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

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· Just Notes: Moving In
· Beauty Notes: Warm Red Lipstick
· Fashion Notes: Clothing Care I
· Sketchbook: Dorothy
· Perfume Notes: Gourmands and Orientals
· Perfume Notes: Masculines
· Perfume Notes: Fresh
· Perfume Notes: Florals
· Perfume Notes: Chypres

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Just Notes: Moving In
by Dorothy

I'm moving into a new apartment at the end of this week, in preparation for the school year. I'm preoccupied, of course, with the bare practicalities of flying myself and my stuff to the town where I go to school; I left a lot of my stuff there over the summer, but moving is always a pain. But I am starting to fuss about decorating the place as well; the previous tenant was a bit of a Hugh Hefner wannabe, and although his vintage soft-core porno ads are gone, he left behind some vaguely mod-looking furniture. (It is cheap furniture, and shipping it would have cost more than replacing it. I am tempted to slipcover it in the most obnoxious floral prints I can find, but that would annoy me too.)

I think I could spend a lot of money decorating, if I had it to spend, but it makes no sense to spend significant money on an apartment I'll only have for a school year. I am looking forward to bringing in a few things that may make the place a little more mine:

Yves Rocher Pivoine is incredibly pretty, one of the softest, cleanest floral scents I've ever smelled. I think I might be too curmudgeonly to wear such a sweet-and-innocent scent in EDT, but the soap, shower gel, etc. are charming. The hand soap is $10 CAD at regular price ($7.50 on the American site), but Yves Rocher has very frequent sales, and last week they were selling this for $4 on the Canadian website. Also, the bottle is hella girly, which will help to get rid of the aura of swingin' bachelor pad (and I can easily decant the soap and recycle the bottle if I later find myself entering an "ugh, no more girly pink crap" phase).

I'm not really big on cooking. I joke about being incompetent, but it's more that I just don't enjoy it. Coffee, on the other hand, I love; I love the whole process. Since I don't have the space or money for a good espresso machine, I use stovetop moka pots; the classic ones, made by Bialetti, are widely available (prices vary by size, but the 6-cup size -- bear in mind, by "cup" they mean espresso cup -- is currently $24.95 on Amazon).

I hope these mugs become available again, because I think they're adorable. I also collect teapots because I love the way they look, but I've decided I should stop; it's silly to have more than one teapot when you don't really like tea.

I don't really own any art and I don't like buying posters at university poster sales. I'm not really much of a photographer, but I enjoy playing with my Holga; it's terribly hipster-pretentious ("ooo, look at my 'cheap camera' that isn't actually remotely cheap, I'm so ironic"), but I do like the vignetting and the light leaks, and I occasionally get a shot I like enough to blow up and frame, at least temporarily. Aside from that, I expect I'll mostly be decorating the walls with chiyogami -- not exciting, maybe, but cheap and portable and more homey than bare walls (and hey, something has to take the place of the porno ads).

In other news, I need something to read on the plane back to school. I'm thinking I will re-read Wuthering Heights, since I am in a cynical mood and a friend's description of this book -- "a slow and steady descent into hell" -- sounds more appealing than usual right now. (Wuthering Heights is still marketed as a love story -- how many generations of readers has it disappointed? And yet it's fantastic, just not what people are led to expect.) I already own a copy of Wuthering Heights, but I'm always tempted by Norton Critical Editions; I made a crappy English major, but I still love reading litcrit.

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8/27/2008 [18]

Beauty Notes: Warm Red Lipstick
by Dorothy

I'm new to fashion and beauty blogging, and because I'm obsessive and undisciplined and almost everything I know of cosmetics is the product of my own explorations, I know a lot about the things that interest me and very little about other topics.

Red lipstick is definitely one of my obsessions. I think I might one day end up being one of those women who wear red lipstick all the time, although I'm too shy for that now. My experience supports Dain's contention that we are particularists in the shades we buy, acquiring multiple variations on the same colour. In my case it's really a spectrum, coral through warm red; I'm not nearly as interested in the nude or the tastefully understated.

My preferences are partly a function of having unusual colouring. I'll probably end up writing more about this because it's one of the major reasons for my interest in cosmetics. I don't understand the theory (or theories) of undertones all that well, but sometimes I think that's because nobody quite has it worked out. I've read that pale women of European descent invariably have cool pink undertones to their skin (um, no); I've been told my own skin is everything from "very pink" to "olive-y". It doesn't really signify, since the upshot is always the same: I can't wear most "universal" shades, they are either boring or flat-out awful on me. Blushes look sickly or too dark, lipsticks turn mauve or fuchsia, and "true, neutral reds" are not. I fairly easily found a blush that suits me (MAC Tenderling, a sort of washed-out terra cotta) and stuck with it, but I find lipsticks more interesting and more variable, and red lipsticks especially so.

I suppose I could go into detail about all the different kinds of red lipsticks I've tried, but I think that would get boring, so instead I'll just list my favourite warm reds in three categories: bright, true (but still warm), and dark.

Bright red: MAC Lady Danger ($14) is fantastically late-'40s, an uncompromisingly bright, matte orange-red that lights up pale warm-toned skin, although it can be a little overpowering -- but then, that's true to the era. The swatches on the MAC website are useless, and unfortunately I no longer own a tube, but I shall keep looking for photos. My cursory Google search turned up a good Flickr photo of a woman wearing it; her colouring is similar to mine.

Similar shades: MAC So Chaud (practically the same colour as Lady Danger, so I have no idea why they sell both), Julie Hewett Belle Noir (which is what I currently own). The brightest orange-red I've ever seen is NARS Heat Wave, but I think you need a tan and a serious attitude to pull that one off; on me it's hideous.

True-but-warm red: Ah, Guerlain. You've produced such beautiful, classic perfumes; whatever possessed you to name a line of lipsticks "KissKiss" and put them in this tastelessly bling-y packaging? (It doesn't look so bad in this photo, but bear in mind, it's large, and this is what it looks like with the cap on. Some people like it, but to me it's very LOOK AT MY EXPENSIVE MAKEUP.) Never mind. Sexy Tango ($29) is a beautiful, flattering red, not nearly as dark as it looks in the tube but not overpoweringly bright, with just enough orange, brown and rose to make it wearable for someone with warm undertones. The texture is balm-like, not dry, and the staying power is surprisingly good. I ordered mine from StrawberryNet, since Canadian retail prices are absurd.

If I had to pick one red to live with, it would be either this or MAC Chili, another matte lipstick in a beautiful bright brick red. Again, MAC's own swatches are crap, so here's a very unglamorous photo of my own tube.

Similar shades: MAC Lady Bug, NARS Manhunt and Flamenco. All three of those shades are slightly cooler than Sexy Tango; I find them slightly too cool (yes!), but most women probably won't.

Dark red: I think Julie Hewett's Noir lipsticks ($22.50) are excellent, as highly pigmented as MAC's Mattes but smoother and less drying, and the tubes are gold-tone packaging done right, not too large or heavily ornamented. Coco Noir is as close to dark, gothic red as I care to go (which is to say, not very). The website sells it as a red for women who think they can't wear red, which I don't understand, because although it's fairly neutral, it's a strong colour, even on women with darker skintones than mine (see The Non-Blonde's review). If you think you can't wear red you should probably pick a more toned-down shade, something with a lot of rose or brown in it, and apply it lightly until you get used to the strength of the colour. Dain has recommended Bésame Red Velvet, which I can't try because I refuse to pay $18-$25 in shipping charges for one tiny lipstick(!?!?!), but I'd suggest experimenting with MAC or Lipstick Queen lipsticks; each line has a great number of variations on red, including several softer, more toned-down shades.

Incidentally, Julie Hewett's lipsticks are available in Canada through Essential Day Spa, and the prices are not stupidly marked up.

Similar shades: Sue Devitt's Great Australian Bight is very similar in tone to Coco Noir, but browner and not as heavily pigmented. NARS Velvet Matte lip pencil in Forbidden Red is described as "brick red," but it's more of a ruby on me, slightly more orange than Coco Noir and not as deep.

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8/24/2008 [8]

Fashion Notes: Clothing Care I
by Dorothy

I've been mulling over clothing care for a little while now; it's not something one sees much of in fashion magazines, but it's necessary to know about it, unless you have the money to get everything dry cleaned and are busy or profligate enough to do so. I'm still figuring it out myself, since I seem to keep buying clothes too delicate to be thrown in the machine.

I use liquid detergent for machine washing; it's more expensive, but there's no risk of it failing to dissolve and winding up in a lump in one of your socks. (I also use regular detergent for light clothes and "for darks" detergent for dark clothes, which may just indicate that I'm a fool for marketing.) I'd suggest a brand, except that I haven't noticed major differences between the big brands and tend to just buy whatever's on sale at Loblaws. I almost invariably wash clothes on the cold cycle and use less detergent per wash than it says on the package directions -- partly for economy and partly out of plain old liberal guilt.

PhotobucketBeing the clumsy type, I spill things on myself with some regularity. Liquid detergent can double as a stain treatment, but I've yet to find an all-purpose stain remover better than Cadie's Laundry Stick (about $3). This can be a bit of a pain to find sometimes; I thought it had been discontinued until I saw a display of laundry sticks in a supermarket in Fredericton, New Brunswick (I promptly bought about five). You're supposed to test stain removers on a "discreet" part of your garment before you use them. I am far too lazy to do this and have never suffered for it, but do it if you're concerned.

I hand-wash almost all my tops, save for loungewear and the odd T-shirt. It's a good way to cut back on both machine-washing (rough) and dry-cleaning (expensive). Some items marked "dry clean only" really are dry clean only (suits, coats, anything lined, really), but others, particularly knits and blouses, do fine when hand-washed in cool water. In my experience, "dry clean only" often means something like "don't put this in the washing machine, seriously, I mean it."


My favourite soap for hand-washing is Soak; it's quite gentle, reasonably priced, comes in pleasant scents that don't linger after your clothes have dried (I especially like Aquae and Sola; there's also an unscented version), and doesn't have to be rinsed out. Again, I find that I can use less of it per wash than the directions indicate. A large bottle ($16) lasts me about a year. It's available in knitting shops, but it can also be ordered online. There's a list of retailers on the Soak website. (I don't recommend ordering from Soak directly; they take forever to ship.)

stenic drying rack

I use cheap drying racks from Zellers (basically a Canadian Wal-Mart/Target), but they tend to warp. If I weren't constantly moving for school, I might invest in one of these collapsible drying racks from Stenic ($129.99). For very delicate items, a mesh sweater dryer is also nice.

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8/20/2008 [3]

Sketchbook: Dorothy
by Dorothy

As I calculate it, I've spent more than a year of my life on the subway.

email: teasepickles at gmail dot com (if you get the reference, congratulations; we are both huge nerds)
age & location: 26, the Maritimes
affiliations: Born and raised in Toronto, Upper Canadian Scots-Irish/WASP by heritage, secular, politically left-leaning
education: Pieces of an undergraduate degree from the University of King's College and the University of Toronto; currently in law school
skin type: pretty much your classic "combination", increasingly leaning towards dry
coloring: reddish brown hair, green eyes, pale skin with freckles; I wear brown all the time.

books: Forster, Austen, Orwell, Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro
music: A lot of classical; The Smiths and their various imitators; deeply earnest Canadian folk music; much of the Great American Songbook; opera, which I often find more fun to listen to than to watch
films & tv: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Manhattan, Jesus of Montreal, Swing Time, The Wizard of Oz, From Here To Eternity, All About Eve, The Graduate, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Vertigo; most of my favourite TV series (Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Trailer Park Boys) seem to have ended, although I still love The Office and 30 Rock
brands: very much undecided
color: red

What are three things you'd like to do before you die? Graduate from effing law school. I actually cannot see beyond that. It's kind of a problem.
How did you get into beauty and fashion? By accident, really. I had a fascination with costume history when I was a child, my mother sews and knits a lot, and I was a freckle-faced, wavy-haired, flat-chested teenage girl at a time when the fashionable teenage girl was none of those things, so I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to work with what I had. I used to lurk on alt.fashion looking for tips.
Which ten products would you bring a desert island? A desert island already equipped with the necessities of life? (I'm pedantic, I know.)

1) Sunscreen; I haven't settled on a brand yet, but I burn so easily that it's a necessity
2) Anastasia Brow Pencil in Ash Blonde; there are probably cheaper pencils I could use, but this is the one I have, and the little brush is useful
3) MAC Select Cover-Up (hereditary dark circles)
4) MAC Tenderling blush
5) pressed powder (again, don't know what kind yet)
6) Lancôme Definicils, one of the rare mascaras that don't smudge on me
7) Guerlain lipstick in Sexy Tango, a really lovely, complex warm red with a balm-like texture
8) cleanser (haven't settled on one yet, currently using DHC Deep Cleansing Oil)
9) Kiehl's Creme with Silk Groom, a tiny amount of which takes my hair from "cowlicky mess" to "well, maybe she forgot to brush her hair"
10) A decent flat-iron; mine is from Hot Styler. (I have decided my desert island also has electricity.)

What were you in another life? Probably a very discontented serf.
How do you take your coffee? As close to espresso-strength as I can get, with 18% cream.
What is your biggest pet peeve? Really fatuous writing. Also, Dov Charney and his brand of pseudo-liberal sexist hipster sleaze. Yuck.
What do you admire the most? Kindness and a sharp tongue, ideally in the same person.

You are a Helper Who Finds Missing Children Over The Internet! (Submissive Introverted Concrete Feeler)

You are a HELPER WHO FINDS MISSING CHILDREN OVER THE INTERNET (SICF). You are very tentative in the world and introverted with people— which means you are the shy and silent type (hence the Internet.) But behind your reserved exterior lies a dedicated person with a passion for the concrete truth who wants to, in his heart of hearts, help find missing children. God bless you.

If you replace "missing children" with "new ways to procrastinate," it's dead-on.


8/18/2008 [0]

Perfume Notes: Gourmands and Orientals
by Dain

tropicaliaLes Nez Manoumalia
citrus groveChristian Dior Diorella
boozy fruitYSL Yvresse
dessertAnne Pliska
spun sugarL'Artisan Parfumeur Vanilia
& spiceJAR Diamond Water
florientalFrédéric Malle Une Fleur de Cassie
woody orientalChanel Bois des Îles
orientalGuerlain Shalimar

8/05/2008 [0]

Perfume Notes: Masculines
by Dain

eau de cologneRochas Moustache
impeccable chypreChanel Pour Monsieur
optimistic leatherAramis
moody, orientalized leatherKnize Ten
sweet woodsGuerlain Habit Rouge
patchouliL'Artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu
incense smokeAnnick Goutal Encens Flamboyant
clean fougèreFrédéric Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur
dirty fougèreParfum d'Empire Fougère Bengale
floral fougèreCaron Troisième Homme

8/04/2008 [0]

Perfume Notes: Fresh
by Dain

crisp greenChanel No. 19
blonde leatherBalmain Jolie Madame
watercolor floral, melancholicGuerlain Après L'Ondée
tender gourmandHermès Vanille Galante
watercolor floral, sanguineGuerlain Chant d'Arômes
naked skinMiller Harris L'Air de Rien
sea breezeFrédéric Malle Un Lys Mediterranée
church weddingChanel No. 22
dry orientalTauer L'Air de Désert Marocain
woody citrusCartier Déclaration
eau de cologneGuerlain Eau de Guerlain
early fruitsL'Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figuier
vetiverFrederic Malle Vétiver Extraordinaire

8/03/2008 [0]

Perfume Notes: Florals
by Dain

When I began thinking about how to approach the very broad and diverse category of florals, it occurred to me that organize it, note by note, would be self-defeating. In the first place, some florals aren't particularly floral; a good example would be iris, which is really more a woody, earthy smell. Others, such as gardenia or lotus, are notoriously difficult to reconstruct, while some, such as lily of the valley, don't even yield a natural extract. But most of all, the problem with florals is that a tendency towards legible, realistic representations, especially in soliflores. Though a technical feat equal to any, since even the finest quality rose extract doesn't smell like the real thing, they are differentiated only by the differences inherent to the flowers themselves, and there's something tedious about a woman who smells like a botanical garden. A proper perfume is abstract. This is why Opium is more beautiful, more interesting, and more important than Bellodgia. And then, there is the fact that if you go note-by-note, you waste time on mediocre perfumes.

So, I've decided to go by treatments, ordered roughly in increasing degrees of complexity, with notes as a secondary consideration. All the soliflores have been lumped together into two categories—transparent (like air fragrant with flowers) and opaque (the latter should recall the creamy, silken textures of petals in addition to verisimilitude)—which strikes me as very just, as all the transparent soliflores in the world put together are not even remotely equal to Chanel No. 5. That's why Jicky's here—it's not a floral, it's a fougère, I'm not disputing that—but otherwise I'd be stuck with lavender water. If you're wondering where the floral chypres are, I've already done a chypre arc.

transparent solifloreJo Malone Orange Blossomorange blossom
opaque solifloreSerge Lutens Tubéreuse Criminelletuberose
tropicalAnnick Goutal Songestropical bouquet
fruity floral via melonFrédéric Malle Le Parfum de Thérèsejasmine
aquatic floral via teaHermès Osmanthe Yunnanosmanthus
green, via galbanumGuerlain Chamadehyacinth
green, non-galbanumOrmonde Jayne Ormonde Womanviolet
fougèreGuerlain Jickylavender
aldehydic, soapyEstée Lauder White Linenmuguet, rose
aldehydic, lactonicChanel No. 5rose, jasmine
aldehydic florientalCaron Parfum Sacrérose
floriental, spicyYSL Opiumcarnation
floriental, darkGuerlain Vol de Nuitnarcissus
gourmand florientalGuerlain L'Heure Bleueheliotropin

8/02/2008 [0]

Perfume Notes: Chypres
by Dain

citrus chypre, bergamot note exaggeratedChanel Cristalle
green chypre, galbanum note exaggeratedYSL Y
aromatic chypre, patchouli note exaggeratedClinique Aromatics Elixir
leather chypre, big dose of quinolines, plus vetiverVero Profumo Onda
floral chypre, unusual osmanthus emphasisJean Patou 1000
multidimensional green/floral/aromatic chypreDeneuve
non-oakmoss chypre, with pepper and irisChanel 31 Rue Cambon
the original bergamot-oakmoss chordCoty Chypre
fruity chypre, the famous peach lactoneGuerlain Mitsouko

8/01/2008 [0]

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