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Spectacular Bitches

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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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

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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.

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?

SB Tunes: AlunaGeorge

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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

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!

SB Tunes: Savages

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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.

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 Tunes: Janelle Monae

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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

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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

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 Tunes: Tegan and Sara

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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

SB Tunes: Bowie

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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

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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

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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

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.

SB Tunes: GIRLS by Santigold

santigold---girls

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.

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.

 

SB Tunes: Kylie Minogue

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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

Holiday Gift Guide: For the Tomboy and the Foodie

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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

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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

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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.

SB Tunes: David Byrne

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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.

Enjoy.

SB Flicks: The Eye has to Travel

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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

Are Bond Girls Spectacular Bitches?

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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.

Happy Halloween

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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

Great Golden Globes News!

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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

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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.

SB Flicks: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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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

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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

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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.

Enjoy
 

Not a Fan: Cocktail Straws

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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.

Lose them.

SB Tunes: Sade

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Sade, the empress of Yacht Rock, is one smooth operator herself. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to get to her – she’s that smooth. And SPECTACULAR.

Half Nigerian, half English, Sade epitomizes the sexy side of the 80′s. Ever restrained, Sade was a minimalist when no one was a minimalist. She was all about the pulled back hair, the all white outfits, the red lip and the gorgeous voice – nothing to distract from her face and her vocals.

And see how a sexy saxophone stands the test of time by throwing anything off of her greatest hits onto your next sexy party mix.

She’s divine. And she just keeps getting better.

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Breaking News: Prince Sports a Baby Fro

The internet was aflame today with news of Prince’s new do. Apparently, this SB (who happens to have a penoose) appeared on The View today sporting a baby fro.

Me? I like it, but then again I never met an afro I didn’t like.

What I can’t understand is why on earth he’d go on The View when we haven’t been able to get him to perform in his native Minnesota in eons. I’d say the Purple Yoda needs to reassess his priorities.

SB Tunes: Phantogram

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One half of the psychedelic synth-pop duo out of Upstate New York, Sarah Barthel is mesmerizing on vocals and keyboards. Not that her compadre, Josh Carter, isn’t – but we’re here to talk about Spectacular Bitches.

Barthel’s fabulously shiny hair landed her in SB’s collage of bluntly bobbed brunettes a while back and honestly, if I had this hair I’d have to join a band just to swing it around. It’s perfection.

To say nothing of the music. This is sexy sultry shake the confetti out of your stilettos, flop on a couch with one more glass of champagne and a cute boy after-party party music.

You dig? I dig.

Photo credit: Aaron Richter

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First Woman to Officiate in NFL Game

Yesterday one more gender barrier was shattered when Shannon Eastin became the first woman to officiate an NFL regular season game.

She tucked her ponytail into her hat and line judged the Rams-Lions game in Detroit. Of course it was fine and naturally devoid of much brouhaha, but here at SB, we’d like to give her a little brouhaha. Because she deserves it.

Brou! Ha! Ha! Claps! Confetti!

Great job, Shannon! And go ahead and let that ponytail fly if you feel like it, sister.

More Confetti! Wooh Hoo!!!

xo,
SB

Photo credit: Rod Mar/AP

RIP Helen Gurly Brown

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Author of Sex and the Single Girl and Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine from 1965 through 1997, it’s hard to overstate Helen Gurly Brown’s influence on magazines as we know them. When she took over Cosmo, she took a prim, stayed publication geared toward perfect housewives and turned it into a frank, confessional, naughty and open forum for women who were out and about, living in the real world.

She’s the one who famously said, good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere. Ahead of her time, brave and full of sass, this SB will be missed. To read more about her fascinating life, check this out.

Photo Credit: Hearst Corporation/SF

SB Tunes: Lianne La Havas

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I’m going to keep the London love going for just a wee bit longer in an effort to curtail Olympics withdrawal and offer up the beautiful British singer/songwriter/guitar player Lianne La Havas for your viewing and listening pleasure. She’s half Greek, half Jamaican, all cool. Cool as a cucumber, in fact.

As much as I adore an SB rocker in spiky boots and lean jeans with kicks high enough to knock a shot glass right away from the lips of a tall tall man, I also enjoy a lady – someone who sits with her knees together and doesn’t smash things or have mascara running down her face. La Havas is a lady. An adorable lady with a penchant for pretty dresses edged up with gigantic colorful platform booties and the neatest little side pony-pouf.

She has a new album out called Is Your Love Big Enough? and if you like your tunes a little folksy bluesy soulful and easy on the ears, then you must check her out. Her voice is divine. Actually, everything about her is divine. And we share a birthday. Which is coming up.

Hint: le vingt-trois Août.

Photo credit Ben Statham – Redferns via Getty Images

Free Pussy Riot

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Photo credit: Anna Artemeva/AFP/Getty Images

Russian female punk band, Pussy Riot, is being detained for a protest performance they busted out in Moscow’s cathedral this past February. The charges are hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, but really they were protesting against Putin and making a statement about the separation of church and state. They just happened to do it in brightly colored ski masks and mini dresses on the altar of Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.

The three women have been in jail for five months and the trial has been a joke, complete with a disinterested judge and a savage Rottweiler, who strangely, gets to hang out in the courtroom frothing and snarling. There are allegations that the girls are being deprived of food and proper sleep, and other musicians, including Pete Townsend, Anthony Kiedis, Sting, Patty Smith and Alex Kapranos have come out in support of the group, demanding their freedom. They face a possible seven year sentence and a decision is expected this week!

Egads! What a nail biter!

Stay strong girls. And Putin, don’t be an asshole. Free Pussy Riot.

Pussy Riot encased in glass for the trial.

Photo credit: RIA Novosti Andrey Stenin

SB Tunes: Bananarama

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It’s hot, it’s August, so I’m going to keep it simple and serve up a little Cruel Summer by the cute 80′s New Wave girl group, Bananarama.

While I do not endorse baggy overalls, I do endorse running around town with your betties, a pigmented red lip and ratty crimped hair, stealing a Mack truck, throwing banana peels at the sheriff and then inviting him and his dancin’ deputy to your rooftop dance party. All of that sounds awesome.

Put a cold beer on your forehead and enjoy Cruel Summer:

 

Ahem, SB. Apropos of high-waisted suits . . .

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Editors Note: I love it when you all write to me, and I especially love it when I read something that makes me clutch my laptop to my chest with pride. Oh, my readers!

In response to my recent post where I tried, to no avail, to understand the role of high-waisted suits, Sarah sets me straight:

Q: Respectfully, I suggest some exceptions must be made:

Look here, here and here.

By the way, I want to say that the long wait paid off. I relish your SB column.

–Sarah

A: By the way, I want to say that you are brilliant, Sarah! Bravo! I always knew SB readers to be the fairest and cleverest of them all!

Thank you, dearest, for clarifying the raison d’être for a high-waisted suit: it is for the full figured gal, and on the full figured gal it looks nothing short of spectacular. Here I was scrolling through pictures of all these celebrity skinny minnies and scratching my head not understanding that the key element to making these suits successful is a voluptuous bod. You gotta fill that shit out!

Gabi Gregg, pictured above, is largely responsible for pioneering the “fatkini” movement (her term, not mine) and just wants plus size women to be able to strut their stuff and “be happy in the bodies we have right now.”

I’ll drink to that.

Olympic Girl Crush: Megan Rapinoe

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Striker Abby Wambach and keeper Hope Solo tend to get all the attention on the US Women’s Soccer team, and there is no doubt they are righteous babes. But after Rapinoe’s flawless, elegant and completely bad-ass performance in Saturday’s USA v. Columbia game, my heart belongs to her.

With her shock of blond hair and high cheekbones, she looks like Tilda Swinton’s sporty cousin. There is something tomboyish yet high fashion about her and I find myself daydreaming about coming at Rapinoe with a six pack of beer, a pair of chandelier earrings and some eye liner.

Rapinoe. Baby. Call me.

Photo credit: Via Out Magazine and AP Photo

SB Tunes: Betty Davis

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Not that Bette Davis. This is Betty Davis, one of the early female pioneers of funk and r&b. She was married to Miles Davis and was a funky, freaky and fierce SB who knew errybody. She introduced Davis to Jimi Hendrix thereby leading him down the electrified, psychedelic rock path that resulted in Bitches Brew. Apparently Miles Davis was going to name the album Witches Brew and she convinced him that Bitches Brew was better. It so is.

Rumor has it that her marriage ended because she had an affair with Hendrix, but all parties involved deny it and in his autobiography, Miles Davis describes her as “too young and too wild” for him. I’m going with that story.

Davis was no mere social butterfly of the funk world, no mere woman-behind-the-man, no mere Greenwich Village alley kitten. She wrote all her songs and produced all her albums after the first one. She even wrote the songs that got The Commodores signed with Motown Records. She was fiercely committed to doing things herself and her way.

She has a feral purr of a voice and was one of the first of the soul sisters to bring an overt sexuality to her music and performances. She used her thigh high silver boots to kick those bouffant hairdos and prim dresses back into the 60′s and sashayed into the 70′s with a mile high afro and sexy futuristic Ziggy Stardust-esque body suits. Young and wild, indeed!

I love that what she strutted was all her doing, all her idea. She had no handlers – she couldn’t be handled.

Enjoy Game is My Middle Name. Best song title ever. And my new motto.

R.I.P. Sally Ride

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First woman in space and hero to little girls everywhere, Sally Ride died yesterday at age 61. Spectacular because of her brains, her bravery, her passion for teaching and her sense of adventure and wonder, this is the kind of woman that we should be celebrating as a society.

Dudes! She willingly let herself get shot into outer space. OUTER SPACE! It makes my heart pound just thinking about it.

In addition to being an astronaut and a physics professor at UC-San Diego, she founded Sally Ride Science, a company dedicated to motivating girls to pursue learning and careers in math, science and technology.

Read up on her staggering accomplishments and for a taste of what that Challenger flight in 1983 meant to her, in her own words, check this out.

Photo credit: National Archives

SB Tunes: Annie Lenox

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Androgynous, theatrical and utterly transfixing – I L.O.V.E. Annie Lenox.

As one half the cooler-than-cool synth pop duo, Eurythmics, Lenox has always brought her own personal style to her music and performances. She has pretty much consistently rocked the pixie since the early 80′s, in various shades of red, orange and platinum blond.

She messes with our perception by cloaking that womanly bod in men’s garb, by offsetting the short crop with glammy make-up, by opening that wide, beautiful and borderline obscene mouth and wrapping us up in a powerful contralto voice that lingers and haunts.

Scottish soul. Spectacular.

Photo credit: Jean Baptiste Mondino

SB Loves: Naked Olympians

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Did you see the photo spread in the ESPN Body Issue featuring Olympic athletes posing nude? As if we needed any more reason to be all frothy for the upcoming Summer Olympics!

The most successful portraits are the ones that display the athletes’ musculature at work, doing what they do best. Just look at sailor, Anna Tunnicliffe. My word! The strength! And don’t even get me started on muddy soccer defender, Carlos Bocanegra.

Their bodies are, in a word, spectacular.

See for yourself.

Photo credit: Steven Lippman

SB Loves: Woody Allen

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I CANNOT WAIT to see Allen’s latest, To Rome with Love. Chocked full of SB’s, from the wee Ellen Page, to the sultry Penelope Cruz, to the salty Judy Davis, to the most spectacular of them all, ROMA herself.

What can I say, I’m a HUGE fan of the particular neurotic verbosity that Allen dishes out. Go figure.

whiteonrice

Like White on Rice

It’s been hot, y’all. So hot that yours truly is in danger of wilting. We Northern girls are unaccustomed to this kind of heat and humidity. Unlike our Southern sisters, we are not practiced in the arts of fanning ourselves, moving slow as molasses, drinking icy lemonade in the shade of a Magnolia tree and lowering our pulse to match the gentle lull of the cicada.

And yet we’re constitutionally unable to let a perfectly good summer day pass us by. We get up, we go outside and we do what we do. We count the days like marbles because we know that all too soon, the first snow will fly and we’ll be wrapping our carotid arteries in scarves to keep warm.

We don’t do languid. But languid is what is required as the temps and dew points creep up like the snaky tendrils of a fiery Bougainvillea.

On Sunday morning I was perusing the NY Times Sunday Styles, my first stop, always, in my delicious brick of a Sunday paper and I noticed this woman in white. My eyes kept straying back to her. Her name is Melissa Kuba Ledererer and she’s a jewelry designer. I couldn’t figure out why I liked her look so much, which is why I kept flipping the page and ogling her.

We know the temps in NY have been outrageous, so obviously she’s hot. How does she manage to look cool, both literally and figuratively? Instead of melting and whimpering and sneaking from patch of shade to patch of shade like a burglar, she’s acting . . . normal. What gives?

For one thing, the white on white is brilliant. It gives the illusion of breeziness, even if there’s no breeze in sight. The androgyny is cool too, as is the fact that she looks put together without looking too put together. The whites don’t exactly match, and either do her belt and shoes, but taken as a whole, she looks like an icy piña colada, the tip top of Mt. Everest, the ice cubes in my vodka soda.

MMMMMMMM. Vodka. Soda.

What was I saying? Yes, white on rice, white on white – it’s easy to pull off and a breeze to accessorize. Everything goes with white. Clean, simple and cool. Just what we need right now.

Photo credit: Bill Cunningham for On the Street

SB Tunes: Emily Haines of METRIC

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Canadian New Wave indie glam rock chick, Emily Haines, is SUCH an SB. She’s a little Blondie, a little Kim Gordon, a lot cool. She’s the vocals and keyboards for the band, Metric, and also a member of Broken Social Scene.

Of Metric’s recently released album, Haines says: “Synthetica is about being able to identify the original in a long line of reproductions. It’s about what is real vs what is artificial.” I’ll say. She pulls off the tough, blingy, soignée rocker look to perfection. A sparkly gold minidress and lavender ankle booties, a shredded tank and leather pants, a feather bolero – she always looks amazing.

But like all SB’s, there’s something more there – she’s a cogitator and a musician and very self-aware of what she does and why she does it. In an interview with Rolling Stone, she muses: “It’s a weird time to be pushing something forward: it’s doomy out here, but music and art will save us. It’s not time to scale back.”

Enjoy Gold Gun Girls. Makes me want to run around town with my best guys – you know who you are. And to hear a cool collaboration with Lou Reed, listen here.

Photo credit: Brantley Gutierrez

SB Tunes: Joan Jett

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It’s hot and I’m feeling a hot rocker chick for this edition of SB Tunes. I love Joan Jett. So much so that I dressed up as her once for a costume party. Let me tell you, it is highly satisfying to wear a shag wig and a studded belt.

Named by Rolling Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists, she is one of only two women on that list – the other being Joni Mitchell. Rolling Stone writes: In the earlier Runaways and the later Blackhearts, she played it straight ahead: No frills, all heart, no fucking around.

Bad ass, unapologetic and fuck-you sexy (yes, that’s a kind of sexy) – Jett rocks.

Put another dime in the jukebox, baby.

SB Tunes: Lykke Li

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Growing up, I had a Belgian friend named Effi. Her dad had a stack of Playboy magazines that were an endless source of entertainment for us on rainy days and her mother was an impossibly chic natural beauty – a Euro-hippy with a closetful of high heeled wedges and mules for us to clonk around in.

Swedish chanteuse and songwriter, Lykke Li, reminds me of Effi’s mom. There’s something defiant about her. She’s beautiful, but it isn’t about her beauty. Today she may choose to wear a chain mail leotard with crotch spikes, but tomorrow she will sing in a plaza in a bowler hat, high waisted flares and a kazoo.

Either way, this quirky song bird is divine and original and I could watch her make music with her voice and her coterie of ragtag people and instruments all the livelong day.

Me likee Lykke.

SB Tunes: Lauryn Hill

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To me, Lauryn Hill is as good as it gets. Rapper, singer and songwriter, she’s a lady with a point of view, a plan and an inimitable voice: steel and silk and a bit of rasp, oh. I loved her in the Fugees and her solo album, The Miseducaton of Lauryn Hill, is one of my all time favorites.

When she opted out of the music industry and public life after her first couple albums, she was immediately enswirled in rumors of having gone off the deep end. It couldn’t have had anything to do with marrying Rohan Marley and those FIVE CHILDREN, could it? That would be enough to send anyone off the deep end, or at the very least, into a protracted coccoon-phase.

A few years ago, I watched a documentary called My Mic Sounds Nice and it became clear that Ms. Hill (as she likes to be called) is the ne plus ultra for women in hip hop and also, just hip hop. Watch this clip to see what everyone from Questlove to Missy Elliot has to say about her.

At time when hip hop was a man’s game and women MC’s were seeking to stake their claim by either being hyper sexual à la Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown or by hiding in baggy track suits à la Missy Elliot, Lauryn Hill sailed out and did her thing exactly how she wanted to. There was no look, no schtick, it was all her. Drop dead gorgeous, true to herself and fiercely talented.

Respect.

SB Tunes: Santigold

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Singer, songwriter, producer, rapper and all around cool chick, I LOVE Santigold and her new album, Master of My Make Believe, is in heavy rotation in my world.

Her music and her look defy categorization. I imagine her walking through life with a huge grin and sticky fingers, plucking whatever catches her eye or strikes her fancy, putting it in an enormous basket and figuring out a way to use it later.

Santigold sounds like electronica, new wave, punk, hip hop, reggae, and riot grrl all rolled into one contagious, irrepressible and dance-inducing fever. And the way she puts herself together reflects the same sensibility: colorful, over-the-top, ever sure-footed but wild. She’ll wear a bedazzled white leather jumpsuit with the same ease as a pair of jeans and Chucks.

She is one of those women whose outside is a true manifestation of the creativity, playfulness and smarts happening on the inside.

And can we talk about those gold monkey glasses? I want.


 

Photo credit: Márton Perlaki for Spin Magazine

SB Loves: Healthy Bodies

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Vogue editor and Spectacular Bitch, Anna Wintour, used her June letter from the editor to celebrate the fact that 18 other International Vogue editors have co-signed a letter that furthers the goals established by the CFDA in its 2007 Health Initiative, which were meant to turn the industry’s tide toward more healthy and realistic portrayals of beauty.

I think it’s a lovely sentiment, but query whether they’re making much progress as Wintour writes: “At Vogue we’ve just finished a commemorative book that will come out later this year to celebrate our 120th anniversary, and I was startled to see how many of the wonderful models we’ve worked with over the years—the super era included—would be considered far too big by today’s standards.”

The irony of rising obesity and rising incidence of eating disorders is a symptom of just how sick our cultural relationship to food has become. How can we be so obsessed and still be so fat? Or how can women look so great, but feel so shitty? Or how can young girls be trying to shrink when their bodies are supposed to grow?

It’s good that the fashion folks have acknowledged this issue, but we can hardly rely on an industry based on outward appearances to be the cure.

To my mind, being a Spectacular Bitch comes from the inside and simply manifests on the outside. It is about mojo. Swagger. Confidence. But that comes from feeling happy and whole. If I were the queen, I would decree a diet of books and sports for growing Spectacular Girls, because it’s about what we think and do, not about how we look.

Photo credit: Annie Leibovitz for Vogue 2009