“Cheap Sunglasses, Expensive Lingerie”

I don’t believe in “rules,” because like, what am I, your mom? We’re all Grown Woman™! We can do whatever we want! I have a particular distaste for fashion rules (don’t mix patterns, don’t wear white after Labor Day, don’t don’t don’t), because they only exist to force people into these totally arbitrary categories of completely meaningless concepts like “taste” and “class” and “beauty,” all of which are based in subjective and constantly shifting priorities that have more to do with enforcing a status quo than actually encouraging people to look and dress in a way that feels best for them. Oof. I just tried reading that sentence out loud and ran out of breath. But you know what I mean.

HOWEVER. On Saturday I spent a good six hours by myself, wandering around Toronto and completing various errands I had been putting off; I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sit in front of my computer all day because I could feel a very real burnout coming on, but I also couldn’t do nothing, like oh my god perish the thought, so I went to Toronto’s fanciest department store to pick up some skincare stuff I “needed” to replace, and while I was there I was like, fuck it, I’m going to the floor with all the Agent Provocateur bras and buying something ridiculous. Pictured, left: one of the bad decisions I made while I was there. It’s called the Alina Bra and I will probably never take it off. I also bought this bra because I was in a MOOD for making BAD DECISIONS.

Afterwards I kept waiting for the guilt or regret to creep in because, like, I don’t know if you clicked on those links, but those bras cost money. Money I’ve been saving (hoarding, really), for important life things. But you know what? The guilt didn’t happen. It STILL hasn’t happened. And that’s because of one of the only fashion rules I do follow, one that has many practical applications and iterations but I’m choosing to simplify it, is: “cheap sunglasses, expensive lingerie.”

I once bought a pair of really beautiful, very expensive Karen Walker sunglasses; this was back when I worked as a legal secretary and was just rolling in disposable income for the very first time in my adult life. I still have them! They’re great! But I almost never wear them. They feel a little too…heavy, maybe? Too much. Which is strange, because I almost always wear sunglasses when I’m outside, my eyes are extremely sensitive to light and even indirect sunlight makes me tear up almost immediately, plus they just make me look cool. I prefer the sunglasses I get from this cute store around the corner from my apartment. They have a whole wall of sunglasses for $10 each and I’ll buy one or two, wear them to death (you should’ve seen what happened to the sunglasses I brought with me to Cuba, R.I.P. those beautiful reflective aviators, they were too pure for this world), and then replace them as necessary.

Sunglasses bounce around in your pockets and bump up against your keys and get jammed into your purses. More than that, they’re right in front of your face all the time!! Everyone sees them! They’re not special. That’s my point. They’re common. Like, who cares about sunglasses.

Lingerie, on the other hand. I expected to feel guilty because, like, how could I spend so much money on something that I was going to show to so few people? I mean, I’m not some kind of lingerie purist who is like “this is for my husband’s eyes only” because like lol as if. You better believe I sent about a million texts and Instagram DMs of my tits in those bras when I was in the Agent Provocateur change room, I looked amazing and I knew it and I wanted all my friends and loved ones to simultaneously know it and share in my narcissism. But if you’re someone who wears bras and enjoys wearing bras, you know how it feels to find a really, truly great one. I once had a friend who described the way her tits looked when she held them in her hands guided into exactly the right height and shape and said her life’s mission was to find a bra that did exactly that, a comparison I loved because I knew what she was talking about but also because a really good bra should feel like someone is lovingly propping your breasts up to the height and shape you feel your best in. Sunglasses can’t do anything even remotely comparable to that kind of emotional and physically flattering support. I mean, apparently they make your face look more symmetrical? Who cares.

Once I started thinking about this I realized I have so many other similar rules that I’d been secretly holding on to, guiding all my purchases and beauty priorities. This has been a very longwinded preamble to sharing those with you. They are, more or less in order, the following:

Hysteria and Teenage Girls

It was a typical Thursday night at Smash Burger. My friend was with her two sons who were furiously stuffing sweet potato French fries in their mouths. In the booth behind her, my friend saw a young boy who looked a lot like Justin Bieber. So she called her 16-year-old-niece, Kate (not her real name), a Justin Bieber fanatic since she was 12. Kate owns two life-size cardboard Bieber cut-outs—one with a squiggly black mustache drawn on his upper lip by a mischievous cousin—hovering over her bed.

No one knows yet that Justin Bieber was on a religious retreat in my small New Jersey town, at the home of the new pastor to the stars, Carl Lentz. Justin Bieber was just trying to have a burger in peace for about five minutes.

That all ends once Kate walked in and confirmed that, yes, it really was Justin Bieber. She screamed and fell to the ground on her knees. “She had a total nervous breakdown. Crying, hands shaking. She couldn’t move. I had to walk her to the booth,” my friend says. Kate’s screaming was Bieber’s cue to leave, but by then he was surrounded by a swarm of girls. He signed the autograph of a girl in a wheelchair, took a quick picture, left his uneaten food in the booth and bolted.

Kate cradled his empty soda cup in the booth, which is when my friend started filming her. And there she is, this young girl, her face stricken like she witnessed a shooting or an attack, tears and mascara streaming down her face, an expression society would call “hysterical.” Even the counter guy, who I spoke to a few days later, told me: “The Justin Bieber part was weird, but that girl screaming, that’s what made everything explode.” Kate babbled some half-coherent sentences like, “I’m going to die. Oh my God, Justin Bieber at Smash Burger. This is beyond my comprehension. I’m going to kill myself.” And then the phone rings. It’s Kate’s friend. “Alex,” she says, hiccupping through tears. “I’m holding his cuuuuuuup.”

All I wanted to do was hug her when I heard this story—I’ve had my own nervous breakdowns about musicians. What makes girls from the Beatles to Duran Duran to N’Sync to Michael Jackson to One Direction—full on freak out?

Excerpts From the March 2015 Vogue, Presented Without Commentary

Then again, during the entirety of the three-day affair, sandwiched between Christmas and New Year’s, white and black tie were the easiest dictates of a quartet of dress codes that included Gaucho and Tango Smart.

The arrival of the bride, meanwhile, who emerged on the bow of the wooden speedboat like a living figurehead, veil whipping in the wind, was mirage-like, for even the most jaded fashion folk in attendance. Her Valentino couture dress, which required 1,800 hours’ worth of bas-relief pearl and crystal embroider, forsook the traditional bridal white for pale chalcedony tulle that blended seamlessly into the soft gray of the beach and the murky green of the Machete River beyond.

And so the bride and groom, who have homes in New York and Paris, selected a series of venues that represented Sofia’s own history in the region and revealed the most pristine and epic vistas of untouched nature, from the foothills of the Andes to desolate lakeside beaches.

For the wedding lunch the next day, sixteen whole lambs were cooked on weeping willow-branch crosses.

An Open Letter to Jenna Lyons

Saving While You’re Spending: Self-Care with Meredith Graves

Meredith Graves is constantly inspiring. She’s articulate to a pulse, persistently engaged with her diurnal observations. As an astute Virgo, she can give language to feelings that are so ephemeral, making thoughts tangible. Her ability to ascertain her exact feelings and then relay it poetically is magnetic. Her video on Stylelikeu was deeply affecting for many reasons—but primarily because she was able to dissect so much of what was causing her pain, which has/had been my singular pursuit, well, for a while now.

After this talk I considered a lot of things. Again, she left me thinking, feeling, searching for answers. There was one thing she said in particular that I’m still trying to grapple with: she said that she doesn’t care if she’s beautiful, because she doesn’t think she is. It struck a chord—if Meredith could say with such steadfastness that beauty didn’t matter, why was I so concerned with it? What was wrong with me that I was so obsessed with the idea of beauty, too concerned with mine, or my ‘lack of,’ sometimes? I’m still processing it, still coming to terms with it, almost everyday I’m engaging with what she said, and it keeps shifting. Did she say that? Did she mean this? This is her power: she makes you think.

There’s been an impulse in my mind since the interview to tell her: but you’re so beautiful! Which is whack because I’m aware that what I think about Meredith doesn’t matter. What matters is how Meredith thinks about Meredith—and how she navigates this world with that. Her addendum to the beauty point was that as a privileged person—someone who is cis, able-bodied, tall—she had to reconcile the truth that she felt ugly sometimes, and that was okay. That was her reality. And in order to be true she needed to accept the contradiction. Needless to say, I admire her completely.

What Happens If You Put Placenta on Your Face?

“It’s, like, gooey.” “Yeah, dude, that’s the placenta.”

After the incredible success of our first foray into the placenta-powered world, Jaya Saxena and Jazmine Hughes decided to go one further. We learned that putting placenta in our hair made it a little bit softer and smell slightly of cornchips (which men LOVE)—what would happen if we put it on our faces? Enter the Placenta & Collagen Premium Facial Mask Pack, available on the well-known site Amazon.com for as little as $5.95.

Here is the only information that the Amazon listing gives:

- Placenta & collagen mask pack with placentl liquid will give you a fantastic beautiful treatment - Also gives your tired skin moisturizing effect and beauty effect - Our placenta & collagen mask pack contains green tea, aloe, licorice, seaweeds extracts and so on.

Green tea! Aloe! Licorice! Placenta! All things that sound very chill and normal to put on your face. We were excited! Then we read some reviews:

I just apply the mask after I wash my face then apply the mask and keep it on for about 15-20 minutes, rub in the juices lol

It comes drenched in the baby sheep juice,so as long as you seal it up and don’t leave it sitting out in the air, it will stay moist.

Helpful and gross! It is far better to just stick to the official company description.

Undeterred, we opened the masks — Jaya was right; they were, indeed, incredibly gooey, and it was at that moment we realized what we were putting (placenta, if you forgot) onto our beautiful faces. We put on our masks and looked at each other. “You look like you’re a robot trying to convince someone they are, in fact, a real human.” “You look like Hannibal Lecter.”

Here’s how it went.

Fun Palace

I grew up in a new place. When I was seven my family bought a brand new house on the North Eastern edge of Calgary. Ours was one of the first ten houses to be finished on our cul de sac. Most of the lots were still unbroken ground, lots of gravel or caked over dirt. I have a vague memory of looking at carpet swatches with my mom—each home was made up of various modular elements, and new home owners could choose cabinet colours and countertops from a limited menu of options. She chose a deep, emerald green for our carpeted floors and stairs, a subdued crème linoleum in the kitchen and bathrooms. We hung brown and beige safari print bed sheets on the tall living room windows, to limit the reflection on our old wooden-boxed TV. Everything we had was a hand-me-down, except for the house itself, so gleaming and new.

I was the oldest kid on the still-forming block. Most of the other families had new babies or toddlers. It was lonely at first, but in a few years I’d reach babysitting age and clean right up.

Two doors down from our house was a twelve-foot crater filled with gravel. It was being shaped to become a basement. I’d play deep down in it, make a little world out of the dirt walls. Getting in was easier than getting out, but I wasn’t afraid of getting dirty, or even of getting hurt. I’d spend afternoons down there, unseen from the street, just crouching at the bottom of a square pit, assuming my divine right as ruler of an imaginary kingdom. The rocks did my bidding, and I bided my time until my mom would step out onto the porch and call my name for dinner. At the sound of her voice I would clamour out of my hole, scale the wall in busted canvas sneakers, and run home to wash the grit off of my stinging red hands, all scraped up from a solid few hours spent as the hard working monarch of my mind’s domain.

The Top 1000 Movies I’ve Never Seen

(In no particular order.)

  1. Titanic
  2. The Princess Bride
  3. The Blair Witch Project
  4. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  5. The Sixth Sense
  6. The Matrix
  7. Avatar
  8. American Pie
  9. Moulin Rouge
  10. Gone with the Wind
  11. Dumb and Dumber
  12. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  14. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  15. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1
  16. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2
  17. The Exorcist
  18. Almost Famous
  19. Jaws
  20. Free Willy
  21. Dirty Dancing
  22. Casablanca
  23. Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century

Rose Bertin, The First Celebrity Stylist

The first celebrity stylist predates Instagram by a long shot. Thanks to reality TV and larger-than-life personalities like Rachel Zoe, celebrity stylists have become famous in their own rights. This phenomenon has pulled back the curtain on a formerly behind-the-scenes role, allowing us to see just how responsible stylists are for creating the looks we associate with our celebrities. As a career, it seems somewhat recent: a red carpet necessity that developed with increased paparazzi, media attention, tabloid fashion sections and social media. But the origins of the job actually go all the way back to the eighteenth century.

Rose Bertin was born as Marie-Jeanne Bertin in 1747 outside of Paris. As a child, she became obsessed with having her palm read by a fortune teller in her town. Her family had barely enough money to scrape by; she starved herself in order to pay the palm reader with her own food. According to Rose Bertin: The Creator of Fashion at the Court of Marie Antoinette by Emil Langlade, the palm reader told Bertin that she would “rise to great fortune, and one day wear a court dress.” An ambitious hard worker with a new specific goal in mind, Bertin set out for Paris when she was 16 and became an apprentice at a millinery shop.

During her apprenticeship, Bertin was sent on an errand to deliver dresses to the Princesse de Conti and spent some time chatting with someone she thought was a chambermaid. That chambermaid turned out to be the princess, and while Bertin was mortified, the princess found her charming and called on her to work on the bridal trousseau of an upcoming royal wedding.