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Wednesday
Badgley Mischka Boucle Illusion Panel Dress from Saks
Badgley Mischka Boucle Illusion Panel Dress from Saks

Ask the SB: Mother of the Bride

Q: Help. I’m a 49-year-old mother of two daughters (Maisie is 20 and Kerri is 19). Maisie is marrying this spring. I’m fine with her decision – the man choice isn’t the issue. Her ceremony will be in May in Michigan at 11:30 a.m. in a Pinteresty barn-themed wedding.

What am I going to wear? I am a LBD girl who wears black turtlenecks once the temp hits 50 and below. A pastel, MOTB monstrosity will not do for me.
 
Can you help me? The bride has selected a beautiful ivory, all lace deep V on the front and back, column straight style dress with cowboy boots.
 
SB, I need your help!
 
TJ

A: TJ, darling! Of course a pastel MOTB monstrosity won’t do! You are young and modern and clearly have your own sartorial point of view. But breathe easy, ladybird. The fact that your daughter is getting married in a beautiful barn in cowboy boots tells me this wedding already has a casual, whimsical thumbprint. You are thus free to buck convention and do whatever you want. Not that you won’t look glamorous as hell, because you will.

Even though black is not necessarily verboten for day time, I agree that it might be too stark and formal for this pretty barn. A floral may be something to consider. Stay with me TJ and put some Cortaid on those hives. There are grandma bedspread florals and there are cool florals. The latter, partnered with a sophisticated silhoutte might be the perfect thing for a rocking MOTB.

If you really can’t abide a floral, consider a beautiful saturated color like fuscia or parakeet green or a touchable texture like the daring choice above. I think you’ll want knee-length either fitted at the bottom or, if you are considering a cowboy boot, flared.

I’ve sprinkled some dresses throughout this post by way of illustration, but without having seen them in person they’ll be of little help. You will know it when you see it and the only thing that matters is that you feel like a million bucks in it.

Remember this, TJ: if your daughter is the princess on her wedding day, that makes you THE QUEEN.

Enjoy every little moment of this precious time.

Best wishes and joy to all,
SB

SB Loves Nuns

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Words I never thought I’d say, being a former Catholic schoolgirl myself. There was Sister Dew Rag – lumbering around, sweating through the hellish throws of menopause, she carried a mini canvas tote bag whose sole function was to house the weary hankies she used to mop her face while her religion lessons about kindness and compassion fell on deaf and mildly disgusted ears.

There was JD Church. Her name was Sister Church (no joke) and she was the spitting image of John Denver. In retrospect, I wonder if he didn’t say to hell with this wild country-boy lifestyle, fake his death and take refuge in the powder-scented bosom of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. It would explain a lot.

I mustn’t forget Sister Leeps – who would pull her tiny head down into her pasty yet ample neck, licking her lips and dishing out pearls of wisdom such as if you can’t sleep, take your rings off. She made me clean windows in detention and then had the audacity to hover around at my elbows and take issue with the amount of paper towels I was using.

What am I saying? I LOVE nuns!

Perhaps it’s my, er, complicated history with nuns that makes me love this story about an Italian nun who basically runs a wedding dress shop out of her nunnery. A former seamstress, Sister Maria Laura is a cloistered Augustinian nun who started collecting donated wedding dresses to help women of meager means find their dream gowns. And it has turned into a THING. Many brides seeking to keep their costs down are making the pilgrimage to St. Rita monastery.

“If you have a dream and we can make it come true, we’ll do our best,” says Sister Maria Laura. Something about a nun taking such pleasure in helping girls find the perfect dress is so wistful, poignant and simply lovely.

Photo credit: Nadia Shira Cohen for the NYTimes

Ask the SB: Valentine’s Trinket

'this was as far as their plan went' by Amanda Blake
'this was as far as their plan went' by Amanda Blake

Q: As I’ve already planned a lavish 5-course dinner with live jazz band for my lovely girlfriend and I for our Valentine’s festivities, she has mandated a strict $25 limit on gifts for the occasion. Does the SB know of a trinket that will make my lady feel sparkly and glam that is still within these price constraints? (I’m quite alright with cheating a bit if you do don’t tell). Thank you!

–Cam

A: Why helloooo there, Cam! You have come to the right place. As you know, along with dispensing advice, we here at SB also specialize in a bit of dime-store psychology.

Between you and me, dearest, I think your lovely level-headed SB is testing you. She may not even know it, but insisting on a $25 limit loudly whispers: let’s see what you can do, buster.

In other words, creativity is what’s at play here. Instead of making her feel sparkly and glam, perhaps you should shoot for adored. It’s easier to accomplish on a budget and frankly, has a lot more heart.

Here are a few ideas to get you percolating, Cam. Anything along these lines would make this SB feel a little swoony indeed.

A mix tape. Back in the old days, people used to make each other mixed tapes to show affection. Go old school and make her one with this cool on-line service that lets you pick out cover art and everything.

The perfect pair of skivvies. Hanky Panky makes the most comfortable, pantie-line-less, sexy, durable pair of boy shorts. You can buy her one perfect pair for $29.

Fancy salt. There’s something about buying the very best version of an otherwise prosaic thing that feels like such an indulgence. Whether it be fleur du sel, olive oil, beer or chocolate, spring for the good stuff and savor it.

Crazy beautiful moroccan slippers. Does she wear a size 7ish? Then these. You’d be cheating, but for good reason. By the way, I am not suggested slippers are an ok gift unless they are at least as ridiculous and gorgeous as these. Leave the Dearfoams for grandma.

A piece of art. Antique shops and record stores are great places to find cool art that doesn’t have to cost a lot. You can also surf around Etsy and see what strikes your eye. Perhaps a pretty abstract watercolor or a print like the one above, whose artist has a knack for clever winsome titles.

Books. Books make a girl feel smart and understood. There is nothing that makes me frothier than a stack of new books on my nightstand. If you don’t know what to get her, talk to your bookseller. Those gentle nerds read a hell of a lot and will be able to steer you in the right direction based on your lady’s likes.

Good luck, Romeo.

xx,
SB

All Hail the Winter Bush

Helmut_Newton

With most of the country caught in the bony blue grips of a deep freeze, I think it’s high time we address the state of our nethers, and whether weather has any bearing at all on said nethers.

I would argue that a slightly more “au natural” state is perfectly ok during a time of year when our lady parts are more likely to be swathed in wool blankets by a fire than trying to sneak a peek at the sun in a daring paddle board yoga starfish pose.

Also, the New York Times posits that after so many years of chasing a “barren landscape” brought about by the introduction of the bikini in the 60′s and, frankly, porn more recently – “there’s something refreshingly retro, delightfully expressive and confidently grown-up in getting back to nature.”

Bravo, I say. Critical here, is to tiptoe the fine line between slothful disregard and a considered aesthetic choice. It makes all the difference in the world. Why not take it easy on ourselves for a few months? Space out those trips to the aesthetician and let those razors rest. Of course, a wee bit of pruning here and there might be in order, but why not say why not? to what the NYTimes brilliantly coins “the bombshell bush?”

Photo credit: Helmut Newton

Happy Birthday, David Bowie

David Bowie, 1973

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways . . . With thanks to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I’d like to wish honorary SB, David Bowie, a very happy 67th birthday.

I wonder what’s on deck for the Thin White Duke tonight? Champagne and caviar with Iman? Barolo and spaghetti with Iman? Beer and shepherd’s pie with Iman? Hmmm. Maybe a nice warm Cioppino? Breakfast for dinner? Why am I experiencing such a violent desire to feed David Bowie?

Anyhoo.

Now back to those ways: Space Odyssey, cheekbones, jumpsuits, Iman since 1992, Ashes to Ashes, heterochromia, fearlessness, great suits, a sordid past, long legs, collaboration, man makeup, Blue Jean, blurred boundaries, acting like a grown-up, innovation, China Girl . . .

Let’s put on our red shoes and dance, shall we?

Previously on SB: SB Tunes – Bowie

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He’s Back and Better Than Ever

Over the last months, I’ve had to fend off countless queries, ranging from the plaintive to the pissed off, regarding the whereabouts of a certain Magnificent Bastard. Where did he go? Why isn’t he posting? What about us guys? Wah. Wah. Wah.

First of all, I believe I have given all you red-blooded MBs out there enough spectacular lady eye and ear candy to tide you over whilst your boy went astray.

Secondly, I am not MB’s wife. Nor his secretary, nurse, prison warden, shrink or keeper of any sort, so frankly, I had zero idea what sort of vision quest he was on.

It just so happens, however, that MB recently made his way back to my snowy city, hat in hand, and we had drinks.

He looks tan and well-rested and I trust you will find his alcohol tolerance and his way with threads and words to be intact.

Go to him, my brothers. And buy some of those cute ties.

holidayparty

Ask the SB: Holiday Work Party

Q: I’ve got a question re: holiday wardrobe. It’s my first year at my first “real” (aka salaried, professional) job. I wear a suit 4 days a week and dress in business formal. However, the company Christmas party is next week, and I have no idea how to dress for it. It’s after work, will have cocktails and be catered, and there will be a lot of politicians, lawyers, etc. there. I’m a 24 year old single woman who wants to look put together yet sparkly. Thoughts?

Best,
K

A: File this under TOO LITTLE TOO LATE, if you must, K. I do apologize for being tardy for the pardy, but you know how it goes with all the cheer and revelry around this time of year. I’ve hardly put down a glass of something long enough to type a single word. Sigh.

Also, when I read your question, I thought: she’s got this. If I had gotten even vaguest sense that you were standing on the precipice of a sartorial or professional disaster, I would have sent you a missive post-haste.

Apropos of nothing, do you work on the TV show Scandal? Because it sounds like you do, what with all those lawyers and politicians milling about noshing on smoked trout petit toasts. And if you do, then you know to simply dress like Olivia Pope.

On the off chance that you aren’t a lawyer turned baby “fixer,” then there are a few simple rules to achieving the “put together yet sparkly” vibe you seek.

1. If you wear pant suits by day, then go for a skirt or dress. If you’re always in a pencil skirt, then bust out a sexy tuxedo pant. Same goes for hair – if you wear a bun during the week, get a blowout and blow everyone everyone away with your awesome hair and vice versa.

2. Some skin is ok, but I cannot over-emphasize this: NOT TOO MUCH. If you have shoulders on display, then do not go with bare legs. The general rule of thumb for a professional office party is you’re allowed only 10-15% more bare skin. Use it wisely.

3. Sparkle away. Whether it be a sequined top or skirt, some fabulous vintage bling or, let’s face it, your winning smile – this is THE surefire way bring the festive.

4. Don’t get too drunk. Your outfit could be perfection, but perfection don’t mean a thing if it ends up in a puddle.

5. Try not to kiss anyone behind a potted plant. Potted plants are notoriously poor screens – do not be bamboozled by those leafy bastards.

Merry merry!
SB

Bey Drops Super Secret Surprise Album

bey

The fact that she was able to keep this massive album complete with videos for every song a secret is simply proof positive that Beyonce is Queen of the Universe. Not one of the hundreds of people who were involved in the production of this Christmas present to her fans uttered so much as a peep.

When I woke up on Friday morning and saw that Twitter had exploded into a ball of flames in the night, I thought Well played, Bey. Well played.

To see and hear, you need to go to iTunes but here’s a little something to whet your whistle. Damn, she’s good.

Have a Spectacular Thanksgiving

Marilyn-Monroe-Pilgrim

May your day be filled with abundant wine, savory gravy and multiple pies, baby. Maybe a nap, maybe a movie, maybe some dancing. Definitely NO fighting.

This year I’m grateful for the fact that I get to feature a pants-less Marilyn Monroe holding a shotgun and my beloved Beastie Boys in a post that more than a handful of people will look at. Thank you for indulging me, you Spectacular Bitches, you.

Enjoy a little “Gratitude.” That’s what it’s all about, no?

So Many Selfies

selfies

This week the word “selfie” was chosen as word of the year by the erudite folks over at the Oxford English Dictionary. It has been included in the on-line version of the dictionary and is being considered for inclusion in the traditional OED.

Personally, I can’t take a decent selfie to save my life, which is fine because let’s face it, selfies are kind of annoying and mostly best left to the tweens.

However, I’m tickled by what Franz Ferdinand bassist, Bob Hardy, has going on. Basically, he’s been taking hotel room selfies since 2005 to document tour life, but he cleverly obscures his face with whatever book he happens to be reading. Check out a smattering over at T Magazine.

I’m going to start doing this with cheeseburgers, hoagies, burritos, gyros, tacos, bahn mi. I may have to get a smaller face and bigger sandwiches, but I think Bob is really onto something here.

Enjoy a little Franz Ferdinand for Movember. And top hats off to Bob Hardy for being humble and bookish and clever. It’s enough to make an SB a little frothy. This song certainly is.

Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out from BavarianBlue on Vimeo.

SB Tunes: Father John Misty

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When I feature men on this site, whether it be in honor of Movember or otherwise, chances are they have a little Spectacular Bitch in them. Father John Misty, né Joshua Tillman, is no exception. It’s something about the way they move.

To call him a character is an understatement. He’s peculiar and eccentric – surly, ravenous and frankly, scarily talented.

Oh. And sexy – because of how he looks, sure, but also because of how he thinks and creates and performs.

Of the pseudonym, Father John Misty, he cites Phillip Roth (yet another staggeringly sexy mind) and says it’s all of him and none of him. Whatever. I dig.

Previously on SB: SB Tunes – Kanye
Previously on SB: Can Women and Men be Just Friends?

Marvel Comics Introduces Muslim Girl Superhero

marvel-image-popup

To which I say, KAPOW! THWACK! and BRAVO!

The character of Kamala Kahn, a Muslim girl living in Jersey City, is so intriguing to me that I might just turn into one of those comic book geeks to follow her adventures. According to the NY Times, she struggles with a conservative brother, an overprotective mother and an exacting father. The series is “about the universal experience of all American teenagers feeling kind of isolated and finding what they are . . . through the lens of being Muslim-American.”

Cultural diversity, girl power, teen angst. What’s not to love?

Previously on SB: SB Tunes – GIRLS by Santigold

Lena Dunham Interviews Mindy Kaling

Mindy_Lena

The conversation was commissioned by a third SB love, Tavi Gevinson, for a print publication based on her website, Rookie. Rolling Stone released it online, and not surprisingly, it’s HILARIOUS.

We love these smart, wacky broads around here. They both have uber vivid interior lives and exceptional imaginations, not to mention the full on balls to be who they are and say what they want.

Enjoy.

Previously on SB: SB Loves Mindy Kaling

Spectacular Emergency Around Jessica Biel’s Neck

jessica_biel

WHAT is Jessica Biel wearing around her neck? Is it the love child of a tawdry four-way between a shy necklace, some smooth talking chain mail and a couple middle-aged shoulder pads who thought What the hell, you only live once?

Be still my beating heart. No really. Be still before I have a heart attack.

Or maybe it’s simply part of the dress – which I presume to be Chanel since everyone wore Chanel to the MOMA 2013 Film Benefit.

Whichever the case, I swoon and then I die and then I resurrect, only to swoon again.

Previously on SB: Flights of Fancy – Herve Leger Fur Trimmed Leather Harness Vest

SB Loves: Freddie and Darth

Mercury, Freddie

If ever there was an image to usher out Halloween and all its cobwebs, cauldrons and sexy witches/fairies/nurses/Minnie Mouses/construction workers/hippies/firefighters/disco queens et al and usher IN the month of November, also known as Movember, then this is it. How much more on-trend could Freddie Mercury’s fantastic leather shorts possibly be?

Around these parts we don’t much care if men grow mustaches to raise awareness of men’s health issues. We do care about men’s health, of course, but we like to raise awareness of men in general.

Because we like them.

A lot.

So tune in for a little testosterone this month. Things could get interesting around here.

Previously on SB: SB Loves the Male Bond

Previously on SB: SB Loves Kissing Footballers

Photo credit: Via Awesome People Hanging Out Together

SB Tunes: AlunaGeorge

alunageorge

You’re welcome, in advance, for bringing you some pretty sweet make-out music. AlunaGeorge, an electronic music duo from the UK, sound like the love-child of CHVRCHES and Destiny’s Child – as cool, sexy and mysterious as a dark autumn night. Aluna Francis and George Reid just put out their first album, Body Music, and it’s causing a quite a hubbub across the pond. I think these kids are going somewhere. Watch them.

Francis rocks the ‘sexy tomboy’ look with short swingy dresses, high tops and gnarly necklaces or the ‘effortless homegirl’ look in cropped tanks, giant gold hoops and Hammer pants. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that she’s drop dead gorgeous. But in true SB form, she picks cool over hot.

Did you catch that? Cool over hot. That’s a nugget, girls and boys. Put it in your pockets.

And enjoy.

 

Photo credit: Fiona Garden

jumpsuits-rompers

Ask the SB: Rompers

Q: I read your overalls post and while I agree, I cannot help but entertain the idea of it or what seems like its cousin, the romper. They both drive me away (I am a more conservative dresser and feel nervous when it comes to trying to dress bold or out of my comfort zone).

The only reason I’ve tried a romper is because I accidentally thought it was a dress and realized when putting it on that it was actually a romper. Anyhow, I was wondering how you felt about rompers. I was also wondering how do you dress casual and cute without feeling awkward? I hope the email and questions aren’t silly to you, but I appreciate you reading them anyway.

–Ayla

A: Oh dearest. There is nothing more terrifying and potentially life altering than innocently trying on a dress only to run into a surprise CROTCH. I feel lightheaded at the very thought.

Kudos to you for having kept your wits about you and for having turned such a shock into the potential for sartorial growth. You say you are a conservative dresser but I detect a clever curiosity, a yen to bust it out.

Let’s do this, Ayla.

You astutely categorize overalls and rompers as cousins – in fact they DO share DNA and a certain one-piecedness that makes it a complete production to take a pee. The similarities (mostly) end there. Rompers do not typically have buckles and are not commonly made out of denim, but rather a thinner, drapier and eminently more flattering material.

Most important in distinguishing these two cousins, however, is the fact that a romper usually has a defined waist. If it doesn’t, move on. The crotch ambush is not actually your worst enemy here. The enemy is the groin becoming one with the waist and the bosom. Fear the giant pocket of trapped warm air that is part and parcel of a shapeless overall.

A cute little romper actually has more in common with a cute little dress than it does with a dusty overall. If you’re curious, I say, go for it.

As for how not to feel awkward in casual cute clothes, it comes down to one thing: confidence. And confidence comes down to a few things: Know what you like. Know what looks good on your body. Know that dressing is supposed to be fun, experimental and of very little consequence. In other words, let her rip! Who cares?

Go forth and romp, Ayla.

xo,

SB

 

SB Tunes: Police

The-Police-007

In honor of back-to-school, sharpened not-yet-chewed No. 2 pencils, new kicks and fresh starts, an iconic video I bet you haven’t seen in a while.

A good reminder to read  your Nabokov.

p.s. a properly wielded carpet beater can be a compelling, uh, teaching tool.

p.s.s. minute 3.09 in the vid.

p.s.s.s. sometimes it’s not so easy to be the teacher’s pet.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Honey Boo Boo Child at the "Sparkle and Shine" Pageant
Honey Boo Boo Child at the "Sparkle and Shine" Pageant

France Bans Child Beauty Pageants

The Senate in France voted to ban child beauty pageants for those under 16 on the grounds that they hypersexualize children.

Frankly, I’m surprised that child beauty pageants even exist in France. I’m imagining little girls trotting out in trim cardigans and pencil skirts – Hermes scarves and loose buns tied with equal hurried panache. A chic loafer perhaps?

Surely the French know nothing about how it’s really done. They must have zero clue about the spray tanning, the hair curling, the make-up, the faux teeth (those damn 6 years losing baby teeth? So unattractive), the bedazzled outfits, the thigh high boots and the booty-spanking dance routines. Surely they have no notion of what they are actually trying to ban.

Those French – Don’t they realize how much tender mother-daughter bonding they will be curtailing with this law? Don’t they understand that child beauty pageants are the fertile ground from which spring the most talented and sparkly flowers of our society? How are these children ever going to learn to apply false eyelashes if they don’t start at age 3?

And how about depriving your nation of the likes of Honey Boo Boo Child and moreover, her elegant maman.

If only the French had any clue.

 

Not a Fan: Grills (On Most of Y’all)

grills

You know I love hip hop and you know I love accessories, but this SB draws a very firm line at grills, or grillz, if you will.

The fact that this very street manifestation of hip hop culture has been adopted by cheesy white swimmer boy, Ryan Lochte, is pretty much the last straw. Consider this camel’s back broken, bashed and bludgeoned into smithereens.

I would need a top and bottom grill with a lock on it to hold my tongue any longer on this trend. At the risk of this becoming a blog about Miley Cyrus’ myriad faux pas, I won’t even mention that she has (of course) sported a grill. As has Madge, Kardashian, Katy Perry, Beyonce and Rihanna. Rihanna even has one shaped like a gun.

I’m not anti-grill. Lil’ Wayne looks like a handsome devil in his. I’m not even anti-grill-on-girls. I just think this is extreme enough by way of accessory statements, that you’ve gotta be able to back it up. And NONE of the people above can back it up, except for maybe Rihanna.

And not for nothing, didn’t we all just get out of braces? A metal mouth is a metal mouth, if you ask me.

Let’s keep the bling out of the orifices, and leave grills to the pros.

Not a fan.

SB Loves: The Cynthia Rowley Flask Bangle

Gold_flask_bangle-780

Would it be exaggerating to say that my heart skipped a beat when I stumbled upon this righteous feat of genius? Combining two great loves of my life: arm candy and the occasional surreptitious nip, this Cynthia Rowley flask bangle is nothing short of beautiful.

I must know who thought of this. If Cynthia herself did, then hats off, sister. If one of her underlings thought of it, then give that young thing a promotion, a vodka Red Bull, a meatball sub and time to brainstorm.

xmiley-cyrus-and-pink-bear.png.pagespeed.ic.ZjwRV0aHpD

Ask the SB: Furries

Q: I agree with you about Miley, but do you realize she’s not just “dancing” with teddy bears? If you watch her video and check out the attached pic from her Instagram, I’d say she has a thing for Furries. It’s a thing, you know. Do you know?
–Chad

A: As a matter of fact, Chad, I DO happen to know about this thing you speak of. This furry fetish, this stuffed subculture, this plushy porn and here at SB we live by the motto: to each his own.

We’re all lit up by different things, and who am I to say that giant stuffed teddy bears aren’t sexy? They aren’t to me and I happen to suspect, they aren’t to Miley either. I think she’s just looking for new ways to be shocking and maybe (although this may be giving her too much credit) it’s a subversive nod and hump to her teeny bopper Hannah Montana image.

I do appreciate my readers keeping me “in the know,” so thank you for that, dearest.
xo,
SB

Photo Credit: Miley Cyrus’ Instagram

Previously on SB: SB Loves Kissing Footballers
Previously on SB: Real Beauty

On No, Miley. Just. No.

Miley_Cyrus

There are few things on this good green earth more likely to cause the SB to lurch off her floaty raft and sprint, sputtering lake water and Rosé, to the nearest computer, than a performance like Cyrus’ at the VMAs.

This was actually physically painful for me to watch. My teeth hurt, my eyes hurt, my stomach hurt. It’s like someone handed her some notecards with the words: CLASSY, SUBTLE, TALENT and LADY printed on them and she opened her giant mouth and guffawed Y’all, Imma gonna do the OPPOSITE of all these here words at the VMA’s. I’m gonna show erryone Imma big girl now! before spitting in the corner, growling, rubbing the cards on her coochie and tossing them on her spit.

Sweet baby Jesus, it’s almost like she was raised by a man with a mullet.

Deep breaths. Since this blog is about casting sartorial lifelines as opposed to sticks and stones, however, I feel obligated to help this wayward, misguided girl. And also, I’m only human – as much as I hate to admit it, We Can’t Stop is a pretty good party jam. So here goes nothing.

Miley, honey, if you’re listening, please stop sticking your tongue out. It’s abnormally long and that’s seriously saying something considering the size of your mouth. Gene Simmons can pull it off. You can’t. It looks vulgar. In fact, maybe stop short of unhinging your jaw like a python when you want to open your mouth. Basically, tone down the mouth shenanigans.

I was among the few who applauded your foray into faux hawk-ville. And I was even fine with the peroxide blond. Somehow the shorter boyish hair works for you – you have nice cheek bones. But never put it into two little knots on the top of your head again. It makes you look like a hungry teddy bear. Oh, was that intentional? My bad. Maybe don’t dance with bears anymore.

Stop twerking. I know it’s your body and you can do what you want to, but twerking is for girls who can actually do it and do it well. You need speed, you need booty. Your too-slow skinny white girl twerking looks lascivious, unnatural and strained. And those poor people in your rear view mirror. I hope you had a proper wax.

Be aware of who’s around you. If Robin Thicke, the king of schmooove, looks vaguely uncomfortable and Drake is averting his eyes and Rihanna looks confused, maybe you’re doing it wrong.

And finally, if that foam finger was not your idea, then you need new people. ALL new people. Fire everyone you know and start fresh. If the foam finger was your idea, then I fear I may be too late. That was absurd and obscene and next time just ask yourself this simple question. Would Beyoncé simulate sex with a cheap sports souvenir? Oh my God.

That is all. It’s hotter than Hades where I live and I’ve broken a sweat trying to help you. I’m retreating to my floaty raft and hope that you’ll think long and hard about what I’ve said. I know you “can’t stop” and “won’t stop,” but honey, you SHOULD stop.

With concern,
SB

Previously on SB (and proof I’m no prude): Cover Up, Or Else
Previously on SB: Side Boob Do’s and Don’ts

Ask the SB: a Spectacular Bitch Cocktail (Contest)

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Q: Does SB have a go-to specialty cocktail in her repertoire?

–Patrick  
 
p.s. An ulterior motive: a friend of mine bartends one night a week and she asked me for ideas on a signature drink for her, and I think your site is right up her alley, so I had to ask.  
 

p.p.s. For me it’s sort of seasonal with the classics (Manhattan, martini, Scotch or bourbon in a glass) then of course experimentation at the home bar (flavors like the The Last Word – and a mescal, lemon juice/St. Germain combination). But nothing “signature” yet.

A: Let me get this straight, Patrick, darling. You are asking me for a signature drink for a girl whose job it is to make drinks? I have another approach.

How about you ask the girl whose job it is to make drinks to come up with a signature drink for me?

You see, my relationship with drinks is mainly confined to throwing away the cocktails straws and pouring them down my gullet. In contrast to many other aspects of my life, I also happen to be fairly low maintenance when it comes to my adult beverages. I like vino blanco (and Rosé) and when I’m going to dance, I hydrate with a simple, puckering vodka soda (or five).

If I’m throwing a fest, I’ll whip up something seasonal or thematic, but honestly, if I had a butler, I’d gladly delegate the task. I made a limey rhubarb gin concoction recently that was delicious and lovely blush pink, to boot. I always set up a little Patrón station for revelers who enjoy tequila or are simply on a mission to feel extra “festive”.

Which is not to say that I’m not absolutely TICKLED by the idea of having a signature drink. I’m not sure why you and I don’t. Commitment issues?

Here’s what I propose to anyone reading: send along a summery cocktail recipe that you think would make a fabu SB signature drink. I’ll test them all in the company of my party betties and I’ll pick a winner, which I will post with much fanfare and brouhaha. The prize will be my undying gratitude and the knowledge that SB’s future summer shenanigans will be fueled by your clever concoction.

Words to the wise: I don’t like too sweet. I don’t like martini glasses. I don’t like blenders. And for the love of god, ICE ICE, baby. I’m a rocks girl.

Ready? Go!

Not a Fan: Overalls

overalls

Do you all know how hard it is to get out of a hammock, in heels, with a drink in your hand? It’s hard, I tell you. I lost my page, sloshed my bevvie and tangled my leg up in the ropes. But not for naught.

What could possibly be so alarming and emergent as to summon me out of my summer stupor? One (compound) word, sweet bitches: OVERALLS.

I’m going to keep this simple because we’re all intelligent, rational people who have (I assume) one or two functioning eyeballs.

Overalls are not cute, flattering, fetching, nostalgic, tomboyish OR easy to pee in.

They did not look good in the nineties and they certainly don’t look good now – not with heels, not with tennies, not with tanks or a pocket full of pennies. I would not like them here or there. I would not like them anywhere. Thank you Dr. Seuss.

And thank YOU for not shrouding your crotch and abdomen in warm air and denim unless you are actively planting soybeans.

SB Tunes: Daft Punk

Daft_Punk_Random_Access_Memory_Suits

At the risk of jumping on the biggest bandwagon in the history of bandwagons, I just have to say it: I love the new Daft Punk album. I love it. It’s floating my boat, lighting my fire, teeting my totter, rocking my socks, razzing my berries. Like, a lot.

It makes me want to put on a white 70′s lady suit and throw a wine soaked dinner party just so I can whip off the table cloth, glasses and all, and climb on up and dance to the entire album – start to finish. And there’s a good reason Random Access Memories seeps down into and lights up your chakras of funk – it features’ Chic’s guitarist, Nile Rodgers.

Someone had the right idea in queuing up Get Lucky to some old Soul Train footage. Perfect.

SB Tunes: Savages

savages-band-pic

The coldest darkest spring in the history of springs is making us all a little ornery to say the least, so let’s work it out with some ornery girl on girl on girl on girl action, shall we?

This foursome of winsome tomboys basically shred like nobody’s business, but they do it with soul, emotion and brains. It’s noisy, but it’s not noise – this hard driving, hair raising post punk band out of London has something to say. Listen closely and you may end up feeling a titch on edge, a smidge paranoid and wee bit pissed off. Or a lot. Who of us can’t do to channel a snatch of ire? Who of us wouldn’t benefit from the righteous vindication of our indignation?

That’s right, bitches. Enjoy SHUT UP – a scathing commentary on our ever connected, distracted, social media obsessed culture. We really should be doing this differently.

SB Flicks: Frances Ha

frances_ha

Normally, I’d be nattering on about the absolute deliciousness of sneaking off to the movie theater (preferably alone) on a blistering summer day; to me trading the heat and the sun for a cool two hour respite is the ultimate in decadence. Around these parts, however, it seems that the words blistering and summer are extinct. Instead, since I have apparently moved to London without realizing it, I now use movies as a necessary escape from the drizzle and the drear. Oh dear.

Does anyone else remember that awesomely creepy short story by Ray Bradbury about the planet that only saw sun for like an hour every 15 years and the means kids at school went all Lord of the Flies and wrestled the girl into a closet in the classroom and locked her in and she missed the sun? What? Oh, no reason.

This film, by the dark and dashing Noah Baumbach of Kicking and Screaming and The Squid and the Whale, looks lovely and bittersweet and real. And let’s face it, who hasn’t wanted something so bad and had zero idea how to go about getting it? Also, SB has a huge soft spot for a tall goofy girl, played to a T by Greta Gerwig – who, it’s also worth mentioning, co-wrote the script.

Can’t wait to see it! Now excuse me while I go weep in the corner for two days.

Previously on SB: Made in the Shade

Not a Fan: Fat Talk

"Four Women" by Fernando Botero
"Four Women" by Fernando Botero

Y’all know I’m not a big fan of women being overly critical of their bodies, even, as it seems people do, it’s just a way to bond with other women. According to this NYTimes article, 93 percent of college women engage in “fat talk”. Not surprising. We all do it.

I’d be tempted to say it would be fine if it actually made us feel better, but research shows that it doesn’t. One girl says these jeans make me look like a fat ass and her friend retorts at least you didn’t inhale a bag of Cheddar and Sour Cream flavored Ruffles last night like a post partum sow, and Ho! Shocker! they both end up feeling worse.

And it’s lazy – a verbal tick more than anything else.

Most insidious, however, is the fact that fat talk plays into the notion that confident women who are fine with their bodies can come off as arrogant. Tearing ourselves down to fit in and make others comfortable is just lame and does nothing to further the SB cause.

So stop it with the fat talk. And if you’re really serious about getting into shape, consider a hardcore prancercize regimen. Trust me, it’ll rock your world.

SB Flicks: The Bling Ring

Bling_Ring

Remember me this summer, my dears. Think of me when you need to escape reality for a bit because it’s 100 degrees and your air conditioner is on the fritz and the humidity has caused every last curl on your head to hit the road and follow it’s dreams in the great wide yonder. Remember me when the only thing that will revive your wilted petals is an easy movie in a dark cold theater and a mini bottle of champagne smuggled in your purse.

Directed by the cool as a cucumber, Sofia Coppola, The Bling Ring looks to be highly entertaining and maybe, given the divine Emma Thompson and its director’s deft touch with the slightly left of center, might be quite good.

Are Bras Bad for Boobs?

maidenform

Not so fast. We may need to take the word of a male French researcher with a grain of salt when it comes to the girls, girls.

Jean-Denis Rouillon, a professor at the University of Franché-Comte in Besançon has concluded a 15 year study that suggests that “medically, physiologically, anatomically, the breast does not benefit from being deprived of gravity.” In fact, he claims bras may weaken the muscles and ligaments that keep them lifted. He measured the breasts of over 300 women from the ages of 18 to 35, noting the changing distance between the nipple and the shoulder with respect to bra use. How he can’t have taken into account the size of the breasts, is beyond me, but it is an interesting theory.

But only interesting insofar as the fact that most of us don’t wear a bra for support, so much as habit, nipple coverage, comfort, shape and a vague sense of propriety – which, frankly, we could stand to kick to the curb.

Make of it what you will. I think women already do what feels and looks good to them, so a free-range exercise regimen for our bosoms is probably not something we need to add to our to-do lists.

On a related note, good for Angelina. There’s not a person on this planet who hasn’t heard all about her choice to undergo a preventative double mastectomy, and that can only be a good thing as far as education and awareness. I have zero faith in the general populace’s ability to digest the specifics of her situation, so big ups to all the doctors who are going to have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.

Previously on SB: The Evolution of the Bra

SB Tunes: Janelle Monae

janelle_monae_erykah_badu

I literally cannot believe it has taken me this long to feature Janelle Monae on these pages, as she is the quintessential Spectacular Bitch. She has a consistent, unique and powerful sartorial point of view. A lot of women look like her, but she doesn’t look like anybody. She is sexy, but on her own terms. She’s insanely talented but she’s not a diva. And she can sing. And dance. Like a mother fucker.

Monae has nailed the androgynous black and white look, but over the years manages to tweak it and shift it around so that she always looks like a million bucks. Whether she’s in a tuxedo or Spanish toreador bolero, her clothes are tailored to hug her lovely shape and she just might be the reigning queen of the crisp white shirt. She has so honed her aesthetic (chic, dapper, tomboy) and her palate (black, white and red) that she never misses. Ever ever ever. And I read somewhere that she always does her own hair and make-up.

It takes a lot of restraint and, frankly, cojones to stick with a uniform when you could have ANYTHING.

She just released this fabulous single off her upcoming album, Electric Lady, and it features yet ANOTHER SB – they mysterious, mercurial and all around tremendously bad ass Erykah Badu. Let me tell you, there is nothing not to love and adore about this song and video. It’s not often in life you get a two for one like this.

Enjoy Q.U.E.E.N. Because you know, the booty don’t lie.

 

Previously on SB: SB Tunes – Betty Davis

 

Real Beauty

jolie-laide

Likely you’ve seen this by now, but the latest video which is part of Dove’s campaign focusing on “real beauty” is pretty powerful stuff. Apparently, the company’s research showed that only 4 percent of women consider themselves beautiful. That’s outrageous and sad – and I’m not being an overly generous pollyanna.

The problem is that women get caught in a vicious cycle. If we don’t believe we’re beautiful, we carry ourselves through the world with less confidence and that actually does impact the very things that make women beautiful: good posture, easy laughter, calm strength, breezy openness and contagious joy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we are WAY harder on ourselves than others are – and it doesn’t work in our favor.

Leave it to the French to come up with the term “jolie-laide” – which translates as beautiful-ugly, meaning a woman who is pretty, but not conventionally so. The people who invented soignée, effortless chic have figured out that beauty takes many forms, and perfection is far from paramount. Jolie laide.

Watch Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches here.

Clockwise and completely bad ass and beautiful from the top: Rossy De Palma, Barbara Streisand, Frida Kahlo, Patti Smith, Lena Dunham

Previously on SB: Legs Astride Arms Akimbo

frye_loafer

SB Loves: A Loafer

What to do at this time of year, when we’ve angrily shoved our winter boots into the deepest recesses of our closets, yet it’s too soon for sandals?

Ballerinas are fine, of course, and NOT boring at all – but perhaps we’re feeling a yen for something different.

Moccasins and topsiders are another option, but haven’t they been co-opted by the teens? Not necessarily a deal killer, but maybe we don’t want to be similarly shod as the Carly Rae Jepsen set.

Oxfords are cute, but who wants to fuss with laces when we’re racing out the door to gulp spring?

I’ve always been vaguely suspicious of those Hugh Hefner smoking slippers – nice in theory, but has anyone ever really turned a pair of those into run-around-town shoes? Doubt it.

And I can’t get behind those driving shoes with the rubber nubs. A shoe made especially for driving is trying way too hard.

But a shoe made especially for loafing? Now we’re talking.

Consider the simple, classic loafer. It’s a shoe that gets better with age, ergo a perfect candidate for running-around-town. It never goes out of style and its tomboyish gravitas works brilliantly to balance out those summer minis and other (rightfully) frivolous summer fashion choices.

It’s a shoe that says, I may be wearing this fluttery lace skirt, but I read Tolstoy.

Previously on SB: Ask the SB: Again with the Clogs!

Miranda Kerr in an outfit that could easily be worn by someone twice her age - except for the baby
Miranda Kerr in an outfit that could easily be worn by someone twice her age - except for the baby

Ask the SB: High Tops

Q: I read your recent confession regarding wedge high tops with great interest, but don’t you think high tops of any sort are too young?
–Lane

Editor’s note: SB looks behind one shoulder, then the other, then shrugs.

A: Too young for whom?

Here’s the thing, Lane. A shoe (or class of shoes) can never be too young. It’s the person attached to the shod foot who can be too old. Chronological years, however, are but one part of the equation. Most important in determining whether any given shoe or shirt is right: personal style.

Chances are, if you dig it, you can wear it, because you will know how to style it so it looks appropriate and cool.

I’ve seen 60 year olds pull off clothes that many a 30 year old would shy away from. If you think back to college years, you’ll recall that matronly girls existed even back then – at the tender age of 19.

Age and style are bound by the most gossamer of threads, torn asunder by a mere breeze should a lady with some mojo and wherewithal spy a little something she can’t live without.

Me? I’d wear these with a dark skinny, a blazer and some big jewels. Not that it matters because age is but a number, dear. And it doesn’t apply to shoes.

As always, thank you for the questions!
xo,
SB

Photo Credit: Ron Asadorian/Splash News

Previously on SB: Ask the SB – Denim Skirts

SB Flicks: The Great Gatsby

TheGreatGatsby

For a moment the last sunshine fell with romantic affection upon her glowing face; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened – then the glow faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret, like children leaving a pleasant street at dusk.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

The movie comes out next month, leaving you plenty of time to read (or in the case of you sexy, bookish SB readers, RE-read) the novel. Cracking its spine is like opening an exquisite package: beautiful, bright and shiny wrapping frantically tossed aside to reveal mystery, regrets, damnation. So good!!!

And the movie promises to provide some MAJOR eye and ear candy.

Leo, Carrie, Toby.

Darlings, I cannot wait!!!

Olympia High Top Wedge Sneaker by Steve Madden
Olympia High Top Wedge Sneaker by Steve Madden

Coming Clean on Wedge Sneakers

You, dear reader, would have no way of knowing this, but SB has spent the better part of the last six, nay – eight months simultaneously coveting and despising the wedge high top.

It has been an internal struggle for the ages – heaven v. hell, dark v. light, angel v. demon – you can’t even imagine. The wedge high top (I shudder to even type the words) was vying for my very soul. It was epic. It was hideous. And it’s time to come clean, just in case any of you are also being tortured by this dastardly shoe.

When I first spotted the Isabel Marant version on Alicia Keys at a basketball game, I must admit I was intrigued. Floppy, but not too floppy. Sporty, but not too sporty. Cool – pretty darn cool. Until I found out they were like six hundred dollars. No way, José. No way, should anybody pay more than fifty bucks for the perfect non-performance sneaker. If you need some kind of support, or grip, or bounce, then fine, good, pay more. But don’t ask me to believe Alicia was busting out any layups in those Isabel Marants.

José? No way, OK?

However, for a tomboy girl who fancies she might have a bit of an urban edge to her, one could see the appeal of a cool high top topping off the bitty bottoms of a pair of skinnies. And for a large footed girl, well, we know all about the mystical magical minimizing effect of any wedge at all.

But c’mon, José. A wedge sneaker? It’s ridiculous and disgusting. It’s a crime against nature – like injecting cheese into a pizza crust, or breeding a zebra and a donkey or perming one’s bangs. Bad! Gross! No!

But as we all know, never say Bad! Gross! No! Because crimes against nature have a funny way of turning into crimes of passion. All it takes is an idle half hour spent looming about a three initialed discount shoe store that shall remain nameless. There sat an innocent pair of black suede high top wedges just begging to be tried on in the relative anonymity of said three initialed nameless store.

And so I did.

And that’s all she wrote.

As always, the shoe wins.

Adidas: All In for My Girls

adidas_all_in_#mygirls

Kudos to Adidas for launching this brilliant global girl-power campaign called all in for #mygirls. Adidas aims to give sporty girls all over the world a forum to cheer each other on and share their love of sports (and, of course, buy their shoes). Regardless, this is an example of how corporate profit can (and should) dovetail with social change.

A company who celebrates the pounding hearts, flicking ponytails, sweat, smiles, injuries, sacrifices and triumphs of girl athletes who “eat boyz for breakfast” is a company whose message I buy. And shoes too.

Enjoy and share it with a Spectacular Girl.

Previously on SB: SB Loves Healthy Bodies

SB Tunes: Tegan and Sara

tegan_and_sara

For this week’s SB Tunes, I offer you Tegan and Sara – Canadians, indie-darlings, twins, tomboys, pixies and all around cool chicks. I heard them interviewed on the radio recently and they are super down to earth and sweet, but also really thoughtful, eloquent and real about their process for making music. Always intrigued by the how of it all, I sat in my car until they were through describing their long-distance over the internet music collaboration. Fascinating.

Their latest album, Heartthrob, is intentionally more pop sounding than their old stuff. I’m sure there is many a dour and humorless hipster out there shaking his or her fauxhawk at the demise of Tegan and Sara, but I love it. I love the fact that they are taking a chance and expanding their sound and trying to capture a new audience while being deep, smart and musical enough to hold on to their old fans – yours truly firmly included.

After all, a little artfully used auto-tune never hurt anyone and I would argue it can be as effective a dancing lube as tequila. Screw all those sardonic hipsters. The pixies win. See for yourselves, SB friends.

Previously on SB Tunes: Gwen Stefani

Made in the Shade

ROSE-COLORED-GLASSES

I don’t know about you all, but this is my least favorite time of the year. The snow is melting, shamelessly exposing its gray, dingy underpinnings for all to see and the sun seems to be sitting on the bench with a towel over its head, gathering strength and basically avoiding its duties.

I’m sick of my boots. I’m sick of my coats. I’m sick of my scarves. And if pulling a sun move and hiding under the covers for the next two months were an option, believe me, I’d do it.

There is one thing I can do on these wet dreary days, however, and I’m going to share my tip with you, because I’m feeling generous.

As oxyMORONIC as it sounds, the best thing to do on a crappy cloudy day is to bust out your shades. Take a cue from what skiers and snowboarders have known for years: when the light is flat you need a proper lens to throw some definition into the terrain, or in our case, make things look prettier.

For sunglasses that can cast a happy tint on an otherwise cheerless day, look for something with a rose or gold tint and less blockage and most importantly, wear them. You’ll protect your eyes, prevent crows feet, avoid eye-contact in the streets because who wants to talk to anyone right now? and maybe, just maybe, make it to May without losing your wits and burning all your winter gear in a giant pyre in the middle of your living room.

Maybe.

Previously on SB: Ask the SB: Sunglasses for the Girlfriend

The Lauren Merkin "Sydney" Bag for $525
The Lauren Merkin "Sydney" Bag for $525

Ask the SB: How to Choose a Bag

Q: I am so embarrassed to even ask this, but I’m going to “dare greatly” in keeping with Brene Brown’s new book, and ask it anyway.  
 
How the hell do I pick out a “good” purse? I suck at picking out bags. I cannot tell them apart to save my life other than the obvious – Louis Vuitton, etc.  
 
Obviously, high quality material is factored in, but when people ooh and ahh over a bag, I cannot tell why. Is it the hardware? Is it the color? Is it the shape? 
 
Could SB advise on how to pick out a beautiful yet practical everyday bag?
–Morgan

A: Morgan, darling. There is no need to be embarrassed as you are not alone in this conundrum of clutches. The esteemed and venerable Wall Street Journal even deemed picking a bag to be “nerve wracking,” one of their hardest hitting journalists exposing a little discussed epidemic called Handbag Decision Paralysis (HDP). You sound as if you are in the clutches of this insidious condition, but I’m here to help.

Women don’t need to suffer with HDP anymore and here’s why:

It’s just a fucking purse.

Repeat after me, Morgan. It’s just. A fucking. Purse.

Now I realize it doesn’t seem like just a fucking purse when you are trying to find the “IT” bag and facing the prospect of dropping thousands of dollars on it – to which I say, forget about the “it” bag. Unless you are so wealthy you can spend $2000-$10,000 on a bag every year or couple years, then there is no hope in chasing the “it” bag. The whole raison d’être of fashion is to move forward, providing new and better threads and baubles to covet.

And also, isn’t the concept of “it” anything just soooooo tired and annoying? If I hear about one more “it” girl, I think I’ll vomit in my “it” bag. Actually, I don’t have an “it” bag, so my regular bag will have to do. PHEW! So glad I didn’t spend four thousand dollars on it.

The truth is, you can get a lovely, high quality purse for every day use without investing so much stress and coinage. Just keep a few things in mind:

1. Leather or not. First you need to decide whether you’re willing to put your sundries into a cow, ostrich or other formerly living thing. Personally, I prefer a leather bag over just about any other material. Leather just gets better with age – all soft and supple-like and is easy to clean. Cloth, vegan leather (vinyl) and wool bags will show their wear much sooner and not in a good way.

2. Color. Pick a neutral, but loosely define neutral. I once had a coral colored bag that rocked my world because it matched everything in my closet whether I was doing the gray/blacks, the earth tones, or the color. Find a bag that will contrast or match with most of your stuff, especially your outerwear. Black is always a safe bet.

3. Shape and function. This is one of the most important aspects of a bag and can only be determined by trying the thing on and sashaying around the store. Do you require a long strap or are you fine carrying it by two handles? Do you want it to cross your body like a messenger bag or do you prefer to carry it on your forearm? Do you like structure or slouch? What needs to fit inside? Do you like compartments? Zippers? Outside pockets? Think about how you want your bag to work, but also how you want it to feel on your body.

4. Anonymity. If you do decide to overthrow the “it” bag regime, then I suggest you look for a bag with NO outside labeling whatsoever. If a bag has a tag, plaque or stitching on the outside that is not removable, then I move on. The coolest bags have an air of mystery – just like the coolest girls.

So, Morgan, love – I hope this helps take the pressure off. And if you start to feel HDPish in the store, remember your mantra: It’s just a fucking purse.

xo,
SB

SB Loves The Male Bond

rat-pack

It’s no secret that SB loves men. And some might suspect that I’m looking for any excuse to post pictures of cute men, looking cute, being cute friends. And they might be right.

But only partially so.

The truth is that the most attractive men are happy men. And Andrew O’Hagan’s lyrical analysis of why male friendships matter is one clue to understanding the psychological anatomy of a good, happy guy.

Girlfriends, gal pals, besties or whatever you want to call it, get an awful lot of credit for keeping a lady afloat – what with all the wine, and speed-walking and sharing. And don’t get me wrong – a good girlfriend is a good thing.

But personally, I loved getting a little insight into what makes a good guy friend a good thing: Men fire each other up for manhood . . . Men give each other the pure, golden excuse of identification. It has something to do with competition and measuring up but also acceptance and just hanging out.

The author writes of an old girlfriend who hated what happened when men got together late at night and drank whiskey . . . when red-faced philosophers would come bursting through the door after midnight thirsty for camaraderie and the sauce of life . . .

Camaraderie and the sauce of life.

What else is there?

Previously on SB: Can Men and Women be Just Friends?

SB Tunes: Bowie

tilda_swinton_and_david_bowie

This week was a good one for androgyny and music.

David Bowie (honorary SB who happens to have a penis) released the video for his new song, The Stars (Are Out Tonight), starring his doppelganger, the ethereal and bizarrely beautiful, Tilda Swinton.

Not only was this love at first sight for me, it was love at first listen. Which I cannot say about the new song of a certain other honorary SB who happens to have a penis (hint: Prince). Screw Screwdriver. It’s terrible. Brother, where ever did your sexy funk go?

This, however, sounds like vintage Bowie. Dancey and synthy with a menacing, guttural undercurrent. And the video is quite excellent – sexy and creepy, beautiful to look at and yet, slightly disturbing. So good.

My friends, the Thin White Duke has still got it. Enjoy.

The 2013 Academy Awards

So did you watch? I did, but barely. Note to self: one should not overindulge in such a fashion on the eve of the Oscars if one expects to be able to stay awake to see Daniel Day Lewis give his classy acceptance speech or Ben Affleck kinda sorta stick his foot in his mouth.

Nevertheless, I did watch the red carpet with keen interest and for the most part, I think everyone looked beautiful. I’m not sure if it’s the advent of stylists or Best/Worst dressed lists, but people seem to be pulling it together with more success these days.

Gone are those lovely rich days of backwards tuxedos and crow feather headdresses paired with sequined torso-less dresses. And there was nary a swan, goose, duck, loon, merganser, grebe or any other water fowl to be seen. I miss those days.

Nowadays, the most we can hope for is something nipple enhancing, vaguely 90′s and ultimately super boring (talking to you Hathaway – although your hair looked adorable, so there’s that).

Too many stylists doing too good a job = too much couch swooning and not enough spilling my wine and shrieking Noooooo! Noooooo! Oh my God, No!

Anyhoo, amongst all the pretty, pretty dresses I saw two themes emerge through the cottony fog of my hangover. First up, my lesser favorite: The giant princess dress.

Jennifer Lawrence wore a Dior gown which was actually the perfect dress to trip in on her way to accept her Oscar. Prostrate on those steps, she looked like something out of Gone with the Wind. Très dramatique et chic. But she dealt with her stumble with grace and humor and I think everyone fell a little more in love with her after that.

Jennifer Anniston wore a strapless red Valentino and while I give her points for actually wearing a color, the rest was a bit of a yawn for me. Notice that Lawrence’s dress pouf started lower than Anniston’s, giving it considerably more va va voom for a princess dress.

More deliciously textured and tulle-y was Amy Adams’ barely blue confection by Oscar de la Renta. This shade is normally not a color I enjoy, but it looked so pretty with her red hair.

Now to the theme I really liked. I’ll call it liquid metal. These dresses look molten and poured on and über sexy, if you ask me. Naomi Watts was probably my fave of the night in a super modern Armani Prive. And I liked her after-party black and gold Pucci even MORE, if that’s possible. She has been ON FIRE lately.

Her buddy Nicole looked gorgeous as well in a really cool L’Wren Scott gown that looked like an oil spill, but in a good way. I heard that this dress was given to Naomi to try on and she sent it Nicole’s way. Aw.

I don’t know about you, but I was over the moon to see Halle Berry covering up a little bit. When you’ve got a bod like hers, a super revealing dress is ok from time to time, but hey, when you do it EVERY TIME, it gets stale. I think it’s both tragic and preposterous to be half naked and yet still elicit a yawn, so kudos to Halle and Donatella on this beautiful, modern Versace. Loved the sleeves. Loved the shoulders. Loved the plunging neckline. Divine and grown up. And still, so so so very sexy.

And finally, the Kiebs. I have resisted this wholesome looking farm girl for a very long time. I was not sold on her as an adequate mate for Clooney, but she seems to be sticking around and I have to admit that sister is a tall drink of water and knows how to pick a dress (notwithstanding her friendly looking head). Doesn’t she look like she drinks milk with her dinner? I digress. This Gadsby-esque Naeem Khan is spectacular – and come to think of it, which is a stretch for me at this moment, just might be my favorite of the night.

SB Tunes: Nina Simone

nina-simone

February 21st is the late, great Nina Simone’s birthday, so in honor of the High Priestess of Soul, some Nina on SB Tunes. Aside from having a hypnotically husky voice that slowly wraps you up like a sinuous boa constrictor and squeezes you breathless, she was an accomplished pianist, song writer, arranger and civil rights activist.

She also fired a gun at two different people in her lifetime, according to Wikipedia. A complicated woman, indeed. Diva-ness and medicated conditions aside, I love watching live footage of her because she really doesn’t try to dissimulate her feelings – for anyone. The disapproving arch of her eyebrows, the ornery set of her shoulders, it’s all right out there. But her music and her story and her talent are so staggering that they push through and shine. She is amazing, in spite of herself.

I love that about her. Check out Four Women. Powerful.

Ask the SB: Ballet Flats

audrey_hepburn

Q: I’m a guy . . . and looking at the onslaught of ballet flats being worn, I am curious about the style. I find them boring to the eye and to the soul. Recently, there was an article on women’s footwear in the WSJ regarding power flats and ballet flats were termed “Dowdy” and “Demure.” I could not agree more. They may be comfy, but they hint at a passionless inner woman. Your thoughts?

–Michael

A: Ooh. Michael. I just love a man with strong opinions on women’s fashion. Even if those opinions are dead wrong.

First of all, big ups for pointing me in the direction of the WSJ article – I hadn’t seen it and I couldn’t agree more with the idea that a power flat needs to be a shoe with some structure, detail and possibly the ability to maim (to wit, metallic studs and toe caps). If a heel isn’t an option, and in the real world, it isn’t always an option, then a rockin’ pointy toed flat will work just fine to show everyone around you who’s boss.

But saying that ballet flats hint at a passionless inner woman is like saying that white cotton undies hint at a passionless inner woman.

A Spectacular Bitch dresses and lives in a fashion that while not unaware of the male gaze, is unimpressed by it – and certainly unfettered by it. There are certain things in our wardrobes, like white cotton underwear, ballet flats, perfectly broken in jeans, a favorite sweater – that are comfort items. Freedom pieces.

And we don’t care. We just don’t care if you think they are boring. Hear that? We. Don’t. Care.

An SB doesn’t need a “power” shoe, high or low, at all times because, quite simply, she doesn’t need power at all times. Sometimes, what she needs is a light foot and a long stride and freedom to skip along the sidewalk or curl her feet underneath her in a banquette in the sun with the Sunday Times in front of her.

And none of it has anything to do with passion, Michael. Sometimes, a shoe is just a shoe.

Have I convinced you, Michael? Do let me know. But also know this. I don’t care!

xxoo,

SB

Hullooo From the Bottom of a Crevasse!

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Were you worried I had fallen into an ice crevasse? So was I. In truth, I was busy recovering from two holidays in one week. Do Mardi Gras and Valentines Day always partner up like that? That’s a lot of love (and food and booze and feathers) for one week. But who am I to complain?

Then I fell into a NY Times wormhole and was compelled to spend any free time I could scrounge up reading about the talented, mercurial and swaggerific Frank Ocean and then the lovely, earthy, younger-man-dating-like-it-ain’t-no-big-thang Connie Britton and then the cool as a cucumber, who-knew-she-was-the-ugly-duckling-of-the-family-I-simply-don’t-believe-it, Lee Radziwill. Excellent, dishy reads – all of them.

And then, THWACK. It was the sound of Vogue hitting my doorstep and well, have you seen the cover? Now you have. Beyonce’s dress is beyond gorgeous and I spent way too long staring at it trying to decide if it harkened bird, fish or some kick-ass albino beast in-between the two. It’s tremendous.

And I haven’t even looked inside OR seen her documentary, have you? I may be stuck in this crevasse a bit longer.

Send wine, fur and salami, s’il vous plait.

Photo credit: Patrick Demarchelier for Vogue

Cover Up, Or Else . . .

PINK-GRAMMYS

CBS’ Standards and Practice Committee has sent a “wardrobe advisory” to all the Grammy Awards attendees basically banning butt cracks, underboob, bare sides, sheer fabric and “female breast nipples”. Oh, and also the “puffy bare skin” of the genital region. WHAT is that?

Strange syntax aside, I think this is puritanical and lame. It’s the GRAMMYS!!!

I know I rail against our over-sexualized society where girls are getting the message that looks and sex are all that matter, but I don’t think the answer is to sartorially censor our artists and outliers. We just need to be throwing more love and attention to the brainy and the brave, so the whole panoply of self expression is on display.

If music people aren’t allowed to do it, who is left to push the boundaries of fashion and good taste, to toe the line of propriety and social mores, to challenge our understanding of sexuality, gender, art and swagger?

This smacks of nuns with rulers measuring the lengths of kilts and I don’t like it one bit.

Which is not to say that I won’t be watching in my sheer butt crack, underboob, female breast nipple revealing ensemble. You know, out of solidarity.

As always, I’ll be live-tweeting @specbitch. Grab your vino blanco and join in the fun.

Photo credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Ask the SB: Valentine’s Day

Valentines-Day

Q: Curious how SB likes to spend her Valentine’s Day. What do you like to do? What do you like to get? Or do you just like to avoid it completely?

–Pete

A: Pete. Darling. Is this a thinly veiled way of trying to find out whether I have a lover? And an even more thinly veiled attempt to ask me out? My word! I am more than a little flattered, Pete.

A girl needs to maintain an air of mystery in order to pen a questionably relevant fashion blog, so I will only say this: my Valentine’s night will NOT involve a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and the remote. It might, however, involve dancing in silhouette in front of a be-hearted backdrop. One never does know.

I have actually answered a similar question before, so instead of repeating myself, I’ll simply point you in the right direction.

There you have it. Try to find a suitable replacement, doll, and enjoy the night. (Hmmm. How important commas can be . . .)

xo,
SB

The Beyoncé Bowl

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Can we all just agree that Bey NAILED the half-time show? I couldn’t help but imagine poor Madonna (who was no slouch herself) sitting on her velvet throne, her nails digging into the armrests, cursing the day Mama Tina Knowles gave birth to that bundle of boot stomping, gilded-piped, bootilicious awesomeness.

I loved Beyonce’s bad-ass all-girl band, although I do think she missed an opportunity to bust out Run the World – GIRLS in that pantheon of testosterone. How cool would that have been? You boys can crash into each other all you want, have fun with your silly game and your too tight pants because GIRLS, WE RUN THIS MOTHA!

I also loved how Destiny’s Child popped out of the floor – the ladies have held up well and I look forward to seeing more of them. But no Say My Name? Come on.

And I loved that Bey chose an emerging designer, Rubin Singer, to make her ensemble. Considering it now seems de rigeur to be pants-less for any vocal performance, Singer’s jumpsuit hit the right notes. Apparently, it took over 200 hours to make and featured pieces of python, iguana and trapunto stitched leather* as well as chantilly lace.

The whole leather-to-lace ratio is a personal thing and deeply subjective, but to my taste, there was too much lace. Just like white skin in linen, it’s a tricky balance. As is perfume on my wrist. And the full moon that hangs over these dreams in the mist. Oh, never mind. I can think of exactly one person who’s still with me.

*quilting in which the design is outlined with two or more strips of stitches and stuffed from the underside. Who knew?

Let’s reminisce, shall we?

SB Tunes: Natalie Bergman of Wild Belle

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Since the weather in these parts seems to vacillate between deep freeze and medium freeze these days, I figured I’d feature music with a little warmth, a little sun for this week’s SB Tunes. Wild Belle is a brother sister duo who grew up in the Windy City but sound like they were weaned with sand between their toes.

Heavily influenced by reggae, jazz and soul, their collaboration comes together in a delicious warm, honey, sexy way that makes you want to hike up your sarong and do a little sashay right on over to that tiki bar for another beer and maybe, just maybe, say yes to a slow groove on the dance floor in the arms of the dashing Rasta with the easy smile and the very good shoulders. Ahem.

Natalie nails the 70′s hippy boho island chic vibe and her brother, Elliot, looks like a country gentleman. In other words, good genes. And good jeans.

Enjoy.

Ask the SB: Sports Jerseys

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Q: With the Super Bowl coming up, I wonder what your take is on wearing sports jerseys or other team paraphernalia. Guys seem to have a carte blanche to wear whatever they want, so what about us girls? Aren’t we allowed to be supportive fans too?

–Elsie
p.s. Go 49ers!

A: Elsie! Darling! Who says guys have carte blanche vis a vis sports gear? I don’t care how much a person loves his or her team, there are rules. No different than the game itself.

Now, take everything I say with a grain of salt, because for the life of me, I will never understand this country’s fascination with American football. I am a fan of the other football, the beautiful game, where the coaches tend to wear tailored overcoats as opposed to v-neck windbreaker shirts that barely contain their fat bellies. (Go to the first link. Trust me.)

Nevertheless, I completely understand your yen to support your team sartorially and urge you to go for it – just keep a few things in mind:

1. Bigger is not better. When it comes to sports jerseys, do not supersize. Women think it looks cute to men, when, in fact, the only scenario where a big jersey might look cute would be over an otherwise naked body. Unless you plan on watching the Super Bowl in the buff, wear a size that fits.

2. No such thing as unisex. Whether capitalism or rabid fandom is to blame, there is a big market in athletic wear tailored and sized for women. Take advantage.

3. Keep everything else the same. The day you are already wearing a sketchy sweatshirt is not the day to experiment with your hair and makeup. Do not wear more make-up than you normally would or curl your hair in attempt to balance out your sporty clothes. Conversely, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater and go completely bare-faced and plain jane.

4. Don’t go for sexy. As much as I am a proponent of mixing things up and going high low, do not make this mistake with sports gear. You shouldn’t look like you’re going to go clubbing or jumping rivers in the General Lee after the game, so skip the miniskirts, heels and Daisy Duke shorts.

5. No face paint. Anywhere.

Now go forth and eat many chicken wings! Best of luck to your boys on game day.
xo,
SB

SB Hauntings: Flashmob Headband

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Anyone who has ever shopped a day in her life understands what it is to be HAUNTED by some exquisite little thing that grows in perfection and desirability with each wretched moment after it becomes an impossibility.

We all know what it’s like to pass something up in a moment of practicality or frugality or sanity, only to have one’s thoughts stray back to said little something again and again until it becomes unbearably clear that life without said little something is simply not worth living.

There are times, of course, when one passes on something and never thinks of it again. But on rare occasions, that boot, that bag, that cuff is so kick ass, that it MUST be had. NO MATTER WHAT.

And woe to the girl who goes back for it, breathless with anticipation, clutching credit card in her sweaty little hand and finds that said little something is SOLD motherfucking OUT.

OF COURSE I didn’t by a pom pom headband for three hundred dollars. How preposterous. But it is no lie to say that I have thought about this beauty every day, at least once a day from the time I first saw it and now I would gladly pay three hundred dollars for a pom pom headband. I know. How preposterous.

And it is no lie to say that I would actually wear it – I really would. I would wear it to parties with a black tube top and black tuxedo pants and a sky high heel. I would wear it to brunch with a sundress. I would wear it out dancing with a red mini and gold boots. I would wear it with a robe to write SB posts.

The agony.

Pom poms are the new feathers. You heard it here first.

SB Tunes: GIRLS by Santigold

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Y’all know I’ve got a lot of love for both Santigold and Lena Dunham’s cringe-y, brilliant Girls. So, of course I’m a fan of this song and video off of the Girls’ soundtrack for this season.

It’s refreshing to see females portrayed as fun, diverse and real – dancing, goofing and playing as opposed to posing, preening and pouting. Silly and joyous versus sexy and sad. We need to see more of this in our media culture, so girls can be girls – no matter what age.

And Santigold’s red fur hat? Want it.

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Ask the SB: How to Get Hair to There?

Q: Back around May, Dan asked you about engagement rings. He introduced me to MB, and thus I found my way to you. So it was only a matter of time before I discovered this post. And he was right, I do prefer white gold, and thankfully he was as wise as he is handsome with his choice. I’m surprised he didn’t think the band itself was a gamble. It is different and, as you said, bold. Love it!

Here is my question. Due to a difficult stint in my occupation, I cut off all my wonderful hair in exchange for practicality. Think Anne Hathaway short. BTW, if I had known this engagement was coming, I never would have done it. (Dan did a good job in the surprise category).

It’s been about 9 months, and it’s a mess. Is there any way to gracefully grow out a hair cut like this? Is there a way to fake length that doesn’t include getting extensions that will be suitable for a spectacular updo for a wedding in 5 months?

Thanks!

Kendall

~p.s. I said ‘yes’

A: WOW! Kendall! Congratulations!!! I always worry that answering questions for the boys might somehow preclude them from sharing me with their spectacular ladies, so I love how this has panned out! And well done to Dan for nailing it on the ring and the surprise. I am as proud as a mother hen. Just watch me strut around all puff chested, bragging about my Dan. Well done!

Now on to your hair conundrum. I trust the circumstances surrounding your cut weren’t quite as extenuating as Fantine’s, but I do quite understand your impatience with a rapidly approaching wedding. The fact is, growing out hair is a bitch. If it’s a mess, as you say, you may actually need a little trim to see you through the worst of it.

You must find a good stylist – someone who understands your endgame (long hair) and will play it, someone who will strategize with you on a coif for the big day. I understand not wanting to go the extensions route, but if you have enough hair by D-day, there are creative things that can be done with hair pieces and braids to fill out an updo.

But who says you need to put your hair up? There is no bridal canon that dictates you must have an intricate updo. Why not go for something unexpected? It sounds like you might be dealing with a medium length by the time of your wedding and if you have lovely hair, as you say you do, it could be even more stunning styled beautifully with whatever hairpiece, headband or veil you’ve chosen.

I’m feeling a 1920′s vibe. Charlize Theron does this really well for awards shows, so check her out for inspiration. Loose and whimsical hair can be so fetching with a wedding gown and frankly, probably photographs better. Many brides end up looking like pin heads in their updos due to the relative volume of their dresses. I’m just sayin’.

So relax. Enjoy the whole process of planning your wedding and know that you have gorgeous options no matter what length your hair.

Cheers!

xo,

SB

 

The 2013 Golden Globes

70th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Show

Did y’all watch? Sigh. I just adore an awards show, and dare I say, ever since TV has gotten as good as it has over the last few years, I think I like the Globes even more than the Oscars. I loved seeing Lady Mary Crawley in a modern day gown and a cute bob. And what a relief to see Carrie Mathison eschewing her under eye circles and drab CIA pantsuits for a fiery red Versace. Phew!

But let me begin by applauding the real stars of the night – Tina Fey and Amy Pohlar – on crushing the Golden Globes into a fine shimmery pulp. They were hilarious, classy, GORGEOUS and brilliant. YES! Mother effing GIRL POWER. That’s what that is. They SHUT. IT. DOWN. Huzzah!!! Love those funny bitches. LOVE.

On to some dresses, because that’s what we do here at SB. At least some of the time. There were many themes: red gowns, black and white gowns. You can read about those elsewhere. Here are the ones I fancied:

The Midriff: Once upon a time, wearing a gown to an awards show meant that an exposed midriff was definitely not on the list of concerns. Aside from having to actually squeeze into a dress, the whole abdominal region was something that could safely be ignored. But no more. Now, in addition to shoulders, backs, legs and bosoms, the trunk seems to be fair game as a new sartorial sexy zone. It’s almost like a page is being taken from our Indian sisters and their beautiful saris.

And lest you think I don’t approve, be assured that I am giving two enthusiastic thumbs up to three intrepid fashionistas who attempted this move last night. The trick, it seems, is restraint. A cut out, a peek-a-boo, a sliver, a slice. No one needs to see a belly button, but a curve here and there? Well, we’d be fools to refuse.

Nicole Kidman was downright confounding in Alexander McQueen. Normally, I dislike mesh (pronounced MEOSH in an operatic tone . . . long story) almost as much as I dislike illusion netting. But this dress looked so damn good on her, so fashion forward and frankly, challenging, that I am going to give the MEOSH a pass and a pat on the behind. Good on ya, Nicole. As always.

Emily Blunt looked foxy as all get out in a gold Michael Kors gown with side cut-outs. And how cute are she and John Krasinski together? So cute.

And finally, funny lady, Kristin Wiig looked amazing in a black keyhole dress, also by Mr. Kors. Come to think of it, this cutouts business is largely Michael Kors’ doing. Well played, you freakishly tan mama’s boy. Well played.

Black and gold: Kate Hudson and Helen Mirren both killed it in slinky, body con black and gold – Hudson in Alexander McQueen and Mirren in Badgley Mischka. I’m not usually one for a sleeved gown and I’m certainly no fan of a high neck like the McQueen, but again, these dresses looked so throughly modern and so thoroughly dynamite on their bodies, that I’m having to rethink everything. I loved them both.

And can we talk about Helen Mirren, please ? She’s 67! A flirty, sexy, SPECTACULAR 67. I want to be her when I grow up.

Rockin’ hair/dress combos: I love an unexpected combination and call me crazy but a messy fishtail with a gigantic floral Carolina Herrera is an unexpected combo. As is, a quasi-fauxhawk up-do and a blingy Monique Lhuillier gown. Both Lucy Liu and Jullianne Hough managed to pull off amped up versions of casual hairstyles, which worked as perfect foils to rather extreme (but in my opinion, gorgeous) dresses.

Lucy Liu’s dress had a voluminous and princessy cut, but the big flowers, the pockets and Liu’s braid all came together as easy and romantic.

Hough was able to try out the Miley Cyrus do, without having to actually do it. The gown had a classic cut, albeit edgy embellishments and all together it read as really cool and chic. Well done to both ladies.

Seeing red: There was a ton of red on the the red carpet this year. Naomi Watts, Jennifer Lawrence, Jennifer Garner, Marion Cotillard. I’m growing weary of this post, so I’ll just give you my most and least favorites. Naomi Watts looked flawless in a retro burgundy Zac Posen. So sophisticated and glamorous, I loved it from the front and the back.

On the other hand we had the twee Zoey Dechanel in Oscar de la Renta. I don’t know man, but sister needs to change things up. The heavy bangs, the grandma pearls, the itty bitty nail art, the prom-reminiscent dress – none of it was working for me. But honestly, lest I end on a sour note, when someone is this entrenched in her look, just think of the power she possesses to blow us out of the water someday when she decides to take a risk. I can’t wait.