
A pair of pink and green slides for next spring:
I also got some Christmas presents. And some weren't even for me.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Doing it up Bobbi Brown

I had a four-hour rehearsal today on Wabash and Huron in Chicago, which is way too conveniently located near the North Michigan Avenue shopping area.

That Stud Muffin I Married and I are going to a black-tie event for his job. They call it "The Prom." Ew. At least it's at the Field Museum, so I'll get to see the King Tut exhibit.

Anyway, I stopped in to Neiman Marcus to buy a new Spanx stomach-flattening instrument of torture, also a new bra, because I feel I owe it to my public to bind myself in uncomfortable latex-y fetishwear. Either that or I enjoy pain--I'm not sure which.

In Neiman Marcus I was waylaid by the Bobbi Brown exhibit. I usually don't find much
that appeals to me in the BB line, but a lipgloss palette called to me with its siren song. The shades are Bellini, Papaya, Berry, Posey, Orchid, and Grape and they are all BEAUTIFUL.

So then I let the BB artist put makeup on me and naturally that meant I had to buy something. So I walked out with:

Eye shadows in Bone and Bronze

Gel Eyeliners in Bronze Shimmer and Hunter Ink

Natural Brow Shaper (and Hair Touch Up) in Mahogany

And three of the super-soft, densely packed Bobbi brushes:

Ultra Fine eyeliner brush
Eye Shadow brush
Eye Shader brush

Then I finally managed to get to the Lingerie department where I bought the rubbery spandex underclothes, also two pairs of Argyle cashmere ankle socks, in black and brown.

That's it. I'm done! (And done in.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Your daughter wouldn't be caught dead in these shoes.

But that doesn't keep me from wanting them. They're in my shopping cart at Arthur Beren's.

I love Arthur Beren. LOVE IT. They stock shoes in hard-to-find sizes. If you wear a tiny size or a narrow size or a size 11, you will love this place. My friends who wear narrow widths are always whining about not being able to find shoes that fit. Well, I wear a C-width, when I can get it, which isn't often. And mostly, wide-width shoes are sold at places like PayLess. And they're made of pleather. Which, I guess, befits my lumpen proletariat feet. But three words: No, no, no!

So ... Arthur Beren. With a very, very nice selection of shoes. Some of which are even fashionable (check out the boots!)

But that's not what I'm about today. Today I need replacements for beloved shoes that are getting worn out. And I need shoes for when I'm singing, which unfortunately, means low, sturdy heels that I can stand in for long, long periods of time. And wear with pants or skirts. And in black, with black hose or black pants, to go with my choir robe. Not exciting.

These, My Girl by Stuart Weizmann fit the bill:


Or these, which are so classic and old-ladyish that my gorge rises a bit: Salvatore Ferragamo's Lillaz in black. Perfect with a choir robe. (Or to wear when I'm robbing a bank. My God, they look respectable! Maybe I'd better skip them.)


And then these, for knocking around in when I'm wearing jeans but want something a little sleeker than old skool Pumas or my beloved clogs, Ferragamo's Trim in brown calf:


And then, because I'm not always wearing flats or low-heeled shoes, I also need something a little dressy, but not ridiculously glamorous. For those occasions, Stuart Weizmann's Stretch Limo.


And these. I really need these. The ultimate ladylike dress shoe, the classic slim-heeled slingback with a slim heel and a closed toe. Nothing is more irreproachable, yet--dare I say it--sexier. For those occasions, Calligarius' Balux in black/black.


OK, I need to get this off my chest. I'm not crazy about the beige/black combination. In fact, I kind of hate it. I don't care if Chanel popularized it long ago, or that Rene Mancini, my favorite shoe designer of all time, originated it. I don't like the combination of beige and black. Beige and brown, yes. Gray and black, yes. But warm colors combined with cold colors do not look good to my eye. In fact, they look like ass. (Like a black thong on a beige ass, to be exact.)

Finally, Stuart Weizmann's sumptuous and elegant Clara in black peau de soie with a three-inch heel--lovely, lovely, lovely, even if the more tasteful and discerning fetishists will love it, too:


I think I need to decide between the two low-heeled choir lady shoes. Because I don't want to waste perfectly good purple suede platform peep-toed ankle-strap money on two pairs of choir lady shoes. I may be a middle-aged choir lady with a wardrobe full of clothes from the Talbot's, but I have my limits.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Elvis Costello was right.

It's a black and white world. At least, as regards men's formal wear.

Check out my hot new idea for men's fashion: bracelets that will say WWFW? Meaning, of course, "What would Fred wear?" I see it in platinum or white gold. Maybe yellow gold. OK, if we must, rubber. Black and white rubber.

None of which would Fred Astaire have been caught dead wearing. But he did look natty, especially in white tie:

You know, as in the song: "Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails." You know what I'm talking about, right? Well, just try to get the proper equipment for your husband when you're heading out to opening night at the opera, followed by the opera ball, and it's white tie.

First we needed to buy a suit. Pal Joke sent me the url to an eBay auction. It was from a rental place that was liquidating inventory. The suit was a buy-it-now auction for $139, with another $15 for shipping. Quel bargain! The fellow who owned the store emailed asking for measurements, height, weight, etc., etc., and I have to say, the thing fits beautifully. Now, I don't know the suit's fabric is, nor do I want to. It might be bad news. I'm pretty sure it's wool ... but it's not lovely, soft, drapey wool. It doesn't have the drape of the Brooks Brothers suits ... but they cost $1,200.

So the suit was taken care of. But then there was the whole question of the accessories. Now, you'd think with Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and Paul Stuart all within a short walk of my apartment, I'd be sitting pretty, but unfortunately, getting my hands on the right accessories was a lot harder than it should have been. I've decided to write it all up so that that you, too, (or your spouse) can look snazzy in white tie.

The short version is that you will do a lot better at chain stores that have branches in the Deep South. Brooks Brothers has branches in New Orleans and Charleston, South Carolina, both cities where full-dress balls occur with some frequency. Therefore, Brooks Brothers is in a position to special-order stuff from stores that stock it. Ralph Lauren and Paul Stuart are not in the same position.

We are located in Chicago, so we had to deal with a north-of-the-Mason-Dixon-line lack of civilization. What follows is the story of where we got what we needed.

1. The white cotton pique shirt, preferably with a stiffly-starched detachable collar. Brooks Brothers is the only store that carries one. And the Chicago store had it out back, not out front where you could see it. They also don't sell it on their website. My salesman, Terry Higgins, special-ordered one for me. $225.

2. A white cotton pique bow tie. Brooks Brothers had one for $45, but it was one of those pre-tied monstrosities. (Excuse me, but What The Fornicate? Does this make any sense at all? Wouldn't somebody who was popping for full-on white tie want a tie that ... well ... ties?) I found the right kind of tie at Ralph Lauren's Chicago flagship. Pure and simple, no hooks to size the thing; you have to make it work by knotting it well. And it costs $95. (BTW, Ben Silver has a nice page of instructions for tying bow ties.)

3. A white cotton pique waistcoat/weskit/vest. This is worn instead of a cummerbund, to cover the top of the pants. My salesman at Ralph Lauren told me that they get these things in in December. The salesman at Paul Stuart didn't know what I was talking about, and tried to sell me one of those brightly patterned Four Weddings and a Funeral numbers. No, no, no! Once again, Brooks Brothers is the only store that carries it. It was special-ordered for me for $175.

4. Studs. You can't wear your yellow gold and onyx studs with white tie. You must wear mother-of-pearl or silver; otherwise you break up the lovely expanse of whiteness. I bought my husband a set of sterling studs and cufflinks from the vintagey looking jewelry case at Ralph Lauren. They were $560 marked down to $160. Otherwise, I'd have ordered these convertible studs for $275 from Brooks Brothers:

5. Shoes. OK, you might, like my husband, have made do with normal black (polished, please) dress lace-ups for black tie events, but honestly, if you're going out looking like Stokowski, and you've popped for the shirt, studs, tie, and the non-Four Weddings waistcoat, you need the right shoes. Do not worry that you will look fey. Anyone who finds your shoes funny isn't going to a white-tie occasion, anyway, so his or her opinion doesn't matter.

These shoes are correct:

These are (surprise, surprise) from Brooks Brothers. You can get the same shoe, but in black kid (which in my opinon is preferable) at Ralph Lauren, but, once again, only during the holiday season.

Brooks Brothers also sells those patent leather lace-ups that make you look as if you--at best-- play bass fiddle player with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and at worst, like someone who rents his shoes. Go ahead and buy them if you must, but they are, to my way of thinking, a hideous compromise.

I sent my husband out to buy his own shoes--aren't I nice?--and Brooks Brothers didn't have any in his size. So he came home with a pair from Salvatore Ferragamo. They are patent leather slip ons with grosgrain trim, but no bows. Another compromise, I suppose, but they don't look rented. In fact, they look nice. Neither pimpy nor fey. And he said the important thing for him was that the shoes be something he'd only wear at night, with dress clothes. (By George, I think he's got it!)

6. It doesn't stop there. There is the matter of your socks. Dress shoes like those pictured above are cut rather low in the vamp, so you need to be wearing the right socks, which are black and don't have ribs. These are the right socks, courtesy of Brooks Brothers.

7. It goes on and on. You really need a black silk top hat, and you can get a silk opera hat at Ascot Top Hats. For a stick, I suggest you try an antiques store, or Ascot Top Hats. For gloves, which really are necessary with white tie, you're on your own. I bought the last pair available at the Fell Company in Winnetka. Thank goodness the Opera Ball is in September, so we didn't need to get a cloak, as I have no idea where to find one that wouldn't make my husband look like Mandrake the Magician. Or the Phantom of the Opera. Or an escapee from a Renaissance Faire. You can get linen handkerchiefs, three for $40, at Brooks Brothers, and Ascot Top Hats has nice instructions on how to fold them nicely for an ultra-natty finishing touch.

A Shout-out to my Shorties: Smirnoff's Prepsta Guide

You may have seen the video, but you really need to read the handbook, too.

And remember to leave a comment. In cursive!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Linda Anderson in black and white

Today we'll all experience Poppy's new-found lust for black and white damask in the guise of a catalog review. Yay!

It's not often I see something new in the catalogs that piling up this time of year. What with targeting marketing and customer lists being swapped around all the time, every catalog I get reminds me of another one.

So at first the Linda Anderson catalog struck me as just another gift/decorative accessories/ladies' casual clothing and jewelry emporium. Along the lines of the Sundance catalog, except not as western. Or like Charles Keith ... but not as Southern. Then it sort of reminded me of Ballard Designs.

The truth is, Linda Anderson carries a lot of unique merchandise that is vaguely reminiscent of other things I like. That sounds like faint praise, but it isn't. For example, these bookends remind me of Ballard Designs. They look sort of 1920s, and sort of Frenchily-ooh-la-la, if you know what I mean.

Adorable bathing beauty bookends that would be perfect for my black-and-white kitchen--so handy for holding up my cookbooks--plus they would remind me not to eat any of the goodies I cooked for fear of POPPING OUT OF MY BATHING SUIT--except the website told me they were out of stock. And maybe they're a little kitchsy, anyway.

And it isn't often that I see a double page spread that makes me think "ooh, I want those. And that. And that." But this did it:

There were some other lovely black and white damask home accents in the catalog, but I couldn't find them on-line. Which means I can't show them to you. Which is annoying.

It's bad when things are out of stock. And it's worse when the catalog and the website appear to exist in parallel universes. Note to retailers: If you have a print catalog and a website, we expect to find more merchandise on the website, not less.

I rate the Linda Anderson catalog "F" for frustrating.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Waverly's Metro Line at Target

I'm in love.

So stylish! So chic! So Audrey Hepburn-in-Breakfast at Tiffany's!

But it's too late. I'm already married. I'm committed to a different color scheme.

(Anyway, I was looking for kitchen curtains in the same stripe as that neckroll. And they didn't have any.)

But oh, that black and white bedding! Swoon!

Check it out here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Somebody somewhere had me clicking around the internet, and before I knew it I was perusing the new offerings on the LeSportsac website. And I came across a few designs that tickled my fancy.

First of all, there is a rush of Hermes--well, I won't tar them with the epitaph "knock-offs," and no one would mistake them for Hermes, but they are definitely horsey:

Which also comes in light beige. And then there's

Which, again, wouldn't fool anyone for a second. But this one

is really a bit too close to Hermes's iconic "Bolduc" print ... so if I were an in-house attorney at Hermes, I'd sit up and notice.

So that was fun. But then ... I found it. The perfect print. The print that was so perfect that I actually went and found my daughter and shoved my laptop under her nose, practically squealing "Look at this!" and hoping that she'd like it so I could spend $78 on a new backpack for her.

And she did, so I did.

So ... the moral of the story is ... if you like to shop, name your daughter Cinderella Snow White Sleeping Beauty "Barbie."

p.s. The LeSportsac website is awesome. And if you're interested in a particular pattern for Barbie your daughter, you can search for every style available in it.

p.p.s. Free shipping and no sales tax, too.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Still In the Pink!

It just goes to show you. Here I provide In the Pink with great, free publicity. I mean, all six of the people who read this blog probably went off and ordered something from their Spring 2006 clearance sale.

But me? I ordered on Thursday. My package showed up Friday. Fast shipping, right? But I ordered four Shrunken Polos and only received three, and of the three, one is the wrong color.

But do I stamp my foot, pout, and flounce off? No I don't. I checked my confirmation email and found the store's telephone number, so I called In the Pink and talked to customer service representative. She told me the missing Phipps Pink polo was shipped yesterday, and she issued me a call order for free UPS shipping so I can exchange the incorrect shirt.

I love internet shopping, but sometimes it's great to deal with a real live human being.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Spring Clearance at In the Pink

In the Pink is my favorite Lilly Pulitzer Signature Shop. I love to shop at the Newbury Street store, and they also have an excellent website. So imagine my delight when I opened my email today:

This is it...the sale you've been waiting for! For a limited time only, we are offering you 50% off our entire ladies spring and resort collections! Shop now to get the first look and shop the best selections. From skirts to dresses, we've got it all. But hurry...this offer expires Sunday, July 23, 2006.

How to Use Your Special Discount:
Select all of the items from the ladies spring collection that you would like to purchase.

Go to your Shopping Bag.

Enter your discount code and click the Apply button.

Click on Proceed to Checkout to complete your order.
Discount Code: 5158

All sale items are final sale. This offer cannot be applied to previously purchased merchandise. Offer expires Sunday, July 23, 2006.
Call Toll Free: 1.888.695.4559
And this is what I got: a pair of white cropped jeans with ribbon trim,
and four Shrunken Polos, in Phipps Pink, Pink Grapefruit, white with pink logo, and white with green logo.

(If I weren't always spilling food right smack onto my boobages, or forgetting what's in the laundry and forcing my shrunken polos to endure long periods in super-hot dryers, I wouldn't need to buy so many shirts, but last year's supply is pretty much history.)

If you like Lilly, it's worth it to register at several Lilly on-line shops--that way you can maximize your chances of scoring exactly what you want. I also shop at Village Palm and Tickled Pink, but to my mind, In the Pink has the easiest web interface. Click here for a list of Lilly on-line shops from the Lilly Pulitzer web site.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Why you should ignore everything I say.

Apparently, I'm a man.

And everyone knows men don't know anything about shopping.

Your Brain is 33% Female, 67% Male

You have a total boy brain
Logical and detailed, you tend to look at the facts
And while your emotions do sway you sometimes...
You never like to get feelings too involved

Monday, June 26, 2006

I love Target as much as anyone else ...

... but not. that. way.

Canvas tote bag for $50?
Swarovski crystal evening bag for $875?
14k gold and diamond necklace for $3,175?

I don't think so.

(Thanks to Mir for being the first to discover this--this heinousness.)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Poppy's black tie bonanza-rama.

I finally had a chance to do some North Michigan Avenue shopping. So I went a little crazy.

This is what I needed: whatever underwear it would take for the dress I was wearing to a black tie event Saturday evening to fit nicely and look smooth and bulge-free.

I also needed a pair of summery evening shoes. Because the day was supposed to reach 94 degrees. Ninety-four degrees! And me in a long dress, yards of spandex, and pantyhose. At least my toes could be feeling a breeze.

I headed out to go to Nordstrom's, figuring they have a ton of shoes, and the lingerie selection is good; they sell the almighty Wacoal bra. So Nordstrom's it was.

Except it was so hot outside that I ducked into the first department store I hit that sells shoes and underwear. Which was Neiman Marcus. Where my choices were pretty much limited to big name designer stuff. And I actually tried on a pair of Manolos. But then I tried on these and was instantly sold because even with 3-1/4 inch heels, they were amazingly comfortable. They are now on sale at the Cole Haan website, so if you wear a size 9.5, you're in luck. I, unfortunately, did not get them on sale, and thus paid the full retail price of $325.

Then I hit lingerie where I tried on 5,000 bras and one shaper: the Spanx Slim Cognito Seamless Mid-Thigh Bodysuit ($68). I also got a new Chantelle ($65) bra. (Who knew French babes could develop impressive racks? I had no idea Chantelle bras were available in my size.)

The irony of all this? Is that I spent over $400 to underpin/accessorize a dress I got on ebay, brand-new with tags, for $29.99.

The double irony is that I got a ton of compliments on the dress. And while I wasn't expecting anyone to compliment me on my new underpinnings, no one had anything to say about my new shoes, which are, as you can see, gorgeous.

The adventure continued. On my way out of Neiman's, I went through accessories and bought a pink straw hat and two Hermes scarves. Also some loot for my husband for Father's Day. But you deserve pictures, so the details will wait until I have my camera. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Another reason to love eBay--Enid Collins bags

If you've never heard of Enid Collins, your handbag education is sorely lacking. Enid Collins was a Texan who designed a range of bags during the 1960s. She started off with a wooden box bag, later branching out into a more standard canvas tote bag. They were produced until her company was bought out in 1970.

I first encountered masses of Enid Collins merchandise a few years ago on eBay. At that time, the prices were pretty high, so I slaked my thirst for whimsical beaded bags by buying stuff from Lulu Guinness and Isabella Fiore. At $125-$300 a pop, the Lulu and Isabella stuff was actually competitively priced; plus I could check out the condition for myself.

(The Lulu Guinness picnic-themed bag on the right is a sample of the kind of thing I was buying.)

However, a recent scan of eBay offerings shows that Enid Collins bags are worth another look. Prices appear to have dropped considerably; I suppose the hard-core early-adapters have already stuffed their closets with EC treasures and moved on. Either that, or fashion has moved on, (as it always does) and whimsical bags look way too 2003, now that everyone is carrying great big, slouchy, bohemian-inspired, luggage brown oversized bags with lots of little outside pockets.

But if you're in the mood for whimsical ... something to carry when you're on your way to a girls-night-out Margarita fest wearing your Miss Trish of Capri sandals with the gold seahorses, you could spend $425 at Neiman Marcus on the bag at the left,

or pick up an Enid Collins, or even a knock-off, pictured on the right--for less than a tenth of that. And what could be better than that?

For more on Enid Collins, CoolOldStuff has a ton of information, plus good, clear pictures.

Karl, Karl, Karl.

When you get to a certain age, you develop a tendency to stick your fingers into your hears and go "la la la I can't heeeeeeear you!" when the fashion magazines start trying to convince you some loathesome trend is worth having.

Such a trend is the Extremely Enormous Bag. I can remember a time when I was obsessed with carrying wee, teensy little bags, so I remember the horror of having to chose my cosmetics by their size. As in "Who cares that this powder is too light and makes me break out--it fits into my bag!"

But this! Imagine trying to find your car keys in this. It's like someone took a black hole from outer space, turned it inside out, and sewed on a handle. Not to mention that it looks like a Hefty Trash Bag.

Not that a Hefty Trash Bag isn't called for here. I'm sure the model would love to crawl into one and hide her shame, which, for the record, is comprised of: a jailbait/schoolgirl/Pr0n-style little black jumper, a pair of white fingerless elbow-length gloves, a pair of black pleather over-the-knee whore boots, and a bad hair day.

Frankly, Karl, it's time you sent yourself--or more likely, your assistant--back to the drawing board. I give this monstrosity two fingerless-gloved thumbs down.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Welcome to my Netflix Queue

I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only person who watches movies and television programs for the clothes.

I mean, right now, I'm bingeing on the Ian Carmichael Lord Peter Wimsey series, enjoying the stories, of course, but freaking out over the tailoring. Joke would love it.

But now I hear that That Girl is out on DVD.

Does anyone else out there remember swooning over the opening credits? Especially the dress with the parasol?

I've got to see this. And get my daughter to watch it with me. (I'll let my husband watch, too. Even though he has told me that as a boy, his love was pretty much equally divided between Ann Marie in That Girl, Jeannie in I Dream of Jeannie, and Samantha from Bewitched.)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Why I Love eBay (With a Cautionary Note)

How do love eBay? Let me count the ways. I use eBay to:

1. Complete my mother's and grandmother's china patterns, both of which were discontinued at the dawn of time. I like to avoid purchasing things at Replacements. I can get stuff from eBay at a tenth of the cost.

2. Continue forcing my daughter to dress in a mother/daughter style. If I buy a Lilly Pulitzer skirt for me and matching dress for my daughter, and she has the nerve to outgrow hers when mine still fits fine--I pick up the same dress for her in a larger size on eBay.

3. Pick up rare, hard-to-find, or otherwise interesting Hermes scarves. eBay is a great source, and some of the sellers there are incredibly knowledgable. (N.B.: Don't buy anything from China. Or that says "Made in Italy." Or that claims to be made of "seta." Hermes scarves are manufactured in France and are made of "soie." Or "silk." Not "seta." Oh--and if you see a bunch of listings for, say, the popular "Rocking Horse" pattern? Or the "Bubbles" pattern? Stay far away from that seller.)

4. Discontinued cosmetics. Because Badger keeps turning me on to products that get discontinued. Like this cleanser.

5. Idiotic tschotkes for my house.

6. Jewelry. Which, admittedly, I don't buy often. But I love to look.

But ... this is how not to sell a piece of jewelry on eBay: get your mother to model it:

Something tells me this thing is going to go for a song.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Little Box of Beauty

Chicago's Oak Street is a short stretch of ground that caps off the madness that is shopping on Michigan Avenue.

One way of thinking about it is as a beret on a giraffe. Say Michigan Avenue is the giraffe's neck. You're walking north on Michigan Avenue. After you encounter a branch of every department store you've ever heard of: Nordstrom, Saks, Lord and Taylor, Marshall Fields, and Bloomingdales, plus every specialty store: Gap, Victoria's Secret, Talbot's, Disney, American Girl, plus every flagship store: Apple, Nike, Ralph Lauren, plus every designer: Burberry, Salvatore Ferragamo, Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels, Armani, Chanel, Max Mara ... you hit Oak Street, the little beret at the top of all that long, long neck. The stores are smaller (but still off -the-charts expensive): Tod's, Hermes, Prada, Yves St. Laurent, Barney's.

And then, as a shining oasis of affordability, there's Bravco.

Bravco is one of those stores that cosmetic fanatics know about. Even if they're not from Chicago, they'll have heard of it. It's that good. If it's a super-expensive French hair care line, or a weird brand of cake mascara, or a makeup artist line, you can find it at Bravco and the upstairs store, B-too.

I ran in there today between two church services (what better way to spend my off time than at a veritable temple of makeup?)

I bought my zillionth bottle of Simple Solutions Ultra Copper Firming Serum (which may or may not be doing my skin some good--but I'm not willing to find out by using it on half my face to see whether it works. I don't want to end up like Two-Face from the Dick Tracy comics.)

I also got a bottle of Kerastase ultra-gentle, ultra-expensive Bain Miroir color-protecting shampoo. I had vowed to go back to Pantene. But the Pantene color-protecting stuff leaves my hair very weighed down. And honey, my hair can take a LOT of product. I've got semi-permanent color all over my head, with highlights and lowlights and a glaze on top of that--my hair is so chemically treated, it's a cross between Whitney Houston and Courtney Love. On any given day I've got Kiehl's silk groom, and Bedhead styling gel and Frizz-Ease in it, just to keep it looking healthy. Three products? No problem. But the Pantene stuff drove me crazy. It made my hair feel yucky and dirty.

Oh, and I bought two tubes of the Single Greatest Mascara in the world. Thickens my all-but-non-existent lashes and really is waterproof. I figure I should stock up; it's too good, and that means it's going to get discontinued any second now.

That's all, folks!

Sunday, April 30, 2006

What I Bought on my Spring Vacation: Part Duh

Lately I've become obsessed with jade.

I know something about jewelry--I know about the 4 C's of diamond quality, and that Italian jewelers can't be bothered to make anything out of 14K gold, and that the first thing you look for in colored gem stones is the color--shade and saturation--and then you worry about the inclusions.

But for some reason, I got interested in jade, even though I knew nothing about it. And couldn't tell the expensive stuff from the cheap crap.

Actually, I think that's why I got interested. There is so much to learn. I mean, there's nothing we geeks like better than having to master an entirely new world of arcane knowledge with its own aesthetic. Like, say, the blogosphere. Or computers in general. Or jade.

Anyway, I'm in good company. Apparently the Chinese have been obsessed with jade for millennia (think Queen Elizabeth I and pearls, or Louis XIV and diamonds, only worse.) They started off using it for tools, because it can be honed to a sharp edge. It also lends itself to carving. It's called "the stone of heaven," and traditional Chinese lore attributes all kinds of mystical powers to it. (Not that I'm some chai tea drinking, incense-burning, crystal-wearing hippy. Harrumph! My interest is much more intellectual than that.) (Even though jade is supposed to be good for the kidneys. And come to think of it, I do drink too many cocktails, and my kidneys could probably use the help.)

I really had to read up on the stuff, because honestly, prices are all over the map. There's a bangle currently listed on eBay with a starting bid of $8,000:

And here's one with a starting bid of $1,900:

And this one has a buy-it-now price of $58:

Now, I ask you. Can you make sense out of these prices? Because I can't. So, is this a recipe for getting ripped off or what? Yay!

I decided that my first jade-purchasing experience should occur in the China pavilion at Epcot. I reasoned that the Walt Disney Corporation would probably not want to get into deep doodoo for selling jade that is dyed, or treated with polymers, or even vastly overpriced. I mean, a little overpriced, sure. This is Disney, after all. I'd be paying a premium for their expertise, but I wouldn't walk out of there with a piece of junk.

So while That Stud Muffin I Married was checking out the hand-rolled Jasmine Pearl tea, I checked out the options in the jewelry department. After much deliberation (as much as five whole minutes, people) I bought a jade cabochon ring set in yellow gold, with little tiny diamonds on either side. I believed the saleswoman when she told me it was very good jade ... I really did. But I felt better when a jewelry store owner in Boston's Chinatown told me it was excellent quality. I guess that time I didn't rip myself off. Because I spent $400 on that ring.

Since then I've purchased one more piece--a carved pendant on eBay. Just so you know, the purchase price was way less than $400. In fact, the purchase price was less than the shipping from Hong Kong. So you see, I'm not absolutely opposed to ripping myself off--and buying cheap crap--if that's what I did. And I think it is. Let's put it this way; I don't think I'll be wearing my pendant into any jewelry stores in Chinatown. Unless I'm also wearing a t-shirt that says, in Chinese characters: "Rip me off; I'm a stupid American."

So--want to see what I wasted my money on bought? I'm no jewelry photographer, and this is the best I can do:

You can't tell from the picture, but the pendant has a dragon carved in it.

p.s. If you're interested in jade, this website is the best source of information I've found on-line (scroll down to see amazing pictures of jewelry) this website has a lot of information as well as pieces for sale, and Gump's has no information, but a lot of jade for sale.