Dress uP: 5 Fall Essentials

9 09 2010

September, while my favorite month, is a tough time to get dressed. Mornings are brisk, afternoons sometimes sweltering and evenings chilly. It’s too early for tights but too late for sandals and most of our wardrobes hang in a weird limbo until mid-October.

Here are 5 essential staples to get you through the transitional period that is September:

Gauzy Scarves– Scarves are an amazing and simple way to autumnize summer clothes. I like to fold them end-to-end and loop once around neck, tucking the ends through the loop.

Gauze scarf ($28) http://www.nordstrom.com

Ankle Boots– a perfect choice when sandals seem too summery and knee boots feel like overkill. Wear with anything from little dresses with bare legs to skinny jeans.

Chinese Laundry Ankle Boots ($119) http://www.piperlime.com

Jean Leggings– I flat out refuse to call them jeggings but jean leggings are huge this year. If the skinny jeans thing isn’t YOUR thing, I’d suggest sporting them with a longer top and tucking them into boots. Otherwise, pair them with ballet flats, lace up oxfords or a stiletto ankle boot.

The most comfortable jeans I've ever worn ($69.50) http://www.gap.com

Shirt Dress– a button down shirtdress is a perfect September staple. On warmer days you can roll the sleeves and throw on a chunky necklace. On cooler days, belt it and throw on a pair of leggings. Flannel plaid is very popular this season but I always love a crisp white shirtdress as well.

Flannel Shirtdress ($48) http://www.hipsterchic.com

Military Jacket– I’ll admit that it took me a few wearings until I no longer felt like a member of St. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but the feeling wore off and now I’m quite at home in my H+M Military jacket. It’s a little more chic than a denim jacket and adds a bit of an edge to your ensemble.

Steal: military jacket ($24.99) http://www.target.com

Splurge: Military Blazer ($234) http://www.nordstrom.com

So there you have it, 5 things sure to make your season easier and more fashionable. Plus, they’re all interchangeable. Hope you enjoy your September as much as I do.


Change it uP: Meredith’s Fabulous Friday

12 08 2010

My friend Meredith is absolutely fearless when it comes to changing her look. In the ten years we’ve been friends I’ve had her honey, chocolate, copper, golden and back again in the blink of an eye.  When she recently cut her mid-back length hair into a Mia Farrow-inspired Pixie cut, we decided that her color needed to change as well. With the help of the talented makeup artist, Michael Gwaltney, who designed her 60’s Edie Sedgwick “Mod” look for an art opening, I present the new Meredith!

Meredith Before:

From Long Hair to Pixie

I love the short hair, but I’m not loving this color…

And the lovely and courageous Meredith after spending the afternoon at Edris Salon…

White Lady

Meredith with the brilliant Michael Gwaltney

Andy and Edie

Many thanks to Meredith for her bravery and the folks at Edris Salon for encouraging constant growth and creativity.

What’s uP: A Few Words on Long Hair

2 08 2010

When it comes to long hair on women, there is a very fine line between sexy and religious cult.

Scary! Crystal Gale, admiring her hair cape

Sexy! Julia Roberts knows when it's time for a trim

Now before you write me off as one of those chop happy hairdressers who believes that every woman over the age of 35 must surrender to the dreaded mid-length mom cut, let me say that I love long hair on women of any age. As a matter of fact, my own 33-year old hair is what I refer to as “mermaid length” this summer, simply because I haven’t come up with my next look yet. But despite my long locks, I insist on getting a haircut every 6-8 weeks to get rid of my pot scrubber ends.

Hair brings up many strong emotions for most women. We tend to hold on to styles (perhaps for too long) that we wore when we felt our most confident or sexy and while we probably can’t recall the best haircut we’ve ever received, we will never forget our worst. And that scars a lot of us. One of my worst haircuts ever came from my father by way of a bang trim. It was the summer of ’89 and I was a hotshot (ha!) middle schooler who had recently traded in these enormous coke bottle glasses for soft lenses. My self-confidence was on the climb from non-existent to hanging on by a thread when my dear father offered to trim my bangs in order to get them out of my newly contacted eyes.

It seemed easy enough. I had the “waterfall fringe” of New Jersey in the late 80’s: a huge bouffant of hair that was teased up and to the side and then sprayed into submission with a few pieces that were curled and combed onto the forehead. I gave my dad strict instructions that he was only to touch the fringy forehead pieces and NOTHING ELSE. But my dad, being the armchair Vidal Sassoon that he was, decided to mess with the waterfall. It took him about 0.25 seconds to comb the whole sculpture down and cut it straight across with a pair of eyebrow scissors and in the blink of an electric blue eye, I was left with a look to rival Pee Wee. I literally didn’t leave the house for three weeks (Thank God for summer vacation and Blockbuster) and I wouldn’t wear bangs again until my late 20’s.

Something like this has happened to just about every woman I’ve ever met. One childhood friend of mine has never grown her hair long because on a school trip to the zoo, a llama chewed off her ponytail when her back was turned. Another friend has never worn her hair above her bra strap because her mom insisted on giving her at- home Dorothy Hamill haircuts for the better part of her childhood. Women flee to a safe hair haven and in doing so, tend to go to the extremes.

Now when it comes to long hair, many gals think it’s the definition of womanly. And those silly, extension wearing Victoria’s Secret Models aren’t helping matters (Good God, where is Linda Evangelista when we need her?!) In their quest for long, flowing, underwear goddess hair, women either bypass a regular trim entirely, or go to the hairdresser with a year’s worth of scraggly ends and ask to please leave the length because they are “growing it.” To these women, I have only this to say: You are a half inch and a French braid away from Branch Davidian. So unless you have religious convictions that state otherwise, please, PLEASE shape that hair up. You will still be hot. Your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/lover/parent will still love you if they are worth a damn and your hair will actually grow faster. Yes, you heard me correctly. Your hair will grow faster. Because all those nasty split ends won’t be causing breakage.

Here are my tips to having long luxurious hair:

  • Have regular haircuts or trims (every 8-10 weeks if possible)
  • Every once in a while, have your hairdresser cut an inch or more off the length
  • Deep conditioning masks every week. I am in love with the Mud Mask by Aestelance right now

    Mud Mask by Aestelance

  • Folic Acid and Biotin are incredible for hair growth and health. If you don’t like to take a million pills, I recommend an over the counter pre-natal vitamin. They are packed with Folic Acid and Biotin
  • Don’t forget about your scalp. Healthy hair starts with healthy insides and continues with a healthy scalp. When lathering, really manipulate the scalp to stimulate hair follicles
  • Throw out those stupid glued in extensions. They ruin hair and feel disgusting. If you absolutely must add length, I recommend the ones that clip in.
  • Brush your hair. It seems like a no-brainer but many women will brush their hair in the morning and forget about it for the rest of the day. Brushing your hair with a bristle brush stimulates hair growth and disperses natural oils through the ends
  • Trust your stylist! The best haircut I ever had was a shoulder-length shag with full bangs. It was like nothing I had ever worn before and made me feel sexy and completely badass. I never would have thought to do it but I left it in the hands of a very gifted stylist and was treated to something very special.

    One of my favorite looks

Eat uP, Drink uP: Take a walk down Washington Street

14 07 2010

I’m very fortunate to have an incredibly scenic commute to work. Every day I walk up Washington Street, from Christopher to 14th (where I work) and back again, and marvel at how many great bars and restaurants are along this 10-block west side street. As a matter of fact, you can do your own little “pub crawl” without ever stepping off Washington Street.

Begin your descent at 14th Street, and walk one block down to the corner of 13th and Washington. Here you will find one of the original Meatpacking biker bars: Hogs and Heifers (859 Washington Street), aka the “Coyote Ugly” bar. This is basically a disgusting dive bar but hey, beer is beer, right? Plus, it’s always a hoot to see tourists bring their kids here: “Look, Johnny! There are SLUTS dancing on the bar!”

The Biergarten at the Standard: You'll never see it this empty again

Cross the street and you’ll find The Standard Grill (848 Washington Street) and their outdoor Biergarten, serving up beer, German-style snacks and boozed up chicks in 5″ heels. Get there early because it gets packed and it gets loud.

If the scene at the Standard isn’t for you, cross back over Washington and grab some thai food at SEA (835 Washington Street). There’s outside seating with a great view of the High Line and the drunken hooligans at the Biergarten.

Food is served here. Really.

In the mood for diner food, or doing an AM walk down Washington? Grab a breakfast wrap at Hector’s Café (Corner of Little West 12th & Washington Street). It looks like the shadiest diner in the world but it’s inexpensive and delicious. I recommend the Florentine wrap.

If you’re in the mood for something a little more upscale and Italian, Barbuto (775 Washington Street) is a fabulous place with great ambiance. With outdoor seating, daily menus and brunch on the weekends, you can’t go wrong here.

Barbuto. But look out the window: it's Tortilla Flats!

Now if it’s cheap, not really authentic but still delicious Mexican you’re craving, you’re in luck! Everyone’s favorite west side drunkery, Tortilla Flats (767 Washington Street) is just across West 12th Street.  If you’re not in the mood to have your memory erased by a barrage of tequila and bingo, not a problem. There’s a new wine bar next door called Entwine (765 Washington Street) that has an outside garden, wine tasting downstairs and a more loungey, sophisticated vibe.

On the corner of Bank and Washington Streets you’ll find the best happy hour deal on the west side at Automatic Slim’s (733 Washington Street): $3 draft beer, $4 wine. It can get crowded and loud here but there’s always good music and funny bartenders. Oh, and cheap booze.

Continue your trek to The Upholstery Store (713 Washington Street), one of my absolute favorite places in the city to get wine and a snack. From the outside it appears to be a home furnishings store (hence the name) but what’s inside is an intimate space filled with friendly bartendresses, overpriced pretzels and a lovely wine selection.

Last but not least, before hopping onto the PATH train back to the Jerz, we stumble upon Malatesta Vino & Cucina (649 Washington Street), a terrific little Italian restaurant on the corner of Washington and Christopher Streets. There’s plenty to see on Christopher Street so this is perfect even if you just want to sit outside, have a carafe of Chianti and take in the sights.

Happy west side eating and drinking!

What’s uP: Broke-Ass Stuart’s Goddamn Website

17 06 2010

For the Love of Carlo Rossi

Liquid Amnesia

With Father’s Day quickly approaching, I took a trip to my neighborhood liquor store to stock up on my Sangria accoutrements. I’ll never give up the entire recipe but I can (freely) admit that one of the ingredients is a small jug of Carlo Rossi red. When I returned home I got to thinking, “What kind of wine IS this, exactly?” One hour of googling later, I still don’t have an answer to that ridiculous question but I may have found my new favorite website: Broke-ass Stuart’s Goddamn Website.

In their own words, the site states:

“We write for busboys, poets, social workers, students, artists, musicians, magicians, mathematicians, maniacs, yodelers and everyone else out there who wants to enjoy life not as a rich person, but as a real person. Namely, we write for you.”

During my wasted time searching for the key grape varietal in a $6 jug of wine, I stumbled upon Broke-ass Stuart’s ode to Carlo Rossi and got a good laugh and a wave of nostalgia just thinking about that liquid amnesia, Carlo Rossi served in a plastic cup. Here’s the link to that post and I urge you to check out the rest of the site. I love it.


Read uP: the 2010 pH-Approved Summer Reading List

14 06 2010

Now that all the good television has ended, I’ve decided to focus my time on more important things that actually feed my brain rather than numb it. Since most of my weekends from June-September will be spent relaxing on the beach at Sea Girt with a bloody mary and a handsome husband, I thought I’d put together a little required summer reading list.

I am, in no way, shape or form a literary critic (please keep this in mind while perusing my snippets), but I read constantly and I know a good book when I see one. Some are old and some are new, but here are my picks for Summer 2010:

1.) The Help by Kathryn Stockett- If you haven’t already read this, I suggest running to the bookstore immediately because The Help was by far the best book I read last year. If you’re reading on the beach, please be careful that you don’t burn to a crisp because it’s that good. The summary doesn’t do it justice, just trust me on this one. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=the+help&x=0&y=0

2.) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins- This is actually the first book in a young adult trilogy (the third book is due out this summer). Narrated by 16 year-old Katniss, a female narrator we can actually look up to (suck it, Bella), The Hunger Games tells the story of a postapocolyptic United States that has turned into 12 districts. Every year, one boy and one girl from each district are chosen to participate in a televised event in which they fight to the death. Don’t be put off that this is a young adult novel. It’s a brutal story with a kickass heroine that’s fun for the entire family. http://www.amazon.com/Hunger-Games-Suzanne-Collins/dp/0439023483/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276275633&sr=1-1

3.) The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho- I had never read this book but it always seems to come up when people talk about their desert island reads. I finally picked it up and understand the hype. The Alchemist is a simple fable about a young shepherd who leaves home to pursue his dreams. Sounds boring as hell, right? But it’s the simplicity of the story and the messages the shepherd finds along his journey that make this story ring true for so many people. http://www.amazon.com/Alchemist-Paulo-Coelho/dp/0061122416/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276276074&sr=1-1

4.) Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok- I got an advanced copy of this book and started spreading the news about it months before it even came out. Girl in Translation is narrated by Kimberly, a Chinese immigrant who moves to New York with her mother after her father dies. Together they fight for survival while living in roach infested apartments throughout the boroughs and working together in a sweatshop on the Lower East Side. A beautifully narrated story that’s filled with hope despite the bleakness of their conditions. http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Translation-Jean-Kwok/dp/1594487561/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276276386&sr=1-1

5.) Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen- Read this book before the movie starring none other than Edward Cullen comes out! It took me about 50 pages before I really got into this one, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. The novel is told in flashback, by Jacob, now in his 90s, as he recalls the time spent as an elephant trainer in a traveling circus during the depression. It has a real John Steinbeck quality to it, but none of those stories had a character quite like Rosie. http://www.amazon.com/Water-Elephants-Novel-Sara-Gruen/dp/1565125606/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276276807&sr=1-1

6.) Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez- You don’t have to be in the beauty industry to appreciate this true story of an American woman who starts a cosmetology school for women in Kabul. It really explores the lives of women living in Afghanistan and the intricacies of living in such an oppressive country. Fascinating read. http://www.amazon.com/Kabul-Beauty-School-American-Behind/dp/0812976738/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276277203&sr=1-1

7.) Mind Hunter by John Douglas- If you’ve ever read or seen The Silence of the Lambs, the character of Jack Crawford (Jodi’s boss) is based on the author of this book. John Douglas essentially “created” criminal profiling for the FBI. This is not a book for the faint of heart but is a thrilling read about the criminal mind and how to catch a killer. http://www.amazon.com/Mind-Hunter-Inside-Elite-Serial/dp/0671528904/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276277633&sr=1-1

8.) Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum- This is the story of Trudy, a German history professor and her German immigrant mother, Anna, a regular civilian who became the mistress of one of the higher-ranking Nazi officers in WWII. What sets it apart from so many WWII novels is that it views things from the perspective of ordinary German civilians.


9.) Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See- I hate to use the term “historical fiction” because that makes me think of a passage about “heaving bosoms breaking loose from their corset,” but this is a lovely and sentimental story that is, yes, historical fiction, about the lifelong friendship between two Chinese women and the sacrifices they make for each other throughout their lives. Plus, it has lots of detailed information about foot binding, which is always a plus! http://www.amazon.com/Snow-Flower-Secret-Fan-Novel/dp/0812980352/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276567415&sr=1-1

10.) The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga– Part Slumdog Millionaire, part A Bronx Tale, this is a comic novel set in India. It tells the tale of Balram, a chauffeur who transforms from a hardworking boy growing up in the slums of India to a determined killer. My client lent it to me two years ago and I have yet to return it. Sorry, Laura! http://www.amazon.com/White-Tiger-Novel-Aravind-Adiga/dp/1416562605/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276567738&sr=1-1

Eat uP: The Crooked Knife

15 05 2010

Sometimes it’s plain old annoying trying to go out in the Meatpacking District. Take for example this past Cinco de Mayo. A few coworkers and I wanted a simple margarita, guac and chips optional. We headed over to one of our favorite neighborhood Mexican joints to find an around-the-corner line of drunk people in plastic Coors Light Cinco de Mayo hats and an hour-long wait for a table. Next place, same situation with double the frat boys and double the wait. Disgusted, we took off for the PATH train only to stumble upon the best new bar/restaurant 14th Street has seen in YEARS: The Crooked Knife.

We got our margarita fix that night but in the times we’ve been back, we’ve opted for wine (none of which is more than $9 a glass and it’s not Franzia). The pours are healthy, the bartenders are hilarious and the manager couldn’t be more accommodating.

Foodwise, The Crooked Knife does not disappoint. It’s standard American fare, reasonably priced, creatively prepared and above all else, delicious. Our favorite dishes have been the Shrimp Scampi appetizer, Fish and Chips, Calamari Salad and Scallops but from what we’ve seen at other tables, the dishes all look wonderfully well thought out. As an added bonus, the homemade bread is a tasty addition to the meal.

The Crooked Knife will hopefully become a beloved neighborhood joint and not an overpriced tourist trap like so many of the other places orbiting 14th street. We’ve only been there three times but we’re already in love.

The Crooked Knife

232 West 14th Street (between 7th and 8th)

New York, NY 10011


Make uP: Pack Your Bags

19 04 2010

From the time I was five years old, I’ve had bags under my eyes big enough to take a two-week trip. My lovely French Nana would tell me that it was a Mediterranean thing but it wasn’t until many years later when I realized that Mediterranean=Inherited from Nana. Fortunately, I’ve learned a few tricks that turn my suitcases into wallets.

Good Eye Cream- At night I remove my eye makeup with baby oil on a cotton ball. The oil keeps the skin around my eyes nice and hydrated during the night. In the AM, I dab a little Phyto Contour by Yonka under my eyes and massage it in for about 30 seconds. The Phyto Contour tingles at first (similar to Noxema) but it gets rid of all swelling in the eye area, minimizing the bags. A gentle massage will increase circulation, brightening the eye area.

Yonka Phyto Contour ($47- pricey as hell but worth every cent)

Highlighter, aka ” The Best Concealers on the Market”– I honestly don’t know how I lived as long as I did without a highlighter. Unlike a thick, cakey concealer that looks more like warpaint than makeup, a highlighter will illuminate your eye area, making you look 5 years younger. There are two I love in opposite ends of the price spectrum:

Yves St. Laurent Touche Éclat ($40 @ sephora.com)- This is an instant pick-me-up that I usually splurge on in the winter months when I’m whiter than a glass of milk with big, black circles under my eyes. A few dots blended around the eyes are all you’ll need for a completely refreshed look.

Revlon Color Stay Under Eye Concealer ($9.99)– Although I’m not a fan of the Color Stay foundations (too thick for my liking), I’m in love with the concealer. It’s extremely light, doesn’t crumble in the corners of the eyes and is a great summer alternative for the pricier YSL one.  

Nefeli Instant Eye Rejuvenating Mask ($65 for 3 eye masks @ nefeli.com)- The night before my wedding I slipped on a wet floor at the Cranford Hotel and landed flat on my knee. It was swollen to the size of a grapefruit, walking was agony and I cried for the better part of the night. When I woke up the next day, I looked like a monster with big puffy eyes to match my fat, puffy knee. Luckily, I had one of these masks in my medicine cabinet and in 20 minutes it erased all the crying damage from the night before. These little beauties use Chinese herbs to address urgent skin needs around the eyes such as dry sensitive skin, fine lines and wrinkles, eye puffiness and bags and/or dark circles. Although temporary, it’s like a 20 minute eye lift.

My bag lady days are far from over, but at least, with the help of a few tried and true products, they’re few and far between.

What’s uP: Babo Botanicals

9 04 2010

Babo Botanicals Full Hair Care Line

Any woman who spends money coloring her hair knows how important a good shampoo is. We think nothing of spending just a little extra to make sure our locks are shiny and glorious and most of us simply do not trust cheap supermarket shampoos. So why is it that we don’t put the same care and effort into what goes onto children’s heads?

Kate Solomon, founder of Babo Botanicals, has created something very special: a professional hair care line geared towards children and their mothers. The Babo line, consisting of shampoos, detanglers, soaps and lotions, are:

  • Certified organic
  • 100% Vegan
  • Produced locally on a certified organic New York farm
  • Sulfate Free
  • NOT tested on animals
  • Free of synthetic fragrances and color
  • Dermatologist and allergy tested
  • Color safe for Mom or Dad’s hair

Babo comes in four different lines:

Pink (Berry Primrose) for smoothing and conditioning; especially effective on curly or wavy hair

Green (Cucumber Aloe Vera) for cleansing; especially after sports and swimming

Yellow (Oatmilk Calendula) for newborns and those with sensitive or dry scalp or skin

Blue (Rosemary Tea Tree) for lice removal

Since I won’t support anything on this blog that I haven’t tried personally, I put the shampoos and detanglers and the Oatmilk Calendula Baby Lotion to immediate use.

For one week, I used the Berry Primrose on my own hair and noticed that it was wonderfully shiny and full and that the spray detangler was more than enough conditioner. I also sent a Cucumber Aloe and another Berry Primrose to my nieces to use and their mothers reported that their girls’ hair had never looked better and that the kids loved using the spray detanglers on their own.

As for the lotion, I placed it in the color area of my salon and the staff descended on it like hungry dogs on a chicken wing. Our hands are constantly in water and chemicals and the lotion is incredibly soothing and non-greasy. We’ve also had a number of clients comment on the very light and comforting fragrance. Working so close to people’s faces, it’s important not to use anything that’s too overpowering, so the Oatmeal Calendula lotion is just perfect.

For kids, Babo offers a clean, honest product that is non-irritating and fun to use. For mothers, Babo is a natural alternative to the excessively perfumed shampoos that act more like a  detergent than a shampoo, stripping hair of its natural shine and vibrance (not to mention hair color).

I’ve already begun to recommend the Babo line to my clients with children and will continue to buy it for people as gifts. Thank you, Kate, for providing us with such a wonderful, responsible product line.

Babo Berry Primrose Gift Set

What’s uP: Blogs That Make Me Laugh

25 03 2010

People often send me links to blogs that I look at for a few seconds and move right along. These three blogs, however,  have been cracking me up for a week straight and I thought I would share.

Blog #1: These Colors Don’t Run: A Gentle Reminder That Tattoos Are Permanent http://aseriesofchoices.blogspot.com/

A biting commentary on some unfortunate body art. My personal favorite is from February 1, 2010.

Blog #2: Hot Chicks with Douchebags http://www.hotchickswithdbags.blogspot.com/

I think the name pretty much says it all. Loads of pics, full throttle snark and haiku!

Blog #3: Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber http://lesbianswholooklikejustinbieber.tumblr.com/

I have no idea what the obsession is with Justin Bieber. Even if I was 14 I’d still think he looked like a fetus. But this blog is hilarious; even New York Magazine thought so.

Move over, Timberlake...there's a NEW Justin in town