Party Season Looks You Haven’t Tried

I thought I’d committed to a once-a-month post, but turns out I literally couldn’t get through party season without a round-up of some current favorite going-out looks. And beings that this week I’m running the holiday party gauntlet (and you may be too), it’s the perfect opportunity to share some serious get-ready inspo. Bring on all the color, glitter, and texture!

If you’re craving a retro moment …

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While the Gucci gown is really what keeps this look centered on the 1960s (and of course we’d all love to wear it to our next party), Dakota Johnson’s hair and makeup here are the perfect inspiration for a retro beauty look. She’s probably got some extensions going on to beef up her ponytail; the outcome is glorious and something I aspire to in all my retro lounge dreams. The smokey cat-eye paired with a bare lip is textbook, as well. Hair by Mark Townsend, makeup by Mélanie Inglessis.

If you’re tired of eyeshadow but don’t want a lip-forward look …

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This look on model Woan Ni was created by Kara Yoshimoto Bua using Shiseido’s newly revamped makeup line. White eyeliner was never a look I cared for much, but I think it’s because I’ve never seen it balanced out well with the rest of the face. This look is so beautifully balanced with a good brow, a shimmery, rosy cheek and a stained, blurry lip. So natural but still so party ready, right?

If you’re feeling classic Christmas but, like, extra …

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Oh, snap! Like, Merry Christmas Batman right?!? And of course, it’s Pati Dubroff (THEE queen makeup artist) for Margot Robbie on her way to the UK premiere of Mary Queen of Scots. The Pati-Margot duo was already blowing me away last year during awards season for I, Tonya and Margot’s premiere looks for Goodbye Christopher Robin. I love just the pat of glitter on the center of the lids- so modern. Pati hasn’t listed what she used yet so everyone’s guess is as good as mine, but who cares?! Go crazy! Use whatever! Recreate your own version.

If you want to focus all your energy on makeup and just get hair over with …

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Over at IntoTheGloss, Tom Newton took some fabulous photos of EmRata featuring some quick, lovely updos by Jennifer Yepez. This one using a claw clip was my favorite; a curly/kinky version would be workable and just as romantic, if not more so. As told on ITG: “Start with a middle part. Leave a few pieces out in the front, and gather the rest into a low bun, leaving the ends out for a more modern feel. Clasp it with your clip and bobby pin as needed to prevent strays from popping out. And then make sure it stays in place all night by giving it a healthy spritz of hairspray (Jennifer used Laque Couture). If you have curls, don’t worry about straightening all of your hair. Just focus on the front pieces by blow drying them straight, followed by a quick run with a flat iron.”

If you’re still bored …

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Don’t let boredom or lack of creativity force that red lip on you (or at least, a red lip with no other interesting details)! What’s a color you’d never associate with this time of year? Got an idea in your head? Good, now find a way to wear it! Or take Katie Jane Hughes’ countless colorful, glossy, glittery looks as a treasure trove of inspo, including this stunning lavender glossed lid. This is literally lip gloss (or anywhere gloss, really) on top of eyeshadow. And how do you keep it from creasing, you ask? You don’t! That’s part of the fun. It creases; just let it. Reapply if you want but enough with the set-in-stone, gotta-last-48-hours makeup. Let texture and skin be the real showstoppers.

If you’re still stumped on the hair question …

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Space buns! Like it’s 2002! I mean, how good is this? And people just don’t really do this anymore so it’s like the cutest Spice Girls throwback and a guaranteed conversation starter. The face framing pieces on Constance provide perfect balance, but I think you could even get away without them. And bonus: this look can probably be pulled off with any hair texture. Hair by Molly Greenwald.

If you’re sick of sequined sweaters …

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This whole shoot of Taraji P. Henson for the latest issue of InStyle is genius. Rip a literal page out of this mag (on newsstands now) and go with a direct Mary Tyler Moore reference for your party outfits. Short jumpers, miniskirts, graphic prints, power suits, flared pants, silk neckties- Moore’s playbook provides the right amount of inspiration for both dressing sharp and using color creatively. Because the holidays deserve so much more than just red and black sparkly sweaters.

xo, MR

All images are screenshots from Instagram except for the image from IntoTheGloss, taken by Tom Newton. In order of appearance: @melaniemakeup, @woanster, @patidubroff, Tom Newton, @katiejanehughes, @constancewu, @instylemagazine

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August Musings On September Issues

I’ll be honest- August is one of my least favorite months. I don’t know why but weird, not-so-awesome things always seem to happen in August, or the month has routinely carried the weight of transition for me. I moved during August (two years to the date!), school frequently starts up again in August, the calendar starts to get too busy in August, and summer movies are never quite as good in August. It could be the looming start of a new school year and the existential reminder that all good Rosé seasons must come to an end, or it could just be me.

So over the years I’ve tried to find little ways to take back this month and be intentional about enjoying it, and for nearly ten years now one of those ways has involved getting really, really, reeeeeeeeally excited for September issues. If you know me, you know this. The annual crowning achievement of every fashion magazine editor is their September issue, and while the magazine industry seems to be in upheaval now right alongside retail, we can bet that no matter what happens there will forever and always be excitement surrounding the inaugural weeks of fall fashion. I’m not sure why people don’t get this excited for spring fashion in February. It must be the pumpkin-spice-loving, Ugg-boots-wearing, Bath-and-Body-Works-obsessing white girl in all of us.

So let’s look at a couple September covers, though we’ll be sans Vogue today because they have to be all queenie and make a grand entrance after everyone else. However, we WILL make some speculative guesses!

Blake Lively for Glamour

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I like this cover. It’s cheerful. It reads a little more March than September to me, but it’s still very beautiful. I’m not a huge fan of the large flower on Blake’s neck, but the soft focus on her face is easily the first thing you notice anyhow. Glamour has really been playing with its cover design the past couple years and the playful font lends a decidedly millennial feel to this one, clearly reaching out to younger readers. Lively apparently spends a great deal of her interview discussing the Child Rescue Coalition, an organization that “provides law enforcement with technology to track and prosecute child predators.” It might be heavy subject matter for a September issue, but I have to say it’s great to hear a celebrity pushing the focus outward instead of talking about their latest reinvention of themselves.

Alicia Vikander for Elle

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This, in stark contrast to Glamour‘s, is actually the kind of cover I prefer. It may be a little boring to some but I like that it makes a plain, straightforward statement. The bold fonts combined with Vikander’s dress and shoulder-y stance give off a kind of eighties vibe. Speaking of Alicia Vikander, it isn’t as interesting to see who is chosen for a September cover as much as it is to discover why. I like trying to predict September covers based on who has projects coming up that month. Alicia probably snagged the cover in anticipation of her late-August movie Tulip Fever, and to ramp up buzz for her Tomb Raider remake in March.

For Vogue, rumor has it that a certain actress in an upcoming Darren Aronofsky film will be taking their September cover. If this proves true I’ll be a little disappointed beings that she had this coveted cover just four years ago AND she was on Vogue‘s cover this past December, less than a year ago! Give it a rest, Ms. Wintour. And a second prediction- Rihanna will almost certainly grab a September cover somewhere, be it with Allure or Marie Claire, due to the launch of Fenty Beauty on September 8. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for this launch. You know there’s bound to be some top-of-the-line lipstick in any beauty launch that Rihanna’s responsible for.

Selena Gomez for InStyle

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Ah, and now for the one that I subscribe to and don’t just pick up on occasion. This magazine has been undergoing a nonstop overhaul since Laura Brown replaced Ariel Foxman as editor-in-chief last November. Some of the changes I’ve loved, others not as much. The covers that Brown has overseen have been consistently fresh and eye-catching nonetheless. She really has done a bang-up job.

It’s seemed the entire print mag industry has been trying to get its sea legs as it adjusts to constant change these years. Some have shuttered completely (RIP Lucky, Self, and probably People StyleWatch, or whatever it’s called now, very soon). Waning relevance thanks to social media and online content, a struggling retail industry (affecting fashion in general), and a political climate in upheaval have made it a challenge for fashion magazines to keep up readership and relatability. It’s been good to see InStyle as one of the few print periodicals that has taken the bull by the horns and leaned in to the maelstrom of change these days. And Selena, the woman with the most Instagram followers in the world at 124 million, is having her moment with a Coach partnership and a new album out probably sooner than later.

Adriana Lima, The Weeknd, and Irina Shayk for Harper’s Bazaar

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And now for the wildcard. Selena and her boyfriend must be high-fiving each other over both claiming September covers this year- not something you’d expect to find on any male celebrity’s resume (save for the obvious i.e. GQ). I have to admit that I laughed out loud when I first saw this. The expressions on their faces somehow read super Zoolander to me. I’m pleased, however, that Adriana and Irina are the only models on the September cover lineup so far. The rest are musicians or actors. I have to say that I’m pretty burned out with the resurgence of the supermodel. I know for a while we all complained that the world of fashion had been given over to the celebrity and there was not enough respect being given to the model, the original and true muse of the industry. However, we’ve turned on the supermodel firehose these days with an endless barrage of Gigi, Kendall, Joan, Bella, Hailey, Kaia, Emily, Cara, and Karlie. Their omnipresence on our social media feeds has had a numbing effect on me personally, and I’ve struggled to relate one little bit to today’s supermodels. But I guess the point of a supermodel isn’t exactly relatability, is it?  And the day I do relate to one, well, that probably means I’ve somehow become one in some alternate universe.

Any covers you especially love? Or any predictions for those yet seen? Do tell, and first and foremost, try to enjoy your August! xo, MR

Photo credits by order of appearance: Nathaniel Goldberg/Glamour magazine, David Bellemere/ELLE, Phil Poynter/InStyle, Brigitte LaCombe

Bachelorette Beauty-Palooza!

Ah, the Bachelorette.  The tears (“I can’t control my emotions right now!”), the destination dates (someone should’ve told Alex to take off that Argentinian gaucho hat), the scapegoats (seriously, Chad was one of the only sane guys there), the dudes who all look exactly the same and who are white, one hundred percent of the time, when it comes to the final four contestants of each season.

This current season featuring Joelle “JoJo” Fletcher is one out of just two Bachelor/Bachelorette seasons that I’ve watched in the past decade.  I think I watched a Bachelor season with a contender named Moana in it years and years ago in high school, so it barely counts.  And in 2014, when my curiosity was piqued once more, I finally decided to tune again only to bear witness to the ridiculousness that was Juan Pablo Galavis, a Bachelor who has largely gone on to be known as one of the most hated in the franchise.  I can’t tell you how many friends said to me, “Oh, yeah, this is a really bad season to start watching again.”

But what actually kept me watching the dreaded Juan Pablo season didn’t really have anything to do with him.  By the sixth episode I couldn’t have cared less who he chose, but you know what I did care about?  Sharleen Joynt’s eyebrows.  And Andi Dorfman’s ombre.  And Nikki Ferrell’s waves.  And Sharleen’s lipsticks.  Yes, I continued watching this dumpster fire of a season (at least, until the final two) for the amazing parade of positively sensational hair and makeup.  And during this current season, JoJo has been quite the parade float, too.

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I once read an article in a February 2014 edition of Allure magazine that spoke of how the women vying for the Bachelor’s heart have so much downtime, are so constantly bored (no Internet, no outside contact, no phones), and spend so much time together that the main chunk of their time ends up focused on doing one another’s hair and makeup.  I mean, can you blame them?  It’s likely that there are at least a few girls with skills in the house, there are no stylists (except for the final rose ceremony and first introductions, apparently), and with burdensome amounts of time on your hands and your main priority being attractive for one guy, you might as well keep that curling iron on at 400 degrees all day.

However, it’s different with the Bachelorette, who has an on-set makeup artist to help her with every big appearance.  And concerning JoJo, I’ve admittedly really liked her hair and makeup all season.  I do wish she would get a little more creative beyond the Victoria’s Secret mermaid waves she sticks to, but it sure never looks bad.

So, how exactly does one go about looking like a proper Bachelorette?  What does JoJo use?  And how about any tips from former Bachelor contestants?  You’ve gotta admit that the insane glamapalooza of the Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise is quite riveting, and it all makes you want to try a little bit harder for your everyday rose ceremony … er … day at the office.

1. JoJo does the ever-popular “Hot Tools 1.25 inch curling rod + Oribe Dry Texture spray = pretty waves” routine with her hair.  This routine has been described so many times in the hundreds of magazines I’ve read (including on instyle.com, where JoJo was interviewed).  This is even what I typically do with my own hair when I want to really “do” it (though JoJo’s hair manages to look ten billion times more professional than mine). If you’re still looking for a tool and a product to give you the waves you’ve desired, this should all tell you something.  It works.

I think JoJo probably uses the clamp on the curling iron while I avoid it.  Whereas I like a more languid, who-cares look by wrapping sections of hair around the iron with your fingers, actually using the clamp will yield a slightly more polished feel.  I think JoJo probably does the latter.  However, a nice dose of Oribe’s Dry Texture Spray will always do a good job of breaking things up and keeping anything from looking too precious.  I can’t tell you how many celebs have mentioned this product in interviews: Blake Lively, Scarlett Johansson, Rihanna, Gigi Hadid, I could go on forever, baby!  And that’s to say nothing of the artists that use it (read: all of them).  I love the slight, tousled grit that this stuff gives your hair, with the addition of volume, a bit of oil absorption, and an amazing fragrance.  JoJo also uses a combo of Oribe shampoo and conditioner.

2. For Bachelor contestants, items or services that normally seem over-the-top for everyday life are non-negotiables for the show.  Imagine if you knew you were going to have no access to beauty services for at least a month or so, but you still had to look glamorous everyday.  Oh, and you’re going to be on camera.  Oh, and chances are you’re going to cry on camera, too.  What would you do?  Here are a few ideas: spray tans, eyelash extensions, Zoom whitening (with Crest WhiteStrips stocked up at the house), and Temptu airbrush makeup.  And I’m sure if this show had been around decades ago, they all would’ve been wearing chinstraps at night too.  Anything that’s going to have a long-lasting effect is a must.  Erica Rose, a season 9 contestant, mentioned eyelash extensions and airbrush makeup in an interview with with Allure magazine, and Courtney Robertson of season 16 and Catherine Giudici-Lowe mentioned WhiteStrips.  Additionally, JoJo mentions occasionally using clip-in extensions to help with volume, especially during rose ceremonies.

Interestingly enough, one thing many of the Bachelor contestants seem to avoid are acrylic or gel nails according to the aforementioned Allure article.  Sure, they last for a couple weeks or more, but if and when they chip, there’s nothing you can do about it.  Only professionals can manage such horrors, and since you can’t leave the mansion you’re stuck in, your nails are stuck too.

3.  JoJo’s routine for her makeup each day on the show was intense.  As in, four-full-paragraphs intense.  Like I said earlier, the Bachelorette gets to work with a makeup artist once a day- Gina Modica, who’s been a mainstay on the show.  Many of the following products used have been her go-to’s for multiple Bachelorettes, with minor variations on color products and the like.

According to an article for The Daily Mail, Modica starts JoJo’s routine with good skincare, including Glycelene’s Rejuvenation Cream, Beauty Serum, and Opalescent Eye Serum.  Another article tells us that JoJo layers Dermalogica Solar Defense Booster underneath her makeup for sun protection.  Modica, like many of the Bachelor contestants doing their own makeup, prefers using Temptu Air S/B Foundation for its long-wearing properties (and I can attest that this is a commonly requested product for bridal makeup), and she also uses the brand’s airbrush bronzer on JoJo.

According to an article on Flare.com, JoJo loves contour (shocker) and Modica uses NARS The Multiple in South Beach to achieve something subtle (and keep in mind that this is on top of bronzer). For highlighting, she used the ever-popular Becca x Jaclyn Hill Champagne Shimmering Skin Perfector Poured Creme in Champagne Pop in just a couple select places.  To set face makeup and to help with undereye circles, Modica cites Gorgeous Cosmetics Concealer in Medium (a brand I’d never heard of) and MAC’s Blot Powder in Medium Dark.  However, the Daily Mail article has Modica preferring Besame French Vanilla Brightening Powder for these purposes.  This was an interesting mention to me, as I usually see Besame cosmetics vetted by girls who fancy themselves as pinup, retro-ish types.  I’ve only ever seen Besame sold online or in vintage stores and I’ve never seen a non-victory-roll-wearing type of girl mention it, so it’s cool to see it used by a mainstream artist on a really mainstream show.  That means the stuff is legit and isn’t just loved for its cute, retro packaging.

For eyes, Modica credits Stila’s Stay All Day Brow Gel (and if it’s got any of the staying power of their liquid lipsticks, it works) and MAC’s Paint Pots in the Daily Mail article.  I can attest to the goodness of the Paint Pots; they make a great shadow primer or can be worn alone for something natural.  She also praises Chanel eyeliners and mascara in another article whose source I can’t remember.  To seal everything in (a priority, since we’re up against humid, tropical escapes and lots of tears here), Modica uses MakeUpForEver Aqua Seal Liquid Converter.  I wouldn’t even begin to know how this stuff works.

For lips, she recommends the following: Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro, Giorgio Armani Ecstasy Lacquer, Too Faced Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipstick (which I actually think lacks great staying power), and MAC Velvetease Lip Pencils.  I’m surprised that none of the typical cement-lock liquid lipsticks were mentioned such as Stila’s Stay All Day or Kat Von D’s Everlasting for their all-day effect (though the Armani Ecstasy is supposed to be in that ballpark), but then again, shine on the lips is always more flattering, romantic, and camera-friendly than a matte finish.  I think we can also agree that matte liquid lipsticks just aren’t that comfortable, and they aren’t super kissable either.  And we can’t be having that since the priority here is making out on the daily with a harem of men.

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So to summarize, JoJo’s routine for the show each day was basically more than what I typically do for brides on their wedding day.  Totally real life, guys!

4.  It’s easy to find a lot of former contestants’ favorite beauty products because a LOT of them are now bloggers.  Pastels, lots of feminine typography, picture perfect families, the assumption that you most certainly will want to shop what they’re wearing- you know the drill.  And if they’re not a blogger, they’re building a decent following on Instagram and spilling a beauty detail or two there.

The following former Bachelor/Bachelorette contestants all have blogs now that feature multiple beauty posts: Jillian Harris, Ali Fedotowsky, Emily Maynard, Kaitlyn Bristowe, and Desiree Hartsock.  And this doesn’t include any of the lesser-known contestants that were let go of earlier in their seasons.  Longtime favorite and original Bachelorette Trista Rehn Sutter also has a website dedicated to her designs, her family, and a variety of other things beyond her own content.  Knowing what I like though, you can guess that I’m most excited about something like Emily’s all-time fave perfumes (V&R Flowerbomb, Kai, Tom Ford Black Orchid, etc) or Ali’s go-to foundation (Smashbox BB Water), even though I really know nothing about them and never even watched their seasons.

5.  I tried to replicate a similar look to JoJo’s more casual makeup, and here’s how it turned out.

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To some this may still look fairly natural, but trust me, I’m wearing a lot of makeup.  I’m wearing a really good mattifying toner as a base for my makeup (Sunday Riley’s Martian) and I went with heaviest hitter in the foundation department – Lancome’s Teint Idole Stick Foundation, buffed out with a BeautyBlender.  I kinda dorked around with everything else- Kat Von D’s Shade and Light Palette for brightening powder and contouring, bronzer on top of all that, a rosy blush by Becca, still more highlighting with a NARS cream shadow, and NARS Creamy Radiance concealer for the undereye area.

I actually don’t have any neutral cream shadows at the moment (something that may need fixing?), so I used some shimmering browns from my Dior Earth Reflections palette. I don’t see much color on JoJo’s lower lids for date days (though I could be totally wrong), so I refrained. However, I applied lots of topliner, lots of mascara, and false eyelashes. Eyebrows are filled in with a pomade and set with Glossier Boy Brow (which is actually my norm these days). Lips are just like JoJo’s – Too Face Melted in Chihuahua, with a little extra shimmery gloss on the center of each lip. I’m going to try and leave this on all day to see if it actually lasts the way Modica believes, but I honestly feel like I’m wearing five layers of frosting on my lips.  They seriously feel sweaty, and it’s gross.  Oh well.  It’s for science.  And yes there is a filter on this picture.  You don’t really want to see the results of me quickly trying to contour my face without a filter.

I wondered what was so off about my overall appearance compared to JoJo’s aside from the obvious “she looks like her, I look like me” factor, and then I realized- she’s very tan.  And I, even in the dead of summer here, I am very much not.  Here, a very tan, very glamorous JoJo similar to what we’d find at a rose ceremony.

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I’ve really enjoyed the platform for beauty that the Bachelor franchise has created.  I never can turn down a chance to explore the daily hair and makeup routines of women, but I will admit that the diversity of those women (and men) has largely remained an awkward point of conversation throughout the Bachelor’s existence.  Producers claim that the castings are based on the preferences of the season’s lead, and so if the lead states a preference for something like “tall, brunette guys with the personality of a banana” like we’re seeing this season, then apparently that’s the majority of what we’ll be seeing.

Still, I can’t help but think that it says something when we look at the fact that a nonwhite contestant has never made it to the final two (or even four, really?) on either show, and that a nonwhite person has only been cast once as the lead on either show (and who am I talking about, you ask?  Juan Pablo- he is Venezuelan).  In fact, two black men who tried out for The Bachelor attempted lawsuit with the claim that producers of the show bar people of color from ever receiving the primary roles, if even that.  The charges of racial discrimination were dismissed.

All this to say, race is just one of the issues that has plagued the phenomenon that is the Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise, and I can honestly say that it’s one of the (many) factors that has kept me from being a true fan and consistent watcher.  When we’re down to the final four and I can scarcely … and I mean scarcely … tell the guys apart, I’m kinda over it.  So, we’ll see what happens with next seasons, but for now, I’ll just be enjoying the Bachelor’s history for its plethora of great lipstick and hair choices.  And as far as this season goes, I’ll guess I’ll root for the tall brunette guy.  xo, MR

Photo Credits: First picture to JoJo Fletcher’s Instagram – @joelle_fletcher; fourth picture to Lester Cohen/Getty

Best Of The Met Gala 2016

And once again, Anna Wintour has thrown me an early birthday party and forgotten to invite me.  It’s really just getting obnoxious at this point.  I guess I’ll have to return her hostess gift- a bottle of two-buck Chuck and a Target candle.  Your loss, Anna.

And in case you, dear reader, need a brief review on what exactly the Met Gala is, here is the quickest definition I can give you- the Met Gala is an annual fundraising gala hosted by Anna Wintour (editor in chief of Vogue, in case that was needed) for my birthday the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City.  It celebrates the opening of that year’s Costume Institute exhibit too, which remains open for a couple months, but the main purpose of the Gala is to fund that exhibit.  So, yes, what this whole thing boils down to at the most fundamental level is, more or less, a fundraiser.

But of course, we all know that’s not really what it is in its essence.  The Met Gala is not just a fundraiser.  I don’t think any of us can picture Beyonce showing up to a country club for a dinner of chicken, rice pilaf, and veggie medley, and then merrily writing a check for $100 after a PowerPoint presentation and a bit of pinot noir in a disposable wine glass. No, to call the Met Gala a fundraiser really does not do it justice, even if that’s what it is by definition.  With the highly exclusive invite list overseen by Anna herself, the press coverage second to none, and the accompaniment of some highfalutin theme each year, the Met Gala is sort of what the fashion world recognizes as THEE event.  If you’ve been invited to the Met Gala, that’s one of the most influential authorities in fashion telling you you’ve made it and you’re welcome to now use emojis when texting her.  Or something like that.

Of course, I have become rather cynical toward Vogue over the years as I believe it’s started to warp into a mere celebrity platform with a bit of tabloid flavor.  A bit of that came out in tonight’s red carpet, as well.  Vogue now seems more about staying pop culturally relevant as opposed to remaining the revered fashion authority it has been; more about pimping the names of models with six million or more Instagram followers than celebrating the creativity and innovation of designers and artists around the world.  First came the Kim and Kanye cover of April 2014, then the single special edition devoted entirely to Kendall Jenner, and most recently, a perfectly timed May 2016 Taylor Swift cover that has gone hand in hand with her new “edgy” makeover.  It’s all just in time for the Gala as Swift co-chaired this year, yet I can’t help but feel that the Wintour influence has been unbearably obvious and heavy-handed in her case.  I’m never a fan of a makeover feeling manufactured or manipulated for press or publicity, and I have to say that Taylor Swift’s choice of outfit this year was … well … let’s just say that it looked like a stylist from Charlotte Russe got hold of her as opposed to Nicolas Ghesquiere himself.  I was, admittedly, very disappointed.  I find my feelings toward the Met Gala overall sort of turning in the same direction as my feelings for Vogue- it’s starting to be difficult to take seriously.  However, I don’t want to stop enjoying things I love such as fashion, so I’ll attempt to overlook the Hunger Games Capitol flavor its taken on and just take it for what it is- a fashion show.

So anyhow, the theme of this year’s ball was “Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology”.  Your eyes may have rolled into the back of your head after reading that, but I have to say that very few attendees of this year’s event seemed to stick with the theme or even try to dress to the theme because, after all, how exactly can you dress for a “tech” theme?  Dress like an iPhone?  Accessorize with a fax machine to be ironic?  You could wear a light-up dress as one celebrity did, but even that’s already been done by Katy Perry at a previous year’s Gala.  What we did see were a TON of metallics, a massive trend toward dark and vampy lips, a whole lotta model chicks in Balmain (which I’m super over btw), and just a whole lotta WEIRD in general.  It was perhaps the strangest red carpet I’ve seen in a while.

So here are the looks that I enjoyed the most when considering every element including hair, makeup, and accessories.

Zoe Saldana in Dolce & Gabbana

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Ah yes, there’s my girl Zoe bringing it once again in an insane dress that looks like she’s carrying a jungle with her, complete with birds and palm trees and flowers.  But really, I love this.  This is the kind of statement that I’m looking for.  And I cannot wait for an up-close shot of the skirt so I can see it in full detail.  How it goes with the tech theme I do not know, but like I said earlier, the theme got kind of thrown out this window this year from what I can tell.  With minimal makeup and low-maintenance, Zoe’s look was a win for me.

Kate Bosworth in Dolce & Gabbana

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This was the first dress that I really squealed over.  I love just how much detail is in involved in this gown.  How do you even begin to envision something like this?!  That bodice is exquisite!  And I love the jeweled “floral” headpiece.  It’s a modern rendering of an ancient Etruscan goddess, complete with glowing, angelic skin.  And can someone PLEASE find of what lip color that is?!  I’ll be scrolling through Insta all night trying to find out.

Lupita Nyong’o on Calvin Klein Collection

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Might it be the most ambitious hairdo we’ve ever seen on a red carpet?  Perhaps.  But Lupita has taken an avant-garde turn in fashion that sort of allows her to try whatever and pull it off, even if it’s basically haute couture Cindy Lou-Hoo.  And please take a look at this gown.  It is mesmerizing.  Such a lovely, refreshing color with texture that makes her some kind of beautiful cross between a mermaid and the Empire State building!

Jennifer Connelly in Louis Vuitton

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I chose this look because A) it’s representative of the very casual vibe that many folks went for on this year’s Met Gala red carpet but B) this particular casual look seemed to work out better than others.  And C) because it’s Jennifer Connelly and I’m obsessed with her and I all-too-frequently give her a free pass.  This was one of many, many Louis Vuitton outfits seen tonight too, but I much preferred this look as opposed to say, Selena Gomez’s.  Jennifer’s look feels edgy and elegant until you get to the boots (which are freakin’ tight if you ask me), whereas Selena’s just felt much, much too casual from top to bottom.

Beyonce in Givenchy

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Bey’s eyes are only half open.  I’m thinking she’s just a little tired from waterboarding everyone with lemonade these days, and the fact that she’s currently on tour.  Yeah, she has a show in Raleigh, North Carolina in less than 24 hours.  Bey better take a nap or she’s gonna fall asleep on stage!  But her latex Givenchy dress is pretty rad, I must say.  I like a weird texture on a dress, and I miss all the exaggerated shoulders from five years ago.  I also really love Beyonce’s hair when it’s straight with a center part for some reason.  It is just so pretty.  And I never met a smokey eye I didn’t like, or black manicure I didn’t like.

Emma Stone in Prada

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Is this woman starting to look more and more like Margot Robbie by the minute?  They’re morphing into one person and it’s scaring me.  But I digress.  I liked the overall effect of this, especially with Emma’s new, rich hair color.  I’m not sure why I like it so much; it has the feel of a Roman gladiator which, again, is nowhere near the tech vibe that we were supposed to be going for, but oh well.  It flatters Emma beautifully and I cannot wait for makeup closeups.  Rachel Goodwin is forever and always a makeup genius.

Brie Larson in Proenza Schouler

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I love any dress that looks like it may have taken a billion hours to make, and this is no exception.  I would choose to wear something like this if I were attending the Met Gala, though I’d typically prefer something floor length because when do we normal humans ever get to wear anything floor length besides pants?!  I like that this dress is very feminine and sweet in its silhouette, but the severe hair and makeup keep the look from going in a direction too cloying.  Just the right amount of girly-girl married with futurism.

And there you have it.  I almost wish I had done a “roast post” on all of the other absolutely ridiculous looks we saw this evening, but I feel that’s not my brand.  I’ll mention just a couple stray observations:

  • The Kardashians always look like the Kardashians, and always wear Balmain, all the time.  I feel that I’m completely numb to their effects now.  I always seem to know exactly what they’re going to look like these days.  Even Kanye wearing blue contacts feels blasé.  And will someone please convince him to wear something other than denim?!
  • Madonna’s face looks so painfully stretched that my teeth hurt just looking at her.  I’m making a dental appointment.
  •   “Naked” dresses feel so last year, and yet we still saw way too many of them.
  • Katy Perry is Katy Perry.
  • Sarah Jessica Parker has never looked worse!  That broke my heart.  I have no idea what she was thinking.  I get that she’s SJP, mais quelle horreur!
  • Too much white, too many metallics.
  • Where have all the eyebrows gone?
  • I feel like we have seen Amber Heard in the exact same look before, from head to toe.
  • Naomi Watts looked lovely, but I feel like I’ve also seen her in that same exact look before.
  • Olivia Wilde is really into metallic chokers.
  • Blake Lively always looks like Blake Lively.
  • Idris Elba showed up looking like the living, breathing definition of James Bond, but oh yes, he’s too “street” to take over the role apparently. Smh.

Share with me your thoughts, criticisms, and wailings of lament.  And in the words of Miranda Priestley, “That’s all”.  xo, MR

My Best Lily-Rose Depp Impression

Glamour isn’t a magazine I usually pick up, but when I noticed that Gal Gadot was slated to be on their April 2016 cover, I figured I’d snag a copy considering it was Wonder Woman’s first American cover and she kicks major Super-butt.  However, a fun little surprise waited for me inside that had me squealing: a step-by-step-how-to-get-the-makeup-look-feature thingy.

Yes, I live for step-by-step-how-to-get-the-makeup-look-feature thingies.  Even though the “products used” typically aren’t accurate and they usually feature some celebrity with perfect skin, I still love coming across features like this because I like the challenge of recreating the makeup on myself (even if their skintone is completely different; it’s still fun to try and at least emulate the color portions).  Sometimes these written “tutorials” turn out great and involve some kind of makeup trick that I keep stashed away in my brain forever; other times, it’s just discouraging seeing how your face in general cat-eyeliner doesn’t turn out quite as stunning as Margot Robbie’s, even after adhering to the instructions.

So, last Friday night, I opened up to page 97 of the April issue of Glamour (on stands now, btw) and got to work recreating this smokey purplish-bluish eye as seen on Lily-Rose Depp.  And yes, that’s Johnny Depp’s kid.  Makes you feel a bit old, don’t it?


For my foundation, I used Lancome’s Teint Idole Ultra Longwear Foundation Stick in Bisque W (which I’m pretty sure stands for “warm”).  I stuck with the advice of placing four dots of foundation on the face and then spackling it out with a BeautyBlender, but I ended up needing more like six or dots.  I think this method would work seamlessly with liquid foundation and mine was a stick, so I’ll try liquid next time.  Stick foundation just doesn’t blend outward as easily as a liquid.

For my cheeks I used MAC’s Mineralize Skinfinish powder in Soft And Gentle, and their Mineralize Powder Blush in Warm Soul.  I would’ve preferred a matte blush for this look, but I discovered that I don’t have a matte blush that I’d consider “peachy nude” as suggested by the makeup artist.  I do love Warm Soul in general, though.  It’s great for a casual daytime look, though I’m not sure if it would complement every skin tone so I’d sample it first.

It’s when I got to the eyes that I really parted ways with the article’s recommendations.  I used a NARS eyeshadow duo that I’ve had for some time, called Marie-Gallante.  I thought it matched the product suggestions well, but in the end I wasn’t quite on the money.  I’ve often used Marie-Gallante as a liner, but this time I layered both shadows on thick as suggested.  The result was a lot more pastel than I was hoping for, though the purple still looked nice.  Turns out the blue shade in this duo is deceptive; it’s a lot lighter than it looks and it just isn’t deep or navy enough to create that dark, smokey effect I desired, so I ended up with something that ultimately felt very springtime as opposed to, well, nighttime.  Oh well.  And for my lips I used Lancome’s Color Design Lipstick in Natural Beauty.  That turned out just as I wanted; I love that shade.

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So as you can see, the eyes don’t really match at all but the skin turned out rather nicely!  I need to break into my Urban Decay eyeshadow in Perversion again- it’s a super concentrated, smokey blue-black that probably would’ve worked better for this look overall, minus the purple tones.


Any off-the-beaten-path looks you like to try when going out, or just when you’re feeling bored with your same ole’ black eyeliner?  Teach me your ways!  And I’m really one to talk, anyhow- every time I try to break out of the black smokey eye rut, I find my hand once again reaching my MAC kohl liner.  I’m a creature of habit; what can I say?  xo, MR

An Open Letter to People StyleWatch Magazine

Oh, People StyleWatch.  Or StyleWatch.  Or whatever you’re being called these days.  We need to talk.

What are you doing?!  What.  Are.  You.  Doing.  I know I don’t exactly do well with change (ask me about my 2015 in its entirety; it’s not even finished yet), but the editing, formatting, and content changes that your team are currently making to one of my most beloved magazines are, I believe, a mistake.  Or maybe I’m completely off and the changes you’ve set in motion aren’t a mistake and will cause People StyleWatch (PSW) to skyrocket into the stratosphere of newsstand success against all the odds that print publications have working against them these days.  Or maybe I’m just sad, and I need to vent.

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PSW, I know you ousted your founding editor in chief, Susan Kaufman, back in January of this year after Ariel Foxman was promoted to editorial director of both InStyle and PSW.  I know you felt that the magazine needed to hit the refresh button as issues have gotten slightly slimmer over the past two years or so, having peaked around 2013 from what I can tell.  It happens.  I mean, we’ve watched once-adored fashion magazines starve, implode, and literally go to the grave over this past year (RIP Lucky magazine) so I get it.  I really do.  We’ve all been watching Self magazine struggle through a similar quest for self-realization for about year now.  The need for a comeback, the need to secure more ads (which, for my readers, is how magazines basically make their revenue [and not newsstand sales as you may think]), the need for a lifeline.  I get it.

I also know, however, that as of 2015 you’ve decided want to change your longstanding focus of celebrity fashion to street style, because bloggers and street style stars are getting everyone all hot and bothered these days.  I know you have decided that the magazine needs an increased focus on inclusivity, the younger kiddos, and their “millennial passion for discovery” (and just so we’re clear, I’m a millennial).  I know you’re aiming for something close to a brand overhaul, with younger cover stars (hello Gigi Hadid, good bye Jennifer Aniston?), trendier language (You so fancy!), and changing the cover design (three cover stars instead of one), with the intent of “dirty[ing] up the magazine’s design a bit”.  Again, currently watching Self do the same thing, about a year or two in front of you guys.  Ahem.

However, I humbly submit that these changes you are making are a frightening case of lost identity.  The new content, the new language, the new focus- none of it is in line with the long-standing brand of People StyleWatch magazine.  This new direction the magazine has taken is so vastly different from the original vision that it’s beginning to feel a bit bait-and-switch, with a nearly unrecognizable product once you turn past the cover.  And if there’s one thing I know, it’s that choosing to drastically toy with your brand and identity can either resurrect you a’la J.Crew under Jenna Lyons (and even that era has come to a close) … or it can start dragging you toward the point of no return, straight to Lucky land.

You, PSW, are the magazine that I have been reading faithfully since the summer of 2006.  I remember my mom handing me an issue with Jessica Alba on the cover that summer, and anxiously anticipating each issue since then.  I had never thought fashion could be so easy, so consumable.  You featured fashion and beauty trends with a main focus on what celebrities are wearing.  You were unique for your “Get the Look” feature, showing desirable outfits on our favorite celebs and then where to purchase similar pieces at a fraction of the price.  You were an expert at spelling out the trends for the season in an easy-to-comprehend way that used celebrities as models, but never expected the reader to have a celebrity budget.  Love Katie Holmes’ outfit?  Great!  Here’s where to find a look-alike item for half the cost.  Want jeans like Beyonce’s?  No problem!  Here are ten different options in a variety of price ranges.  Oh, and here’s a list of petite sizes for types similar to Eva Longoria, some great finds for plus-sized girls like Rebel Wilson, and styles that work well for tall girls like Charlize.  Everyone wins, no matter size or budget.

This was all done in an extremely straight forward way without being verbose and silly, with plenty of beautiful pictures and close-up images of great celebrity makeup, hair, and outfits.  Because that’s what we want- we want pictures of great celebrity makeup, hair, and outfits and we want to copy them.  We can get everything else online or in a different magazine.  Helping you achieve that celebrity look at a better price- that was your niche, PSW.  And no matter how much of a sheep it made me feel like, it was really, really fun.  People StyleWatch, you had a well-established niche that was all your own and you inspired nearly a decade of nonstop shopping and inspiration.

Now, did your magazine pretty much show me exactly what to buy?  Sure.  Was I really thinking for myself as far as what I wanted to wear?  Not really, or at least not for the first two years of reading until the “style training wheels” came off and I could discern for myself what I liked and didn’t like.  But that’s exactly what you helped so many readers with- to learn which celebrity’s style we enjoyed most, what pieces worked for our bodies and preferences (never again, bubble hem or overalls), and how to keep our eyes peeled for items that looked similar to expensive ones that we liked.   You were not simply a magazine; you were a shopping experience.  You were a very fun, very helpful, and very unique shopping magazine that provided a niche experience for your readers.

So what do things look like now?

Well, for starters, the new covers and font change-ups are lovely.  I like them, I really do.  The continued use of a single cover star in a predictable smiling shot was admittedly feeling tired, and so the change-up of three cover celebrities, whether shot on the street, red carpet, or runway, is a refreshing and welcome change.  The graphic design and font changes look modern, as well.  No problem.  However, I believe there are greater problems at hand.

1) Cut the millennial nonsense and stop limiting your readerbase.

Let me describe my first major issue with your editing changes (and readers, there are two).  I think the first tip-off that something was definitely going wrong with the tone of the magazine was the change in cover language.  Readers, notice the difference between saying “Amazing Outfits for Every Body and Budget” circa 2013 and “15 Ridiculously Cool Ideas!” just this month.  Which one feels straight-to-the-point and relatively ageless? Which one feels juvenile?  I mean, “ridiculously cool“?!  Who else says stuff like that with a serious face?!  Derek Zoolander.  And maybe Miley.

Below, I’m listing other phrases found in a couple of these new issues since the editing change-up.  This new kind of tone and diction has been creeping up in the content since this past April.  Now tell me if they make you feel your age … or if they make you feel sixteen with a melting frappuccino in your hand while drenched in Ariana Grande’s new perfume that smells like candy and Treasure Trolls:

  • “street swagger”
  • “Stress city!” (in reference to trying to find the right outfit for a Tinder date … yes, PSW is now referencing what to wear for Tinder-versus-Grouper-versus Match.com-date)
  • “Go for a look that’s as hot as your profile pic”
  • “Talk about a #tbt!”
  • “Even good girls have a naughty side!”
  • “Don’t be scurred– it’s way more wearable than you think!” (in reference to colored mascara)
  • ” … pick a vibe, any vibe!”
  • “Designer duds minus the ka-ching price? Score!”
  • “Girlfriend is busy” (in reference to Jessica Alba)
  • ” … the pimple struggle is real
  • “You so fancy!”
  • “Yep, it’s pretty badass” (referring to graphic eyeliner)
  • And just a generous use of hashtag(#) phrases in general

I don’t know about you, but I can’t read any of this verbage without gagging.  Maybe it makes sense on Kylie Jenner’s Instagram, but not in print, attempting to make a true sales pitch.  What’s more, this is the kind of language we read in teen magazines such as Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour (yes, I consider those teen mags because their target readership is teen-based).  It changes the mission of the magazine from that of informing and showing, to oh-girlfriend-high-fiving and telling.  I also personally feel it overlooks the intelligence and adaptability of millennials when we’re forcing the use of every buzzword, buzzphrase, and pop culture trend to try to “connect” with them.  It’s busy, dreadfully unsophisticated, and borderline condescending.  But more than that (and perhaps more importantly), it excludes every other age category from being able to relate to your content.

I can guarantee you that language like this will severely alienate readers from about 33 years and up.  I feel alienated and I’m more than five years behind that.  However, from what I’ve researched, I understand that “twenty somethings” are now the official target age for PSW, so if that’s the case then I guess you’re doing your job correctly (even though, again, I am a twenty-something and I find this type of print language a nails-on-chalkboard kind of irritating).  I guess I just lament the fact that you’ve decided that the magazine is no longer meant for those outside of that age bracket.  PSW, you are severely limiting your range of readers by changing the tone to what it now is, and that means loss of potential revenue over time.  I don’t have to graduate from this magazine if you don’t force me, you know.  I could keep reading for another ten years and continue to be a loyal customer, along with my friends in their thirties, and my mom and mom-in-law in their sixties.  Get rid of all the millennial-obsessed pop culture lingo and reach out to younger readers by simply including younger stars on your covers and in your content, continuing your use of interactive music and shopping apps, and stepping up your own game on Instagram and Snapchat.

2) You are trading in what made you unique for what I can find anywhere else in the digital world.

Again, let me reiterate why we all started reading PSW in the first place- celebrity style.  Descriptions of celebrity style.  Pictures of celebrity style.  How to get celebrity style.  There was a clear mission- bringing celebrity style to the reader at a price that suited the reader.

Now, however, celebrity sightings are becoming much more scarce within your pages.  This October’s featured denim section?  Not a single star in sight.  In fact, all of the faces featured in this denim section are bloggers.  The September Fall Runway Report?  While typically showcasing celebs modeling their own interpretation of the latest trends, this feature now merely showcases runway shots.  And in your “Cheat Sheet” section this month, images are one-hundred-percent comprised of street style shots.

Right, because I can’t look at street style photos, looks from the runway, or hear the thoughts of bloggers anywhere else … except maybe on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Snapchat, and on the bloggers’ own blogs.  You’re putting content in your magazine that’s already accessible digitally, which is a much, much faster way to get it as opposed to waiting for a monthly.  In the case of bloggers and street style, I get the desire to bring the “normal girl” to the forefront but that’s not what your brand has been.  Your purpose was to uniquely connect the reader to the celebrity in a way that other media avenues didn’t.  I don’t want to come to you for what bloggers are wearing and recommending.  I don’t want to come to you for what’s come directly off the runway.  If I want to read up on those things, I’ll go the digital route where the content is available at a millisecond’s notice (or in the case of runway shots, I can also read any other magazine that you’re competing with like Elle or Marie Claire that has been doing features like this for years).  Why read your once-a-month publication when I can have the same content everyday, at a moment’s notice, on my iPhone?  Why purchase a once-a-month magazine when I’ve already seen everything in it during the past thirty days I spent waiting for it?  As stated earlier, you had a unique way of providing a niche experience for your readers, and now that is being lost.

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Notice how in the first picture from a 2013 issue, celebrities are modeling their interpretation of trends.  In the second shot from this month’s issue, there isn’t the same kind of unique experience for the reader because there are no celebrities in it.  Notice the juvenile language and font in the second picture, as well.

Additionally (and I feel silly for confessing this so openly, but it’s true), I’m not nearly as compelled to purchase anything I see on a non-celeb girl.  I remember when picking up a copy of PSW was the equivalent of getting a shopping list ready, largely thanks to the excellent way the magazine marketed to the reader via celebrities.  I see Kate Mara wearing a certain sweater; I’d like to find that sweater.  I see the picture of Sienna Miller’s pants; I want those pants (or at least the cheaper option you provide).  Perhaps others work differently than I do, but bloggers and other “street style snaps” aren’t a selling point for me.  They’re just not; the same part of my brain isn’t tapped into as a long-time reader.  Or at least, I constantly see blogger and street style images on my digital feeds and I count on PSW to point me to something different.  There are still fairly affordable options featured in the magazine, but what has changed in a negative way is the strategy you are now using (or not using) to market these options.  I might buy the dress if PSW features Kerry Washington wearing it and it looks good; I probably won’t buy the dress if PSW features some unknown wearing it and it looks good.  I don’t think I’ve been inspired to purchase an item seen in PSW since May of this year, and I used to purchase something from nearly every issue.  At least I’m saving money.

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See the difference between 2013’s beauty feature with Emma Stone, and 2015’s that just pictures still shots?  What makes the older feature unique and compelling is how it associates the makeup with a celebrity.

Because I know this is totally a TL;DR post, let me wrap it up- I’m pointing out that the current team at People StyleWatch magazine is trading in what once made it special for a look and feel that is both alienating and reminiscent of almost everything else that’s out there.  I was excited for the changes at first, but I no longer believe that this new vision is a sustainable one, and I am sad to predict that it will tire out quickly.

I used to take a good twenty minutes for myself to carefully scan the pages of PSW for great finds; now I’m done in twenty seconds.  I have kept every issue that I’ve collected over these past nine years and have re-read many of them over and over.  I have not picked up any of the past five issues of PSW beyond a single browse-through.  And finally, I’m not sure why such a drastic amount of changes have been employed during such a short time, even with an editor change-up.  Last year’s September issue was only down ten pages from the year prior, while this year’s September issue was down a full sixty-two pages from 2014.  Maybe there’s a good reason for that that I’m overlooking or failing to understand, but it’s lost on me and the rest of your readers.

People StyleWatch, choose small-but-powerful changes over a brand modification.  Keep your unique purpose and keep your readership that has the potential to span across generations.  I know you can do it.  xo, MR 

The Problem With January Issues

And by issues, I mean magazines.  Or do I?

As you may know, I’m an avid reader of, like, ten gazillion magazines.  Well, maybe not quite that many, but I do subscribe to and purchase quite a good amount of glossies.  I like to talk about them, too, and I’ve often said that if I could go through my college education a second time I’d probably major in journalism with the goal of writing for some publication, whether online or in print.  I would write for magazines, and hopefully one day, a fashion publication.

I love fashion publications so much because they add flavor and color to the seasons.  There’s always something new to see or try, and there’s always something ahead to be excited about.  You see Amy Adams in a sparkly, sequined dress on a December cover and you just think CHRISTMAS- the gift guides (all under $500!), the “how to party without gaining a pound or losing a wink of sleep” nonsense, and all the articles on glittery makeup for grown-ups.  Or you see a tan, boho-waved Kate Hudson on a July cover and you feel like summer is finally here, with all its reviews of the latest sunblock innovations and tutorials on creative ways to braid your hair when it’s oily and disgusting.  I’ve mentioned it before, but the September and March issues tend to overwhelm me because they’re so large, and it feels like such a non-negotiable forecast on my style choices that I get panicky.  Isn’t that weird?  I feel such feelings of urgency and inadequacy when I read those issues that I need to go out and get those lug-soled heels right now before fall has past and I’m completely off trend and the season is over and I missed Fall Fashion Week and now it’s time for bathing suits and YOU’RE LATE BYE FELICIA.

No one else feel that way?  No one?  Whatever.

Now, January issues are different.  January issues I love.  Why?  Because the insanity and emotional roller coaster that is the holidays (or at least, that’s how it’s felt for the past few years in my case for a variety of reasons) is finally over, and it shows in the January issues, let me tell ya.  Celebrations, parties, and family get-togethers, while generally enjoyable, tend to come at a price.  There’s planning, there’s gift-buying, there’s people-pleasing, there’s Christmas-card-writing, there’s family-seeing, there’s dressing up, there’s anxiety, there’s so much shopping that you’re practically suffocating from all the perfume samples, and then there are just the general emotions of nostalgia, longing, and reflection that come with the season.  You feel weak.  You feel tired.  Maybe you even feel sad.  You feel desperate to finally get the holidays “right”.  You again need to be reminded for the billionth time of what Christmas really is and means, whether through a tearful viewing of “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!” with your husband or the hymns you sing or the sermon you hear.  You’ve arrived at another year’s end and realized … again … that you’re barely hanging on to your humanity, and you’re weak.  And you’re tired.

But January issues.  January issues wipe all that away and seem to want the world for you.  The cover lines would have you believe that the world is your freaking oyster!

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Your Happiest Year!  Let’s Motivate!  The 2015 Change Your Life Guide!  31 Days To the Best You Ever!  Love Your Body!  

And no January issue ever seems to be longer than 100 pages … totally doable!

Every January issue is nothing short of devoted to empowerment, to starting over, to self-renewal.  And I do love it!  Whether at home, at work, in beauty, in health, or in love, January issues are all about pressing the reset button and creating entirely new goals with eardrum-bursting enthusiasm.  And this can’t be anything but good, right?  I mean, we should call this all great, right?!  Every page dedicated to mantras like “Do What You Love”, “Jump Start Your Career”, “Make Your Mark”, “New Year, New Do”.  After all the madness that was December, you just cannot wait to take those cover stories seriously and make this new year your happiest year.  Whether it’s that new haircut, that new workout plan, or that new travel goal, this new year should be your happiest year.

But a funny thing happened to me as I perused through all those January issues this past week, through all that encouragement, through all that self-motivation and those ceaseless chants of YES YOU CAN!

I felt even more anxiety than I had before.  I thought, as I read through those endless suggestions of how to be better, how I should do more of what I love, how I should go after what I deserve … I need to change.  I need to change right now.  This needs to be my happiest year!  It’s time to take charge.  It’s time to transform.  This has got to be MY YEAR.  It’s time to turn into a workout machine, or a simplified, organization boss who’s rid herself of all unnecessary possessions, or a mentally tough person who isn’t afraid, or the girl who at least does her hair really, really well all the time (and with the Instagram followers to prove it!).  I will finish writing that novel, I will travel more, I will stand up for myself, I will work for that butt I want, I will sprinkle chia on everything, I will treat myself more, and I will conquer my deepest fears!  It’s time to be happy, it’s time to love myself!  I need … to love … my self … NOW!

And suddenly, those feelings of urgency and inadequacy … there they are again.  And the September issues are still a whole seven months away.

I can’t help but believe that maybe an avalanche of “self-help” isn’t the whole answer to our stress and weaknesses, and that wiping the slate entirely won’t fix the problems that, well, can’t just be wiped away.  Don’t get me wrong- January issues really might be my favorite issues of the year.  I’m serious, I bought ALL the magazines.  However, I think I just want to speak to the people who see cover lines like “Your Happiest Year!”, and quietly worry to themselves “What if it’s not my happiest?”, or even “What if this one’s worse than the last?”; or those who know that a juice cleanse and new membership at the yoga studio can’t make the pain you felt in 2014 magically go away.  There are those that cannot even see the written expression “2015” on a magazine cover without perhaps being filled with a sense of dread and fear of the future, and I mean to speak to you.

And honestly, I want you to know that this is okay.  When you see Reese Witherspoon looking confident as all get-out with her words “I don’t do regret” on the cover of Glamour, it’s okay if you do feel the pang of regret and failure in your own life.  When you see Jennifer Lopez on the cover of Self, claiming “I’m facing my fears and working on myself”, don’t sink into despair if your fears still cripple you at times and you barely even know who your “self” is.

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“I want to prove I’m a superwoman” … you don’t have to be, and you are free from ever trying to prove such a thing.  “You have to live with an open heart all the time” … but if you struggle with vulnerability, don’t be discouraged.

What I also want you to know, however, is that you can still take heart and have joy.  Don’t be so discouraged as to not even look through a January issue.  Don’t be so discouraged as to not light that candle of hope, to not believe that with all the darkness 2015 may bring, that it won’t come without its own promises and healing.  And I mean this in the smaller sense, as well.  Buy those new yoga pants.  Sit down and start planning that trip you’ve always wanted to take, even if it’s just a drive to the next big city.  Come up with that new plan for tackling your “to do” list in the mornings at the office.  Stock up on blueberries, or find a new lipstick shade you love.  Try baking the cookies with the coconut flour.  And maybe even chop off your hair.  But give yourself grace, and don’t be afraid to feel the pain that so unavoidably comes with life, even if the world around you is telling you that this should be “your happiest year”.  2015 will not be a loss.

The kitchen “mini makeover” (that never feels so “mini” in the end) can wait if it has to, and it will come when it should.  So can the barre class, the social media account, and that amazing entrepreneurial idea of yours that’s going to change the world.  After all, the happiest years are yet to come.  You are enough for 2015.  xo, MR

Fall 2014- The One Beauty Trend I’ll Be Trying

Any day now, I’ll be receiving four giant September issues in my tiny little mailbox.  Well, a couple of them will be much larger than the others (because Lucky is still working its way back up the ladder, after all), but you all know how I feel about September.  It’s the biggest month of the year for fashion, and if you’re doing things right as a fashion publication, your September issue each new year is your biggest issue ever with all kinds of designers and other folks in the industry paying to have their advertisements in your magazine.

However, I have to admit that when I finally open my mailbox and see that behemoth set of pages clogging up space and squashing the rest of my mail, with my eyes practically dilating and the small rush of excitement flowing through my nerves, I get a bit anxious.  There’s just so much to look at, so much to take in, and knowing how I am, I tend to fall prey to whatever trends the editors dictate.  Sometimes I take on a trend just for fun, sometimes I do it because I really, genuinely like the look of it, and other times I do them, well, because I’ve been told I should.  Lame.

When it comes to beauty though, I’ve tried everything at this point.  I’ve done the bright eyeliners for spring, the sleek middle parts, the burgundy lips for fall, the rumpled texture, the metallic eyeshadow, the “natural” look, everything.  Well, everything but braids really, because I still can’t braid.

So I’m making it easy on myself this next season.  I’m trying one beauty trend from the Fall 2014 runways.  And it literally costs nothing, and takes no effort.

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Nope, it’s not putting your hands in your pockets!  And it isn’t leaving your mouth gracefully gaped open!  Nope, it’s quite simply just leaving your hair whimsically and artfully tucked in.

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Now I don’t know about you, but I can’t even say that this is a trend I’m going to try because this is something that I’ve actually been doing for years.  I love leaving my hair tucked in!  Leave it in leather jackets, turtlenecks, trench coats, anything.  There’s something so chic and, I don’t know, Scandinavian about tucking in your hair.  It feel mysterious and luxurious, haphazard and I-have-so-many-places-to-go-but-I-have-an-amazing-coat-and-sense-of-fashion-and-I-can’t-compromise-either kind of feel.  It sort of makes you want to ride a horse and race off to a castle and yet have a cup of coffee in a small, trendy cafe at the same time.

I don’t know why tucking in my hair makes me feel so many things, but I haven’t been this excited for a beauty trend since red lips made an official comeback in 2006 (and they really haven’t left ever since).  And like I said before, it costs nothing and takes zero effort.  Boom.

xo, MR

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.