Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Grommet: Your Go-To for Gadgets & Gifts

Some of the best shopping finds are those things you had no idea you needed buy now can't imagine living without. That's what The Grommet is all about. (I used to find such treasures at Fab regularly, but it's not nearly as fab as it used to be. However, that shouldn't stop you from checking out their Memorial Day Sale.)

The Grommet regularly launches products featuring videos with the creators, an ability to ask questions of them, and plenty of product reviews from consumers. They offer food items, jewelry, decor, toys, and more, but the household and kitchen products are what I love the most. (And it's an ideal place to purchase gifts for pretty much anyone.)

Here are a few of my fave things scored from The Grommet:

Food Huggers
Forget plastic wrap and foil. Slip one of these circles of silicone over half an apple or onion, onto the end of a cut cucumber, or on top of a jar or can. They keep food covered without the waste and clean easily with a sponge or in the dishwasher. I got a set of the round ones pictured below as well as Avocado Huggers (for those rare occasions when I don't eat the entire thing).

Hood To Go
A misty rain can instantly ruin a good hair day for me, but I don't always want to tote an umbrella around. This water-repellent hood goes under any jacket or even a cardigan. It folds up into a little pouch for easy stashing, it's lightweight, and fits nicely into a handbag. I keep one in my car and got a second for my travel bag so I've always got one with me when I'm on vacay.

Drain Weasel
The boy and I share a bathroom. And between his thick head of hair and my long strands, the drains get clogged on a regular basis. The tub can usually be fixed with an application (or two) of Draino, but it's smelly and expensive and I hate to deal with those harsh chemicals, so I decided to give this drain clearer a try. In 10 seconds I retrieved a ping pong ball-size hairball from the tub drain with little effort and no muss. And I cleared a sink drain that had been clogged for the entire 14 years I've been in our house that no amount of chemical product ever budged. Brilliant!

I've tried a few oil sprayers in the past and I've never found one that worked very well until now. This one is easy to fill with your favorite EVOO (or oil of choice) and sprays evenly whether you're prepping a pan to cook eggs or coating veggies for roasting. Even Cheapy loves it.

And there's so much more. Head to The Grommet and explore!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Let's Talk About Eyebrows

Every so often one of my TV friends offers a pearl of wisdom that puts everything in perspective for me. Most recently, it was Abbi on the brilliant BROAD CITY:

"I finally figured out my eyebrows. They're sisters, not twins."

She summed up my eyebrow situation perfectly. Back in the '80s, my brows were big and bushy (just like my hair). In the '90s I plucked them into submission much like like Drew Barrymore did:

And then I passed out at the gyno and hit my forehead on the floor. I woke up in a pool of blood, still wearing the paper dress. (Good times.) The plastic surgeon did a great job sewing me up, but a couple decades later, there remains a sparse spot in my left brow left behind by the dozen stitches I got.

Fast forward to the present: I'm obsessed with eyebrows (my own and everyone else's). They really make or break a face. When they're good, a face is beautifully framed.

Here are some brows I admire (all friends, not celebs). There are some great shapes going on here, created by both nature and tweezers:

Cheapy's done some radio advertising for his business, and the sales rep (who is 18 years younger than I am and like 6 feet tall) had a habit of inappropriately wining-and-dining him and inviting him to bars where they only charge a cover for people over 25. This annoyed the hell out of me until I finally met her in person. Really bad eyebrows, people. Over-plucked and odd-shaped and just all wrong. I could never be jealous of someone with brows that bad.

I shape mine myself and use three products daily. First an eyebrow pencil, then a gel followed by a wax/powder combo. I'm not picky about pencils as long as they're the right color. (I usually just grab the Sephora brand.)

The gel I've been in love with for the last year is Benefit's Speed Brow which offers a mascara-style brush. It's easy to apply, stays on all day, and in combo with a brow pencil, takes care of my brow bald spot. I finish up with Brow Zings which magically makes things look fuller and more defined.

Benefit Speed Brow

Benefit Brow Zings

The Brow Zings packaging is getting a makeover which you'll find at your makeup counter in July.

Brow Zings' new look

I'm pretty brand loyal, but always willing to try something new. I've been test-driving Boy Brow from Glossier for a couple weeks. (Their ad on Facebook claims they have a "10,000-person waiting list.") I like it even better than Benefit's Speed Brow, which feels a little stiff when it dries. Boy Brow is easier to apply, has a softer feel, and does an even better job filling in the sparse areas. (I could get away with not using a brow pencil with this stuff.) It's my new go-to.

Glossier Boy Brow

If you have a favorite brow product, let me know in the comments so I can try it. (There have been tons of them popping up ever since Cara Delevingne brows became a thing.) And when you're out and about, pay attention to people's eyebrows. (Pretty soon, you won't be able to stop.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Life Changer: Dress Yoga Pants from Betabrand

It's my last few weeks of employment at the job I love, and I'm spending them serving jury duty. In a textbook bad-timing scenario, I got the summons two days before I got the boot. And two hours into my very first day at the courthouse, I got put on a jury for a two-week trial. (And that's all I can say about it. So don't ask.)

Before jury duty started, I started planning jury-duty-appropriate outfits (like I do). Layers. Comfortable boots. A big handbag that can accommodate my lunch, my iPad, my phone, my umbrella, my makeup bag, a bottle of water, snacks and a chocolate bar. And, above all, clothes that feel good while sitting in a wooden courthouse chair all day. In a word: Yoga pants. (Okay--two words.)

But not the everyday yoga pants one would wear for actual yoga practicing or lounging around the house. (Note: The girl in front of me in the long security line this morning who was 45 minutes late for her DUI hearing was wearing them with a tucked-in button-down top and flats. "Can you tell I'm wearing yoga pants?" she asked. "No. They look just like regular pants," I replied. I lied.)

After seeing ad after ad about them on Facebook, I finally bit the bullet recently and ordered a couple pairs of Betabrand Dress Yoga Pants. (In case you're not familiar with it, Betabrand is a site for crowd-funded clothing where you can find things like a poo emoji dress and pieces by Project Runway alums SethAaron and Melissa Fleis.)
Cropped Dress Yoga Pant
I got the cropped design (Material Girl is 5'2" and they are barely cropped on me) and a straight leg pair (which I ordered in petite and still had to have hemmed). And, ladies, let me tell ya: When I put them on, a faint chorus of angels began singing. A calm came over me. I checked the back view. (Good!) I did a quick pigeon pose. I tried them on with all my favorite tops. They are a dream. A comfy comfy dream.
Straight Leg Dress Yoga Pant
Full disclosure: Not a fan of pants. After 6 years in a warehouse environment during which I could wear shorts to work, I always dreaded the coming of fall when I'd have to squeeze into skinny jeans or spandex-less Gap khakis. (I tried Pajama Jeans. It did not go well. Thumbs down.) But now: Yay pants! Bring on the pants-a-palooza! I'm all about all knits all the time. I'm all about pants that look office-appropriate but feel like pajamas. (And even don't get me started on blazers that feel like sweatshirts.) Since purchasing my initial black pairs, I got a couple additional colors and funded a new style (which I will also need to have hemmed).

At around $70 a pair, these magic pants are bit pricey, but Betabrand has 20% off promotions all the time (including right now), so you can score a pair for around $55, with free shipping and free, easy returns and exchanges. I suggest ordering the same size you'd order in regular yoga pants. (They are available in XS-XXL with petite and long options for most of the designs.)

Friday, May 6, 2016

I'm Fired (But Not in the Trump Way)

Hello fellow shoppers. It's been...much too long. Material Girl has been so so busy the last five years helping savvy shoppers realize their fashion dreams as a copywriter for MyHabit by Amazon. Day after day, rack after rack of clothing came and went, and I reveled in my life as a professional clothes describer.

But, alas, all good things must come to an end. MyHabit is shutting down this month in favor of Amazon Fashion (which is full of great stuff, but isn't nearly as fun as shopping a flash sale IMO).

Flash sale shopping (to borrow from Forrest Gump) is like a box of chocolates--you never know what you're gonna get. Unless, like me, you touched nearly every piece of clothing that made its way online and marked your calendar with reminders of when the pieces you covet are going live.

After five years of getting to caress (and try on) some amazing clothes from designers whose pieces I'd never seen in person before, let's just say my closet is a little crammed. I worked on a great team, put in tons of overtime, almost imploded every year before the holidays, put nearly 70,000 miles on my car trekking to an Amazon fulfillment center, and learned a lot about the inner-workings of an e-commerce site.

Leaving a situation that brought together two of the things I love the most--writing and shopping--makes me super sad. But Amazon won't let me starve (I'm set up with some shopping money for the few months), and I'll find something new to do that I love (almost) as much.

In the meantime. I'll pop into Material Girl HQ here and there and let you know what's on mind in regards to acquiring stuff I love (that you might, too).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Going Commando (With No Muffin Top)


Among my greatest fears: becoming infected with flesh-eating bacteria, being stranded in the shark-infested open sea, having a muffin top.

And let's face it, that last one is by far more likely to happen to most of us (size zero scuba divers notwithstanding). Material Girl is a little soft in the middle, but I know the appropriate size and rise of jean to wear and I skip certain articles of clothing on non-skinny days, thus generally avoiding the dreaded and unattractive waistband spill-over.

But, even after slimming down a few years ago, I'd never found a brand of tights that was not muffin-top inducing. (They all lived up to their name.) I love the look of tights and I like to wear skirts and dresses in cooler weather when bare legs are inappropriate, so I kept trying. I'd find a new brand, put them on in the morning, and head to the ladies room 10 minutes after arriving at work to de-tights. They were uncomfortable and made me feel both self-conscious and a little a nauseated. I tried buying larger sizes, but they were baggy in the legs and still too tight at the waist. I even tried snipping waistbands, but then I'd just have to tug at my tights all day as they slipped down.

Then I discovered Commando tights. They have a high, non-rolling waistband that actually looks like it's meant to go on a full-grown woman's body when you pull it out of the package. They are comfy and create a smooth line even under clingy dresses. The last few years I could only find them in black and brown (both footless and footed), so I was very exited to get a box of colored and patterned tights from ShopBop recently. Last week I wore a ribbed red pair with Foley + Corrina black velvet shorts purchased from a MYHABIT event, black Frye harness boots, and a favorite gray glen plaid jacket I got from the Gap a million years ago when they still made good stuff--it was very Angus Young meets Rachel Bilson.

If you are a tights fan, give Commando a try. You can find an array of colored opaque tights (red, purple, army green and more) plus sheerer styles including fishnet, polka dot and lace. They will transform your fall and winter wardrobe and you'll be doing your part to help us achieve a muffin-top free world. (Find varying Commando tights styles at ShopBop, HerRoom and Bare Necessities.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

For Your Fashion Library: 100 Unforgettable Dresses

SJP as Carrie Bradshaw in a billowing gown spread across the bed in her Paris hotel room. J. Lo's chiffon palm-print Grammy's dress with a V-neckline that plunged well below her belly button. The tight red number Julie Roberts as the-hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold wore to the opera with borrowed jewels. (If you're keeping score: Versace, Donatella Versace, Marilyn Vance-Straker.)

You know all these dresses--as well as the 97 others profiled in Hal Rubenstein's new book 100 UNFORGETTABLE DRESSES. And if you are a lover of fashion it's a must-have for your library--or coffee table. The book itself is beautiful to behold with with its embossed cover featuring a close-up of the bodice of a Jackie Kennedy dinner gown by Givenchy. (I was all set to buy this as an ebook and read it on my iPad, but it's only available in hardcover. Thanks the sartorial gods!)

The beautiful photos of the exquisite frocks in 100 UNFORGETTABLE DRESSES make my heart beat speed up a little. Each photo gets a page or so of accompanying text talking about when the dress was worn, the designer who created it, and why it made such an impact. The dresses featured span decades--Coco Chanel's LBD to Kate Middleton's McQueen wedding gown. (Princess Diana's is featured as well.) Plus there are special sections discussing the most memorable dresses of Grace Kelly, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cate Blanchett, Cher, and other fashion icons.

Black Friday is almost upon us, fellow shoppers. Material Girl recommends you add 100 UNFORGETTABLE DRESSES to your holiday I Want It list. (And look for more book recommendations on Material Girl in the near future.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Weekend Shopping with Cheapy: Banana Republic

Cheapy is not a fan of shopping. He'd rather spend money on a bottle of scotch than a new clothes, and he's got little patience for The Mall. But every so often, he declares: I really need some shirts! And off we go.

He made a shirt declaration last weekend and I happened to know that Banana Republic was having a 40%-off-your-entire-purchase thing going on in their stores. (They email me. I keep up.)

We headed to Banana, but not the one at The Mall near our house. We like the other one better. (Nicer layout and they carry petites.) A trip to Banana is a great way to start a Saturday night date and makes me look forward to a New Outfit Monday.

Lately I've adored the offerings at Banana. Adored. I've scored a number of jackets, tops and sweaters as well as a few items from their Mad Man Collection (including the quick-to-sell-out leopard print trench which makes me happy every time I wear it). Their designers are really hitting my sweet spot these days (which I certainly can't say about the Gap--haven't even seen anything I want to try on there in years. The Gap sucks. There: I said it.)

If you hit the BR website today, you can get 30% off of full-priced items. (There are still a few hours left!)

Here are a few of my favorite recent Banana Republic acquisitions:

There's nothing a love more than a blazer that feels like a sweater. Looks good, feels good. That's a win and a win. This one is soft, comfortable, warm and vintagey.

You can never go wrong with a leopard cardigan. Or a leopard anything (says the woman with leopard luggage). (This is so cute. And I want this.)

I find this drapey top to be both flattering and versatile. It's great for layering with sweaters, vest and jackets and is a perfect companion to a statement necklace. 

This scarf is perfect. Light and drapey and ideal to wear at work at a chilly office. It also comes in a flattering shade of pink. (You can't have too many scarves. Even though I'm pretty sure I do.)