Month: September 2012

The Remix Challenge: week 2

Sunday, Sept 23 – minor meltdown

I had all kinds of plans for Sunday, but they all fell apart. I won’t go into tedious detail, but suffice to say that it was the kind of day when the urge to roll up into a ball and disappear into some black hole located under the duvet is particularly strong.

Monday, Sept 24 – work (what else)

Skirt, Talbots; sweater, Old Navy; belt, Betsey Johnson; necklace, Tiffany’s; shoes, Nine West; bag, Arcadia

Life goes on, especially once Monday rolls around. I still hadn’t been able to shake my cold, so it was extra grumpy way to start the week. This wasn’t the outfit I had originally planned for, which contributed to my grumpiness – I hate having to re-think an outfit in a few rushed minutes. Let’s just say it’s not one of my favourites. I have now firmly decided that this skirt is too loose/large in the waist to wear “as is”; since I literally had to run out of the door, I hiked it up and anchored it with a wide belt. Hey, they can’t all be winners!

On the bright side, my nail polish was one of my faves: OPI Man of La Mancha (over Chanel Imperial).

OPI Man of La Mancha

Tuesday, Sept 25 – work

Pants, Dana Buchman; top, Nine West; jacket, White House Black Market; shoes, Ellen Tracy, bag, Arcadia; ring & necklace, Swarovski

The jacket here was a last minute (happy) substitution, but I think it really worked. The silver thread in the jacket picked up my nail colour (China Glaze OMG).

China Glaze OMG

And because you probably can’t see it, here is a close-up of my ring.

Swarovski “Marie” ring

Wednesday, Sept 26 – work

Skirt, Tahari; jacket, DKNY; top, H&M; tights, Givenchy (via Winners); shoes, LAUREN Ralph Lauren; earrings, Swarovski; bag, Louis Vuitton

I call this my “Sicilian widow” look. Loved the triple layering of lace (top, blazer, tights). This is as close to “conservative” office wear as I get these days; it was lucky that I ended up wearing this on a day when I had a (rare) client meeting (which I had not realized would be in person – oops!).

On my nails, I wore Zoya Yasmeen – a lovely colour but, in retrospect, perhaps not the right choice for this outfit. If I were to have a do-over, I would probably pick either a bright colour (red or coral) or a vampy one (like Chanel Vendetta, to really go with my theme.

Zoya Yasmeen

Thursday, Sept 27 – work

Dress, Isaac Mizrahi for Target; jacket, Joe Fresh; belt, Betsey Johnson, shoes, Stuart Weitzman; earrings & bracelet, Swarovski; bag, Louis Vuitton

I love, love, love this Isaac Mizrahi for Target dress I picked up at Value Village! Navy is such an underrated colour, too. I’ve worn this exact outfit at least 2 or 3 times before, and I wanted to fit it in one more time before Fall really kicks into high gear.

My nail polish was Chanel Quartz. Here is a closer look at my lovely earrings (a birthday gift from my husband):

Swarovski earrings

Friday, Sept 28 – work

Jeans, Abercrombie & Fitch; shirt, Gap; sweater (swapped); shoes, Jules & James; earrings, Winners; bag, Arcadia

I normally wear jeans on Friday, which is “casual day” at work. I was planning to switch things up a bit, again taking advantage of the relatively warm weather, by wearing my bright red skinnies, but I decided at the last minute to stick to my regular skinny jeans. Maybe I’ll be braver next time.

For my polish, I picked Chanel Sky Line (a big hit with the ladies at work). And I wore a couple of my fave bracelets:

Charm bracelet, Links; crystal bracelet, Swarovski

Saturday, Sept 29 – grocery shopping, errands, pedicure

Dress, Banana Republic; cardigan, Winners; belt, Betsey Johnson; earrings, Swarovski; bag, Arcadia

My mom is Luka’s primary care-giver while I’m at work; from time to time, I try to “pay” back her generosity (and patience) with some pampering that she would not otherwise get for herself, like a pedicure. I knew that she’d been having a tougher than normal week with Luka being under the weather, so I thought this would be a perfect time for a little R ‘n R. So off went the mom & grandma team to Sunshine Nails for a much-deserved treat, while the “boys” stayed home to enjoy some English Premier League soccer. Hence, my oh-so-stylish footwear. As for the pose – in my defence, it was a blindingly bright day.

On my nails, I wore a light pink Catherine Arley polish (please excuse my cuticles):

Catherine Arley pink holo

So that’s another Remix Challenge week all wrapped up!

Friday Flashback: A short lexicon of the most irritating phrases … ever

This week’s Friday Flashback, titled “Embracing the Inner Pedant”, was originally published in November 2008.

Researchers at Oxford University recently compiled a list of the top ten most irritating phrases in the English language. At the top of the list is, you guessed it, “at the end of the day”. I have to say the rest of the list doesn’t really provoke much teeth-grinding on my part, with the possible exception of “with all due respect” – which I hear far too often. This is somewhat surprising because I have a lot of pet peeves when it comes to the usage (and mangling) of English, and I would have thought that at least some of them would have made the cut.

I admit: I am one of those annoying people who nitpicks the placing of apostrophes and the incorrect use of “it’s”. But beyond that, it pains me when people can’t be bothered to actually learn their own mother tongue. English is not my first language, and yet I am constantly amazed to find that my familiarity with it exceeds that of many people (native speakers) I meet. My love for words is not merely pedantic; words are the way we, as humans, communicate with one another – shouldn’t we always strive to master that art? Yes, I’m sure that if, for some reason, the need arose we could probably pare down the English vocabulary to a fraction of what it is today (hopefully a fraction its speakers will then at least use to its fullest) and we would still be able to function as a society. [Apparently, this has already been done. Wikipedia informs me that ‘Special English’, a simplified version of English, currently used by the US broadcasting service Voice of America has a vocabulary of only 1,500 words.] Yet I can’t help but think that a huge part of human culture would be lost in the process. After all, words are created to describe something – some aspect of human reality – which could not otherwise be expressed (or expressed as eloquently or succinctly). If a word dies, and is never replaced, what happens to whatever aspect of our reality was tied to it? How does it survive in our imaginations, in our very understanding of the world?But enough with the paean to the English language. What comes next is my PSA about the stuff which, for the love of God, I beg you to stop saying, at least while I’m around.- Enough with “literally”! Using “literally” for emphasis is lazy and usually results in a comment that contradicts at least one law of physics.

– “Frankly” and “honestly”. As prefaces to whatever you’re about to say, these are superfluous, unless you’ve been lying to my face the whole time. And knowing it’s your “honest opinion” doesn’t make whatever you’re about to say any more interesting to me.

– If you want to appear nonchalant, don’t tell me you “could care less”.

– “Irregardless” is not a real word, and I don’t care who tells you it is.

– If you tell me that you “love so-and-so to death, but …”, I am going to bring my popcorn and settle in for what is sure to be a major bitch-fest. Skip the unnecessary and hyperbolic qualifier, and just get to the juicy bits already.

– Please think really carefully about that “myself” you want to tack on at the end of “Jane and ___”. Nine times out of ten, what’s missing from the sentence is “I”. The remainder of the time, it will be “me”. If you are confused about which of the two it is, removed “Jane and” from the sentence, and read the sentence to yourself. The answer will become apparent.

– If you tell me to “have a good one”, I might be tempted to ask what exactly you want me to have. But, hey, I’m glad that it’s good.

– If I don’t “know what you mean”, I will tell you, don’t worry. Please stop asking me.

– Believe me when I say that to “have your cake and eat it too” is entirely possible. What you probably mean is that you can’t “eat your cake and have it too”. You can eat what you have, but you can’t have what you’ve already eaten. And yes, I do know that the last quasi-public figure to nitpick this point was the Unabomber. I don’t care.

You may, perhaps, remark the absence of a certain, four letter word from the above list. That’s because, sometimes, even I can’t, like, help myself.

Editor’s Note (Sept 2012): Funnily enough, I’ve been getting steadily worse, lately, about over-using “literally”. My husband recently pointed out that I use it, like, literally all the time. Evidently, “like” has also remained popular in my daily vocabulary. One phrase I would definitely now add to the above list is “cold hard reality”. It’s my husband’s pet phrase, and it sounds like nails on a chalkboard every time I hear it.
What are your pet peeve words or most irritating phrases? And how do you stop yourself or others around you from endlessly repeating them?

Goop by any other name (would probably sell better)

If you love to hate on Gwyneth Paltrow – and you’re hardly in a minority if you do – then you’ve probably heard about her latest entrepreneurial endeavour: hawking cashmere sweaters at $500 a pop under the Goop label.

Let me confess upfront that I don’t own any cashmere sweaters, and I wouldn’t pay $500 for the privilege of doing so, unless the sweater in question came wrapped in $50 bills. With that said, my question is this: assuming you were the type to spend $500 on knits without missing a beat, would you drop that kind of cash on something that carried the unmelodious label of “Goop”?

With all due apologies to Ms. Paltrow (for whom I actually harbour no dislike), “goop” makes me think of the stuff currently coming out of my kid’s nose – which, needless to say, you don’t want to have me describe in more detail – or the form of life matter that tends to coalesce after a few days in the dishes my husband leaves in the sink and I passive-aggressively refuse to put in the dishwasher to make a point. Ahem. Where was I? Ah, yes. Goop. Perhaps not the most auspicious name for a luxury label?

Speaking of questionable branding, what on earth is happening with Coach these days? Five or six years ago, Coach was a legitimate designer brand. Nowadays, that designation seems increasingly debatable. By definition, and for better or worse, a “designer brand” has a certain concept of exclusivity attached to it. The more accessible a brand, price-wise and market-wise, the less cachet it carries. These days, if I see anyone carrying what looks like a Coach bag, I never stop to question its authenticity anymore. In part, that’s because prices have been dropping steadily. [Yes, a lot of Coach bags still cost upwards of $400. Yet, it seems like every week, I get a new flyer in my mail box for discounts on Coach merchandise. And that doesn’t even account for outlet pricing.] In part, it’s also because the quality of Coach bags, especially those sold in the outlet stores, seems to be dropping steadily too. In other words, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell the authentic from the fake – a problem for a designer brand.

Coach has been tremendously successful in increasing its consumer base … perhaps too much so. When your products become so ubiquitous, through a combination of market saturation, lowered prices and lowered quality, can you still justify a $400+ price tag? What is it, exactly, that your consumer is getting from you that she can’t get from any other brand selling leather bags? It ain’t exclusivity, that’s for sure. As for superior style … some of the offerings in the Poppy line have me questioning that. [I do have to commend Coach for bringing back some of its classic, non-monogrammed styles, popular in the 80s and 90s. I only wish the quality of the leather was the same as before; my vintage Coach purses – made back in the day of American manufacture – feel completely different to the touch than the bags I recently saw in store.]

On the other end of the branding spectrum, there is Joe Fresh. Runways shows, stand-alone stores, and the slow creep in prices – Joe Fresh is looking to go upscale, and I am not happy about it. I must be turning into a cranky-pants in my old age, but why did they have to go and mess with what worked (for me, which their corporate peeps ought to keep in mind, obvs). My “WTF moment” happened when I came across a pair of flats – flats! – for $50. We are talking about a brand that is sold in grocery stores, for goodness’ sake! And let’s not pretend that the quality has increased correspondingly; apart from basic pieces, the quality of Joe clothing can be hit-and-miss. When we’re talking about a $20 shirt, that’s not a big deal perhaps; it’s a different story when I’m being asked to shell out $40 for a piece I could get for $25 at H&M.

So, I guess my message to the fashion industry – waiting for it with bated breath, no doubt – is this: Coach needs to remember how to be a designer brand again, Joe Fresh needs to remember that it’s not supposed to be a designer brand, and Gwyneth Paltrow needs to stop asking us to take Goop seriously … especially as a designer brand.