Saturday, September 22, 2007


Many of the chain stores around town are making their first round of markdowns on fall fashions. I checked out a few. Here are the most noteworthy.

Yesterday evening I headed to Banana Republic. Since I was in love with their fall line and their sale started Thursday, I wanted to get a jump on the discounts before my size was sold out. Little did I know, the inventory was already depleted. This town seriously needs another Banana because this one sells out of everything way too quickly. If you check out the Banana web site, there are tons of fabulous dresses and separates on sale, but there are few to be found at Stony Point. Since I struck out on clothes, I headed to the shoe section where boots and flats were 30 percent off. I picked up a great pair of black platform boots ($138.60) with slouched suede uppers that will be a perfect fall staple. They also had an array of cute flats, but none were spectacular enough to pick up for $70ish dollars.

Earlier in the week, I headed to Chesterfield Towne Center and picked up two great sweater dresses from Old Navy. Neither was on sale, but both were a chunky knit that hides figure flaws. Plus, the cuts were swingier than the sweater dresses of past seasons which ensured a flattering fit. I can't wait to pair the dress with black tights and my new boots when temperatures cool down! I also grabbed a velveteen double-breasted swing coat on sale for about $30.

Later today I'm hoping to drop in at Express for their "wear-it-like-you-paid-full-price" sale. New York and Co. also recently slashed prices.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Last night I headed to Austin's Salon and Day Spa and I ended up with a complete makeover. I transitioned my hair from blonde to chocolate brown, and I got a new makeup look.

The salon, which used to use Aveda makeup products, recently launched their own makeup line, "face it." Co-owners Beth Astin and Ken Langston partnered with a company that produces makeup in New York to choose their own colors, packaging and products and face it was born. Langston says they decided to design their own line so they could have colorful, saturated hues that would allow them to create more dramatic looks. He wasn't kidding.

The collection includes a great range of sparkly and non-sparkly colorful eyeshadows. A glitter fiend, I saw a range of grey, deep purple, bright blue and green sparkly shadows I'd love to have in my personal collection. Since I'd just gone brown, I got a new look to set off my hair and blue eyes. Rather than using brown shadows as makeup artists usually tell me to do, Langston used some orangy-bronze tones. He said that since orange and blue are opposite one another on the color wheel, orange highlights blue eyes, adding that when artists usually use brown it's becuase of the orange undertones. I'm a makeup/makeover addict, and no one had ever shown me colors like these before. The lighter tones, which he finished off with a sparkly brown chocolate shadow as a liner, made my eyes pop without looking super smoky.

He also used a colorful cream blush and noted that cream shadows, blushes, etc., are an up-and-coming trend. And he finished the look off with bright red lips. He also used an "illuminator" which was similar to a concealer but lighter instead of darker. He put it on the inner corners of my under eye (saying he put it there because that's usually a dark area) and on my lids as a base. I liked the final look of this product, plus it came in a fun little tube with a brush on one end and a button on the other that you click to get the product out just like a pen. I the look sounds like a lot, but the final effect was dramatic and colorful without overpowering my natural features. I ended up buying the shadows, plus some Profound Beauty shampoo.

Langston said that clients are welcome to book appointments with him for special occasion makeup. Since he and some of the other Austin's stylists often head to New York to work on fashion shows, they're always up on the newest, hottest colors. So, if you want to look beautiful and current, he's your go-to guy.

I also questioned my awesome hairstylist, Ashleigh Cole, about blow-outs. Do you ever read those New York fashion mags that make it sound like everyone in the Big Apple is getting fancy blow-outs all the time? I asked if anyone in Richmond does it. She said she has a few ladies that do, but that she wishes more would. She added that getting a blow out only costs about $25 but that you get styling from a pro and a free makeup touch-up. "It's a great way to feel extra special for an occasion like your birthday or a party," she said. I never really thought about it, but think I might schedule that plus a makeup session for my next event!

Shoes of the Season

I know you'll think I'm nuts, by my metallic silver Steven by Steve Madden shoes are my favorite purchase of the season thus far. They have a super high heel yet they are fairly comfortable. They have the very fall appropriate mary jane styling, yet the silver gives them an edge so they aren't too cutesy. I've worn them with cocktail dresses and today I'm pairing them with a black cotton tube dress and a somewhat preppy grey-and-black cashmere wrap sweater for work. They are the perfect finish to a dressy outfit or the perfect piece to take a conservative combination from mundane to magnificent. When I bought them for $99.95 at Nordstrom, I was concerned I was overpaying because I wouldn't wear them much, which has proved to be completely untrue. I determine how good a value something is by both the price and how much use I get out of something. Judging by those standards, these shoes were a great deal! They also come in red patent leather, and with the patent trend this fall these would be a great option too.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Vera Wang Addendum

Okay, so even though I bought plenty of Vera Wang merchandise for Kohl's and wrote all about it, my mom actually bought me the Simply Vera Satin Chemise and mailed it to me. I just received it and tried it on. It is absolutely adorable. The fit is great, the silk fabric is nice and soft and the ruffles and netting along the neckline and hem give it a totally "I'm-not-a-nightie" look. In fact, I'm considering buying a second one so I have one to wear as a nightgown and one to wear as a dress. On top of all that, you can put it in the washer and dryer. Can you beat that? Bonus: there is also a cute little matching robe that goes with it for those days when you need to dash outside in the morning and don't feel like getting dressed.

My mom is also considering purchasing a second pair of the super-comfy flats she bought because she loves them so much.

And, if you're interested in checking the line out, it all went to 30 percent off today. I guess my lukewarm Simply Vera rating may be moving toward toasty.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Vera Wang at Kohl's

Saturday morning I got a call from my mom telling me about these adorable nightgowns that looked like cocktail dresses at Kohl's. And she said they were designed by Vera Wang. A light bulb went off. I'd seen some pieces from the high-end designer's line for Kohl's in various fashion mags and had marked my mental calendar to head there on Friday, but somehow I'd completely forgotten. So, Saturday afternoon I rushed out to Short Pump to check out the selection.

After massive trying on and scrutinizing, I'm giving the line mixed-but-positive reviews. There were plenty of cute pieces. I took home a black pencil skirt with a pleated satin hem and adorable seeming up the back ($64); an A-line hip-length white blouse with a bow that cinched it at the empire waist ($54); a black, sleeveless jersey shirt with black satin pleating on the front ($44); and a white bubble top with a ruffled neckline that featured rhinestones at the center ($54). So, there definitely were some pieces I liked and they were reasonably priced (plus, I opened a Kohl's card and scored an extra 30 percent off!). But, the sizing was a little off. I wore a size smaller than normal in the tops and debated on whether to buy the skirt in my size or one up.

Also, some of the styles were well designed, but the fabric was heavy or cheap. A purple wrap top with a ruffled collar and sleeves has a gorgeous cut, but the polyester fabric felt like a fast-food restaurant uniform. A long satin coat had a cute, relaxed cut but the fabric looked like discount store, NOT designer. No thanks. Some of the pieces lacked the appropriate detailing. A men's-styled cardigan had the potential to be way cute, but rather than using fancy buttons on the whole thing, Vera used one faceted silver button at the top, and boring nondescript ones the rest of the way down.

Vera also had lingerie; scarves, hats and gloves; nightgowns; shoes; home decor and purses. As my mom reported, the nightgowns were spectacular. They did look like little silk cocktail dresses and matching robes were available with most styles. My mom picked up a pair of the Vera flat shoes with rhinestone embellishments and has called for several days since telling me how comfortable they are. She's a flat-shoe addict, so if she calls a pair comfortable, they're probably like walking on air.

Finally, there was also a great selection of faux leather purses. I didn't find any worth buying because all the styles were pretty basic, but I was tempted by the Small Date Hobo ($49) that looked like a teeny tiny version of the average large-sized hobo with a gold chain shoulder strap. Soo cute.

Hits and misses aside, I'll definitely be heading back to see the next collection when it debuts.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Trish McEvoy Flawless Concealer Pen

So, a few weeks ago my Trish McEvoy makeup person called and invited me in to Saks for a free mini facial. A free mini facial! What's this? I wondered. So, of course I signed up for a time. One evening at 6 p.m., I headed to the Trish counter only to be whisked into a secret Saks back room that was set up like a facial room at a spa. It was clean, white, mod, and to be honest, nicer than some of the spa facial rooms I've been in.

The Trish consultant washed my face with Trish's Even Skin Glycolic Wash and proceeded to treat my face with the rest of her products. While this might not seem too impressive to some, I found it much more refreshing and helpful than your typical makeup counter where they put some lotion on your hand and expect you to leap with joy and purchase $500 worth of products. The Glycolic Wash was nice: it seemed to exfoliate without feeling too rough.

After the mini facial part came the fun makeover. I got my face done all in Trish's new fall "Simply Chic" collection. The product that most impressed me was the Flawless Concealer Pen ($32). It's a not-too-thick not-too-thin concealer that's perfect for the under-eye area with a brush right on the end. You twist the bottom to get the liquid out. It's way cool because you can use the brush and apply it right too your face, or if you want, you can blot it on the back of your hand and apply it with your favorite concealer brush. The Trish makeup artist also put it along the sides of my nose for contrast. I'd never have tried that before, but I did think it made my skin look extra flawless.

I also purchased the "Simply Chic" makeup page. For the low price of $48 it comes with 4 eye shadows one of which doubles as a plum, sparkly liner; two blush shades; and two cheek/lip shades. So far, my favorite parts are the breezy pink and peachy blushes. They look great when blushed on the apples of my cheeks for a wintery wind-swept look. In general the palette works great for day or evening.