Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mall for one, and one for mall

Hola Muchachitas,
Its Fashion Week! Yes, and your intrepid beauty babe has been flitting about backstage at the shows, sniffing out the sexiest of the sexy new trends for my Beauty-Shakers--that is, when I'm not stealing donuts off the refreshment tables; losing my backstage pass and having to administer smackdowns to the power-mad, be-clipboarded PR chicas; or narrowly escaping being mowed down by a gargantuan, fur cape-swathed Andre Leon Talley. Yep, it hasn't been all stilettoes and air-kisses, let me tell you. But as the shockingly odd-looking designer, Santino, warbles on Project Runway, "lighten up, its just fashion!" Anyway, I'll get into all that in next week's Fabulous Fashion Week Wrap-up post. Stay tuned, miladies.

For now, though, I'd like to tell you something about New Yorkers. Not only do we think we're the center of the universe, we have a dim feeling that the rest of the country is just a tad bit behind us...and I'm just as stridently guilty as the rest of the vintage-wearing, Nolita-shopping, Barneys Warehouse Sale-worshipping flock. We pride ourselves on having access to the hottest boutiques, museums, nightlife...the whole thing. Even something as inconsequential as a bakery (ie, the world-famous Magnolia Bakery that Carrie Bradshaw turned into a mecca for fashionistas with a yen for buttercream frosting) can turn us into snootier-than-thou, “eww-you-buy-cupcakes-from-Entenmanns?” elitists. Its all about exclusivity here, stuff you can get in New York, and nowhere else—you know, the antithesis of mall culture, where you think everyone’s walking around in the same outfit and shopping at the same stores and pretending that a Mini-bon is healthier than the regular size Cinnabon. But you wanna know what the funny thing is? Most die-hard New Yorkers hail from cities named Springfield or Arlington and got their first taste of fashion while working the register at Contempo Casuals. It's true.

Most New Yorkers aren’t even FROM New York. Take me, for example. I've worked at and been fired from so many Gaps and Body Shops throughout the various malls of Northern Virginia, I couldn’t possibly count. I still painstakingly fold my sweaters “the Gap way,” lest the pimple-faced floor manager in my subconscious yank me into the stock room for a talking-to. In ninth grade, me and four of my girlfriends from dance team curled and sprayed our bangs into shellaqued, croissant-shaped puffs and had our portraits taken at Glamour Shots. My second ear-hole was pierced in secret at Claire’s Boutique—the hole has since closed, but whatever. And I’ve always had a small addiction to that insanely tasty bourbon chicken they sell at the Food Court staple to end all Food Court Staples, Manchu Wok (though I’ve always found it suspect that a Chinese fast-food joint would specialize in New Orleans cuisine). All of this is to say that I grew up a mall girl and I’m proud of it. And all it takes is a trip to my hometown, or in this case, my husband’s hometown, to remind myself from whence I came. Last weekend, Chappie the Dog, Adam and I hopped on the Long Island Railroad to visit his family out on Long Island (pronounced Lawn Guyland). And girls, we went to the mall. Smith Haven Mall, to be exact. And mama had an epiphany! Malls are FABULOUS! It doesn't have to be an extravaganza of "sameness." If you approach mall-shopping in the same way you do sample sale or vintage shopping—you know, combing the racks for that one special piece, that totally unique, delicious bargain in the most unassuming of places—it becomes the stuff a true snobby shopper’s dreams are made of. Suffice it to say, I skipped out of Smith Haven with some truly inspiring stuff...from some truly surprising stores. Yay me!

1.) CARVED IVORY EARRINGS, Express ($22.50): I am determined to wear these dangly, bohemian-yummy earrings (check them out on page 3 of "accessories") every single day of my life. With their intricately swirling design and gleaming, bone-white finish, they look like folk art from some outdoor artesan market in Marrakech. Which is precisely where I'll pretend I found them.

2.) READY FRAGRANCE, Abercrombie & Fitch ($24.50): Okay, as a beauty editor, I've smelled every single designer fragrance that's launched over the past seven years. And I swear to you, this Abercrombie & Fitch (I know, can you believe it?) scent is just as good, if not better, than some of the topselling perfumes out there. The second I tried on this lush, tropical, cha-cha-cha-spicy scent, Adam practically swooned. Which is the most important thing, isn't it?

3.) DREAMBOAT MILK BATH, The Body Shop ($16): When I was at Lucky, the Bahamas' wildly exclusive, celebrity-frequented Ocean Club Resort invited a bunch of beauty editors down for a spa weekend. I'm not sure I've yet recovered. All I know is, I had the most deluxe massage, ever. First of all, it all goes down in a Balinese-style private treatment cabana with its own open air garden, so you're basically being pampered in a tropical, outdoor paradise situation. And to top things off, after my full-body aromatherapy massage and body wrap, I soaked in an essential-oil-scented milk bath chock full of floating hyacinth and frangiapani petals. Literally, it was the most deluxe moment of my life (and at this moment I'm cursing myself for quitting the magazine racket--such perks!). Anyway, one whiff of this oh-so-heady Body Shop milk bath took me back. Its scented with lotus flower, frangipani and something called "organic community traded honey"--and if you can't get to the Ocean Club, baby, it's the next best thing.

4.) SO SEXY SMOOTHING SHINE SERUM, Victoria's Secret ($12.50): If you're anything like me (extremely curly-haired, relaxed, Dominican-salon-blowout-addicted), you get your hair washed and blownout only once a week, on Sundays. And if you happen to do things like frequent Thai restaurants, or go to a dinner party at a cigarette-smoking friend's house, your hair may begin to build up a, well, scent. Since the last thing you're going to do is WASH IT, its all about Victoria's Secret's fragranced shine serum. Not only does it give your hair a sheeny, healthy gleam when rubbed onto dry ends...it also magically infuses your hair with a fresh, slightly floral scent. No one will guess that your hair is Dirt MacGirt-dirty.

5.) STUDDED HALF MOON SHOULDER BAG , Forever 21 ($45.80): I'm still in total shock that this bag isn't, like, three hundred dollars! So very cool in the Sienna Miller/Kate Moss-tradition, this chocolately brown REAL leather hobo has the funkiest gold-studded design on the front...and its big enough for day, but sassy enough for night. It comes in black, too, but alas, brown is the new black.

6.) VALENTINE PAISLEY SCARF, Guess ($24): Right now, I'm head-over-heels into headbands. You know, the wide, 1960's kind (paired with big gold hoops, it just screams "jetsetter," even if the farthest you're jetting is to Starbucks). I've already worn this stunning, brightly colored paisley scarf twice--and compliments have abounded both times! Wear a wide headband with a ponytail, a messy high bun..or my favorite, with big, loose hair. H&M has some great ones too, for like $6, but they aren't sold online so I don't have a link. Get thee to the mall!


Blogger Crystal said...

OMG, you have made me really want to go shopping at a mall THIS SECOND, but alas, it is midnight. I can't wait to check out that 4-eva 21 bag! And I totally second that headband motion, I just bought some really kick-ass bands at H&M, if one can get oneself there.

3:23 AM  
Anonymous Fo'Real in Los Angeles said...

I am in total agreement about the mall. I am constantly on the lookout for unique finds at the mall and always come up with something great. I'm so wanting to try the Milkbath.

4:54 PM  
Anonymous CousinKuka said...

You are so right about the mall, Tia. When I was 15 and spent the summer at Uncle Vic's (in Lawn Guyland,) Brian and I made a journey to the Smith Haven Mall. It was there that a chubby Kuka found out they did make "cool clothes" in my size, and I was instantly hooked to Torrid and Lane Bryant... So, as a young woman, and still chubby, I am totally indebted to the Mall for giving me more choices in fashion! And New York... What can I say? I heart NY foreva!

11:56 AM  
Anonymous CeCe said...

FYI- Online the forever 21 bags are 8.99!!! Amazing. And even though I am far from a skinny girl, I find if I search really hard they have the cutest stuff for spring.

9:04 AM  
Blogger MsTyque said...

Hey, Tia! Next time you're on Long Island check out Roosevelt Field, in Garden City. Fab shopping and good restaurants nearby...

10:52 PM  
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