I'm super picky about perfume. Mostly, I just don't like them.
I think most are too cloying, or too musky, or just plain gag worthy.
I've found one or two that I like, but I approach most fragrances like men approach a woman crying...slowly, with great trepidation and with the expectation that you are totally going to regret this moment for at least a week.
So, when I received the new YSL fragrance, Parisienne, I was seduced by the lovely pictures of Kate Moss looking fab in a leather bustier and the simple but chic egg shaped bottle. Also, the press release kept talking about how Paris adopts you!
What could be better!?! I mean, besides Daddy Warbucks adopting you.
I spritzed a little on before a night out in the pouring rain, still not feeling like Ms. Moss over there. Once the alcohol smell burned off, the scent was pleasant. Light, somewhat sweet and floral.
So, Paris didn't take me home and show me my new bedroom in the Palais Royal or whatnot, but at least I have a new scent that doesn't make me or my husband gag. Which is nice...
This product was provided to me free through the Total Beauty Sneak Peek program.
Yup, Fashion Washington, the Washington Post quarterly fashion publication, had it's first anniversary party and I swear I haven't been to a birthday party that great since that one in third grade at the ice skating rink in Yonkers.
It was crazy! We skated...I wore a skirt. We got hot chocolate AND soft pretzels. Pretty hard to top.
Held at totes amazing new space Masa 14, this party was kicking from moment one. First of all, The Sartorialist was there!!! Scott Schuman was there signing books and looking generally sharper than sharp.
PS Typing "Sartorialist" on an iPhone into Twitter after two drinks with one hand? The next Olympic sport.
I also met some awesome people in and around DC and I have to say, I'm very proud of everyone. People looked amazing. I mean, I'm sure everyone thought I was looking for a better conversation because I kept scoping out those around me, but I really just wanted to see what everyone is wearing! I swear, I heard every word.
Once you move beyond the basics for work (clothes, shoes, college degree, etc.) and move into the more challenging decisions like whether to hang personal pictures in your cube and what bag to carry, things get tricky.
When I was a government staffer, most of the meetings I attended were in the building, so I could easily sashay in with a notebook, a pen and Blackberry in tote and look professional. When I moved to the dark side (registered lobbyist), I realized that I would be running from House side to Senate side, to other associations, to PAC events, etc and I needed more than a simple notebook.
After cycling through several bags, I found that there are certain things you need to look for.
Not too big, not too small.
Also known as the Goldilocks Theorem. You need a bag big enough to carry all the crap you need to do your job (post to come) but small enough that you don't smack into people in a crowded hearing room like a drunk girl wearing fairy wings on Halloween. You also want to make sure that you can slide your bag under a seat at a briefing and not be a fire hazard if it sits next to your chair at a meeting.
Something in the neighborhood of 15 inches tall and 11 inches wide seems to work well, although it varies by your height. Also, keep in mind that this does not include shoulder straps, which brings me to...
Think about the coats!
If you are looking for a bag for winter, make sure you bring your heaviest coat for trying on. Even if it's in the middle of summer. You want it to fit comfortably over your shoulder and snug enough to clasp with your elbow on the Metro or whatnot.
Color Me Interesting.
Perhaps surprisingly, I'm not a huge fan of the black bag. When I buy a bag, I want to be able to grab it and go, no matter what I'm wearing and I find that black actually clashes more with my wardrobe than brown, navy, yellow, etc. I also think black looks a little harsh sometimes. There is a girl in my office who carries a green hobo that looks fab and I'm just totally in love with navy.
It's What's on the Inside that Counts
Pockets. Look for pockets. This is the main reason I would never recommend a Longchamp Pliage for work. Imagine you are at a hearing and need to discreetly reach down and grab a pen, your blackberry, a business card, whatevs. And you are sitting behind the witness and you are SURE you are on CSPAN. Now, you definitely do NOT want to haul your bag onto your lap and go digging around in there for what you need. With practice, you can nab your essentials without looking down if they are properly secured in a side pocket. Provided that you have them...
Make sure your bag actually closes. And opens. Easily and quickly. I once tried a bag that didn't *quite* close when filled to capacity and I spent several months going to meetings totally embarrassed that people could see my bottle of advil, tampax, Safeway receipts for said advil and tampax etc. if the bag bent the wrong way and the magnetic closure released. I can't imagine how many important things I missed at hearings trying to prevent the lobbyist next to me from reading my CVS Extra Care Card number in my purse. I was also tired of the Capitol Police snickering at me every time stuff spilled out onto the x-ray belt.
You also want to be sure that said bag closes swiftly and easily. You don't want to waste those precious minutes between when the meeting ends and the handshakes and cards are exchanged struggling to close up your bag. No one likes a straggler.
Look, I completely understand that very few people are able to really shell out for a work bag. But let me make the case for buying the best bag you can afford.
First, you are going to be carrying this every single week day. And most weekends if you choose carefully. Break down the price into cost per wear and you see how that starts to not sounds totally outrageous.
Second, I know it's awful, but people judge you on your bag. Men spend a crap ton of money on a briefcase, you should treat yourself similarly. It makes a difference when you walk into a meeting looking put together and sleek, and the right bag helps that happen. Those weeks I spent struggling to contain my purse? Not my finest at work. I'm just saying.
Third, a good looking bag elevates any outfit. If you carry a good looking bag, the rest of your wardrobe, even if totally neutral and basic can look rich and sophisticated.
So, in summation, it's not about dropping a ton of cash, but really making sure you are buying the best you can afford.
I've started and deleted about seven entries on work to dress for work, particularly in our nation's Capitol, mostly because I think there are others who have covered the subject far better than I.
Thus, in the interest of not being totally derivative, I'm starting an advanced series on dressing for work and the tools to help you stay looking good while running the world.
Covered Topics: How to Pick the Perfect Work Bag, What to Keep in Said Perfect Work Bag to Keep You Looking Good and Prepared for Work, How to Dress for Various Important Work Functions, How to Restyle Your Three Suits Without Letting Your Boss Know You Only Own Three Suits.
Not covered: Avoiding Very Long Titles and Overuse of Capitalization
As I've explained about a thousand times before, I'm somewhat of a francophile. Not that this is uncommon, but I've spent countless hours poring over the photos of Garance Dore's blog and Charlotte Gainsbourg and trying to decipher the keys to their style.
The only problem?
I have a pretty quintessentially American look. Actually, the best I ever did when I lived in France was passing for British or Canadian.
But that never stops me from trying.
Lately, I've been obsessed with the no makeup-bright red lip look that is totally le dernier cri right now. So, one bright early September afternoon, I enlisted the help of the staff at MAC, thinking if anyone has a perfect red lipstick, it would be MAC.
(I think it was the shock of the end of recess. It makes me do some crazy stuff.)
My first try, I stopped in the store in Georgetown and explained to the makeup artist what I was looking for and explained that I am typically a pretty pink gloss kind of girl. She nodded empathetically and began pulling from the counters.
She explained, over my protests, that lipliner was essential for the red lip and lined away. She topped it off with Ladybug, an entry level red that goes on sheerly.
I walked out of the store feeling like everyone on M Street was staring at me trying to figure out what kind of drugs I was on.
It was bold, but pretty. Then I noticed that as it faded, it look on an orangey tinge that left me feeling a little more Eastern European-pre fall of the wall than French glamour girl.
So, last weekend in San Diego, I popped into the MAC store in the Gaslamp and tried again.
This time, I went bolder and picked Ruby Woo, a deep matte red. Apparently it's a fave of Dita Von Teese (and let's just say it's going to be the only trait we share). It definitely requires more maintenance than my swipe of gloss, but I can certainly say that I turned heads in the good way.
In my one night wearing red lipstick, here is what I learned:
-Make sure you moisturized your lips. Chapped and flaked makes you look like you stopped dancing at the Lido in 1962 and never washed your face.
-Seriously, make sure you keep the rest of your face bare.
-Excuse yourself seductively to go to the bathroom to touch up. You'll definitely need to, but it also just seems to keep the illusion of mystery and glamour alive.
-You will want to draw attention to your lips, but try not to overdo it with the straws and champagne glasses, or then you'll REALLY have to excuse yourself a lot.
-Tip well at restaurants, you just ruined their white cloth napkins.
So, next time I'm in Paris, I can pass for Belgian. Hey...it's step above being called a Canadian from them.
So, I thought I'd take a sec out of my regular blogging programming to fill you in on my editorial policy.
Paid Endorsements: I don't accept payment for anything I write. There are no sponsored posts and I do not get paid to endorse or write about anything on this blog.
Advertisements: Currently, I do not have any paid ads on my site. I think. Well, I certainly don't get any money for any ads that are on my site.
Products: Approximately 76% of what I write on this blog is true and are my own experiences. The other 24% is comprised of press information, things I have heard from other bloggers or read in magazines, or lies I tell you to cover up what a bumbling idiot I can be sometimes.
I know, right? I already seem like a a total spaz, how could it be worse, you ask? Oh, you just haven't met me in person. TOTAL. SPAZ.
Now, I always try to let you know when something here is not me-generated. Trust me, it will look like a press release. I am well versed in the art of cutting and pasting.
I will always say that I read about something somewhere and it sounded cool, but I haven't tried it. Sometimes I say I want to buy something but then don't, mostly because I get lazy and forget, other times because I realize that my husband would get mad at me if I squandered our rent money on nail polish and curling irons.
Here's where it gets sticky: free products.
Bottom line, I get them.
And I write about them.
But I never say that I bought something I didn't and I would never feel obligated to write something nice if it weren't true and I don't write about something I don't want to tell all of you about.
To be totally honest, most of time, I just buy the stuff myself. If I want it, I just go get it. Mostly because I just get impatient. Hell, I can barely order stuff online because the instant gratification factor is so low.
In light of the new guidelines, from now on, I will add a clear disclaimer to any post about a freebie product to indicate that I received it for free.
As a lawyer and someone who makes a living working on regulations, I could engage in a long debate as to whether the FTC rules appropriately balance the speech interests of bloggers with the need to protect the public from false and misleading testimonials. I think there are some serious concerns (I mean, seriously? Do magazine editors have to disclose that they haven't paid for a beauty product since the dawn of time?) but I will comply.
As a fickle and temperamental person, I reserve the right to change this policy if the need arises.