Best of the 2014 Academy Awards. And this year, I’m a satisfied customer!

So, I’d say last night turned out well. I’ve never watched the Academy Awards from start to finish, red carpet to curtain closed, and I feel very satisfied with my experience. I first feel the need to give major props to Ellen DeGeneres as perhaps the only person having any business as an Oscar host ever again. Can she just do it every year? Please? I need to see Kevin Spacey handing out paper plates to the Hollywood elite again. Or can we at least compromise with a guarantee that Seth McFarlane will never, ever come back?

But let’s face it- The only reason that I really started watching the Academy Awards to begin with was for the styling. I can’t just say the gowns because there’s so much thought put into an entire look. Everything worn to the Oscars comes from a strategic plan: the jewels, the shade of lipstick, the dress, the tan or lack-of-tan, everything. And so when I choose my favorite looks, I’m choosing whole packages. Oh, and one thing that makes the Academy Awards personally exhausting for myself is the fact that the red carpet is honestly about one-third of all the show-stopping looks that will be seen throughout the night. It’s the Oscars after parties that have all the guests changing into something usually more playful, and that also bring out all the you’re-not-invited-to-the-main-thing-but-you’re-still-hip-enough-to-be-seen-here-people. The “Best Dressed” list can get a whole lot longer after the actual show is finished. Just sayin’.

Alright, so let’s get to it.

Best Overall

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Yeah. Duh. She can do no wrong. But seriously, Charlize just gets it right every time. It may be the fact that her FACE just gets it right every time, but there’s just no denying that Charlize carries the red carpet in gowns that are nothing short of magnificent. The sheer overlay on the skirt of this Christian Dior haute couture gown adds such an ethereal, fantasy-like element, and the neckline is feminine and powerful with just a single necklace (not that there’s anything shy about that rock she’s wearing!) accessorizing the whole picture. The makeup and hair are just elegant enough to look sleek on Charlize (not too much eyeliner!), but without competing with the gown. This was the look that had me squealing.

Best Details

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Naomi Watts’ gown by Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein Collection was good enough on its own with its modest neckline, alluring slit up the side, snow-like texture, and slightly bold shoulders, but again, it’s the whole picture that makes me fall in love. The extras of Naomi’s look include: a metallic, graphic Bulgari minaudiere clutch with a “Serpenti” closure (meaning the clasp looks like a snake!), strappy black sandals, sleek, modern hair, red lips and painted toes, and beautiful, bold jewel designs adorning her wrist and neckline. There are so many little details that make this single look a work of styling art, and I feel that if I had to choose one head-to-toe look to wear myself to the Oscars, I’d choose this one.

Best Fantasy Moment

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I’ve been following Lupita Nyong’O on Instagram for a couple months now, and she’d been on my radar since October when 12 Years A Slave premiered. I’m not one for trying to predict how other people feel, but I feel I could wager a guess that these past couple months have felt like something out of a dream for this girl. She’s worked hard for a career in acting and theatre (Yale School of Acting!), she’s emerged as a fashion and beauty darling with a front row seat at New York Fashion Week and designers clamoring to dress her, and the day before she was given an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her work … she celebrated her birthday. I mean, what a ride, right? And so, this beautiful baby blue Prada gown, reminiscent of Cinderella (and Nairobi, in her own words, where she grew up around a lot of blue), just seemed perfect for the moment. The way it twirls, the way it seemed youthful and princess-like, and the way she worn the dainty headband almost like a delicate crown … glorious. I also love that the makeup wasn’t anywhere near as bold as other looks she’s previously gone with; it wouldn’t have worked with this look. Some have felt this dress needed a necklace, or that the headband was a bit “twee”, but I found it unique and delightful that the obvious choice of a necklace (or diamonds at all) was forgone in favor of something different. Lupita’s face was able to take center-stage, and she got to walk around in a sparkly Nairobian waterfall all night. Bravo.

Best Makeup and Hair – TIE

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In case you hadn’t noticed, I have a thing for eyeliner. And Olivia was WEARING IT. Makeup like this is my very favorite: emphasis on the eyes, some great false lashes, a touch of peach on the cheeks, and a nude lip. And the up-do was so not-up-do-ish. It was soft with face-framing pieces, with just enough volume. Nothing crazy, with an illusion of effortlessness. But then there was this …

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Yes, I’m blogging about my obsession over Jared Leto’s hair without batting an eyelash. I’ll admit that I’d been hoping for a more polished man-bun for the Academy Awards, but the flowing, ombre’d locks of a caucasian Jesus are just alright with me. I’ve just got to find out what conditioner this guy uses. He literally has my dream hair. Well, perhaps my dream hair is a bit longer, but seriously, for about five months now Jared has been rocking THEE hair that I’ve wanted for years. But hey! I think I’m finally there!

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I hope he sees this. I really hope he does.

Best Dresses That You Didn’t See at the After Parties

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I’ve come to the conclusion that I love weird, lacey things. For instance, this. And this. And yes, I’m determined to see this happen on people other than Kristen Stewart, and so this lovely Valentino creation on Diane Kruger was exciting to behold along with Poppy Delevingne in Chanel. Dark and romantic, just perfect. I also love the length of Diane’s gown; it feels so breezy and un-stuffy. Black lace can veer into old lady territory, and the cut of her particular version keeps it from doing so.

And now, because I can’t bear to discuss them all in detail, enjoy some brief comments on the other looks that the internet is a-buzz about:

Jennifer Lawrence – The dress and jewels were stunning; the styling of the hair made her look much older than necessary. Her hair honestly ruined the whole look for me. Supremely frustrating.

Kate Hudson – Gorgeous, yes. But too reminiscent of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Tom Ford perfection from last year’s awards, for my taste.

Cate Blanchett – Beautiful, but honestly, just not exciting enough for me. I think I just wanted to see color on her really badly.

Kerry Washington – Pretty! By far her best look during this awards season. I haven’t been happy with how designers have dressed Kerry’s bump these past couple months, and if Jason Wu had to basically just take a plum bedsheet and drape it around her to one-up all the designers who’ve tried, then more power to him. Kerry’s hair, I will also add, was beautiful.

Amy Adams and Sandra Bullock – I was bored. Sorry.

Jessica Biel – Amazing, and that HAIR. SHEESH. But I feel like I always drool over her so I’m trying to give it a break.

Angelina Jolie – It’s hard to make her look bad, but the cut of her Elie Saab gown looked a bit matronly on her. That was one problem a few ladies seemed to have last night; some folks looked older than they should have.

And there it is! Of course, I’m always curious to hear your own thoughts and I would absolutely love to know how you felt about the red carpet (and the after carpet!), so please, leave a comment or two. Alright alright alright, that’s it for now. xo,MR

** Absolutely none of these photos belong to me or were taken by me, save for the one Instagram image (which contains an image that does not belong to me either).

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Magazines: The Good, the Bad, and the (Rarely) Ugly

So, magazines, right?  I mean, some people are way into them, and other people consider nearly every one on the newsstands to be pure garbage.  Let’s cut to the chase- I love them.  Not all of them, and not all of them equally, but for those that I do love, I am fiercely loyal.  And I specifically love print magazines.  None of this newfangled download-it-to-your-iPad nonsense.  No.  No way.  It’s the freshly-pressed pages of a glossy in your hands, or nothing.  Of course, I do blogs, and while I understand that those are frequently referred to as “online magazines”, you’re kept at the nice pace of about one or two new articles a day .  A blog doesn’t bombard you with hundreds of pages per month, complete with ads, with the expectation that you click or scroll through all of them on a screen, in one sitting.  No, that kind of reading commitment is saved for the glossies, as it should be.

So which ones do I read?  Well, a lot.  I’ve only subscribed to a couple in my lifetime because I’ve found subscription services to be somewhat untrustworthy, but boy let me tell you that buying mags off the stands is a real money pit, especially when you buy multiple titles every month like me.  But that’s just the price you pay (literally) for the fun.  And I will say that for about one week each month, I go into a sort of frenzy trying to uncover the coming month’s cover stars, and I then go on a week-long hunt trying to locate each beloved mag as soon as possible (and here’s a pro tip:  Wal-Mart is the first to get the newest issues, usually about two days before they’re scheduled to “hit the stands”).  And once I’ve obtained all my desired issues for the month, I’ll admit that I go through a sort of let-down phase for a couple days where I cope with the reality that there won’t be any new magazines for at least three weeks.  A whole three weeks.  Yes, it’s that bad, and yes, it makes time fly super fast (because think about it, when you’re holding the March issue in your hands on February 13th, YOU’RE BASICALLY LIVING IN THE FUTURE).

So which ones do I read?  Oh wait, that was the question I meant to answer in the last paragraph.  Welp.

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More than just these pictured here.

But let me provide you with a brief (sure, uh huh) discussion of the magazines that I’ve interacted with in my short lifetime.  I haven’t dealt with 100% of the ones you see on newsstands (for instance, hipster mags such as Foam and Vice remain a relatively untouched territory for me … can’t deal with the heavily-filtered pretentiousness … and YES, I judge them as pretentious).

Marie Claire:  This magazine is for the Power Woman.  It encourages and assumes workplace success, frequently discusses the advancements, plights, and contributions of women around the world, and seems most fit for the “independent woman”.  I absolutely adore the publication’s fashion and beauty features, but Marie Claire can also be quite politically charged and favors discussion of hot-button social issues.  When I read magazines, I honestly don’t have much interest in this type of subject matter.  I mean this not in the sense that I prefer to remain ignorant (which my friends and family hardly allow me), but it’s simply not relaxing or entertaining for me personally.  I will also be honest and say that the writers often assume a consistent political point of view, and if you don’t find yourself in the same frame of mind it can feel a bit like the journalist’s equivalent of “You can’t sit with us!“.  But that’s life, and at least the content seeks to be informative and educational.  I can hardly resist the magazine’s beauty sections, anyhow.  I have a strange affinity for beauty product still-life shots, and Marie Claire always seems to have some of the best.  So, sometimes I pick a copy of MC, and sometimes I don’t.  But either way, it’s pretty quality.

Lucky:  You might recall a very old post of mine in which I veritably bashed Lucky magazine a year-and-a-half ago.  I had become extremely frustrated with the publication for its awkward attempts at being relatable, its trend-slave taste (do beware that this magazine is about shopping and really nothing else), and its drone-like tone as it insisted that flash-in-the-pan items like gold lame’ jeans are an “OMG MUST HAVE”.  I’d also been unimpressed with its inability to stay on the cutting edge with its covers, which had become sort of predictable and boring, and lacking in anything that really set them apart.

However, the replacement of Brandon Holley with Eva Chen as the new EIC this past September has brought a sort of uptick in the quality of Lucky.  Chen (with the formidable Anna Wintour right by her side as the Conde Nast creative director) has overseen a new batch of better styled and more luxe-looking covers with photographers like Patrick Demarchelier, a more aspirational price range (read: higher prices means a richer, more desirable feel for the magazine), and a little more substance over just plain salesmanship in content.  I will admit that Kerry Washington’s December cover had to be one of the worst cover shots I’ve ever seen (it seriously does the Scandal beauty absolutely no justice), but I will admit that I’ve seen large improvements in Lucky since Chen has taken the helm.  Lucky is still all about shopping, still draws heavily on a street style aesthetic (so if you do the street fashion thing on Pinterest, it’s totally your gig), and it still sometimes feels like it’s talking a little too much more than showing, but I have to admit that I’ve purchased nearly every issue since this past September.  I give this one a thumbs-up and say it’s now worth a try.

Allure:  I love Allure.  I love love love love Allure.  I actually subscribed to this magazine in high school, clearly demonstrating the beauty department to be my first love. The entire magazine is dedicated to all things beauty, which is seriously my dream.  Whole articles are dedicated to discussing and illustrating breakthroughs in hair mousse, “romantic makeup”, the latest trends in braids, how to find the really quality stuff at a drugstore, the best Oscar hair-do’s of the past ten years, false lashes, or the newest research in sunscreen and skin protection.  Whole articles for this stuff!  And don’t even get me started on their annual “Best of Beauty” issue … I just gobble that stuff right up.  There are little bits of fashion features sprinkled throughout so you get just enough of that, but give me a four- or five-page feature on eyeliner, and I’m good for life.

The one downside to Allure is its focus on the aspects of the beauty department that are sometimes not as interesting, such as lasers, peels, and the latest procedures beneath the knife.  There’s a lot of plastic surgery and weight loss discussion, and with all the talk about the procedures that can lead us to supposed “perfection”, it can sometimes feel awkward and disingenuous when reading the article on how to play up your own “unique” features on the very next page.  I’ve had no problem just tearing out pages I don’t want to read, though.  Aside from the some of the bodycentric stuff, Allure‘s a keeper.

Vogue:  Let me confess that I’ve purchased maybe three issues of Vogue in my lifetime.  It’s honestly just beyond my realm of living.  Oh sure, there’s fashion aplenty, but its also a lifestyle magazine with the the assumption that you’re part of a privileged crowd with the ways and means of living the life that’s discussed in Vogue.  There’s discussion of high society, politics, the arts, the media, and all kinds of other perfectly good things, but I just don’t feel at home reading Vogue.  And with my budget, I don’t think I’m meant to, either.  And that’s okay!  I’ll read it for the celebrity cover stories and glorious fashion spreads (which can be done in the grocery line), but I tend to leave the rest.  However, it is still maintains its eternal reputation (and in spite of anything I have to say) as “the fashion bible”.  Vogue remains queen, and though I don’t have much interaction with her, I respect her.

Elle:   I occasionally pick up a copy of this magazine depending on how meaty the beauty section looks, but I’ve always sort of felt like Elle was the younger, sexier sister of the older, more sophisticated Vogue (though they’re in competition with one another).  The brand itself is huge globally, with around 40 international editions in over 60 countries and it supposedly being the world’s “biggest” fashion publication (probably meaning it has the most editions around the world compared to any other).  This publication has had some of my favorite cover shots ever, and that alone has at times been enough to convince me to purchase an issue.  Elle is a lifestyle magazine, so it will speak into many areas, like Vogue, including politics, the arts, and entertainment along with a primary focus on fashion.  I like Elle a lot, but I think it’s also just a bit overwhelming for me.  I just find myself sorting through so many other sections until I get to the fashion and beauty that it’s just a sad waste of paper to purchase  more than about three issues a year, personally.

Harper’s Bazaar:  If you’re looking for a quality education in the world of high fashion without all the extra lifestyle features of Vogue or Elle, Harper’s Bazaar should serve you well.  In my opinion, it’s for the die-hards who just want to talk about the clothes and the shows.  Of course, it can feel a bit highbrow, but I feel the publication does such a good job at just showcasing as much clothing and design as possible that I rarely feel overwhelmed or annoyed by any highfalutin discussion of the who’s-who on the Upper East Side.  Harper’s Bazaar has truly been my guide to the trenches of the fashion world.  It’s been my textbook for names, history, superior trend forecasting, and the collections of the season.  If you’re truly passionate about the world of fashion with a desire to understand every cog in the machine, I recommend Bazaar for you.

People StyleWatch:  Consider this the junk food of fashion publications, the anti-Vogue, and I mean that in the best way possible.  People StyleWatch is delicious, it serves its purpose quickly, and it doesn’t bother with heavy text.  It’s like fashion training wheels, and it’s for anyone who’s ever cried JUST TELL ME WHAT TO WEAR, WHERE TO BUY IT, AND HOW MUCH IT’LL COST.  This magazine’s concept is seriously that simple.  It’s almost entirely based on celebrity style, and often demonstrates how to replicate a star’s expensive look for a fraction of the cost, down to the very accessories on their hands.  I’ve been a faithful reader of this publication since 2006, and it’s honestly just good clean fun.  I’ll admit that it can inspire quite the frantic shopping spree (and seriously, do be careful if you have spending issues because this magazine lists the price and location of every item featured on its pages, making it very addictive), but there’s no condescending advice, there’s an extremely generous budget range (like, the $50-and-under crowd are highly welcome here), and it showcases nothing but pictures, pictures, pictures.  My passion for clothing came to life with this magazine, and I have it to thank for starting me down a path toward my own, personal style.

Glamour/Cosmopolitan:  Really not a fan.  Like, really not.  Any magazine that focuses so heavy-handedly on “how to tell if he’s really into you” or “100 Sex moves that will send him into the stratosphere” deserves a minuscule amount of attention.  Oh, you say there really isn’t that much sex and relationship content in these magazines as it may appear on the cover?  THEN STOP SPLASHING IT ALL OVER YOUR COVERS  AS THE NUMBER ONE HEADLINE.  I’ll also be honest and say that a lot of the “advice” given in such features can be fairly objectifying of women (which is just so funny considering we’re the ones reading it), ridiculously repetitive, and horribly misleading and inaccurate.  But seriously, no truly insightful advice on such important things as your friendships and relationships is to be gained from one page of a magazine with some photoshopped version of Miley Cyrus on the cover (and yes, I’ll backpedal and state that all magazines are guilty of digitally retouching their covers).  I mean it!  Now, the fashion and beauty features in these publications can be fun, I’m sure.  But why not just pick up a magazine devoted entirely to those things and bypass the “Impress your dude” junk completely?

InStyle:  If I could only recommend one fashion publication to all women of any age, size, or income, this would be it.  InStyle is my favorite magazine.  If you enjoy fawning over the latest gorgeous dress worn by Cate Blanchett, this is for you.  If you want to know the best kinds of shapewear for your own size, this is for you.  If you aren’t sure how to incorporate more exciting color into your wardrobe or in makeup, this is for you.  If you like keeping up on the latest runway shows, this is for you.  There is nothing discussed in the magazine other than fashion, beauty, personal style, and a bit of home decor with a couple recipes thrown in.  I find it to be the most universally appealing publication of any that I’ve mentioned above.  There’s no specific income or social bracket targeted (so you’ll see both budget and luxe pieces featured all over), and InStyle seems to stick to the philosophy that style is something that anyone can have, develop, and enjoy, without trying to hold your hand too much.

This magazine is helpful.  There are so many features dedicated to showing you exactly how to find, wear, or try something new that you find yourself interacting with the issue on top of just reading it.  InStyle has inspired me to take action with my own style countless times, and I can’t name how many different beauty tricks or trends I’ve tried because of it (i.e. orange lips, victory rolls, an at-home blowout, the “wet” look, you name it!).  If you go for just one fashion publication, choose this one.  And I’ll also mention that I’ve been a subscriber for over three years and the service there has been great.

So in conclusion, I write all this not so much with the intent that you’ll like which magazines I like (because that would be stupid), but simply because I like talking about them.  I’ve often said that if I could do my education over again (or for a second time?), I’d get a degree in journalism, intern for a magazine somewhere, and would pursue a career at a fashion publication.  Because yes, I love doing makeup (and fashion, which we refrain from fully discussing here), and I love playing with makeup, but I really love talking about it more than anything.  And that’s what magazines are for, right?  xo, MR

P.S.  A quick word about advertisements: I’ve sometimes heard folks complain about how many advertisements there are in magazines (especially the larger ones, like Elle and Vogue).  Do you know why those ads are there?  It’s not simply page-filler that the editors have chosen to scatter on every other page to annoy you.  Magazines are actually paid by all varieties of companies to have their advertisements placed in them.  This is a large portion of a publication’s  profit (and customer subscriptions and newsstands sales are actually a lesser portion).  So, a thick issue full of advertisements is actually thee sign that a magazine is doing quite well.  When you see all those Chanel, Revlon, H. Stern, and Vince Camuto advertisements and you keep having to flip your way through like a maniac to get to the meat, just know that they are a big reason why the magazine in your hand is circulating in the first place.

I’m over summer. Or, in which I discuss Fall 2013 beauty trends far too prematurely.

January and July are the months where I get antsy.  I start getting that mid-to-late season itch for something new, as in new trends, new ideas, and new fashion.  And of course, the magazine industry doesn’t exactly help me out with this struggle.

As you may know, magazines roll out their issues about one month prior to their actual, designated months (Get it?  Because everything is early in fashion.).  So, right now it’s mid-July, which means that just about all of the August issues are out.  Okay, so no big deal right?  Well, here’s the problem with the August issues- they’re one big tease.  All they seem to be is a preview for September (the official kick-off for the fall season in fashion).  And when you have an entire month of nothing but fall previews to deal with, you begin to find yourself looking for … oh, I don’t know … fur vests in the middle of summer?

Yeah, it’s pathetic.  I’ll admit that I’ve been looking for a felt fedora hat for over a week now (not much unlike Rosie’s Rag and Bone one seen here).  I’ve even got a modest Fall 2013 shopping list going, complete with a white fisherman’s sweater.  Try hunting one of those down in July.  But regardless of how early I begin looking for signs of the coming season and how hopeless it may be until mid-August, I have to admit that it is really fun.

So what can we all look forward to as far as beauty trends for Fall 2013?  We’ve got color blocking, heeled loafers, and tons of grey to look forward to in our wardrobes, but how about our faces?  Here are just a couple things I dare you to try when the winds change:

1.  Put some serious color on your lips.  Any color, so long as it’s bold.

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Of course, I don’t tend to favor pink during the autumn seasons simply because it doesn’t feel right against all my black, grey, and muted tones (though I am kind of done with cliche rules like that), but a deep oxblood or a fire engine red like the above look shown at Marc Jacobs will certainly do the trick.  And texture doesn’t matter- glossy, matte, satin, stained, whatever.  It’s all about color saturation in this case, so there’s no real formula so long as it’s committed to its hue.

2.  Braid your hair.  ANY way you want.

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Fishtail braids, Heidi-style plaits across the crown, one long braid down the back, you name it.  If there’s a single braid of the smallest size to be found in your hair, it’s a winner this coming season.  And let it be known that I am a braid IDIOT that can hardly get her own hair into a classic three-section braid without feeling like she needs to Animorph into an octopus.  While I still can’t seem to get my hair into a satisfactory braid that makes me happy, I did find this tutorial on the fishtail style to be extremely helpful, and I’m convinced that I could probably get the job done on someone else’s hair at this point, if not on my own.  My favorite styles were the ones seen like the shot featured above from Viktor & Rolf.

3.  But if you’re not going for a braid, go for something extra sleek and extra modern.

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I tend to feel most confident in my hair when it’s down with loose body and light waves thanks to ten minutes with a curling rod … but next season, I’m planning to change that.  A couple weeks ago, just as I was getting ready to head out the door to commune with some friends, I was fussing over the very flat-against-my-head state that my hair was in.  I’d blown it out straight days prior, leaving me with no volume and quite a bit of oil on the scalp.  I then decided to go for what will be one of Fall 2013’s bigger beauty trends:  I took out my rattail comb and created a deep, severe side part, and I then brushed all of my hair back and set it with shine-imparting, light-hold gel for a sleek, almost wet look.  I then tied my hair into a low ponytail and ran a flat iron over the length of it, just for good measure.  I was left with a style that felt more face-flattering and fashion-forward than my typical soft waves.

Anything of this nature, whether employing the use of a side-part with a bun or ponytail or just slicking the hair back with relatively no part, was huge during February’s Fashion Week.  I particularly love Liu Wen’s style shown above for Jason Wu.  My most current inspiration for this look, however, has been coming from Kate Mara’s character on House of Cards, Zoe, though Kate wears this look quite well herself on the red carpet.

4.  Try going without mascara(!) and let your brows do the talking.  And let them do all the talking.

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I know, I know.  We’re AMERICANS!  We’re OBSESSED with mascara!  So fine.  Let’s get over it.  Makeup on the runways last February exhibited two kinds of extremes: a full focus on the eyes with heavy eyeliner and loud color, or a completely opposite approach that left the eyes completely bare.  And when the makeup artists left the eyelids nekkid, they seemed to compensate for it in either the lip department orrrrrrr ………. the BROW department.  The bold eyebrow is back with a vengeance these days thanks to models like Cara Delevingne, and I’ve gotta tell ya, I couldn’t be happier.  I love this bold, minimalist look seen as a whole package in the image above from the Chloe show, combining both bare lashes and fashion-forward eyebrows.

Now, I myself have never plucked, tweezed, threaded, or waxed my eyebrows until this year.  I am not kidding.  But the whole brow craze just got me so excited about grooming my own that I started dabbling in a little shaping here and there (not without anxiously contemplating for about five minutes over which exact three brow-hairs to pluck).  I started filling in little gaps with pencil a couple years ago, and my hand has just gotten heavier and heavier as models like Cara have grown more and more popular.

And then, about two weeks ago, this happened.  Camilla Belle came out of hiding with two spectacularly perfect caterpillars on her face, and I FELL IN LOVE.  Say no more!  I’m hooked on the bold brow, and I’m ready to let the Liz Taylor in me shine!  No no, not that Liz Taylor.  THAT Liz Taylor.  There we go.  That’s more like it.  NO!  I said NOT THAT LIZ TAYLOR!  Or THAT one!  OR THAT ONE!

THAT ONE!  Thank you!  Gosh!  xo, MR

The Best Dressed at the 2013 Met Gala. And a few words for Gwyneth Paltrow.

Okay, so, the Oscars are a big deal, right?  And the Golden Globes?  The whole awards season, in fact, from about January through the end of February, is when excitement over celebrities in fashion seems to climax in a parade of shows displaying the very best that the fashion world has to offer on some of the arguably best-looking people to wear it (and notice I’m saying “arguably” … because yes, you can certainly argue that Gwyneth Paltrow is the “world’s most beautiful woman”, but just because you argue does NOT mean that I’ll agree).  So it’s a total bummer once the whole parade is over, right?  Awards season is finished, and therefore we have to wait another entire year to see the celebrity fashion mish-mashapalooza extravaganza craziness happen all over again, aside from the various sightings at the Cannes Film Festival.  Right?

WWWRRRROOOOONNNNNGGGG!!!!!!

I don’t know how many people I’ve spoken with this past week who have literally not known what the Met Gala was.  They just straight-up hadn’t heard of it, and I just think that it is a testament to the travesties of our public education system.  Didn’t they teach you about the Met Ball in your freshmen health class?!  It’s definitely in the standards, somewhere, perhaps mixed in with the unit on how drugs affect the brain?  Or reproduction?  The sperm makes it’s way to the egg in the Fallopian tube, merging into one single cell called a zygote and then MET GALAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!

So, let’s first take a moment to ensure that we’ve all been properly educated.  What, exactly, is the Met Gala?  Well, let’s start with this: You’ve heard of the Metropolitan Museum in New York City (and if not, you need to start reading From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler as if your life depended on it).  Each year, the Metropolitan Museum (also known as the “Met” for short) opens an annual fashion exhibit, complete with a new theme every time.  This exhibit is held in the particular gallery space of the Met called the Costume Institute.  To celebrate the annual fashion exhibit’s opening, the Met holds a ball called the Costume Institute Gala (or Costume Institute Ball, either works) and basically invites EVERYONE WHO IS ANYONE from the fashion, film, and music industries.  And Kim Kardashian.

The Met Ball is always hosted by Vogue magazine, can cost up to $15,000 for one ticket, and is the one, true opportunity for celebrities and society folk to really push the sartorial envelope without getting too much side-eye from fashion critics.  It’s basically prom for all your favorite people that you read about in magazines.  And Kim Kardashian.

Now, the theme for the Costume Institute exhibit stands as the theme for the Met Ball too, so the guests of the Ball are always expected and encouraged to dress up somewhat in line with that theme.  Some of the exhibit themes may be a little difficult to grasp if you’re not very familiar with the fashion industry (last year’s theme was Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations … I’ll let you research that one yourself), but this year’s theme was a little more straight-forward – Punk: From Chaos to Couture.  Yep.  We’re looking at punk’s influence on the fashion world.  Sid Vicious would not be proud.  So, no, you’re not going to see something as literal as Kate Beckinsale showing up in a Dead Kennedys t-shirt (though that would be hot), but this theme did seem to encourage lots of black, lots of pompadour hair, and lots of eyeliner.  Remember, we’re looking at folks’ interpretation of punk influence here, not literal punk garb.  Here are my picks for who looked the very best.

#5 Jessica Biel in Giambattista Valli

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This is good.  The hair is slicked back with an ever-so-slight mohawk feel, they’ve contoured thecrap out of her cheeks to give her an edgier, sharper look, she’s wearing a septum ring, and that dress is giving me weird feels.  This is a good thing for a punk-themed Met Ball.  If I had to choose one look to wear myself, from head to toe, I’d pick this one.

#4  Sienna Miller in head-to-toe Burberry

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If there’s anyone who attended the Met Ball this year that actually comes close to sometimes acting/dressing/behaving in line with a truly punk attitude, it’s Sienna Miller.  She’s that cool Brit kid that wears a top hat when she feels like it and probably smokes like a turn-of-the-century-London chimney and cusses like a Guy Ritchie movie.  But this is why the punk theme works for her.  Her nails even have little tiny gold spikes on them, along with  little skulls on her toes.  And that jacket is just a death-hug waiting to happen.  Love it.

#3  Diane Kruger in Chanel Haute Couture

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This picture actually irritates me because it looks like she’s wearing Tom Brady’s black bow-tie in her hair, and she is not.  So put your finger on that bow-tie and go from there.  Diane was actually one of the last to arrive at the Ball from what I could tell, and I was worried that she wasn’t coming at all which would’ve made me QUIT LIFE, I tell you!  But there she was, and the woman never disappoints.  The stars really hooked me with the small details of their looks for this year’s Gala, and in Diane’s case it was her pink ponytail that sealed the deal.  And get that clutch!  There are so many accessories here that could double as weapons!  I was waiting for Dakota Fanning to show up wearing brass knuckles!

#2  Jennifer Lawrence in Dior Haute Couture

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Now, does this make me think punk?  Not really.  But does that matter?  NOT REALLY.  I’d like to think that this is what would happen if Grace Kelly made a baby with Jack White.  You’d get something more along the lines of a devastatingly beautiful dark glamour as opposed to liberty spikes, and that’s okay.  And again, it’s all in the details- the blush veil, the makeup, and the shoes all add up to something breathtaking.  And Jennifer Lawrence clearly had the most fun out of all the guests there.  When you can make mah boo Marion laugh, you make me happy!

#1  Anne Hathaway in Valentino

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There are multiple reasons why this is the best thing.  THE VERY BEST THING.  Let me break down the glory for you:

Let’s go back to this year’s Academy Awards.  No no, let’s go way back to this, when Anne first showed up to the Oscars red carpet in 2007 wearing Valentino.  And then the next year she showed up again wearing Valentino.  And then she kept wearing Valentino for all sorts of occasions, along with becoming close with the designer himself all along.  And then she wore custom Valentino for her wedding.  So basically, Anne Hathaway has, for a long time, been Valentino’s muse.  She’s been his model, and he’s been her very tan fairy godfather.  So what would you expect Anne to wear to the 2013 Academy Awards, on the night when practically everyone is betting their mother’s fancy china that she will take home the gold for giving everyone the sads in Les Miserables?  Valentino, right?!

WRONG.

Anne showed up to the 2013 Academy Awards in THIS.  A funny pink apron dress, looking a little too perky in the nips, brought to you by none other than PRADA.  Prada?!  For WHY?!  Valentino’s 2013 Haute Couture collection, shown just weeks before the Oscars, seriously had Anne Hathaway written all over it.  I had literally made a bet with myself that this would be her dress, or one of the designs similar to it.  But this pink Prada thingy?!  With the nips?!  It made no sense!  And then I started picking up on the rumors.  Apparently, at the eleventh hour, Anne discovered that her Les Mis co-star Amanda Seyfried had plans to wear an Alexander McQueen gown that supposedly looked far too similar to the Valentino gown that Anne had planned on wearing.  She allegedly freaked (and honestly, I could see myself doing this if I was certain that this was going to be my winning night, too) and made a last-minute decision to change her dress.  Here’s a shot of Amanda’s McQueen gown next to the Valentino that Anne had planned on wearing.  Too similar?  You be the judge.  But I’ll be honest- I get it.  I really do.  And I even feel for Amanda Seyfried, who probably felt so awkward and frustrated, too.  It’s just a shame that apparently there were no other Valentino gowns available and that Anne had to go with Prada and not a creation of her fairy tan-father. I sense that there were many, many tears shed during that Oscar weekend by Anne.  Many ugly Fantine tears.

So flash forward to this past week’s Met Gala.  And what is this sassy number that we have here?!  Do I sense a little Valentino on Anne?  From the designer’s 1992 archives?!  Why yes!  Yes I do!  And does she look ridiculously AWESOME?!  WHY YES!  YES SHE DOES!  I’ll admit that I’m one of those people that’s always found Anne a little, I don’t know, annoying?  She’s come across as such a zealous overachiever, like the kid that sucked up to her teachers and always seemed like she was trying too hard.  But you know what I’ve realized?  THAT’S ME.  Aside from the fact that I wish she’d stop showing her bewbs in all her movies these days, Anne bugs me because she can remind me of me.  And I can really bug me sometimes.  So I’ve decided to get over myself, and award Anne the top spot on my list.

Anne’s look is my undeniable favorite from this year’s Met Gala.  It’s got just enough of the punk vibe going on to qualify as having tried to stick with theme, and yet it’s so elegant too.  Those sleeves!  AND THAT HAIR!  I’m usually never in favor of brunettes switching for the blonde team, but this just works.  The whole look is inspiring.  And here she is, at the Ball, with her fairy tan-father himself.  I’d say it looks like Anne’s atoned for her Prada-stained sins, and I’m here to praise her for it.

You know, there was someone else wearing Valentino that night, come to think of it.  The World’s Most Beautiful Woman came to this year’s Met Ball in a hot pink Valentino Haute Couture gown, but apparently Gwynnie didn’t have the greatest time.  What did she have to say about  her Met Ball experience?  “I’m never going again.  It was so un-fun.  It was boiling.  It was too crowded.  I did not enjoy it at all.”  And as for her decidedly un-punk dress choice, “I think we’re all a bit old to dress up punk.  I just went as kind of normal.”

Oh, okay Gwynnie.  I’m guessing you don’t like Disneyland when it’s a little too warm or fuzzy blankets that are too warm or macaroni and cheese (IT’S TOO HOT IT MAKES MY MOUTH SWEAT) or daffodils that are too yellow or snuggling with puppies because they’re too hot and they make you sweaty and they just want to crawl on you and cuddle with you like uggghhhh stop iiiiiiitttttt.  And we don’t dress up for fun here!  IT’S TIME TO GROW UP!  Didn’t you know that parties like the Met Gala are NOT about having FUN?!  They’re about staying cool and dry with the A/C cranked while quietly sipping overpriced white wine and staying at least two feet apart from everyone!  I’m sorry Gwynnie, but you DO NOT diss Anna Wintour’s party like this, even if you do get a little sweaty in the pits.  Your host is the editor in chief of Vogue, you dum dum!  So come back to Earth and get in touch with reality.  Now.  Poor commoners like myself would walk a flaming tightrope for a chance to even come near the Met on the eve of Gala, but Lady Gwyneth is just over it.

So hey, Miss World’s Most Beautiful, the next time you’re just not feeling the fashion event of the year, go ahead and give me your ticket.  I’ll haul my own butt over to the Met from California ON FOOT.  I might show up in nothing but toilet paper, but at least I’ll be bloody grateful to be there.    xo, MR

Best of the 2013 Academy Awards. Or, WOMP womp.

Ok ok ok. So, I’ll admit that I’m going to try to calm down a bit when it comes to my criticism of tonight’s Academy Awards red carpet even though I feel ROBBED and want to SLAP whoever put that thing on Anne Hathaway. If you’re a regular reader, you know that I’ve been very underwhelmed by the fashion and beauty turn-out of this year’s awards season, and tonight was frankly no exception and I just KNEW this was going to happen because whoever has been styling these people lately still needs to wake up from their fifty-year NAP and get QUALIFIED already. However, I don’t want to be so negative but really I do. I think I’m just not easily impressed when it comes to red carpet styling, but here are a couple things I’m trying to keep in mind:

1. A lot of my favorites were missing entirely from tonight’s festivities. Marion Cotillard (who was too busy KILLING IT at the Cesar Film Awards in THIS … check those shoes!), Diane Kruger (only to be found later at the Vanity Fair party in THIS awesomeness), Angelina Jolie, Keira Knightley, Kate Bosworth, Rachel Weisz, and Cate Blanchett–each of them were missing and each of them are favorite players of mine on the red carpet (though they may have shown up at some of the after-parties). This gave me the sads, so I had to bear in mind that my frustration with tonight’s red carpet would probably have been tempered with the appearance of one of these ladies. And I think I’ve finally picked up on something– I not only favor how Europeans do beauty, but I also prefer how they do red carpet gowns. But there’s hope for me! This week is Paris Fashion Week, and I’ve a feeling I know exactly where I might find Marion …

2. Gowns that initially look boring actually look way better in Hi-Def. The texture and bounce of Jennifer Lawrence’s Dior Haute Couture gown really stood out as I watched her on T.V. in HD, but at first glance online, the gown looked structurally nice but perhaps aesthetically dull. The color and sparkle of most gowns really stood out much more as I watched them move on T.V. as opposed to when I just checked out shots of them on the web.

Alright, so I admittedly have very few gowns that I’m featuring in this post, but there were still a couple that got me doing the happy dance. I’d rather be brief and to the point than ramble on about how so-and-so looked … so-so. Let me know what you think!

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Kerry Washington showed up in the kind of dress that I’d wear to an event like the Oscars- hands down. The coral-red-pinkishness of this Miu Miu gown was unexpected and feminine, and it stood out in a sea of beige and muted tones. If I had to choose a style champion of the 2013 awards season, it would most certainly be Washington.

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This scarlet and gold Marchesa gown couldn’t have been a better choice for Olivia Munn. I love a dress with drama, and this delivered (score ten points for premium use of alliteration). I also love that this gown works so well with Olivia’s coloring. Celebrities so often seem to make the mistake of choosing a gown that doesn’t complement their skin tone or physical features to their best advantage, but this color and design make the very best of Olivia’s look.

Charlize

Do I still miss Charlize’s longer hair? Yes. Do I still think she looks amaze-balls regardless? YES. The woman is the picture of goddess-like beauty in Dior Haute Couture, structured to perfection with a sparkly peplum bodice. And because I’m such a sucker for minimalism, this one quickly found a special place in my heart. I love the lack of jewelry and utter simplicity to the whole look- I compare it to last year’s Tom Ford caped look that Gwyneth Paltrow stunned in.

Aaaaaaand that’s it! Yep. That’s it. Octavia Spencer also looked gorgeous, and Amy Adams’ gown was, of course, a real princess moment that Giselle herself would be proud of. But Anne Hathaway’s Prada apron gown was a huge let-down for me. No joke, the glorious red Valentino gown that Sally Field wore was the exact gown that I had hoped to see Anne in, but instead we got a pink apron with funny darting at the nips. I had also really looked forward to seeing more color in general from Jennifer Lawrence or Zoe Saldana, but whatever. I’m over it! The MET Ball is only a couple months away! I’ll survive! And I mean, like I said, there were others that were lovely, but the three mentioned above are the ones that felt like clean wins. Oh, but I do have one more thing to discuss. After all, this is, first and foremost, a beauty blog.

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That makeup and that hair!! Get outta here! Adele has never, ever looked better than she did tonight performing Skyfall and accepting her Oscar for it. Those false eyelashes! That contouring! That eyeliner! The bounce in her hair! The sensational glittery black gowns and the way she moves with such conviction when she sings! Forget Jennifer Aniston (and I mean it- her look was a snore tonight) — I want to look like Adele. xo, MR

Best of the 2013 Golden Globes … you know you want to.

Disclaimer:  This post is about fashion.  While my aim is to keep this a beauty blog, every once in a while (read: AWARDS SEASON), you’ve gotta talk about the stuff we wear that’s not on our face.  Cool?  Cool.

Confession- I’ve been bored by the red carpet showings these past years.  So few people seem to take real risks these days, but I suppose not every person who shows up on a red carpet does it with the intent of taking a risk and I can understand that.  It’s just what I happen to value the most on such occasions.  As much as I’m into beauty, I’m also into fashion, and I’m not necessarily into it just for the sake of finding something that looks good on me.  I’m into fashion for the sake of fashion, and I love clothes for themselves and not exclusively for how they look on a body.

You know that whole phrase, “You should be wearing the clothes.  The clothes should not be wearing you”?  Well, I’m not always in agreement with that.  Sometimes clothing is about displaying a piece of art or making a statement, and it won’t always be in the form of a sexy, figure-flattering little black dress (and in fact, skin and body-hugging silhouettes are rarely a true necessity).  Sometimes folks might even call what you’re wearing “ugly”, say they don’t “get it”, and not a single guy will find it attractive.  And who cares?  If something is worn with conviction, no matter how “conceptual” it may be, just roll with it and enjoy the clothing for itself.  And this is what I so desire to see on a red carpet … gorgeous styling with immaculate makeup and hair, sure … but to top it off, an incredible dress that stands out on its own.  I’ll probably never walk a red carpet, and so I’ve often thought about how if I ever got the chance to do so, I wouldn’t want to waste any time on something safe.  And come on, it’s a little hard to be impressed by anything after this happening in 2010.  This what I’m talking about.

So, here are my favorites from the 2013 Golden Globes last night.  Some are obvious, some are not.  But I will say that I’m still waiting for a true jaw-dropper, which I haven’t had in a couple years.  I’m crossing my fingers for this awards season!

#1 The obvious answer for “Best Dressed”

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From everything I’ve been reading all day, it’s been clear that Jessica Alba was a true winner last night.  Brad Goreski styled her in a coral Oscar de la Renta gown with a jaw-dropping diamond necklace, but the other details of this look were what got me.  The coral-red clutch covered in feathers keeps the whole look young and fun, and her hair and makeup are perfect.  The orange lip is the way to go this spring, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about it.

#2 The not-so-obvious answer for “Best Dressed”

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This woman does not care about conventions.  At all.  And I love her for it.  And you can definitely tell she’s French, where no one else cares about conventions either.  Marion Cotillard (in Dior Haute Couture) wears what she wants and, as I was previously discussing, clearly loves clothing for what it is (and not simply for how it makes her look).  And the extras, including the grey nails, leopard-print clutch, orange heels, and sleek hair, all add up to something so forward. It’s stuff like this that gets me more excited for Fashion Month next month, and you can kind of tell that she is too.

#3  The one that made me scream, “THAT’S WHAT I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR!!!!”

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Seriously!  Gowns like this can take cahones, and I’ve got mad respect for those who wear them.  I remember a year or so ago when Sarah Michelle Gellar got trashed for wearing this dress, and man, just because you want to live your whole life in the same ole’ basic black dress doesn’t mean you get to push around the ones who actually take a risk like Lucy Liu and Sarah.  If I’d had access to every dress on Earth for my wedding and I’d felt stronger about stepping away from traditional white gowns, something like this Carolina Herrera gown would’ve been a strong contender.  Not kidding.

#4  These kicked butt, too.

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Kerry Washington in Miu Miu and Rachel Weisz in Louis Vuitton both had me squealing, as well.  I haven’t been a huge fan of Kerry’s straight hairstyle with the blunt bangs lately, but she still looked beautiful.  And I kind of can’t get enough of glamorous retro waves that give a nod to Veronica Lake, so you know I’m crazy about Rachel’s tresses.

#5  And the one where I might lose you all …

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Now, before you officially drop me as a source of any legitimate information or opinion,  just look at this picture.  Look at the coloring of the dress, that frothy shade of seafoam, and look at her hair.  Look at her makeup and the shade of rose on her lips.  The diamonds on her ears and on the cuff she wore can be taken into account, too.  Now, let me ask you- Is this not divine?  I am convinced that the only thing detracting at all from this look being one of the absolute best of the night is the loose fit on top that by now has been seen and trashed by EVERYONE.  And let’s be clear- Jessica’s bewbs do not need a lift.  It’s the dress that drapes and hangs somewhat low, which gives us the unfortunate illusion of an unflattering fit.  But I will defend this and say that this color is breathtaking on Jessica Chastain, and her hair and makeup are glorious.  The dress has a clear 1930’s silhouette, but it just didn’t work out.  But I don’t mind it!  She looks like an old Hollywood Calvin Klein-wearing mermaid!!

Oh, and who were the worst dressed?  The rest.  The rest were boring.  xo, MR