Tuesday, June 23, 2009
It’s a perfectly draped Pucci scarf, the subtle pairing of Chanel ballet flats with flawless white jeans, and an understated vintage Cartier timepiece peeking out from beneath a cuffed sleeve. It is the ability to master an on-trend look, like a motorcycle jacket layered over an ultra-feminine chiffon mini dress, in a simple and unique way. And above all, it’s making it look easy – accidental, if you will. French women are seemingly born with this elegance, this “je ne sais quoi” along with few gifted American gals – you know the ones; they’re effortlessly chic, abnormally confident and induce a feeling of total inadequacy in all they encounter.
For me, merely passing one of these women on the street leads to an onslaught of self loathing. For the rest of the walk home I am consumed with my imperfections. My outfit is suddenly a complete disaster (what was I thinking?!), not to mention that my face too narrow, my thighs are too wide (why can’t my legs look like that in skinny jeans?), my blonde too blonde and my makeup too gaudy (was she even wearing makeup? No one can look like that naturally…can they?). By the time I reach my front door I’ve resolved to cut processed sugar from my diet, consult a plastic surgeon about this nose of mine and invest in fabulous accessories (everything would look better with an Hermes belt).
The Chic Girl’s “je ne sais quoi” goes beyond good looks and a killer wardrobe. It’s a intrinsic quality - how else could she strut around town in sky high pumps and harem pants with such ease, or know instinctively when to belt it? These elegant women exude an aura of self assurance, frequently interpreted by moi as perfection. The unattainable kind of perfection that I will never be good enough to achieve.
It is the Chic Girl who brings out my insecurities, while for some it’s the Skinny Girl, the Popular Girl, the Talented Girl, the Rich Girl; the list goes on. Are these girls really perfect, or can we only see in them what we find most conspicuously absent in ourselves? Their envy-inducing quality must be more than skin deep, for the even most beautiful woman in the world would go unnoticed if she walked slumped over and devoid of confidence. The woman who makes your head turn is the one who enters the room as if she owns it, regardless of her style, beauty or wealth. It is the individual who takes pride in her uniqueness and celebrates her foibles that we are drawn to; unfortunately, when a woman’s uniqueness aligns with our weakness we are threatened.
There is no fast solution. Even the highest pair of Louboutin’s won’t imbue you with true “Je ne sais quoi”. It can only be achieved through total love and acceptance of ourselves - back fat and all. So, the next time I run into a dazzling Chic Girl and feel the self destructive comparisons rising to the surface, I will shift my attention to admire her fabulous posture and striking direct eye contact instead of focusing on how much better my life would be if I had the diamond encrusted Yurman necklace dangling from her neck. Instead of resenting her, maybe I can learn something from her. After all, I'm still just a work in progress.
By Maggie Winterfeldt
Friday, June 12, 2009
Like many women embarrassed by their enormous purse, I frequently joke that within my bag’s cavernous walls, I keep “my life.”
This statement proved more accurate than ridiculous yesterday when I unexpectedly found myself caught in a rainstorm downtown. As the drops began to fall, I hopefully plunged my hand into the dark abyss of my well worn Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM bag and withdrew an adorable cheetah print umbrella that, frankly, I forgot I had! Slipping my new Tory Burch leather flats into the safety of the bag, I put on the pair of ratty flip flops I keep stored for rain and high heel emergencies. Sprinting through the downpour I scrapped my toe on a piece of jagged sidewalk. I ducked into a nearby Starbucks to tend to the wound with a band aid and individual-sized packet of bacitracin kept for just such an instance. After quickly touching up my badly running makeup with some totable beauty essentials, I exited into the storm and crossed over to my street. Withdrawing my building key from a small side zip inside my bag, I entered the lobby only to run into a former work acquaintance. Casually extracting a business card and extra resume I keep filed in my bag (just in case), I headed upstairs to my apartment.
Once there, I pondered the bag's amazing dexterity. In addition to the usually contents--two hairbrushes, five individually wrapped extra contact lenses, ten assorted lip glosses ranging from YSL to Chapstick, my checkbook, three mechanical pencils (I wouldn't dare store a pen for fear of ink explosion), a doggie doo doo bag, a pack of tissues, a checkbook, a travel sized deodorant, four rubber bands, a toothbrush, a bottle of ibuprofen, a tube of hand cream, two tampons, two pairs of sunglasses (giant, crystal encrusted Chanel’s for formal affairs and funky, Ray Band Wayfarers for more hip events), half a dozen assorted business cards, two half full bottles of water, an iPhone charger, a can of pepper spray, a Kate Spade makeup case so full it that will barely zip shut and two bobby pins--the bag provides something else...
An oversized bag endows the owner with a sense of safety and preparedness. Like a rabbit being pulled from a magician’s top hat, whatever is needed at the moment of crisis seems to magically appear from deep within the chaotic mess of the purse. The inconvenience of the bag’s mammoth girth and backbreaking mass are nothing in light of an oversized bag's mysterious prowess. No chic clutch or sleek shoulder bag can compare.
The red imprints the Neverfull’s slender straps leave embedded in my shoulder don’t seem so bad now when I consider that the bag is hanging with the weight of, well, my life. So the next time my boyfriend points to the elephant hanging from my arm and asks, irritated, if it is “really necessary for you to bring that bag out” I will confidentially inform him that it is. After all, we never know if today is the day we are attacked by pirates or bitten by poisonous snakes. And if it is, we are prepared.
By Maggie Winterfeldt
Monday, June 8, 2009
As with most visits to Sephora, my April trip to the Union Square store ended with a glossy black and white bag stuffed with neatly wrapped beauty products I didn’t know I needed.
Of my shiny new purchases, the standout item has proven to be Lancôme’s new Oscillating Mascara. Lancôme boasts that the wand oscillates 7000 times per minute, enabling it to coat each lash with 360 degrees of mascara. Skeptical that a brush could wiggle itself over my lashes with more skill than my bare hand, I indulged my curiosity and purchased the brand new product.
PROS: Naturally gorgeous lashes!
After a couple tries, I got the hang of applying mascara with a vibrating wand and was thrilled with my lashes. My best results came from starting at the lash root and slowly wiggling the wand back and forth horizontally up to the tip, while holding the vibration power button. My lashes were noticeably long, thick, and perfectly separated. The results were so natural, that I was told numerous times how “lucky” I was to have such long lashes!
CONS: Poor Power Button Design. High Price Point.
The button that activates the oscilattions is on the outside of the wand and sensitive to pressure. It would frequently turn itself on inside my purse or when crammed inside my makeup bag, wasting the batteries and creating a curious vibrating sound.
At around $34, the mascara was even pricier than my longtime favorite, Chanel’s $30 Inimitable Mascara, and about $10-15 more expensive than the average mascara in Sephora. Adding to the expense is having to buy a new mascara every time the battery dies. Although frustrating, the batteries 2-3 month lifespan does align with the suggested mascara expiration date - Holding onto mascara longer than 60-90 days allows harmful bacteria to grow in the product, which can cause infection and harm your eyes.
TIP: Regardless of your coloring, I recommend choosing the blackest black color available. This creates a classically feminine aesthetic and the most dramatically lush lashes.
By Maggie Winterfeldt