31/01/2008

2008 Fashion Blogger Awards....x2

Edit: I spoke too soon. Clearly I am FAR behind on everything because there is actually another set of awards. I have to admit I'm not keeping up on my blogroll at the moment due to university work - I have massive backlogs for every blog that posts more than twice a week! So, take two!

I am in two minds about the idea of fashion blogger awards.

Mind One: Although I am usually skeptical about any kind of awards, there are so many great blogs out there and I think it's a great idea to share the love, especially when the mainstream press spend so much energy trying to put blogs down.

Mind Two: I can see the awards making bloggers more competitive, which could erode the great sense of community I think is there at the moment. I can also see several bloggers trying to set up their own awards and the whole thing becoming very confusing and pointless in the future.

I can only conclude that no one knows how awards will go in the future, whether they'll grow, flop, or get exploited (who knows, maybe the next years' will be sponsored by H&M as an apology!), and so it's a bit early to decide now. There are two sets of awards already, so I can see my confusion and pointlessness point coming true though, sad to say.

  • Jen at Mahalo Fashion is hosting the 2008 Fashion Blogger (F. A. B.) Awards. The project seems friendly and based around growing the community, and they're accepting nominations from anyone. Voting begins on the 1st of February, so go nominate!
  • The second set of awards, which I only just remembered although I'm sure I've seen them being mentioned before, are the 2008 Fabbies Fashion Blog Awards, which aim to encompass the whole of the "Lifestyle Blogosphere". I seem to have missed the nomination process, but voting is going on now. You have to register, but it only involves clicking a few buttons.

I have to say I'm not a great fan of the names for the awards. Maybe the cheesiness is because there are no dead fashion bloggers to be namesakes, and perhaps in a hundred years time (if blogs still exist) people will be celebrating the Bubbles or the Galas. Har har.

27/01/2008

I GOT SOCKS

A few weeks ago I ordered from Sock Dreams and last week it arrived! Me and my sister ordered together - I owed her half a birthday present still - and she got two pairs and I got three.

Their tagline is completely correct, they are the best sock store in the known universe, and probably the rest of the universe as well because I cannot imagine more fantastic socks!

I got two pairs of N Stripes that were on clearance, Magenta/Maroon and Purple/Raspberry. They were only $6 each. I have been wearing them over a pair of thin black tights because of the cold weather here. They come up halfway on my thighs although they do suffer from the effects of gravity over the day and start behaving more like OTKs - over the knee socks. Sock Dreams have infected me with their acronyms as well as with their love! I feel like I have sexy legs when I wear my N Stripes, especially the Magenta/Maroon pair because they are so sultry.

My other pair are Long Cuffable Scrunchable Socks in dark red. I haven't worn these yet but I can't wait and they are so long and thick and lovely I might skip the tights underneath. My sister got the Top-Striped OTK Tubes in Black with 3 White Stripes and the O Basics in a beige shade I can't check the name of because it won't display.

I asked my sister what she thought of her socks and she said "They're amazing. I've never felt socks like these, O Basics and tube socks. They're out there, bruv". Direct quote. I did tell her it was for my blog, maybe that was a mistake!

Earrings For The Unpierced: Part Two

Read about options for the unpierced in Earrings For The Unpierced: Part One!

The majority of my earrings are screw on. The other options are all too painful or too crappy looking in my opinion, and screw on earrings are as versatile as clips, but without the pain. On the right you can see my mole-y cheek and my fanciest pair of earrings. These are special occasion earrings for three reasons:

1. They are seriously blingin'.
2. They were £8.50, I consider this expensive for jewellery, so I do not want to lose them.
3. One of the screws is broken so it's like wearing one screw-on and one clip-on earring. Ugh.

I got them in a little craft shop that used to be on my local high street. Unfortunately, it has now closed down. Fortunately, Etsy exists!

The majority of screw-on earrings on Etsy are vintage. As I mentioned before, earrings for the unpierced are rarely made today. These antique Czechoslovakian earrings are from the 1920s and look quite heavy. A great advantage of wearing screw on earrings rather than pierced earrings is that it is possible to wear heavier designs without causing yourself pain. If you don't like purple, here is a blue and gold tone pair, also Czech. I don't like wearing gold coloured jewellery myself, but if they were silver coloured I would be all over them! Moving on a decade, this Sterling Silver Mexico Jade set includes bracelet and earrings, and is in an interesting Art Deco style. I think it would look great with a all-black outfit so that the jewellery was the centre of attention. Forward another decade and we have these Juliet Red Crystal earrings, which look to be in excellent condition.

I also love these sweet Teapot earrings, if only they were in silver, along with these Golden Chrysanthemum Earrings. Sigh. I am very tempted by these Pearl and Copper Swirl earrings (love the rhyming name) and the seller has several lovely unpierced earrings in her shop.

For more screw on earrings I recommend you search Etsy and eBay, try Glitzy Secrets for clip-ons, and for magnetic earrings try eBay again.

Alternatively, you can try making your own! Here is a pair that I made myself. I'm really proud of these and I love them. I got the earring findings/backs from a local craft shop but if you don't have a local craft shop or it doesn't stock screw-on earring backs, there are plenty of places you can get the findings online (the Two Es - Etsy and eBay - again, for instance).

The design is based on one from the book Creative Beading: Over 60 Original Jewellery Projects and Variations by Juju Vail. I originally picked it up because "Juju" is one of my nicknames. Seriously. I am a complete nerd. The designs in it are pretty and modern, and the instructions are really clear. Projects include earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings and variations are suggested for each of the designs too. I also really like the ideas for weaving large beads out of small beads. It's a great book and I recommend it whether you are a beginner or more advanced.

17/01/2008

Book Review: How To Walk in High Heels

This book is advertised as "Hilariously funny". Like almost every other book I've read that was described in this way, It Is Not. I sniggered once, and that was at a quote from Miss Piggy.

How To Walk in High Heels
is subtitled "The Girl's Guide to Everything", which is a bit of a lofty claim for a volume less than 500 pages long to make. The book is divided into sections, each focusing on a facet of modern life. Unfortunately, it doesn't start off well. The so-called 'Foreword' (written by John Galliano), is less than half a page long and is devoted entirely to extolling the virtues and style authority status of Ms. Morton.

The style advice that follows is really dull, pretty much all of it can be found elsewhere, and it's also really prescriptive. Morton insists that Brazilian waxes are part of basic grooming. Yes, basic grooming. Really. I will never, ever, EVER, EVER(!!!) have a "Brazilian", and I don't even shave my legs in winter, so she can take that advice and shove it up her hairless...yeah. The best style advice in the book is 'How to look like you've just stepped out of a salon', contributed by Sam McKnight. The most fun is the instruction on how to "Aisle Glide" - which is basically wearing high heels to the supermarket so that you can use the trolley to balance yourself.

After the dreary style advice section is over, it improves. The 'Being Socially Adept' section is pretty good. I like the short politics section and the instructions on how to play poker, chess, and bet are a nice touch. How To Walk In High Heels also briefly covers art appreciation (piece by Vivienne Westwood), etiquette, and has further sections on homes and gardens, and cooking. Anyone reading this blog is too technologically advanced for the "Tackling Your Technophobia" section. I skimmed over the house-buying and driving advice because I wouldn't be able to judge whether it was useful and adequate. The packing advice from Anya Hindmarch is quite good as well. In general though, the book features a lot of information that I would think most women would already know, or could learn from better sources. The best pieces of advice all come from other contributors, not Morton herself.

The instructions referred to in the books title - 'How To Walk In High Heels' - are very long and detailed. But they begin with the advice that you should buy designer shoes with high heels, particularly Manolo Blahniks, and don't take the reader's budget - or shoe size for that matter - into account.

For a great deal of the book the tone is relentlessly "posh" and Morton comes off as being an upper-class old-money type, but she also gives advice on what to do if you are broke and things to do to entertain yourself if you have no money. This didn't really sit well with me. How can the type of person who advocates travelling everywhere by taxi and relentlessly drops designer names as if they are personal friends - and some of them ARE - really know how to "cope with poverty"? The state of "poverty" she discusses only lasts a week and would be better and less offensively described as "being overdrawn".

Morton seems obsessed with marriage proposals. She keeps mentioning them and it's really irritating. At one point, she says "Marriage proposals: If its nine months and there's no action it's time to move on" and there is no indication that this is a joke. Whaaat? No offense intended to people who have married their partners within that amount of time, but I would imagine most people would never marry anyone after only nine months, let alone make that the deadline! I don't think comments about marriage proposals like this really belong in a book which is trying to be a modern guide to a stylish life.

I mentioned in a previous post that Morton comes down pretty hard on the idea that anyone would want to darn socks. As I said before, what is wrong with darning one's socks? Morton also advises women to avoid public transport and take taxis as often as possible, mostly because it is easier to wear high heels if you don't have to spend much time actually walking. In short, this book lacks any ethical or environmental consideration whatsoever. It was only published in 2005 so there isn't any excuse for it.

The book does have an index, and some of the quotes used are really good. The Miss Piggy one I sniggered at was 'Only time can heal your broken heart, just as only time can heal his broken arms and legs'. Brilliant.

I don't recommend you buy this book unless designer high-heeled shoes come in your size and you need to learn how to walk in them, or you'd like to read the short articles by the other contributors, which are almost all good. Even then it's not worth the cover price.

Check it out of your local library like I did, or if you're in the UK, get it for £3.75 from GreenMetropolis.

13/01/2008

Eleven Rules for Obtaining Free Cosmetics Samples Online

Did you know that the internet is just filled with cosmetics companies willing to give you free stuff? Because it is. Thanks to the internet, I get regular samples from companies like Nivea...and well, Nivea. I do get samples from other companies, but they aren't regular in the slightest. Here are a few things you should know about The Wonderful World of Free Stuff!

1. Google is your friend.


To find free stuff, just search using the keywords "free stuff" and your country, or the acronym for your country, if you live somewhere which is abbreviated like the UK or USA. There's a search button at the bottom of this page if you want to do this now. Once you find a site, go to the "Beauty and Health" section. The other sections are usually pretty rubbish unless you're a parent with a baby, they seem mostly filled with catalogues and brochures.

2. Some samples require a visit to the beauty counter.

I know! Horrendous isn't it! They actually want you to leave the house and go into a department store just to get a free sample! I don't want to have to spend ten minutes telling a salesperson that no, I don't want a free makeover or to try that new perfume, I just want my sample. Read the freebie list carefully. Usually they tell you whether the sample has to be collected or not so you only click through to the ones that will come through the post.

3. "Within 28 Days" means "Within two years, if you're lucky".
Free samples take a long time to arrive, if they arrive at all. Some sites will state in the terms and conditions that free samples only go to the first 10,000 applicants, for example. Sometimes stuff just gets 'lost' in the post. Be optimistic, but don't camp out by the front door for days and then waste time writing a complaint letter to the company. It's free, chill out, and don't count on it actually arriving.

4. Make sure you check or uncheck the right boxes.
You need to make sure you check the "I agree to the terms and conditions" box, but leave the "Yes! Please send my details to other companies that I might be interested in" type box unchecked. You do not want to have your information sold and start recieving loads of junk mail.

5. Check their privacy policy.

Just to be sure, check the site's privacy policy. Make sure they won't be selling on your details regardless of any boxes.

6. Use a different name.

Use an abbreviated or mispelt version of the name you usually use when you sign up for samples. That way, if you do get any junk mail, you'll be able to tell immediately from the name in the address box. Write "Return to sender" on it and pop it back in the post.

7. Be aware that foundation samples are always in their middle shade unless they actually let you choose, which is rare. Happened once.

I hate the middle shade. It always has some really stupid name like "sand", or one like "natural" or "nude", which is pretty offensive because most people's natural skin colour is nothing like that. I have no idea why they always send out their middle shade. It's a complete waste of time for most people, including me, as I am far too pale for it. "Natural" looks orange next to my skin! Frustrating!

8. Don't let the stuff go off!

Within the E.U., all cosmetics, including samples, have a little symbol like a opened jar with a number on it. This shows how many months the product will last before it expires. I don't know what the law is in other countries, but you should make a note of when you got the sample and make sure you use it before the date, and don't open it and leave it lying around.

9. Shampoo samples last for more than one use.
I have pretty long hair and I still manage to get three or four uses out of one shampoo sample. They are great for holidays, and you can always decant them into bottles.

10. Do a patch test.

Please avoid having terrible allergic reactions. Test it on a small area first and make sure it doesn't have any negative effects.

11. Sometimes perfume samples are on cards, sometimes they are liquid in tiny vials.

Read the page carefully if you don't want a card, but sometimes they don't tell you what you're getting, which is how I wound up with a few.

Some of the samples I have got include:

  • Many different creams from Nivea - they all claim to do different things but have remarkably similar ingredient lists
  • Dermalogica samples, which I haven't tested yet. I did a online skin analysis so they're personalised.
  • A free jar of Rimmel's "Cool Matte" foundation. I won this in a random draw, actually. I'm glad I did, because now I know it's crap, and I might have wasted money on it otherwise. It's pretty terrible in my opinion, dries too fast and looks a bit crusty if I'm not careful! Ew!
  • Many perfume samples. I have loads! Sitting on my shelf are: both Ghost perfumes (quite nice), Anna Sui's "Secret Wish" (alright) and a card sample of "Princess" by Vera Wang (revoltingly sweet).
Good luck amassing freebies, and remember, patience is a virtue and whining "Where is my free nail polish?" at the door won't help. That free nail polish never arrived :(

06/01/2008

More Bests of 2007

I wasn't the only one summing up 2007 yesterday, Craftster did the same!

Check out the stunning Bird Tree Corset, the amazing dress and tutorial the creator calls the Red Monstrosity, and Craft Challenge "Queen of Craftyness Tiaras" winner, Royalty Runs With Scissors.

More practical? The Dark Creature is on the Dark Side of Tote Bags, whilst this guitar-shaped sling bag rocks and has a tutorial.

Finally, this isn't wearable, but it is seriously awesome - Heroes: The Board Game. I think I may have to make one so that I can play with my similarly obsessed friends!
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