Monday, April 30, 2012

Daedalus and Icarus and Some Really Cool Sandals

I just love those shopping/browsing moments where you see something that makes you freeze for a second and take it in. I truly believe that in those moments, there is art happening, and not just rampant consumerism as many would have you believe;  these two things are not mutually exclusive to my way of thinking.

So at the end of last week, this happened.

The Ikaria Sandal
by Ancient Greek Sandals

I shouldn’t like this as much as I do. If this sandal were on Project Runway, it would get told by Nina Garcia that it is too literal an interpretation; too costumey to be chic. Then Michael Kors would undoubtedly chime in and say that the designer had at last uncovered the long-lost Achilles’ heel of good taste, a sound byte that the network would run over and over in the promotional trailer. I love Project Runway, by the way. I’m just sayin’.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Soapbox Saturday: Tandemonium

Today I am dedicating Soapbox Saturday to raise awareness about an issue that, through no lack of effort on the part of experts everywhere, appears to maintain it's status as one of the most frequently-committed atrocities the world over. Severity may vary on a regional basis (hello New Jersey, LA, and Glasgow...), but the problem is pandemic.

The self-tanning pandemic claims another victim
Orange Face Syndrome
photo courtesy LA

I remember very vividly my first experience, in the 1980’s, with a self-tanner (the first of its kind) called QT. QT was short for Quick-Tan, and I am pretty sure anyone who tried this first-generation self-tanner will have a very vivid recollection of it, if only for the fact that it turned you the most delicious shade of Jaffa orange.

Coppertone QT lotion. The origin of the orange face. 

My first time out of the gate, I put on four coats of the stuff. The next day, I wore an unseasonable pair of shorts to school, as you do when you are a teenager in Wisconsin and the temperature crests just above the freezing line (33 degrees? Flip-flop weather, definitely). I pranced around in my shorts that day, the envy of all the school. Absolutely everyone commented on how tan my legs looked, something my teenaged mind not only interpreted as a compliment, but also took as an indicaton of the elevation of my social status. Had any of my admirers gotten just a little bit closer, say, within a five-foot radius, they would have seen the rust-stained crevasses between the fingers of both hands, the brown blotches at the back of my knees, and the iodine-colored rings around my ankles, demarking the end of the self- tanner and the beginning of the virgin skin of my feet (the hallmark of Wisconsin winter-pale teenaged shame).

Two or three days later, it started coming off in chunks. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to what that looked like.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Pullin' Birds

There is something about the proliferation of bird prints on both the runway and the high street that speaks to me this season.  Apart from the obvious iconic imagery of spring that resonates during transitional seasons, I think that the real draw here for me is that there is an inherent humour within the print itself. And a garment that doesn't take itself too seriously after so many past seasons of heavy sweater dressing, rock chic accessories, and heavy boots,  is a garment that is welcome in my closet any time. It is an ode to spring sans the obvious saccharine of this season's hyper-girly pastels (I still love you, Prada and Louis Vuitton). It is a great alternative for those of us who just can't wrap our minds around why anyone would ever want to wrap their nearly six-foot frame in lilac and peach lace.  Here are some of my picks.

Top left: Marc by Marc Jacobs top at Barney's NY,  Tibi pant at Moda Operandi,
ASOS tee at  Bottom:Warehouse blouse, New Look Tee,  Fiorelli bag at New Look,
and Tibi blouse from Moda Operandi.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Social Pop-Around: Emergency Measures for a Casual Environment

You can never be too careful. There is a social practice over here in the UK often referred to as the “pop-around.” In my highland town, it is a widespread and very social practice. Simply put, a pop-around is the act of dropping-by, or “popping-round” someone’s house unannounced. Most often for tea and a chat (or a “blether” as they say up here), but sometimes on the rare special occasion, if you’re really, really lucky, they bring booze.

I quite enjoy a good pop-around… But let me tell you, when I first moved over here, the very thought of it used to strike fear into the very cockles of my heart. I grew up in the midwestern United States. Because of this, it is deeply imbedded in my psyche that you would never dream of “imposing” on someone without a phone call first, and even then, said phone call would have to involve no less than ten minutes of dialogue such as “oh no, really, I don’t want to bother you, are you sure its not an imposition? Oh I see…yes, but are you sure you’re sure?”….to which the person on the other end of the phone would reply “Of course I’m sure, but only if you are, I know how busy you are and I don’t want you to go to any trouble on my account, really.” These exchanges would often default into a stalemate, and no further human contact would be necessary, solving the immediate problem by alleviating the need for appropriate clothing. But I digress. 

The point is, these impromptu social visits present a very real opportunity to quite literally get caught with your pants down.

Doorbell.... Oh. Crap.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Road Test: Orofluido Hair Oil Elixir

There is a certain amount of maintenance that is an inescapable reality of daily life. Plants need to be watered, animals fed, the oil in the car… get it. I won’t beat it into the ground. The point being, the commitment over the course of one’s life is staggering if you consider it in its totality.

As women, we already know that these same rules apply to beauty. That whole “oh, this old thing, I just threw this on” claim that people make when they have clearly made an effort makes us collectively roll our eyes. Or at least, it ought to. We know you went to some effort, (because we did too) and it’s okay. It doesn’t mean anything other than perhaps you are in possession of a healthy amount of self-respect. I think it was Dolly Parton who famously once said, “it costs a lot of lot of money to look this cheap.” That was and is one of the most honest accounts of the work that makes up the beauty commitment I have ever heard.

I certainly don’t begrudge the money or effort spent over the course of a lifetime on the pursuit of the perfect beauty product. Quite the contrary, I find it fun and surprisingly social for a pursuit that is largely done in solitude in front of a bathroom mirror. I do however, find myself edging closer and closer to the fence line of Camp Lazyass when it comes to the regular daily application of these same products that are meant to change my sartorial world for the better.

So it is this sentiment I carry with me as I have come to the realization that I am a woman who needs to oil her head.

Orofluido Hair Oil Elixir 100ml
Isn't this an over the top photo for a hair product? I know, right?
You should have seen the one where I caught the Iona ferry in the background. Hilarious.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Soapbox: James Bond Does NOT Drink Heineken, and Other Stories of the Week

Greetings readers, and welcome to Soapbox Saturday, which I am going to post on a friday just because I can't get this first story out of my system.

I can barely manage to type, so distraught am I over this article in the Daily Mail that has me in complete tatters. Apparently, in the upcoming James Bond movie (titled Skyfall, to be released in November),  Bond is no longer going to drink his traditional vodka "shaken, not stirred" martini, but will be instead reaching/asking for a....Heineken!?!? 

Hollywood, you will rue the day you made the decision to Wal-Mart-ify the James Bond franchise by way of a lucrative sponsorship. Bond might as well trade in his tailored Italian suit for a pair of velour sweatpants and a gravy-stained tank top. Hand the Aston Martin keys to the greeter, Mr. Bond, your new car is a Dodge Ram with MI6 spray-painted across the door, a wooden gun rack,  and a big Union Jack flying off the rear.  Instead of wooing Miss Moneypenny with his overly-candid yet charming Freudian bon mots, he is apparently going to win his way into her bed by swilling a few brewskis, burping the alphabet,  then crushing the empties against his forehead.

Shame on you Hollywood. Couldn't you at least manage to get him a decent microbrew to drink!? Was nobody at Redhook or Anchor Steam in their offices the day you took this decision!? Shame. On. You.
Read about it and become enraged here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Gray Area: Chopped

Well, its done. The last few inches of (faded) dyed hair has been placed in its final resting place in the trash bin at the hairdressers. No more telltale line drawn in the follicular sand that marks the end of the dye and the beginning of my real hair.  I have officially gone natural.

Well, okay...there are a few centimetres of color here and there
on the tips , but by and large,  I am declaring it a job done!
See the look of smug satisfaction on my face?
Gray cashmere crew neck by Charter Club for Macys. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Obsession: Contrast Sleeves

I am totally head-over-heels in love with contrast sleeves.  I know they are nothing new... they started really appearing in force last year on the runways and all over the high street, or if you really want to be technical about it, I suppose they actually exploded on the scene back in the day with those old-timey baseball jerseys, but we're not going to to there.

Okay, well maybe for a minute. But I'm going to make it really small, just so that we don't dwell.
Fruit of the Loom
I really can't tell you why contrast sleeves speak to me the way they do. Maybe it is the inherent sportiness they reference. Maybe it says something about me as a person....that I long for my childhood, contrast-sleeve-satin-jacket-wearing, roller-skating self.

A new acquisition from LaRedoute.
Cotton crew-neck contrast sleeve sweater.
Love this with red or fuchsia bottoms!

Whatever it is, I just can't get enough. I'm a sucker.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pile it on!

I am really excited about this ongoing trend of layering-up necklaces and bracelets. I love the bold, bright, Boho look that is gives you just ran through the Moroccan accessories tent at the local bazaar and came running out the other side with all of these fabulous things attached to you. Keep running. You look fabulous.

Boho layering is also an excuse to wear things like rhinestones in the middle of the afternoon. As if you need an excuse.  I mean, look at you, you're amazing.

I have been looking at adding a big, layered, bohemian statement necklace to my collection for a while now. In doing so, I have been lusting after some of the big, colourful, bohemian statement necklaces by the likes of Dannijo and Tom Binns. They are bold. They are colourful. They are thousands of dollars.  I do not have two thousand dollars to spend on costume jewellery. I have about twenty pounds.

Which is fortunate, because that is exactly how much it cost me to put this together.

Monday, April 9, 2012

What the Blue Blazes is Going On With T- Shirts!?

I mean, seriously. I know there are about a bajillion-kazillion different choices out there, but I find it getting harder and harder these days to find a reasonably-priced, decent-quality tee on the high street. And the Highland Fashionista is not a gal who pays fifty bucks for a tee, let's be very clear about this. I tend to save my investments for things like shoes, bags, tailored know, investment pieces. A tee is not an investment piece. Or it shouldn't be.  Because let's face it. After one summer, those white tees are yellowing and smell like sunscreen (at best) and the colourful ones are faded and they all just look tired.

What I am finding is that more and more, the tees on the high street are being marketed as "slubbed", "burnout", or "layering" tees. These are all metaphors for paper-thin. They hang poorly, have a strange, nubbly hand, and you can see right through to the waistband of your trousers, or worse.  Here is a perfect example from ASOS.  And bear in mind, this is the garment having been styled for the shot.

So thin that not only can you see her bra, or could if they hadn't photoshopped it,
but you can also see that she had her gallbladder out in 1995.

You want to know the best part about this tee? It is designer. It is a Kimberly Ovitz tee, made of lyocell (a type of rayon that came to market in the early 1990s (perhaps marking the beginning of the end of the quality tee shirt), and it costs....wait for it....120.00 GBP. Yep,  I know.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter & Trombone is the New Black

Jonathan Arons is a trombone player. Historically, the trombones are nerdiest of the nerds in the time-honored wind ensemble caste system. The Highland Fashionista would know, as she is a member of the saxophone section caste, which could be likened to coming-in second runner-up in the Miss America pageant....the crown, as usual, going to the trumpet section.  Bloody trumpet players.

But Jonathan Arons has made trombone playing chic in a way that I never even thought was possible. He is a talented dude, and trust me, a better trombone player than these videos even give him credit for. He simply rocks it, and soon, he will have all those jealous bitches in the trumpet section shopping at the same stores as him and trying to sit next to him in the cafeteria . So good for him.  Apparently,  trombone is the new black.  Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Soapbox - Samantha Brick is Way Prettier Than You, and Other Stories of The Week

Hello again and welcome to Soapbox Saturday where I, the Highland Fashionista, express my deeply profound opinions on all matters that I found captivating this week. I have hand-selected an interesting smorgasboard of items this week, this first one being the all-around favorite.

I would imagine most of you will have already seen this, but it is simply too good not to revisit, as this is far and away the best laugh, gasp, and utterance of an “Oh HONEY, No!”  I have had all week. Samantha Brick, a “writer” for the Daily Mail “news” paper in the UK, used her employer this week as a forum to publicly bemoan her life’s hardships…stemming from the fact that she is just so, sooooo beautiful that nobody wants to be friends with her, as they are all too damn insecure and therefore blinded by their own jealousy amid the glow of her ravishingness….yeah, I’m sure that’s what it is. Read on. And a warning if you are seeing this for the first time: Those of you with high blood pressure should take your ACE inhibitors before proceeding. Okay, go ahead. Click Here.

Yep. I know. And after you get through that, you beauty- haters, have a look at the list of best comments from the public that the Daily Mail very obligingly put together. At times like these, I become exceedingly proud of the wit and creativity of the general population. Here it comes

And if you think that,  after a media outcry that stretched from one end of the globe to the other, that Ms. Brick would perhaps take some time to look honestly at herself and her position on things. Well, think again. So this happened.

Whoops. And if you still haven’t had enough of reading about people with astonishingly low IQ’s, there is this. The British Medical Journal has published a study that found a scientific correlation between people taking a lot of long-term sick leave and low IQ.  If this is correct, I might well be a freakin’ genius! Here it is

Where a low IQ goes, laziness is sure to follow. Proof in point;  there are now devices to complicate (by making "easier") even the most simple of tasks. Even your morning latte is in on the action, having become so lazy it has to have its own transportation! Click here if you have the energy.

But do not despair readers. Some of us actually learned something this week. Just not Jane Alderidge, apparently, who is the successful style-blogger from Sea of Shoes who refuses to go to fashion shows (!?gasp...clutching my pearls…). She inadvertently gave us all a fast lesson on what happens when you alienate the reporter that is doing a piece on you and your blog. Click here and be uncomfortable

So that's a quick snippet, readers. I hope that you enjoyed these little gems as much as I did. 
Until next time, then. And please don't hate me because I'm beautiful. I just can't help it. I was born this way. Snort.  

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I Went for Tighty-Whiteys and Found Erdem

So I was on a mission last night to buy my husband some teeny little tighty-whitey style bathing trunks.

But I should back up here.

Years ago, my husband decided that he wanted to invest in some property abroad, which is how we came to have a small apartment in Samoens, France. He had spent childhood trips in France, and always loved the food, the culture, and the traditions that still play a huge role in day-to-day French life. During one of his first visits to Samoens, in the summertime, the weather was unspeakably hot. He decided to use the community pool to cool down. So he put on his board-shorts and off he went.

Midway through his first lap in the pool, the lifeguard was frantically waving my husband down, blowing his whistle at him in an attempt to get him to exit the pool. My husband, confused, swam on, confident in the knowledge that he had done nothing wrong, and therefore the lifeguard could not possibly be tweeting his whistle at him. As it turns out, my husband was not the culprit.... but his bathing suit was.

It was on that day that my husband learned that , if you want to use a public swimming pool in France, you have to wear either a tight-fitting Speedo, or a just-as-tight-but-with-more-coverage pair of trunks that resemble a pair of Calvin Klein boxer briefs. Apparently it's a hygiene thing. (It is also likely rooted in tradition.) But hey, if you want to use a public pool in France, this is the price of admission. Personally I think it's the least we can do to thank them for the wine, the classic recipes, and Vincent Cassel.

 Hubby had to do some soul-searching to get used to the idea..I mean, we're talking about a Scotsman here, people. Kilts are all well and good, but a Speedo!? As you would expect, it took him a while, as it would anyone who was born anywhere outside of continental Europe. But the warm weather and desire to use the (beautiful) outdoor public pool prevailed, and my husband was outfitted with his first pair of these.

You know you want one for your husband.
Here...on you go then.
It's only seven pounds for goodness sake!


And you know what? I have not been able to get him out of this bathing suit since. He swears by these things now. Says that they dry so much faster than the traditional Bermuda-style board shorts and that his towel (read: his bum) doesn't stay wet all day when we are at the beach. Go figure.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Gray Area - I Guest Blogged!

Howdy there, readers!  Just here to shamelessly plug the guest blogger piece I did yesterday over at Heartfelt Balance Handmade Life.  It was really great of Michelle to give of her time and blog space. 

Check it out by clicking ........wait for

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Gray Area - The Agony and the Ecstasy of Going Natural

Before I begin, you will have noticed that the look of the site has lightened considerably. Yes, it has. The message I am sending here, is happy spring.  As much as tartan has become a part of the Highland Fashionista brand, there is a time and a place for its deep colour and wooly coziness. And that time, generally speaking, is winter.  Unless you're talking about Madras, which I lurrrve.  That is a different story, for a different post.  In fact, I'm making a note of that right now, before I forget...

So the hair thing. It has become quite a popular topic indeed. I have gotten many enquiries and comments from women all different parts of the world who are either jumping on the gray hair bandwagon, thinking about joining our ranks, or at the very least, are talking about it.

One of the most frequent emails I get is from those of you in the early stages of growing out the dye. And believe me,  I feel you, ladies...oh yes.... I feel you. Those first three months can be the most difficult months to bear, in my opinion. Those first few inches of growth make you feel as if the world is looking at you and thinking "what's going on there", or "she really needs to get herself to the hairdresser".  After three months or so, your regrowth looks intentional, like you meant to do that.  In today's post I will share some of the ways I have soldiered-on with hairstyling during my transition back to my natural state, which, I should add, is still an ongoing process. I've been at it now since October of 2010. Here, look.

My hair is not that straight naturally. I feel I should point that out. This is day two without a shampoo. I mention this only because, if your gray is like mine, it is drier and frizzier than the other hairs on your head, and therefore needs a little more TLC. I try to wash every other day, although workouts, high winds, and just life in general ultimately dictates how frequently my follicles are acquainted with the shampoo bottle.

There is also the matter of distribution. My gray seems to be concentrated at the front of my head and at the inner temples. see?

The wind never lets up here in Scotland.
I can assure you, I normally don't eat my hair like in this photo.
So because of this distribution, when I pull it straight back off the forehead, there is still a lot of dark, natural colour underneath. That is how I got through the first three or four months of no dye. With a hairstyle like this.

Blends in better like this as my natural dark hair is still there.
Very Bride of Frankenstein.

I like to use a smaller headband with teeth now that I have grown out well beyond a few inches. But if you are just starting out, you might want to experiment with wide headbands or scarves. I find scarves too fiddly, personally, but they look fabulous on the right person. Also beware of too-tight headbands. I have been out and about more times than I care to remember and suddenly thought I had been stricken by a migraine. I don't get migraines. What I do get, as it turns out, is a headache induced by a too-tight plastic headband. So try before you buy ladies.

Another permutation on this style, something I still use when I need to look more professional and pulled together, is the pinned-back crown half-updo.

Again, the Bride of Frankenstein stripe persists, but the overall effect is more blended.

If you are struggling with length or perhaps are just starting out, you can always go for the zigzag or messy part look. I used that when I had about two inches of growth. It creates a wee bit of visual chaos right where that telling line is between nature and dye. I would mess up my part, then pin it so it would hold.

Probably not for the boardroom, but
perfect for the weekend.

Lastly, as you get more and more gray nearer to your face, you will find that you will have to shift your makeup palette. There is a lot written all over the net about what colours are appropriate for women with gray hair and how orange is to be avoided and bronzing powder is evil...blah, blah, blah.

What looks good on you and your gray hair is something that nobody else can really tell you without seeing you. Kind of like a doctor diagnosing you over the can't be done. This is especially true if you, like me, still have a lot of your natural colour. Yes, I have had to rethink some of my lipsticks, but I still use my bronzing powder (sparingly), and do not have a problem wearing warm colours or even oatmeal or beige, colours that are supposedly verboten for women with gray hair (whatever).

So these are the things that have worked, are still working, for me. Really you will have to experiment. I am still doing it too. And if you happen upon a product that actually tames frizz effectively and lasts all day without having to heat style, email me immediately. I want in on that action! (Seriously)

And so, dear readers, I will leave you with just one last happy discovery I have made during this process.

Bright fuchsia lipstick is your friend. 
How awesome is that!?
Pucker up!