Month: November 2013

Just Another Night With Vogue

Being that everything that I brought to Florence is worthless enough that I will probably be leaving it here, I was not very well equipped for Vogue’s Fashion Night Out, which takes over the streets of Florence, Milan, and various other big cities throughout the world to celebrate fashion; yet another one of Italy’s artistic masterpieces. Fashion Night Out is kind of like a street fair; where big-name designers like Armani and Gucci and lots of other stores which have clothing that is worth more than my life open up their doors until late (11:30 pm) to showcase the season’s newest designs.

Even if you show up with like ten euro (as I did– didn’t want to tempt myself…) to be there in itself is insane. The streets are pure pandemonium, crowded with people in their best outfits, decked out in heels, stumbling around with champagne glasses on the cobblestone from the last store they visited. Models covered in body paint and designers making surprise appearance intermingle on the sidewalks and inside the stores with security guards in suits hanging out around them.

Walking into stores that I usually don’t even bother to look at in my $30 dress from Century 31 (literally the nicest thing that I own– my life is sad) with a champagne glass in my hand and looking at such beautiful things is kind of like being in a museum in Florence since clothing is more like real art than a piece of fabric here. However, I’m reminded who we are and where we come from when we can’t get into one store because we’re not on “The List” and we get yelled at for taking pictures when we thought no one was looking. Whoops.

In Florence, fashion is art, and everyone from designers to the lady next to you walking to work remind you of this everyday. It’s nice to see things so well-made and so intricately designed that vary greatly from the standard Northface and Ugg boots that we get back in the States. I think that one of the coolest things about it is that even though the stuff I’m seeing on these racks isbeautiful, in Florence, you don’t need that kind of money to make something your own. Italians could put on a pair of sweatpants and make them chic by strapping on a pair of heels and some pink sunglasses. It’s a quiet confidence, a noncommittal care, that makes Italy and maybe Europe as a whole different from the States.

Back home, even if I see something kind of cool that I do actually like, sometimes I feel like I’ll stand out too much from the skirt-and-tank at the bar or the yoga pants-sweatshirt in class. Plus, the inspiration is missing, too– at home, what do you have to be inspired with? The girl next to you in a Victoria’s Secret hoodie? Or… the other girl in a Victoria’s Secret hoodie (that probably cost $50)? In Florence, not only are you inspired and awed by the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, the David, but you are inspired by the ordinary people with ordinary wallets and extraordinary attitudes. (And extraordinary closets).

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Originally posted on Life Aboard The Traveling Circusmy travel blog. 

How To Clean Your (P)leather Shoes

I am a self-proclaimed shoe destroyer. I try to take care of my precious belongings (the few I have left), however, unsurprisingly, when you live out of a suitcase and your stuff is already from the discount aisle, this is no easy task. As a result, I have often been the victim of shoes breaking at church, in airports, on vacation, and many more extremely inconvenient locations, and the things that I do still possess usually look like they have been through a war, which is starting to become embarrassing.

If you’re as much fun as I am, then there’s a good chance your leather boots and heels look like this too. Now, there isn’t a ton I can do for you if all of your shoes are bought from Pay Less, but even if they are (because like I said….) here are some clever little tips to keep your (p)leather looking not so shabby that you’re embarrassed to wear it. That’s a start, right?

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What You’ll Need: 

  • Toothbrush
  • Babywipes or gentle soap and water
  • Various dry cloths/towels
  • Leather polish such as Dr Martens Wonder Balsam
  • Q-Tips
  • Destroyed stuff
  • Vinegar (optional for salt stains)
  • Cornstarch (optional for grease stains)
  • Olive Oil (optional for scratches)

1. Brush off the dirt before doing anything else. This can be done pretty easily by taking an old toothbrush (no, don’t use your roommate’s) and gently scrubbing in small circles any gunk and dirt that is loose enough to break off with these sturdy little brushes. Try not to let the dirt sit on the leather for a long time… it will slowly destroy it. It’s a good idea to clean all of your own leather every few months/once a year.

2. Babywipe off excess dirt. You can also use a cloth and some gentle moisturizing soap and water, but you might as well use baby wipes – they are a good combination of dry/wet that can get off that excess dirt that you loosened while scrubbing with your (roommate’s) toothbrush. Leave this on for a few minutes.

3. Towel off moisture. Do not leave soapy substances on your boots (forever) because it will damage them. Instead, grab a dry towel and gently wipe off the combination of soap and water until the boots are dry.

4. To remove salt stains, use vinegar. Mix vinegar and water together and then use another cloth to dab at the salt stains until they disappear. After, use another cloth dampened with water to remove the vinegar/water and then use a dry cloth to dry completely.

5. To remove grease stains, use cornstarch. After gently removing the excess grease, cover the stain with cornstarch and allow it to sit overnight. Then, brush off the cornstarch and clean it off with soapy water and allow it to dry after drying it slightly yourself with a dry cloth.

6. To remove scratches, use olive oil. Dip a q-tip in olive oil and rub in a circular motion around the scratch until it becomes less visible. Then, as always, remove the olive oil with a damp cloth before allowing it to dry.

7. Polish your boots. I like using polish because it brings about a healthy shine and it can also restore leather to one solid color after your boots have been through war. Recently, I purchased Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam (between $9 and $14 on Amazon, and you don’t need a lot) which received rave reviews (and I may just be kind of dumb) but worked okay, but not great. Put a little bit of balsam on the attached sponge (pearl-sized amount) and make circular motions on your boots to polish and really work into the seams. Let the balsam sit and absorb for about five minutes before wiping off with a damp cloth and then using a dry cloth to gently dry.

8. Stop jumping in mud puddles and messing up all your nice stuff. 

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Steps courtesy of WikiHow and a boring Sunday I spent cleaning all the leather I own. 

*Note: Before and After boot pictures do not depict same boots. “Before” boots are lying in a dumpster in a German airport and “After” boots are in the closet of someone who makes a lot more money than I do.*

How To Look Expensive

In one of my darkest broke-college days, I found the book How To Look Expensive by Andrea Pomerantz Lustig, a beauty editor who has written and edited for Glamour, Allure, Cosmopolitanand many more fancy publications, bringing me to have pretty high hopes for this read. I was looking for some cheap, easy tricks to make me look a lot more like Kate Middleton but I was sadly disappointed. Instead, the tips took a lot more effort than I was banking on and I also wouldn’t call a $170 hairbrush a “splurge,” but instead more like “highway robbery.” In case you happened to feel the same way about this book as I did, here are a couple easy tips to making people think you’re made of money instead of eating ramen for dinner and checking your lease to see how much of grace period you have before you get booted.

1. Invest Wear solid colors. This almost sounds too easy to be true, but you can never disregard the wise advice of Neiman Marcus – “Women who wear black lead colorful lives.” It can be difficult to find a pattern that will be classically in style in well-mad fabric that looks expensive, but a basic pink sweater or a black button down goes a long way and can look expensive when paired with other basic colors, like a white pant and a black heel. No one has to know you already wore the same pants two times this week.

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2. Go nude. Well not literally nude (it’s getting breezy out there) but how often do you see Anna Wintour wearing pink sparkly eyeshadow or Kate Moss wearing sky-blue nails? Yeah… you don’t. There’s a reason the French wear nude. Because they know it makes em look fancy. Nude shadow. Nude lips. Nude heels. Nude nails. It’s the quickest, easiest, and most efficient way to look older, sophisticated, and loaded.

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3. Don’t ignore the details. This one may be a little bit of a pain in the ass, but don’t ignore the little misgivings of your outfit. That means that no one wants to see your chipped nails, your overgrown eyebrows, or your pantyline. It is these details that make an outfit go from expensive to cheap in nanosecond. Why go if you’re not going to go all the way, right?

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4. Pick your key pieces. Just like Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada,” you too can have a key piece like Priestly’s Hermes scarf. With one fancy piece (bought on sale, obviously) in a basic but standout color (see number one) that you can wear with most outfits, you’ll develop a personal staple and people will forget those stained pants but they’ll remember that designer bag.

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5. Love your accessories. A jean shirt and a pair of leggings with boots is boring and we have all seen it on Pinterest a million times. But by throwing in some nicely mixing accessories, you’ll look more put-together (and more creative). Add on a black vest, some white boot socks, and a pearl necklace. Don’t forget your accessories and don’t feel guilty throwing in a couple bucks for them versus a new shirt – you’re gonna be wearing the accessories a lot more if you choose something well-made (i.e. designer on sale) and classic.

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Taking The Fall Fashion Trends To The Office

Everyone, even those of us trendsetters, love to be in on the times and if not ahead of the curve, at least with the curve. However, you don’t want to save your trendy new stuff just for the weekend! Follow some of these tips to take the coolest new fall fashion trends from the off hours to the office hours.

1. Interesting Outerwear. Vests in leather, parka, and fur have always been staples of fall fashion, but this year, this outerwear has taken a new turn and making itself noticed. Don’t balk away from big, fine furs in long lengths and cool textures – experiment and keep it interesting. However, when getting a little crazy at work, make sure you keep everything else simple – no crazy colored makeup, no party shoes, and no insane hair.

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2. Bringin Back The Classic Prints. This season, plaid, houndstooth, and polka dots are back with a vengeance. Prints used to be forbidden at work, but things have quirkened up a bit, and with some semblance this trend can be managed for work by using it as a pant with a neutral shirt or as a layered button down under a sweater. It’s the prints that keep things interesting under otherwise boring solids.

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3. Throw In Some Winter White. No white after Labor Day? PUH-LEASE. White is the same color of snow… how is that not acceptable for after Labor Day – I really do not understand. If you’re feeling adventurous (and clean), invest in a winter white coat and don’t you dare retire those white pants – pair them with other neutral colors (sorry, no brights, that’s too summer) for a ready-to-go fall outfit.

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4. Don’t Abandon The Leather. Your mom may scrunch her face when she sees your wearing gasp leather to work, but this is a trend that can work when used sparingly. Don’t you dare wear a leather shirt or leather pants, but it’s pretty cool to throw in some pants with a strip of leather or a shirt with leather sleeves. Just really try not to cross the line to hooker.

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5. Get Military Inspired with Forest Green. How do you not cross the line between soldier and nine to five? Make sure that your forest green is fitted and never baggy. Also, make sure to invest in clever accents (you need jewelry and accessories for a look like this) such as lace, gold, leopard, fur, and leather. Forest green is also a slightly more interesting alternative to neutral solids and it goes great with black, white, and brown.

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