Are Bras Bad for Boobs?
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
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
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
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!
SB Tunes: RIP Chrissy Amphlett
Divinyls front woman, Chrissy Amphlett, died yesterday at age 53. She had breast cancer and MS – terribly sad. Less sad – in fact, completely awesome, was her rocker, sexpot, gamine music persona. She packed it in and busted it out – a total SB.
Plaid skirts and fishnets in her honor today, y’all.
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?
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!
Photo Credit: Ron Asadorian/Splash News
Previously on SB: Ask the SB – Denim Skirts
SB Flicks: The Great Gatsby
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!!!
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.
RIP Margaret Thatcher
“If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.”
–Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Adidas: All In for My Girls
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
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
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.
Previously on SB: Ask the SB: Sunglasses for the Girlfriend
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?
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.
SB Loves The Male Bond
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
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
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
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?
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!
Hullooo From the Bottom of a Crevasse!
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 . . .
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
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?
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 . . .)
The Beyoncé Bowl
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
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.
Ask the SB: Sports Jerseys
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?
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.
SB Hauntings: Flashmob Headband
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.
Pom poms are the new feathers. You heard it here first.
SB Tunes: GIRLS by Santigold
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.
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?
~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.
Hey, you. Ya, you.
Did you know Justin Timberlake just leaked a song off his new album? Have you checked it out yet? Are you excited for his new record? Do you realize it’s been six years? Are you excited? Are you really, really excited? Are you ready to bring Sexy Back?
Enjoy Suit and Tie ft. Jay-Z.
Smooth as evah.
The 2013 Golden Globes
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.
Baby It’s Cold Outside
So I’m flying the coop. I am over and out, as they say. I had vast plans for more pre-holiday posts and SB revelry, but life got in the way, as it does.
Hang some twinkle lights and I’m a goner – just a sappy sucker for a fortifying beverage, a sparkly party and the people in my life who make me laugh.
I’m headed for warmer climes, so I’ll be out of touch for a few weeks.
Happy Holidays, dear readers. Be merry, be bright. Be SPECTACULAR.
Enjoy two versions of Baby It’s Cold Outside. I love this song and I really love an odd pairing, so try these on for size: Norah Jones and Willie Nelson (Who doesn’t love Willie?) and Dolly Parton and Rod Stewart (I know. Awesome.) I truly can’t decide which one I like better, but who says I have to choose?
Photo credit: Steven Meisel for Vogue – December 1998
Ask the SB: Watch for the Girlfriend
Q:Yes I am already Christmas shopping.
After a layoff my girlfriend is returning to the work world with two new careers in real estate and event planning.
I thought a nice watch would be a good gift for her, better than pulling out an iPhone during a meeting. I am not familiar with trends in women’s watches and wondered if you had any suggestions. She is not a dainty girl, so tiny faces and skinny bracelets are not going to work.
A: Can I tell you, sweet Michael, how much I adore you male SB readers? Y’all are the most thoughtful bunch of mo’ fos. It warms my heart, really. And I’ve been fretting about you and your question, Michael, because I know Christmas is approaching faster than a fat lady on ice-skates and I’ve been sitting on your questions for, er, a while. Mea culpa, but here we go.
I’m not sure I can tell you which watch to buy for your girlfriend, since I’m not sure what your budget is, but I will say that your “not dainty girl” is in luck. The trend in women’s watches is big and menswear-inspired, which is perfect for her build.
I will tell you what I told the bloke buying the engagement ring and the bloke buying sunglasses: take your lady. If you wish, do a little reconnaissance ahead of time and have a handful of potential watches set aside, ready for her to choose from. If there was EVER an accessory to get right, it’s a watch. Not only is its very raison d’être to be looked at, it has to feel right on her wrist.
I don’t know your gal’s taste, but I can tell you a few things about my own. I like a large watch, but nothing gargantuan. That trend will be gone soon and you’ll want something with staying power. Don’t go too much larger than a half dollar and make sure it sits relatively flat on the wrist.
Unless she’s going to take up scuba diving, celestial navigation or arctic exploration, you don’t need or want all that garbage around the circumference of the watch. No numbered bezels and also, unless it’s what she really wants, no gems. I can’t stand a watch that’s encrusted in diamonds. I know that smacks of sour grapes, but it’s true, darling – I swear.
Along those lines, I like a simple face in white, silver or black. I am not a fan of Roman or oversized numerals, in fact, I prefer no numbers at all, just those little sticks. And for the love of God, round not square – unless you’re buying her a Cartier, in which case WELL DONE!
I prefer a metallic bracelet because I like my non diamond encrusted watch to slide around my wrist a bit, but leather is fine and purely a matter of personal preference.
My last thought would be, whatever your price range, buy a watch that is made by a company that has always made watches. In other words, don’t get her a Michael Kors watch or a Mark Jacobson watch. I don’t like it when designers try to put their grubby fingers in pies where they don’t belong.
Good luck, Michael, and happy shopping!
Pictured Left to Right:
Seiko 5 Automatic Watch on sale for $152
Swiss Army Victorinox Classic on sale for $795.00
Alpha Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Quartz – good luck finding it for less than $2,000.
SB Cannot Wait to Get Her Paws on the Vanity Fair Comedy Issue
It’s guest edited by Judd Apatow and features three different covers. Which to choose??? I kind of love every single person pictured, with the exception, perhaps, of Megan Fox. Is she funny? Hmmm.
And hats off to Leslie Mann, 40 year old mother of two, for ra ra rocking that bikini. Much is being made of the fact that the issue features an equal number of men and women. As long as we’re talking equity, I think there should be at least one dude in his skivvies as a counterpoint to Mann. My vote would have been for Jack Black, but what do I know? And where is he, by the way?
I do know that this is what I’m going to be doing on my plane ride in a couple weeks. So don’t even think about chit chatting me up.
Holiday Gift Guide: For the Bookworm and the Glam Girl
For the bookworm: Does your SB carry a book around in her purse? Does she light up when someone so much as approaches her bookshelf, at the ready to pluck and discuss? Does she get ornery when someone doesn’t return one of her books? Does she get all frothy and greedy in a bookstore? Then, by all means, buy her some books! And this year, how about this adorable coffee table book called My Ideal Bookshelf? It has illustrations of the fave books of everyone from Patti Smith to Tony Hawk to Judd Appatow. For a dedicated copy, go here.
OR if you’re truly awesomely sneaky, you can commission a custom portrait of her favorite and most beloved books. You can also get a gift card, so you’ll have one year to send book picks and pictures of the spines to be illustrated. I just love this.
For the glam girl. Oh she’s easy. Not easy that way, you pervs. Anything sparkly or be-feathered is sure to please. J. Crew has some really cool bling to choose from and let’s just say I would be more than a little tickled to open a box and see the Band.o flurry pouf staring back at me. I can think of a million places I would wear that little piece, starting with the post office, the liquor store, the market, the dentist and oh, maybe a party or two . . .
For the bookworm glam girl: This hybrid is more common than you’d imagine and lucky for you, there’s the perfect book for her this year. Grace Coddington, the longtime creative director of Vogue magazine and a former model, has put out a memoir. Yep. Cannot wait to read it. Can. Not. Wait.
SB Loves: Decembeaver
A cheeky wink and middle finger to Movember.
SB Tunes: Kylie Minogue
It’s with your holiday party playlists in mind that I bring you Ms. Minogue for this week’s SB Tuneage. Adorable Australian singer, songwriter, pop star, actress and breast cancer survivor, I love the fact that Minogue has always been absolutely 100 percent sartorially fearless.
High waisted cut off jean shorts? Bring ‘em. Spiral perm? Yawn. Vinyl dress? Honey, please. Hot pink space suit? Of course. Furry vest over bikini? And your issue is???? Homegirl cargos and blue eyeshadow? Yes to the YES. If you care to see what I mean, check out this slideshow.
But like any SB worth her salt, she manages to pull off the most preposterous flourishes because she wears what’s on the outside lightly. She’s fun and none of it seems too terribly serious to her, so even a frontless, legless, hooded jumpsuit seems to work.
And now, at the ripe age of 44, she looks better than ever and, dare I say, refreshingly devoid of dermatological facial monkeying. She’s gorgeous.
Can’t Get You Out of My Head. Enjoy. And pay attention to the robot dance moves. That’s how it’s done.
Previously on SB Tunes: Blondie
Previously on SB Tunes: Dolly
RIP: Dave Brubeck
Dave Brubeck died this week at age 91. He seemed like such a peach. Such a gentleman.
Goodnight and good thanks to one dashing and talented bespectacled cool cat.
Raise a glass and Take Five.
Holiday Gift Guide: For the Tomboy and the Foodie
Moving on, my lovelies.
For the tomboy: What could be more comfy, and frankly, more chic, than a pair of menswear-inspired pajamas? She’ll adore these boy pi’s cut for a girl. And how cute is the gingham? So cute.
For the foodie: Everyone knows a good quality cast iron skillet is a must have for any serious cook. Or maybe not everyone knows this, but everyone should. A well-seasoned cast iron skillet can be used for everything: pancakes, cornbread, omelets, steaks, intruders. It’s brilliant on the stove, in the oven or on the grill and not only is it shockingly inexpensive, it is pleasingly heavy and will last a lifetime if properly cared for. A word to the wise: never, ever, EVER put it in the dishwasher. I once had to kick a man to the curb for ruining mine.
For the tomboy foodie: Two different options to rock her world. Ready? A whole serrano ham. BOOM! Seriously, could there be anything more dramatic and tasty? More badass and divine? More hooved and salty-delectable? And it’s a gift that keeps on giving. Slice a couple paper thin slivers every night to nibble with a glass of wine before dinner until April and you’ll still have so much jamon left over you’ll just have to have a PARTY. Una fiesta de jamon! Have I lost my wits? Sí Sí!
And if you can score one of these GORGEOUS knives from Cut Brooklyn, well, then you are really a rockstar. (If you get a chance, watch this video and you’ll covet one of your own). If you can’t, then you can still be a rockstar with one of these ceramic knives. A completely different beast, but so sharp. Have I ever mentioned how much I love knives?
SB Tunes: Solange Knowles
I know, I know. It’s downright crazy to feature sister Solange before I feature sister Beyoncé on SB Tunes. Lordie knows I love myself a little Beyoncé, and I will get to her, my friends, trust me.
There is just something really cool, cute and compelling to me about Solange. She seems graciously impervious to Beyoncé’s superstardom and content to go forth and do her own thing, in her own time, on her own juice, with her own style. And she always has great hair.
I read this article in the NY Times a few months ago and was kind of surprised to learn of her DJing, her indie vibe, her ample musical influences and her nonchalant eye towards celebrity. In short, I just kind of dig her.
And I dig this video. So stylish. And a pretty good jam too.
Holiday Gift Guide: For the Couch Kitten and the Party Girl
Everyone knows Spectacular Bitches come in all shapes and sizes – and all colors and flavors. More to the point, Spectacular Bitches embody a panoply of colors and flavors. Like Gobstoppers.
To be spectacular is to be complex.
With that in mind, I’m going to throw out a little holiday cheer over the next weeks by crafting a gift guide to suit all the delicious and delectable layers that hide within an SB.
Boys, listen up. Girls, ’tis the season to leave your laptops yawning open in plain view if you see something you like.
This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list – just fun.
For the couch kitten: Sometimes a girl just needs a night in with nothing on the agenda but a crackling fire, a chilled glass of vino blanco and a soul satisfying music documentary. For those nights, a soft and heavy faux fur throw. Purrrrrrr.
For the party girl: Put up a disco ball in her living room. For realz. I have one and it makes me happy every single day. Fire it up and you have an instant party – even if it’s only one person. You’ll need a few accessories (light, hook, spinny-thing) but you can figure it out.
For the couch kitten party girl: You can never go wrong with a great pair of head phones. Here’s a little known fact: they double as earmuffs in the winter but instead of looking goofy, they look superfly AND play music. I have a pair of these (which I still adore), but these beauties by Frends kind of take my breath away. They look like jewels and I covet covet covet. You can get them at Apple stores. Sigh.
Ask the SB: Holiday Gams
Q: I want to wear something other than black shoes this winter at cocktail parties. If I go for gold or red, do I just wear regular hose (Oh God, I hate those things). Do people even WEAR hose anymore? Baring my legs in the winter is not an option – for my sake and everyone else’s. Ever grateful.
–The Fashion Not
A: Just say NO, Fashion Not. Say it with me. No. No to the panty ho. Notwithstanding the fact that Kate Middleton is singleleggedly waging a valiant campaign to bring nude hose back, pay no heed. If she weren’t married to Prince William and forced to wear demure little dresses and suits every day of her life (God, can you imagine? How exhausting!), you can bet your bottom dollar that she wouldn’t be wearing them either. In fact, should she ever go rogue á la Princess Diana, I imagine her peeling out of Nottingham Cottage leaving a tremendous, blazing, noxious nude hose pyre engulfing her dressing room.
In any event, I applaud your yen for a different colored shoe and suggest you try out a fishnet. The smaller the weave, the less saucy the look. Navy or black would work with a red shoe, a buff fishnet would work with a metallic. You could also try tights with color or texture, depending on what you have going with the dress.
And a final word on bare legs. Unless there’s something truly inhumanly god awful about ones legs, it’s amazing what a little shave, bronzer and moisturizer will do. Sadly for us gals in the winter climes, a bare leg simply looks chic at all times of the year. Furthermore, the ability to delineate muscle, bone, vein etc. actually makes ones legs look more slender.
Some poet somewhere sometime definitely said that there is nothing prettier than the top of a woman’s foot.
For more on this:
Ask the SB: St. Paddy’s Day Legs
Ask the SB: Fishnets at Work
Photo Credit: Dressed Leg by Lillian Bassman for Harpers Bazaar 1948
SB Tunes: David Byrne
Oh, swoon. Sexy, nerdy freak boy and frontman for Talking Heads, David Byrne was (and continues to be) a fascinating and intrepid musical explorer. Most recently, he’s collaborated with rockin’ SB, Annie Clark of St. Vincent. He’s like little Jack Horner with his thumbs in more pies than you can count: music, theater, opera, photography, radio, film, architecture, cycling – you name it, he’s figured out a way to come at it in his own left of center, inimitably curious way.
Now THAT, is sexy.
Secret fantasy job: being one of those black mamas singing back up. Oh, would I WORK. THAT. OUT.
The last of my Movember Spectacular Dudes, it’s virtually impossible to pick just one song or video from Byrne’s career. This song, however, lurks like a little bomb in your playlist – sure to blow up any dance floor.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s a beautiful thing to take a day to slow down and be grateful. This year I am grateful for many things, chief among them being this space and you all.
I get to write whatever I want, whenever I want and you sweet smart readers indulge me by visiting anyway. So thank you. Thank you for your questions and comments. Thank you for being interested in what I have to say.
I’m also thankful for all the beauty and diversity our little planet has to offer if one is simply willing to stand still and notice. I appreciate your stopping with me and holding my hand to peek at one small sliver of it all.
Sometimes I worry that this blog verges on the frivolous, but without a bit of light and whimsy, I fear we’d all be sunk.
So thanks. Now go find your prettiest stretchy pants and have a gloriously luxurious and indulgent day.
Photo credit: ⓒ Contrasto
The American Music Awards
Did you watch? I did and as always, I found it to be completely entertaining, though quite sedate, sartorially speaking. My two take-aways from the night are:
1. Notwithstanding the fact that harem pants (or Hammer pants, if you prefer, which I DO) never really took root for women, they seemed to be working for the men at the AMAs. The Biebs was sporting a skinny boy version, so be prepared – these just may stick.
2. I am strangely obsessed with the fingerless leather gloves Carrie Underwood wore for her performance – especially paired with a gown. I am so feeling these for holiday fests. What a cool way to edge up a look and get a little hand candy going at the same time. Am I crazy? Entirely possible.
Also, Pink needs to join Cirque du Soleil, Jenny McCarthy should not lose her wits and kiss the Biebs on the neck when his mom is sitting right there, Taylor Swift should wear a color for once in her life, everyone needs to cut it out with the pants-less performances (talking to you, Aguilera and Ke$ha), Gwen Stefani still rocks but that illusion netting shirt should be burned and Chris Brown needs to go away. Just away.
Enjoy some more Hammer pants, Gangnam-style:
SB Flicks: The Eye has to Travel
I am an absolute sucker for a good fashion documentary and this one about Harpers Bazaar and Vogue editor, Diana Vreeland, looks to be abso fabu.
Vreeland was a rare bird and I have high hopes that this documentary will capture her visionary, dramatic, fun and irreverent spirit.
She was the first to embrace Barbara Streisand’s nose, to recognize it for what it was – unique and beautiful and not something to be shaded or turned to a better angle. She used to say “Push their faults – make it the most beautiful thing about them.” That, my friends, is a kernel of wisdom we can all tuck in our clutches.
It’s in theaters now, so scurry.
Photo credit: courtesy of the Diana Vreeland estate
SB Tunes: Kanye
Continuing on with my spectacular dudes in honor of Movember, up this week: Kanye West.
I want to hate him, I really do. I want to boycott him forever after the Taylor Swift debacle. I want to mock him for his fly by night love affair with Kardashian.
I want to kick him to the curb for those full length fur coats. Scratch that – I love him in a fur.
He makes me feel like a wiry tortured brokeback gay cowboy. Kanye: I wish I knew how to quit you.
But I can’t. He’s just that good. This is one of my favorite songs of all time. If you play this, I will dance. Simple as that. I could be at the dentist, in a museum, in a court of law, at the nunnery . . . when that beat goes, so do I.
And this one goes out to my Chicago readers. My peeps here, tell me I’ve got some peeps there. Holla ladies! Keep an eye out for Chris Martin, who, conversely from Kanye, I have no reason not to like, but still don’t.
Oh, the vagaries of the heart.
SB Loves: Pencil Skirts
As we’re careening into the season of holiday happy hours, work bashes and soirees, I’d like to take a moment to sing the praises of the elegant and understated pencil skirt.
Every girl’s best friend, the pencil skirt is a fresh and unexpected way to sashay into your next fest.
Unlike almost every other article of clothing, a pencil skirt manages to look amazing on all shapes and sizes.
Big bootays go pow in a pencil skirt, slim hips go meow in a pencil skirt. It’s some kind of magic, I tell you. Styled the right way, a pencil skirt is a first class ticket to sexy and soignée.
Some tips for those hips:
1. Go tight. If you don’t get that contour in from the hips and in along the bum, then you’re just wearing the bottom half of an 80′s power suit. It has to be snug.
2. Watch the VPL. It goes without saying for any bottoms, but especially so if you’re ordering up tight. A thong or a seamless boy short will most likely be necessary.
3. The best length for a pencil skirt is right at the knee, to show of the slimmest part of the leg. The higher you go above the knee, to more you veer away from pencil skirt town into mini skirt town, and that may not be the town you intended to visit. The farther you go below the knee the more you veer into dowdy town, and that’s definitely not the town you want to visit.*
4. Wear a heel.
5. Define your waist. Whether you have a blouse tucked in or a fitted sweater, make sure the pencil skirt can work its full magic by showing off where it all starts.
6. Be(a)spectacle. Boys DO make passes at girls who wear glasses. Go ahead, wear your specs. Pencil skirts and glasses go together like champagne and caviar.
*Small caveat: some mid-calf length pencil skirts can look divine, but it involves a high degree of difficulty. You need to hit numbers 1 and 4 HARD. You also need to stand like a high fashion model from the early 60′s – you know, with your body in a question mark shape. Kind of like Marilyn above.
Ask the SB: Moderately Priced Holiday Dress
Q: I’m going to a Christmas party for a local bar where my friend works in early December. I guess everyone dresses up pretty formally, and I’m having trouble finding a cute dress in my price range. I’m a college student, so I don’t want to spend too much over $100. Do you have any suggestions of places to look?
A: Sophia, dear! I luuurrrve a Christmas party for a local bar where my friend works in early December! How fun! I’ll be ready at 8.
As for your dress conundrum, I suggest you check out Bluefly.com where you can get a more expensive dress at a steep discount. More dress for less cash is always a good thing and they have a reasonable return policy – just stay on top of it so you don’t get stuck with something that you don’t want. I swept through for about 60 seconds and saw a ton of cute options hovering around 100 bucks.
I don’t know where you live, but there are certain vintage stores that specialize in dresses and some are so good that they have them all organized by measurements. In Minneapolis, there is a store called Via’s Vintage, and they will literally measure you and show you exactly what will fit you. Vintage dresses are often of exquisite quality and go for a pittance, so it is something to consider. Vintage is also a great way to go for the sparkly bits to bling yourself up.
In general, if you don’t have much to spend, go for classic silhouettes and colors, which will look less cheap than bright and trendy pieces.
Now go forth and be merry, Sophia!
The chicest accessory of all. Do it.
Are Bond Girls Spectacular Bitches?
It’s easy to dismiss Bond girls as sexy, irrelevant throw-backs, but not so fast . . .
Writer, Deborah Lipp, provides a compelling feminist defense of Bond girls in this highly entertaining video essay. Written by Lipp and narrated by her sister, she puts Bond movies into cultural context and shows how the films did indeed introduce a new kind of woman in the early 60′s. These women could fight, fly planes, outwit, seduce and be gay – unheard of until then.
Lipp writes: Bond girls speak to the part of me that is both feminist AND femme. The Bond girl became my archetype of an independent and exciting woman; a vision of who I could become that was purely fantasy, but still spoke to the real me. As I grew up, she remained my role model and my fantasy self.
Fascinating. Enjoy some spectacular Bond girl hijinks:
Photo credit: Terry O’Neill/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.
SB Tunes: The Boss
As you know, we la la love men here at SB headquarters. Anything that reminds our sweet brothers to get themselves checked out and helps our guys stay healthy and strong, is a cause dear to our hearts.
So, in honor of Movember, I’ve decided to throw a little love at the boys for this month’s SB tunes.
To start us out, a manly man. A real man. A man more than a little likely to convince me to hop in and cruise down Thunder Road.
SB (Kinda) Loves Vintage
We haven’t broken down vintage, have we? That’s because I don’t really do vintage. Aside from jewelry and clutches, it’s not my thing. But I’ve got nothing but love for those twee girls who can rock a vintage frock.
I adore the idea of wearing a piece with a past – with an old story to tell, maybe even a burning secret to whisper.
I was reading something somewhere that said the trick to nailing a vintage look is to figure out the eras that match your body type.
In other words, if you’re curvy go for the nipped-waisted silhouettes of the 40′s and 50′s – maybe even the body-con dresses from the 80′s. If you have a boyish figure, then drop waisted dresses from the 20′s, mod dresses from the 60′s or hiphuggers from the 70′s will tend to flatter you more.
Find the era when your body shape was the ideal – when you would have been da bomb – and wear those clothes.
Or maybe you just need to do it like this:
I love Halloween and this year we have a full moon hanging heavy in the sky to light our paths and cast inky shadows. Ahwwwooooooooo.
Hope you’re all getting to play dress up tonight, or at the very least, indulging in something tooth-achingly sweet that comes out of many crinkly wrappers.
Here’s a sweet confection from Bow Wow Wow to get you in the mood. Watching this video again, I can’t help but marvel at how current they all look considering the song is 20 years old. Annabella Lwin is rocking that mohawk like nobody’s biz.
I WANT CANDY.
Photo credit: Ellen von Unwerth
You Don’t Own Me
By Lena Dunham, fearless princess of cringe comedy and life truth.
Great Golden Globes News!
Did you hear? Did you hear? The hilarious, adorable and all around kick-ass Amy Poehler and Tina Fey have been asked to co-host the 2013 Golden Globe Awards! Oh, January 13th, I am R.E.A.D.Y. Actually, not quite. But I will be. Oh will I ever be. My basement will be a flatteringly lit EMPORIUM of TV readiness by the time I settle in for the red carpet. I may have to hire a butler for the night.
You know, I actually quite like Ricky Gervais, pudgy ginger man that he is. I think he’s funny and I like him mean. I think he did a good job the past few years, but this choice is inspired.
And lest anyone quibble with the fact that it appears two women are being sent to do one man’s job, just remember this: why do something alone when it would be ten times more fun with a girlfriend? Either of them could carry this on her own, but they are hilarious together. Why mess with perfection?
Good on you and good luck, ladies!
SB Tunes: Adele Sings the New Bond Theme
The theme song for the new Bond movie, Skyfall, is brilliant and Adele is a brilliant choice. It sounds like sex and a fast car and a low cut scuba suit and false eyelashes and a bearskin rug in front of a fire and a dagger in a wall and splintering glass and a smoking gun and a strong martini. Shaken not stirred.
In other words, pure Bond. Pure swoon. Enjoy.
Hookers Sponsor Bankrupt Greek Soccer Team
If this isn’t a Hollywood movie waiting to happen, I don’t know what is. Two Greek brothels called Villa Erotica and Soula’s House of History are sponsoring the Voukefalas club team and in return, the soccer players wear the bordellos’ logos on their pink practice jerseys.
This is awesome. Madame Soula doesn’t need the advertising, she’s just doing it to save the team. “If we don’t help our athletes and scientists, where will we be?” she asks.
Can’t you just see it? The town’s beloved Voukefalas team has lost its funding and is on the brink of collapse. The citizens are in despair and the team crestfallen. Cut to the last home game, with many slow-mo close ups of handsome swarthy soccer players, looking morose and unshaven, but giving it their all. Pan to a bevy of fancy ladies cheering from the stands, clutching their hands to their heaving bosoms and wiping tears from their eyes.
Enter the saucy Soula – the madame with a heart of gold, a head for business and a yen for football. She puts aside her decades-old rivalry with the other big madame in town for the greater good and hatches a plan . . .
The rest, as they say, is history.
SB Flicks: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Even though SBs may not know too terribly much about being wallflowers, they do know a great high school coming-of-age flick when they see one.
The book upon which this movie is based is absolutely lovely, the protagonist being a more . . . er level-headed Holden Caufield of the early nineties. Since the author, Stephen Chbosky, directed the film, I think we can be sure it won’t stray too much from the book. And hopefully, we’ll see just how beautifully even the most awkward wallflower can bloom if given half the chance and a couple of sweet friends to tend to his heart.
Not to mention the fact that the movie features the divine Emma Watson and a KILLER soundtrack.
When I saw this preview in the theater I just swooned. We all walk around with a bit of our adolescent selves tucked into our chests, or at least we should because I believe it’s the key to staying young. Being open, green, impressionable, vulnerable and awkward IS the antidote to turning into a brittle old biddy. Tap into it.
Spectacular Bitch: Patti McGee
Did y’all know about Patti? The first female skateboarder to go pro and the first female to be inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame, she was born in 1945! Imagine that. Girls on longboards are a dime a dozen these days (not that it detracts from their coolness), but back in 1965 when she won the first Women’s National Skateboard Championship and appeared on the cover of Life Magazine, she was one of a handful.
I’m crushing on her glammy blond bouffant and boyish clothes. You can never go wrong with khakis and a little cardi – just femme it up with some bling or sex kitten hair. Love her.
SB Tunes: Pat Benetar
Pat Benetar was quintessential 80′s glam meets tomboy tough girl. She strutted that line like a spandex clad queen.
This is possibly one of the finest videos ever made, with the finest choreographed dance/fight scene ever made. Way to stand up to that pimp, sister!
We should all have a rumble dance routine in our back pockets – you never know when it could come in handy because Love is a Battlefield, don’t ya know.
And I adore her shreddy green dress – I would totally wear that.
Not a Fan: Cocktail Straws
I know it’s an odd thing to be peevish about, but hang with me.
Picture this: You’ve procured your cocktail from the bar, left a tip and shimmied out onto the dance floor. Your favorite song comes on and you reflexively lift your drink up to salute the dj, your pals, the night and the gods of frolicking. Only the straw in your drink gets snagged in your friend’s hair or worse yet, her cornea, or worse yet, your cornea. If we don’t run with scissors, why do we dance with straws?
Not convinced? Picture this: You’ve procured your cocktail from the bar, left a tip and stepped away to drink your drink. You stand there holding the glass in one hand, the straws in the other and sip like a little baby. Your shoulders are hunched, your head is down. Granted you might accentuate your cheek bones for a second, but that is far outweighed by how sorority this looks. It’s hard to look confident when drinking through a straw, which is why men, largely, don’t.
Man up, ladies. Use the straws to muddle your citrus, give your drink a stir and then leave them at the bar. Cocktail straws manage to be both dangerous and lame – a rare combo, indeed.
The spectacular bitch's RSS feed. Grab it.