January 31, 2011

Prayer Request

Kids, shit's about to get heavy.  I normally keep this blog light and fun, but I have a serious request for those of you who visit me here.  I'll keep it short and simple: my uncle went to his doctor last Wednesday after having some chest pain.  About halfway through his treadmill stress test, the cardiologist told him to stop walking and said he needed to have surgery as soon as possible to insert a stent due to blockage(s) in his veins.  While serious due to the blockages, it's a pretty simple surgery.  His surgery was scheduled for today, and after surgery he'd spend tonight in the hospital for observation and be back at work on Wednesday.  Well, today in surgery the doctors found that his blockages are so calcified that a stent won't solve the problem; instead, my uncle will undergo a quadruple bypass at 8:30am EST tomorrow, if there is not an "immediate" need before that time.  I'm a praying gal, and I would appreciate any and all prayers, compassionate thoughts, good vibes, incantations, etc. that he is in capable and compassionate hands and that he pulls through.  Assuming everything goes well in the morning, he will have at least a 90-day recovery period.  That's another conversation... one step at a time.

Dad on left, uncle on right. Look nothing alike, do they?

January 29, 2011

The Perils of Fast Fashion

I don't have much to add to this blog post, so I'm copying-and-pasting it here for you.  I'm indifferent toward Forever 21 but reading this information certainly makes me more hesitant to shop there than I already am.
The rise of “fast fashion” is arguably the best thing to happen to the American woman’s wardrobe in the past decade. Chains like H&M and Forever 21 have revitalized the way we dress by making chic, trendy pieces affordable again. For working women in particular — women who have both limited time and budget when it comes to shopping — fast fashion is a godsend. 
Or is it?
This week, Bloomberg Newsweek published an eye-opening behind-the-scenes look at Forever 21, currently the undisputed king (queen?) of fast fashion marketing. While I’m not a big Forever 21 shopper, I will admit that I have a few pieces in my closet, including a fabulous black bubble skirt that I picked up for $16 last summer, and a sequined cardigan that I bought specifically because it was a lower priced copy of a J. Crew sweater I was coveting. I’m a little less in love with those pieces now, though, after reading about the company’s business practices. 
(You can see the full Bloomberg Businessweek story here, or Jezebel’s quick take on it here.) 
Fast fashion chains have completely changed the way we shop, and with good reason. Industry insiders say that Forever 21 is doing a lot of things right — ordering only small batches of each garment, for example, which forces shoppers to buy now, before an item is gone. “They learned that what’s new has to be up front, and it has to change daily,” Ilse Metchek, founder of the California Fashion Association, told Bloomberg. “Most retailers stay with dead inventory too long. Forever 21 is all about movement in the store.” This model lets Forever 21 turn over up to 20 percent of a store’s merchandise each week — twice as much as similar retailers. And of course, there’s the price; nothing at Forever 21 retails for over $60, even the pieces that are direct copies of higher priced designer items. 
For many women, fast fashion copies are as close as we will ever get to owning a designer item. So if the price is right and the skirt fits, what’s wrong with paying $16 for it? 
Lots of things. 
Also in the news this week, Miuccia Prada, head of the eponymous brand, told WWD that she wouldn’t even consider a “fast fashion” Prada line. Prada sums up, in two quick sentences, exactly what is wrong with Forever 21’s business model: “For now, what I see more or less is the bad copy,” Prada says. “Also with clothes that cost little, you need to ask why they cost so little. Because no one ever asks themselves that.” 
Prada raises what are, in my mind, the most salient issues when it comes to fast fashion: cost and copyright. While H&M has partnered with designers to create cheaper versions of luxury lines, Forever 21 has been accused — repeatedly — of copying clothes from other chains and designers (including Diane Von Furstenberg and Anthropologie) — in essence, stealing the designs. At the same time, Forever 21 has been accused of wage and labor violations. That combination of money-saving strategies makes it possible for Forever 21 to offer cheap knockoffs of trendy designer items. 
Like my $16 skirt. 
I will admit that I do not know as much as I should about the design and labor practices of my favorite brands; I will also admit that I have bought pieces at Forever 21 knowing that they were knock offs of other brands, including brands to which I am typically very loyal (hello, faux J. Crew cardi). But I also have to admit that after reading both the Bloomberg piece about Forever 21 and Miuccia Prada’s interview with WWD, I’m a little uncomfortable about having those pieces in my closet. I’m thinking that a better practice — both in terms of the quality of my wardrobe and the ethics of my spending — will be to do my homework before I shop, not only by choosing carefully what I buy but where I buy it. 
How much research do you do into the business practices of the brands you buy? Should we worry about the ethics of fast fashion, or just call a bargain a bargain?

January 28, 2011

NFL Fandom

Hailing from the South as I do, I grew up with the understanding that football (American football, for those of you [Bueller?] with an international background) was America's favorite past time, not baseball or eating contests or capitalism or celebrity gossip or anything else.  While sometimes I grow a little weary of the football-as-religion mentality, I do really enjoy the sport.  Growing up in the great state of Mississippi, however, meant that I didn't have an allegiance to (or more accurately, interest in) the NFL since we were not home to any NFL team.  The geographically closest team was the New Orleans Saints, a team with a consistently losing record.  I played my fair share of sports when I was younger, and let me tell you, I've had enough losing for a lifetime.  Then, about equal distance from us, were the Atlanta Falcons and the Dallas Cowboys.  The Cowboys were pretty great in the 90s, while the Falcons were nothing to write home about.  ALL OF THIS TO SAY, that only since I've moved to DC, home of the Washington Redskins, have I even begun paying attention to professional football.  I will always prefer college football (Roll TIDE) to pro, but I thought this map was a) cool, b) pretty accurate, and c) well-done.

(via SBNation; click on the image to biggify it)

January 19, 2011

I Speak Italian

Word has been circulating lately about the newest drink size offered (for iced drinks, only) by Starbucks.  Currently, as you must know by now, Starbucks offers three sizes for all of its drinks; Tall (12 oz.), Grande (16 oz.), and Venti (20 oz.).  The company just announced that it will be offering a new, larger size portion for iced coffees, called "Trenta."  Now, if you're paying attention, you'll notice that Starbucks uses fancy Italian names for its sizes instead of the American small-medium-large.  In Italian, Venti translates to twenty; following that line of thinking, Trenta translates to thirty; therefore, a Trenta-sized iced coffee equals 30 ounces of liquid.  That seems a like a lot, especially when you take a look at the graphic below...

Kinda puts things in perspective, doesn't it?  (via)

January 18, 2011

Golden Globes Fashion

Awards shows.  Sigh.  I don't care much for the actual awards, I am much, much, more interested in seeing the gowns and dresses worn by the Hollywood elite.  Or in some cases, the Hollywood-Who-Hell-Is-That?  The Golden Globes aren't quite as hoity-toity as the Oscars, but have more star power than the Emmys, so it's an interesting venue for actresses to step outside the box a bit with their sartorial selections.  Below are three categories ranging from Loved It to Meh... to Oh No She Di'n't!  All photos from JustJared.com.

Tier 1: Loved It

Olivia Wilde - "House."  I wish her hair had more volume, but her dress takes care of the oomph.  She just looks like she's having a great time.

Diana Agron - "Glee."  I don't really watch this show, but I think she's beautiful.  This look grew on me, but it's now one of my favorites from the night.

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones - no introduction needed.  I think they both look great for Michael's first red carpet since his throat cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Piper Perabo - "Covert Affairs."  She just looks stunningly classic in this simple black dress with the perfect hair and makeup.  She's come a long way.

Claire Danes - Temple Grandin.  While I think this dress is a little casual for the Golden Globes, I love that she stepped outside of the box a bit with the silhouette and color.

Mila Kunis - Black Swan.  My favorite of the night.  The color, the details--simply stunning.
Eva Longoria, making her triumphant return to the red carpet after her divorce from Tony Parker.  I love the simplicity of this dress, and and the fit is impeccable.

Eva Longoria

Lea Michele - "Glee."  I don't care for her personally, but she rocks these ruffles looking young and fresh.

Robert Downey, Jr.  Few can rock a suit on the red carpet and look better than the hordes of the actors in tuxedos.  

Amber Riley - "Glee."  The dress is a bit too disco-ball for me, but I liked that this "curvy" girl didn't shy away from sparkles just because of her size.  Also, the shape is flattering on her figure.

Hailee Steinfeld - True Grit.  She looks age appropriate in the best way; great fitting dress, great hair, and I love her clutch.

Kyra Sedgwick - "The Closer."  I love this dress.  The color looks great on her, and I love the accessories.  She knows what works for her and she wears it well.

Sofia Vergara - "Modern Family."  If anyone can pull off a fire-engine red, corseted gown, it's Sofia.  (I was shocked to learn that this dress is Vera Wang.)

Sofia Vergara

Tier 2: Meh...

Carrie Underwood.  She looks lovely but boring and predictable... with the exception of her those damned tendrils.

Carrie Underwood.  Tendrils = NO MA'AM!
Julie Bowen - "Modern Family."  The color washes her out, and I hate those appliqu├ęs.

Sandra Bullock, you can do better than this.  You can, I've seen it.

And those bangs... eesh.

Tina Fey - "30 Rock."  Tina always talks about how she doesn't use a stylist, and it shows.  She was moved up from Tier 3 only because she chose navy instead of black this time.

Megan Fox.  The bandage look is done, but I've seen worse.  Her hair is pretty.  She should have a doctor look at that perma-bruise on her forearm.

Anne Hathaway - Love and Other Drugs.  I'm sort of torn on this dress, hence the 2nd tier ranking.  Anne rocks it like many other women couldn't, but something is off... maybe a different color would have worked better. 

Look, no Spanx!

Scarlet Johansson, fresh from her divorce from Ryan Reynolds.  It's unfortunate that she grabbed Helen Mirren's dress by accident, and that she rode to the show with the windows down.

Helen Mirren - Red.  Helen looks great even if that bitch Scarlet stole her dress; however, that necklace is too much with the dress.

January Jones - "Mad Men."  She just tries so hard.  January doesn't disappoint in Versace, but it's so predictable for her.  Plus, those black clunkers are too heavy for that dress.

Angelina Jolie - The Tourist.  I cannot stand this woman, yet she looks pretty here.  I hope Studio 54 lets her in for the after party.

Brad Pitt is looking better than he has in a while.  Sunglasses can cover a multitude of sins.

Christina Aguilera - Burlesque.  Again, I've seen worse from her, so this was moved to the "Meh" category, even if her right breast is screaming "get me outta here!"
Julianne Hough - "Dancing with the Stars."  This neckline isn't my favorite, but on someone statuesque like Nicole Kidman or Heidi Klum, possibly Cate Blanchette, it could have worked.  It just overwhelms petite Julianne.

Mandy Moore - I have no idea why she's here.  She looks fine for high school prom; I'm not a fan of the netting that extends to the one shoulder, or the boning that's visible on the bodice.  I kinda wish she'd done something with her hair.

Nicole Kidman - I like her hair color, and I'm glad she wore it down instead of severely pulled back.  Her dress is just... that bow on the waist with that tribal thing on the shoulder and the sequins... it's not awful, but it's not good.  

Julianna Marguilies - "The Good Wife."  She looks washed out and tired.  She should be in Tier 3, but I gave her a reprieve because I really like her and the show.

Jane Lynch - "Glee."  She looks nice, and she chose a silhouette that flatters her figure.

Some chick from "Glee," I forgot her name.  She looks pretty.  The color looked more saturated on television and I thought it complemented her skin and the dress perfectly (I'll admit that it looks a little bridesmaid-y here).

Elizabeth Moss - "Mad Men."  The color of the dress is great, but nothing else is working.  The shape isn't flattering and looks droopy, and her hair, while better than Peggy Olson's, looks blah.  

Kelly Osbourne - Host for E! network.  This dress isn't my favorite, but Kelly looks great and healthy these days, and the silhouette of the dress really complements her new shape.

Tier 3: Oh No She Di'n't

Jennifer Lopez - J. Lo: On Ice!

Halle Berry, why?  The top looks like a supportive undergarment and the bottom looks like Frederick's of Hollywood.

Johnny Depp - The Tourist.  Presented without comment.

Helena Bonham Carter - The King's Speech.  Unsurprising, for her.  Doesn't she ever just wants to be pretty?

Jennifer Love Hewitt.  A) She's orange. B) She looks like she's heading to her debutante ball.  C) Busty women should not wear dresses that call more attention to said bustiness.
Heidi Klum - Either she let her kids design her dress or she let a Project Runway contestant design it.  Either way, it's inappropriate for anywhere other than the Bahamas.

Michelle Williams - Blue Valentine.  Worst dressed, hands-down.  Not only does the dress not even fit her, but it's covered in daisies.  DAISIES!  

Gemma Mays - "Glee."  She's channeling Elvira here and her hair is overwhelming.

Katey Sagal - "Sons of Anarchy."  She's channeling Peg Bundy in this cheap and neon dress; the shape is nice on her, but nothing else is working.

Leighton Meester - Country Strong.  One big Victorian muddled mess.  

Natalie Portman - Black Swan.  Be my Valentine?  Plus, I think it looks cheap (and it's not).  

Natalie Portman.

Gaboure Sidibe.  I'm sure that finding a suitable dress can be challenging for someone her size, but she can do better than this.

Tilda Swinton.  Presented without comment.