"The most beautiful makeup for a woman is passion, but cosmetics are easier to buy."
                                                                                              —Yves Saint Laurent

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· Consumer Diaries: Winter 2010
· Fashion Notes: A New Outfit

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Consumer Diaries: Winter 2010
by Anne

I'm currently swamped by finals, so I'm jotting down this post as a chronicle of the material comforts that distract me from worthier pursuits at the moment, and a taste of (tentative) future blog posts to come.

I originally downloaded Songbird for Eva Cassidy's rendition of "Fields of Gold," which I had overheard at a café and taken a liking to. Now "liking" doesn't begin to describe what her voice makes me feel: a week of cramming from morning to midnight, with breaks only for sleep and meals, had left me feeling numb and wrung dry of all emotion, so it took me quite aback to find my cheeks wet by the time I was done listening.

I've always had difficulty accepting the fashion dogma dictating that the right shoes are an essential investment. Honestly, can one expect a humble pair of shoes to be so modest and well-mannered as to be able to go with every outfit one owns (within reason, obviously one wouldn't wear strappy sandals with a parka in winter) but also to be classy enough to prevent said outfits from relapsing into incoherence, or worse, dowdiness? I believed that such shoes did not exist, at least not for me and my pocketbook... until I saw these babies, at which point my jaw immediately dropped to the floor. They aren't unattainable either, as the seller (whom I found through Gmarket) makes shoes to custom fit at a reasonable price point: 100,000~150,000 won for a pair of custom made shoes is not bad at all. If I can make myself wait until third year to splurge, I will probably make the excuse that I will need shoes to go with the dressy work-appropriate clothes required for clinical rounds.

There are some things that you don't even realize you've been missing until you come across them again, albeit in much reduced form. Snyders of Hanover and their smashed pretzel pieces, coated in an oily residue of intensely flavored powder, is one of these: I ran across these by chance in a Korean convenience store, picked a couple up for old-time's-sake... and was immediately overtaken by a wave of nostalgia. The little baggies sold in Korea are a far-cry from the larder-busting sacks I remember from my childhood, but at least the contents pass the All-American munchie purity test in their hypertension-inducing powerfully-seasoned goodness. My favorites are Garlic Bread (loaded with artificial butter and garlic pungent as the real thing), and Honey Mustard & Onion (the mordant quality of honey played up by vinegary mustard and the sulfuric bite of onion).

I've been a fan of Kirsten Lepore for quite some time now. She seems to be much like her work: sweet, creative, subtly subversive, and totally unpretentious.

I got my hair permed last August, but the job was done carelessly, it seems: after a few weeks the waves started appearing messy and disorganized. Then I tried Aesop Rose Hair & Scalp Moisturising Masque, and to my delight found that it not only softens coarse dry ends, but also gives wavy hair beautiful definition.

I admire people who can do anything creative... paint, sing, dance, throw pots, make movies, even program computers. So much so, that I've never been content to simply admire: it's always the talent I've coveted and jealously worshipped, the paraphernalia associated with the creative act that I fetishize more than the creation itself (aluminum tubes of oil paints made from ground-up minerals, rolls of film and the silver chemicals required to develop them, toe-shoes of creamy satin, among others). Something snapped recently, though, and I'm no longer content to simply sit by the sidelines worshipping (and envying) others for what I haven't created for myself. Life drawing is a manageable, flexible, and inexpensive hobby, as far as artistic hobbies go, and a sketchbook, drawing pencils, a kneaded eraser, and a paper cone for blending don't require much more than a moderate investment. I admit, buying new equipment is, on some level, just a way to satisfy my old obsession, but this time I'm determined to work at realizing my creative impulses rather than settle for vicarious and symbolic possession of something that can never be "possessed" to begin with, but only earned through constant effort.

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12/20/2010 [1]

Fashion Notes: A New Outfit
by Anne

I was browsing around on the net (though I should have been studying!!!) when I found this Korean magazine scan from 10 or 15 years ago. It's an excellent example of the late 90's Korean take on both grunge and hip-hop*: plainness to the point of conservativism, somber neutrals, and a tendency toward oversized fits and unisex styling.

This girl accessorizes with little more than her shoes, a necklace, a watch, and a basic shoulder bag. The lines are very clean, with colors limited to brown and white. It doesn't seem like much, but in fact this kind of look is very difficult to pull off. When the details are tuned down to this low a volume, the smallest irregularities suddenly reverberate glaringly and the smallest alterations can cast the whole effect in a different light.

In short, everything must be taken into account, which the girl in the photo has done well, from the effect of the shoulder strap crossing her chest to the necklace—a delicately chunky silver that picks up on the oft-ignored decorative effect of the logo, white lettering against brown—to the doc martens—suitably muted in color and generic in design but with a distinctive shape that keeps the lower half of the outfit from degenerating into sloppy formlessness. The sleeves have been pushed up to show the slenderness of the arms, accentuated again by the watch encircling the wrist: if not for this last step, the overall silhouette would appear much bulkier.

Each element has an impact that would leave something lacking, were it to be taken away, yet none of them steal the stage for its own. This kind of synergy is easy to miss, all the more because you can't quite pinpoint a single piece that makes or breaks the effect. It's this kind of laid-back equilibrium that's also the most difficult to master, and which I think is the single most significant distinction separating the truly well-dressed from the average magpie connoisseur of fashion "items".

* The two aesthetics seem to be somewhat confused in this, but the Koreans and the Japanese are expert at a sort of post-modernist mishmash of foreign trends in total defiance—or rather, disregard—of their origins, to varying effect: there's a whole world of difference between T-shirts emblazoned with "Engrish" phrases and Samurai Champloo.

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12/17/2010 [0]

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