Friday, October 31, 2008

OBESSSION: Nuclear Arm Candy

Both political candidates Barack Obama and John McCain say “it’s time for a change.” I agree — especially when it comes in the form of techni-color arm candy. While pursuing new watch options, I came across the ToyWatch and fell in love. ToyWatch, designed in Italy, and first introduced to the masses in 2006, proved so popular, the manufacturers opened a flagship store a year later in Milan. As seen on the wrists of high-profile celebrities like talk show queen Oprah, pop-princess Madonna and even the likes of the notorious Li-Lo, the trend continues in 2008, creating a new type of anti-luxury statement. These oversized, plastic, watches inspired by designer timepieces, are sure to hold their own against any superluxe heavy weight. A precision quartz fuels the movement, and the water-resistant case and tritium-laden hands and markers offer protection and nighttime visibility. The Neon Plasteramic Collection, ToyWatch’s newest line of light-weight, fluorescent watches, brighten any look ($195 from Inspired, perhaps, by nuclear-fallout, the collection colors include: Kryptonite Green, Plutonium Pink, Ultra Violet, Cobalt Blue, Yellow Submarine and Atomic Orange. "Hollywood is obsessed with this Italian-made chronograph wristwatch" shouted Life & Style Weekly. Consider it your chance to Hollywood even without that movie deal.

LOOK FOR LESS: RocknRolla Runway

Balmain rocked the Fall 2008 runway in Paris with an eclectic mix of slick ‘80s references and punk inspired animal prints. From snake graphics, loose white tees and tanks, lace dresses, blazers, drop-crotch trousers, and lace-up fringe moccasin ankle boots, Christophe Decarnin’s collection possessed an edgy, downtown, cool vibe — not often associated with the French house. While Fall 2008 is almost a thing of the past, Balmain’s eclectic style remains au currant. Unfortunately, the complete collection is not available in the U.S. (You can buy some pieces, but expect to pay $1,025 for the fringed leather boots and $1,535 for the cheetah crop jeans at

Opt to try this look for less:

Step into fringe detailing. Exaggerated fringe proves the perfect accent for this flat suede ankle boot (also available in taupe). Sam Edelman Ursula Fringe Ankle Boot; $158,

Fall prey to the animal-print phenomena. These statement-making leopard print skinnys come in purple and grey. Grab yours before they become extinct. Leopard Skinny Jean; $80,

A classic black blazer anchors a Balmain-inspired look. It also tops any fall wardrobe (with or without the rockandrolla attitude). Allora LS Pinstripe Blazer; $27.80,

A minimalist accessory compliments any outfit. This simple, faux-leather option captures effortless chic. Mix and match with multiple looks to ensure the highest return on your investment. Studded Skinny Black Belt; $7.80,

Just as Decarnin chose to pair much of his standout collection with simple white or black tees, temper your bolder Balmain-inspired pieces with an understated top like this basic LNA tank. Basic White Rib Tank; $57,

LOOKS FOR LESS: America’s Best Dress Crew

When Michelle Obama appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, she demonstrated her anti-Palin, non-Neiman Marcus approach to fashion by wearing a yellow sweater, skirt, and blouse she ordered online from J.Crew. For the rest of us, J.Crew exists as a label of financial aspiration — not what we order when we want to signal “everywoman.” So until your run for the White House, consider these three near-Crew pieces.

  1. Double Take:The J.Crew Double-cloth Greta coat in black ($365) vs. Forever 21’s Pleated Knit Coat ($33)

It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing, and this little black coat offers it all for the fall. Save hundreds of dollars by taking style cues from the J.Crew design like the double breasted buttons, color, scoop neck and cut.

  1. Prima Ballerina: The J.Crew Jane crackle-metallic ballet flats in pewter ($150) vs. AE’s Bounce elastic ballet flats in silver ($20)

These colorful J.Crew flats graced the holiday catalog cover, sparkling like unwrapped presents. But $150 makes for a pretty poor holiday. The American Eagle flats maintain the sparkle and shine of the J.Crew beauties for a portion of the price.

  1. Cashmere Mafia: The J.Crew Cashmere hoodie in snow ($188) vs. Old Navy’s Cashmere hoodie in white ($80)

Cuddle up in time for the first snowfall with Old Navy’s cashmere hoodie. It offers all the warmth and appeal of its J.Crew counterpart for $100 less. Besides, the cold weather is setting in, and Gossip Girl’s steamy scenes are the only things keeping us warm.

HOW-TO: Coming Clean

Going green for beauty is as easy as
one, two, three

1. Covet Cruelty Free Choices

Animal testing for the sake of beauty is a definite no-no, so look for labels that advertise animal-friendly products. David Babaii’s new line for WildAid holds your style and your torch for a better world with pet-free tested products and exotic renewable ingredients. We love the Bohemian Beach Spray, a non-aerosol mist that mixes everything from Israeli sea salt to South Pacific volcanic ash. It adds texture and volume to dull winter strands, creating the perfect sun-kissed waves months before you even have to think about squeezing into a tiny bikini.

2. Skip the Trash Talk

Make an impact on the environment by collecting old makeup cases and returning them to companies that offer incentive programs. Each year more beauty companies are jump-starting programs to recycle used cases to cut down on crowded landfills. Try MAC’s bronzing powder in "golden" for a sheer coverage that highlights your features and maintains your long-lost summer glow. Once you collect six primary packaging containers, return them to your nearest MAC counter or pop them in the mail to get a free lipstick in exchange for your good deed.

3. Go Au Natural

Before you put anything on your face, consider the possible dangerous ingredients lurking in your beauty favorites. Makeup and body products can contain anything from mercury and plastic to sodium chloride and egg whites. Physician’s Formula Organic Wear is the first natural-origin makeup line in the U.S. and offers an entire line of eco-friendly choices ranging from eyeliner to tinted moisturizer. Each product is 100-percent free of synthetic preservatives and harsh chemicals, and the packaging contains 93 percent less plastic than a standard compact.

EXPERIENCE: Fierce Fundraising

Paris went up in flames on October twentieth, at the Syracuse Stage Guild Annual Fashion Show Fundraiser at the Delavan Center. The night celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fashion fundraiser for Syracuse Stage. The bare warehouse gave the gritty feel of a Chelsea gallery opening minus the over priced drinks. The fundraiser featured an array of boutique designers such as the bold Michelle Darin (, whose chunky, nature inspired jewels sparkled in the dwindling factory lights. Before the show I grabbed a quick word in with Giovanna McCarthy, chair of the fundraiser. She epitomized style with a spunky blonde bob and midriff-baring black dress, something not every 42-year-old could pull off. Giovanna described herself as a go-getter and shared how she hoped to create a fashionable environment with the fundraiser. She scanned the packed gallery and smiled. “We need a collective group of creative individuals to revitalize down town,” she said. We took our seats as young models began their slinks down the runway. The show featured Syracuse staples such as Eva’s boutique, Rhoda Dendron, Show off, and Headlines. While Some Girls Boutique rocked the runway with striking neon jersey dresses, Hats by Priscilla stopped the show. Madonna’s Vogue boomed for the display of elaborate church hats. As a metallic cap sauntered by, my neighbor turned to me and said: "Now that’s a Jiffy pop hat." Hat’s by Priscilla ended with a dazzling gold Cleopatra beaded bonnet. Project Runway contestant and Syracuse native Jennifer Diedrich’s Spring/Summer collection delivered a grand show of pastel-infused art deco constructions. A sassy gold chain purse caught my eye. A strip woven dress forced me to crane my neck as it sashayed away. The show ended with cupcake confections and a warm thank you from Giavanna.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

OBSESSION: Vodianova in Vogue

Vodianova donned Christian Lacroix, Chanel, Gaultier and Givenchy for this magnificent spread that accompanies an article about haute couture's most esteemed tailors and dressmakers — the labor behind the brilliance. A doyenne in the modeling field, Vodianova wears these masterpieces with the confidence and fragility of a true professional. Her luminous blue eyes and delicate expressions compliment the clothes, making the garments and Vodianova equally captivating. Lacroix's Haute Couture buttercup ottoman A-line dress steals the spotlight in this 12-page spread. It is mod and vintage, with a hint of gothic-chic. The opaque black tights and satin pumps serve as the perfect finishing touch to this chiffon-hooded chef-d'oeuvre.

CRUSH: Handbag Heaven's secret status makes it a gem. While somewhat of a diamond-in-the-rough, the site offers sleek and of-the-moment bags. The site sells a variety of well-made purses, some of which garner inspiration from designer labels, others are well-known brands, and some are Baghaus designed. Users shop by "new arrival," "brand," "trends," "celebrity style," "size," "color," and "price." The site provides some fun features like "Baghaus TV," which showcases the newest styles. It also offers an online chat option where users talk to a Baghaus professional to ask questions about potential purchases. The company is reliable, and items get shipped fast. But the most inspiring aspect of Baghaus is the prices. Purses usually sell for less than $100, and most land in the $40-$60 range.
"Urban Expressions Quilted Chain Satchel" $54.00
(Clearly inspired by Marc Jacobs' Stam Bag)

OBSESSION: Monitor Shopping

A smorgasbord of styles, brands, sales and service, brings a high-end extravaganza of fashion to your finger tips. Users shop by "trend," "category," "brand," and "boutique" for an array of fashionable items with equally varied prices. Brands include Anna Sui, C&C, DKNY, Robert Rodriguez and more than 200 labels that range from well-known to relatively obscure. The "what's new" section features the this-second in fashion and the "sale" section is categorized by percentage price reductions. While this site offers variety and trendiness, prices tend to be sky-high because of the high-end selection of items. The site's user-friendly navigation makes shopping effortless. And even if prices reach scary heights,'s virtual range of eye-candy produces hours of fun monitor shopping (the window-shopping of the 21st century).

EXPERIENCE: Clutter in the Closet

An untapped resource, the Cluttered Closet Consignment Boutique (742 S. Beach Street, Syracuse, New York) is a fashionista’s dream. Men’s, women’s, new, and old. Leather, fur, sequins galore. Go to the Cluttered Closet for cheap, vintage finds that scream look at me. Wigs, shoes, scarves, pins, and hats line the walls. Rows and rows of skirts, shirts, jackets, pants.

Owner Kathleen O’Toole says that she has “a big following of people who want something out of the mainstream.” O’Toole maintains an abundance of unique items. “A lot of people shop for me; they consign and they know what sells,” she says. She gets so many new items daily that she must turn some away. Volunteers come in to help O’Toole “keep up” and earn a discount in return. Students, locals, and even people from other states visit.

A family owned and operated endeavor, the Cluttered Closet moved to the Westcott area two years ago after 16 years in Cicero, New York. When asked about her shop’s name, O’Toole says she knew “what it was gonna look like eventually.” “People can’t be disappointed,” she says, “if the name is the Cluttered Closet and the place is cluttered.”

CRUSH: Blazing Blue

Watch out Wicked (5 oz. Essie nail polish $7,, Blue It by Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Extreme Wear (4oz. bottle for $2.79, is the new nail boss in town. With the onset of winter, dark colors match the mood and the absence of light. But say buh-bye to black, brown, and maroon. Done that. This season reflect the frostiness of your walk to class with nails that deliver a shine everyone will notice.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

LANDMARK LOOKS: Stylish Satire

There's no better way to to poke fun at the hoopla surrounding this year's election than by dressing up as a favorite political personae for Halloween. At last Saturday's Newhouse Master's Halloween party, the taste for sharp satire was evident in the costume choices of several revelers. Here, some favorites:

Sarah Palin was joined by her (very pregnant) daughter, Bristol. Note Palin's sideswept bangs, pageant sash, and bookish glasses:

John McCain. Especially notable - the spot-on facial impression of the presidential candidate:
And - a personal favorite - Joe the Plumber, complete with plumbing apparatus in hand.


With the click of a computer key, a beauty editor in New York identifies a must-have lipstick and thousands of readers follow her lip lead. But if you want advice that reflects a wider range of beauty-savvy humanity, consider, a veritable wikipedia of all things glamorous.
Thousands of women from around the world weigh in on products they consider indispensable and those that should remain on the shelf. A recent Monday-night headcount of Makeupalley (MUA for short) revealed 2,410 active users. On MUA, you’ll find product reviews at every price point — from $2 Wet-n-Wild drugstore lip pencils (they’re great) to $130 Crème de la Mer moisturizer (mixed reviews).
The MUA message boards provide another great resource. Here, conversation runs the gamut from the longest-lasting lip gloss to the state of the nation’s finances and the latest episode of Dancing with the Stars. The chatting sometimes gets snarky, especially when the conversation turns to politics. But, for the most part, the dialogue stays focused on beauty and fashion. Two topics these women never tire of gabbing about.

TRIPLE THREAT: The French Day Dress

The return of cooler weather heralds the end of breezy jersey dresses and silky-sheer tank tops and the arrival of glorious textured fabrics. Boucle, cable knits, herringbone, and wool gabardine: they run the gamut from winter-wonderland whimsical to utterly chic.
Thanks to the influence of 1940s wartime chic, this season's styles show a resurgence of heavy-weight fabrics and the revival of the day dress.
Want proof? Check out
The New York Times. Bill Cunningham created a gorgeous multimedia show depicting a number of Parisian women sporting these fabulous frocks.

Parisian women define the phrase "effortless chic," but the twist here is the structural, menswear-inspired detail of the garb. The genius of the otherwise-somber Dior dress is in the embellishment (lines of buttons, asymmetrical seaming) and in the drape of the knit, which flatters most figures.

Of course, not everyone can flounce around the City of Lights wearing vintage-inspired Dior. Luckily, mainstream stores offer affordable alternatives.

Boutique desig
ner Milly shows a belted wool day dress that creates a serious yet youthful silhouette. It's perfect for the workplace and tough on the wallet($400), but the forgiving A-line structure creates a look that oozes easy sophistication.
For a more lighthearted take,
Juicy Couture shows a sleeveless version ($230). This lovely LBD features military-i
nspired button detail, but the delicate gathering at the bodice keeps the look fresh and feminine.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, ready-to-wear behemoth
Banana Republic features a fall collection filled with military-inspired pieces, but my favorite has to be this BR Monogram color-blocked sweater dress. Here, white color blocking works to highlight the menswear-inspired button detail. What makes this dress truly special, though, are the sleeve length and slight bubble hem:

OBSESSION: Erté by Roland Barthes

My sophomore year at Syracuse University I discovered a magical sanctuary on campus: E.S. Bird Library. Many peruse the primary resources, but few realize the depth of bookish secrets that reside there. One snowy night last February, I uncovered one of these long lost cryptograms, a book entitled Erté.

As a fashion design major, I prefer drawing and sewing to the humanities. An alcove on Bird's fourth floor, known as the Limited Access section, offered an escape to enhance my studying habit. Row upon row of art and design texts, the special editions collection provided me inspiration.

Wedged among vintage Vogues and ancient furniture catalogues, the silk bound cover of Erté captured my attention. I had studied Erté, a Russian born fashion illustrator made famous by his designs for the stage and Conde Nast. I flipped through page after page of stylized fashion figures. Women attenuated into letters. The silhouettes created an alphabet. A mix of high-quality plates with a semiotic study by Roland Barthes and memoires by Erté himself, the book begged `take me home.' I needed it.

On odds with the book's two-hour constraint, I checked it out time and time again. After the sixth occasion, I decided to purchase my own copy of the 1972 Italian publication. New obstacle. A discloser on the last page proved the implausibility of my quest: only 2,000 copies existed. I searched from New York City to California and with the help of the internet, I located my target. A donation of $163 from my aunt secured the book as mine. Front and center on my book shelf, Erté remains the place where I look to for inspiration.

EXPERIENCE: Something Old, Something Blue

Stationed along side me during my ritual Friday manicure, the polished priss gushed over the cheetah ring I slipped on to my index finger. “A conversation piece,” the middle aged woman remarked. I smiled.

“Vintage?” she asked. I smiled again. “Then you must check out the show this weekend. Last year, I picked up the most fabulous silver fox coat—fifff-ty dollllars.” She blew on her new set of acrylics and filled me in on the annual Salt City Antiques Show. On a mission to collect her kids from the bus stop, my new friend slipped directions into my purse.

I pulled up to a deserted lot the following morning and barely recognized the New York State Fairgrounds. With zero vendors or tourists in sight, I ventured into the Century of Progress Building. A sign read:

October 25 & 26
$6.00 day pass
$7.00 VIP weekend pass

I decided on the former.

A steady flow of baby boomers streamed into the doors. I felt outnumbered. Unsure where to begin, row A or row M, I turned my attention: accessories.

I poked through a pile of charms, perusing pieces of Lucite, enamel, and ox bone. An array of deco animal brooches sparkled under a glass surface. In an adjacent booth, a man dressed as if he headed for a horse race (including top hat and bow tie) approached me.

“Some of these clothes are made for you,” he insisted, escorting me over to a red floor-length sequin gown.

“How about the leopard print?” he asked.

I laughed.

And moved on to handbags. I ventured to a particular corner of row C. Chainmail purses with cut steal beads laid across a table, remnants of the Art Nouveau era. The price tag read $28. I petted a perfect python purse circa 1940.

“You want it? I'll give it to you for $20,” the owner offered.

I hit the jackpot. But rather than settle, I continued my way through the venue. I saw a hot-pink flash in the distance caused my heart to skip a beat.

“Elsa Schiaparelli!” I uttered to myself. A trace of the 1950s, the hat box called to me from a mile a way. I pounced.

“Pretty blue hat,” a group of grandmas announced as they doted on me. With the asymmetrical piece in place, I looked in the mirror.

“You have the looks to carry off everything,” the chorus of grannies ooed and awwed.

To test it, I jumped up and down. The toque remained fixed. Unwilling to remove it from my head, I made my purchase, my mission accomplished.

“You gotta sway a little bit more when you walk,” one of the grannies called after me.

I work it through the tide of boomers right back out to the parking lot.

HOW TO: Brazen Beauty

Whether you’ve got the guts to revamp your look or just need something to do on a Saturday afternoon, mimicking the latest bold-color makeup trend adds splashy color and a bit of a shock-factor to your style.

For a fresh take on luscious lips, makeup artists at the Zac Posen runway show combined several lip colors in shades of violet and magenta to create high-impact, metallic purple pouts. To get this traffic-stopping look, start by lining the edges of your lips with MAC Lip Pencil in Magenta, $13. Next, give s
ome punch to your pucker by filling in the lines with MAC 
Lipstick in Cyber, $14. To finish the look, a final coat of MAC Pro Lipstick in Violetta, $14, adds shine to give your lips a futuristic vibe.

Rodarte’s spring line was all about orange-flavored eye candy. To get the angelic winged-eye look, take an orange eyeliner pencil like Sephora’s waterproof liner in Flashy Orange, $8, and lightly line the eyes where the upper and lower lids m
eet the lashes. Reuse the liner to form the wing shape and then fill it in with orange shadow, for a dramatic finish with a bright attitude. Try MAC Eyeshadow in Orange, $14.50, or for a darker hue go for NARS’ Duo Eyeshadow in Mediteranee, $32.

At Diesel Black Gold, makeup artists literally took bold color to new heights with teal and magenta eyebrow shadow. Rock out your brows with bright shades like those in CoverGirl’s Eye Enhancers 4-kit shadow in Tropical Fusion, $5.49. By applying the desired color to your brows from end to end with a thin eyeshadow brush, you’ll demand eye contact. For more tips, check out CoverGirl's tips at:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

LOOKS FOR LESS: Mad for Plaid

Not since grunge rockers buried hair bands have we seen so much plaid on display. While we drool over that Dolce and Gabbana stretch wool dress, we don’t salivate over that $695 price tag. Fortunately, our favorite economy-conscious stores seized on the trend. Consider these three must-buys:

1. This button down, cotton blouse from the Gap ($48) features a deep-v and ruffled front that adds a sexy, feminine touch. The black on ivory, large check print delivers boldness.

2. The four-pocket plaid dress from Forever 21 is flirty and functional ($19.95). A perfect daytime dress to match with boots, it is made from 100-percent cotton with a removable, elastic belt for an extra cinch at the waist.

3. With a pair of black tights, the Silence & Noise Embroidered Buffalo Plaid Frock from Urban Outfitters rocks it day or night. White, patterned embroidery accentuates the red picnic-table print. The cap sleeves add a girlish twist to the scoop-neck dress.

PROFILE: The Picasso of Uggs

The salt city wears on sheep skin, leaving winter staples like Uggs stained and grimey. But senior painting major Kristin Lubsen found a way to celebrate fashion without surrendering practicality. Lubsen put her major to use, covering up her dirty Uggs with a colorful design and creating one-of-a-kind footwear in the process.

She began transforming her own Uggs two years ago, but now charges $35 to make others’ boots stand out in a sea of boring brown. On each boot, Lubsen paints a whimsical line design, varying in color from purple, green, blue, and yellow to earth tones to subtle gold. Instead of being inspired by shapes or objects, Lubsen gets her inspiration from color.

Lubsen grew up with her artist mother in Bethlehem, Pa. and always had an art room at her disposal. She wears a short, blonde cut and a pair of square, brown glasses and ends her sentences with the exuberance of spoken exclamation point. Her creativity extends beyond Uggs transformations, recently upgrading an “old lady floral shirt” to nighttime loungewear.
Lubsen paints each pair of Ugg boots per customer specifications. Customers choose their own color scheme and any specific detail they want. What better way to stand out in the snow this winter.

HOW-TO: Pretty in Pinks

Mark the end of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with limited edition beauty products whose proceeds help find a cure. Now, thanks to generous donations from several beauty companies, you can fuel important research and your love for all things pink with a few purchases that give back in a big way.

1. Paint it On. Polish-junkies covet OPI, and its exclusive nail lacquer for October lives up to that lust. In addition to donating $25,000 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, OPI created a limited edition 2008 Pink of Hearts nail lacquer ($9) that offers the perfect transition pick from fall to winter. The cotton-candy colored polish boasts a light pink sheen, contains no dangerous chemicals such as DBP, or Formaldehyde, and is available at national salons and beauty stores such as Dillards, JCPenney, Regis, Trade Secret and Ulta.

2. Spritz to Save. Striving for a cure has never smelled so sweet than with Lacoste’s Touch of Pink fragrance ($52). The enticing blend of jasmine, violet, blood orange, sandalwood and vanilla offers a fresh take on feminine floral in an elegant pink bottle. This perfume is perfect fit for a flirty female on-the-go, and a portion of the proceeds from each 1.6 oz Eau de Toilette supports the Young Survivors Coalition.

3. Pamper your Pout. C.O. Bigelow the oldest apothecary in America is known for its old-school beauty product approach. The celebrity-shopping hotspot in the West Village donated $250,000 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and teamed up with cartoonist and author Marisa Acocella Marchetto to create the Cancer Vixen Mentha Lip Tint in Pink Mint ($8) available at Bath and Body Works. The gloss is part of a limited edition collection benefiting breast cancer research, and delivers with an extra pop of color and peppermint oil to sooth those chapped lips.

OBSESSIONS : Double-Duty Pinks

It's not true of your heart, and it's definitely not true when it comes to your face: There is no one true love. If you don't believe me, then visit the latest, beautiful addition to the Syracuse landscape: the Bobbie Brown beauty counter at Lord & Taylor in the Carousel Mall. In particular, the pot rouge in Pale Pink, which works on your cheeks and your lips and offers a matte look that mimics the makeup trends of Fendi, Versace, and Anna Sui on this season's runway shows. Whether you dress it up or dress it down, that shade of innocence attracts all manner of true-love attention. (Retail Value:
$22 –

Photo credit:

Another pink that does double duty is Smashbox’s O-Glow Cheek Stain that goes on like a clear gel and adjusts the color to the shade you blush naturally. Its lightweight texture leaves you feeling fresh, and the smart-shade gloss adjusts to your skin's flirty hue and transforms your pucker into the center of attention. It will not only double as your cheek color and lip-gloss, but it can take you from the office to a fun date with a swipe of mascara. Talk about your multiple personalities.
(Retail Value: $26 -

photo credit:

Monday, October 27, 2008

PROFILE: Kustum Kicks

The text message from fellow classmate and designer Megan Kimber reads: "Be there soon." We agreed on a 5 o'clock departure. At 4:58 a dark Saturn Vue pulls up. Sitting in the SUV, the driver's minute frame appears even tinier than usual. Wearing sunglasses and all black (her trademark), she motions for me to hop in. We jet off.

I accompany Kimber on one of her prized escapes to Carousel Mall. Although rush hour amps up the traffic, my friend keeps her calm, blasting her all-time favorite, Nirvana. Me, not so much. Today I'm more than friend. I commissioned Megan for a personal project, and today I play the role of client.

In 2005, Megan began her own business, Kustum Kicks. Inspired by Kimber's passion for music and fashion, Kustum Kicks specializes in hand decorated sneakers. According to, it's “a place where you can choose the converse/vans designs of your dreams.” Like the designer, who labels herself somewhere between Goth and punk, the creations scream authenticity and employ an assortment of media, including bleach and paint. They also attract celebrities like Bert McCracken of The Used and Syracuse University students by the scores who pay from $90 to $120 for the kicks.

At the mall, Megan directs me to Journeys, the capital of alternative footwear. All the employees welcome her back. She smiles and introduces me to Mark, who assists me with a pair of black high-top Converse. The two catch up on the latest shows and ponder whether to eat or not to eat meat. I listen, fascinated by the exchange. Within minutes, I complete my purchase, and we move on to Hot Topic. Megan's turn to shop.

LOOKS FOR LESS: Beauty Rescues

Short on cash doesn't have to mean short on beauty. Maintain your fresh
 look with a number of items found in your kitchen cabinet, linen closet, or
 dresser drawer. Consider these four cheap, homemade remedies that keep you
 from breaking the bank and help you maintain your gorgeousness.

1. Creamy Solutions. Hand lotion or hair conditioner work as substitutes
 and provide a close shave that leaves your legs feeling as soft as

2. Bye Bye Rocky Racoon. If you don't want to pay $5.99 for a
 makeup-remover refill to erase those splashes of mascara under your eyes,
 use baby oil and a paper towel for a quick fix.

3. Bargain Breakout Fix. If you need divine intervention for a dastardly
 pimple, put toothpaste directly onto the little devil to dry it up quickly
 and painlessly.

4. Lavish your Locks. Your hair works hard for those long, straight locks, that change in hue with the occasional highlight. Treat them right by
 soothing your split, dead, and over-processed ends. Mix a combination of
 one-half avocado, two tablespoons of hair conditioner, and one tablespoon
 of olive oil, and massage it into your hair from the tips to your scalp. Place a shower cap or a cover of kitchen plastic wrap to generate a bit of
 heat and keep it on for 30 minutes. Afterward, wash, condition and style as
 usual. For suppleness, consider a hair masque from egg yolks. Use five to
 eight depending on hair-length and follow same wrap, wait, and wash
 procedure. The yolks provide a radiant sheen.

Looks For Less: Color Me Glam

Forget spending big bucks taking your look from day to night. With a couple of drugstore finds, you can go from ordinary girl to sultry seductress with the swipe of a brush. Consider this your Glam Plan.

1. Make-up is all about radiance and a healthy complexion. So leave that moisturizer and sheer, pressed powder you put on your face before class and freshen the glow by adding a simple dusting of bronzer. My favorite pick: Almay’s Sunkissed Bronzer Powder ($9) goes on smooth and minimizes any caking on your skin.

2. To amp up that tinted skin, add a swipe of metallic shadow. Application tip: use a brush and sweep the entire area from the lash line to brow. Make sure if you use more than one color to blend thoroughly. Don’t worry if you mess up or use too much shadow. A quick brush with a q-tip fixes any problem. For extra pop, add a top and bottom line of eyeliner. Cap off the look by using Clinique High Impact Mascara ($14) to volumize and lengthen those lashes for a bolder look. First apply a white base coat, then a brown or black coat.

3. The finishing touch: that glossy lip your date can’t resist to kiss at the end of the night. For a color that’s perfect for all skin tones, use a shimmering pink gloss like Smashbox’s Lip Enhancing Gloss ($18). It delivers shine for up to four hours without re-touching. Avoid wearing lip liner because the glitzy lip delivers ample shimmer.

D.I.Y.: Costume Quickies

Halloween demands a costume, but few of us want to drop $70 at a crowded costume shop, elbowing giggly teenagers and stoic goth couples. We also don’t want to spend three days crafting some mega costume (Statue of Liberty anyone?). Well when it's midnight on October 30, and your thoughts turn to holiday attire consider these quick options.
1. Joelene the Plumber. Forget Sarah Palin. Every brunette with a suit and a pair of red pumps and glasses who knows how to tease hair will go for this. Why not pick the other McCain staple: the female version of Joe the Plumber. A pair of cutoffs, a tee shirt, a trucker hat, and one wrench and you're home free. We suggest you skip the butt crack.

2. American Tourist. Throw on a Mickey Mouse or large straw hat with a loud printed dress (Hawaiian if possible), tennis shoes, and big sunglasses. Your most important accessories: maps, a camera, and maybe even a fanny pack.

3. The Morning-After Girl. Steal a pair of boxers and a button-down shirt from your boyfriend. Button the shirt like you tackled the challenge in the dark and in a rush. Throw on a your long strand of pearls, tights, and the highest pair of heels you possess

4. Static Cling: Wear all black and use safety pins to attach anything you would regularly find in your dryer: socks, underwear, bounce sheets, maybe even a hand towel.

5. A Deck of Cards: Where anything you want like jeans and a simple white tee. Then with double-sided tape attach all 52 cards. Start the night with 52 cards, but end the evening with 7 when the clock strikes midnight.

6. AA Intervention. If you need more ideas, check out American Apparel's suggestions at

CRUSH: Save-the-World Bags

Most women consider their handbag a totable security blanket. These comfort accessories come in the form of Mary Poppins satchels that hold holding everything from a great read to a water bottle, makeup pouch, and laptop to a small clutch that accommodates a debit card and a tube of lipstick. But these three green handbags do more than make a girl feel secure; the do a pretty good job making the world a little better too.

Belted for Beauty. The Harvey’s are a husband-wife team who landed on a great green idea after installing seatbelts in their 1950s Buick: Their Treecycle collection uses recycled seatbelts. Each bag is hand-made in the U.S. and comes in neutral colors like grays, blues, and browns.; $124 to $148.

Eco With an Edge. Ecoist makes handbags and accessories from recycled materials like discarded food packages, soda bottle labels, rice bags, soda can pull-tabs, candy wrappers, and movie billboards. Artisans create the edgy looks, and the company ensures fair wages and safe working environments.; $38 to $180.

Totally Tubular. In Boulder, Colorado a green company called English Retreads makes their purses from reclaimed inner tubes. They follow Henry Ford’s original Model T motto: You can get any color you want as long as it’s black.; $169 to $400.