Sunday, January 5, 2014

Close your wallet & change the channel



I can’t speak for everyone, but as a 22 year-old born-and-raised American citizen, I have been exposed to my culture’s titanic fixation on wealth and all of its shiny accoutrements. I, myself have probably been a little jaded by this societal obsession, seeing as though I cannot resist designer clothing, makeup, and accessories, and have longed for a Chanel 2.55 bag since I was 13. But I digress; lately I’ve noticed that the American wealth complex has reached some new highs (or lows, in all actuality) with a series of fledgling television shows such as the E network’s “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” and “Party On” advertising the seemingly dipped in gold life styles of the young, rich, and beautiful as something worthy of television air-time.
It is no surprise that the theme of rich, attractive teenagers doing exciting things in exotic locations tends to create automatic television success. The shows "Gossip Girl", "The Hills", and even the original "Beverly Hills 90210" are glowing examples of this phenomenon. How much is too much, though? Ever since smart phone application, “Instagram” rendered the literal photographic bragging of pricey purchases, vacations, gourmet lunches, and VIP nights at the club an unfortunate norm masked with a filter and some cutesy hash tags, I have become increasingly annoyed with how much money takes center-stage in the lives of so many young Americans. The days of being humble about one's familial wealth seem to have become an antiquated relic of the past. 
With a closer look, the lusting for all that is luxe does not just entrap the youth of this nation. In fact, it is commonly lambasted for those within the lower economic ranks to purchase the same luxury items that 15 year olds on MTV’s “Teen Cribs” are handed for barely making the honor roll. We have all seen BMW convertibles parked in front of low-income housing or massive late model pick-up trucks outfitted with costly after-market additions next to miniscule trailer homes. The whole 1980’s rapper-glorified idea of wearing Gucci in the ghetto still conjures up feelings of confusion, uneasiness, and judgment amongst many Americans today.
Poor adults maxing out credit cards to purchase luxury goods are no different from teens and college-age kids on Instagram posting pictures of their spring break at the spa in Cabo or their new coveted gold Iphone 5S. For one reason or another, showing the people around them that they can afford to have these things puts them into a societal category more in line with the fabulous people we see on television, and sometimes even above the people around them. Wanting and obtaining nice things is no where near a crime, but sometimes we need to change the channel when gluttonous programs like “The Real Housewives of Orange County” come on and realize that life isn’t a competition when it comes to Instagram photos of new purses and fancy trips – there are a lot of more important things to actually be competitive about.



Photos courtesy of "Rich Kids of Instagram"
Lunch on a private jet, myriad matching Cartier bracelets, and a high end shopping spree complete with champagne service. Must be nice. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The myth of carefree youth

PICTURES OF THE PAST; The photo on the very left depicts me in my favorite (at the time) outfit. An ill-fitting size large Hollister tee and size 10 adult Abercrombie jeans, circa 2005. The top right was my attempt at a sexy pirate halloween costume in 8th grade. I had a huge crush on the boy in the photo, but he was in love with my best friend in the middle. The bottom right photo is from the 8th grade dance. I didn't have a date, but I had a designer dress just like the cool girls. 

As I sit alone with my green tea and LSAT study materials in the Starbucks of my hometown, I cannot help but precariously sneak glances at a group of young teenage girls huddled in front of me. The logic problems I am attempting to solve are making me want to run out of the coffee shop crying, and I begin to fill with the greenest of envy as I long to be fifteen and free of any and all responsibility again. If I don't score high enough on this test, my entire future will be compromised. If they aren't home in time for dinner, they may lose their cell phone privileges. (Oh the horror)
At closer glance, however, I begin to notice many of the familiar markings of what it is like to be fifteen. All three of the girls are adorned in head to toe Abercrombie and Hollister, down to their barely walked in flip-flops. One girl's skin is a mismatch of drug store foundations and bronzers painted over acne filled cheeks, while another adorns rainbow colored nails and a poor attempt at cat-eye eyeliner. Relaxation rushes over me. While I may not be the exact picture of carefree youth anymore, I have one thing these girls have not obtained yet; a sense of self.
With age comes an enhanced knowledge of who one really is. That meaning; you aren't peer pressured into wearing clothing with brands splashed over your chest in hopes of landing a spot in the popular crowd, thus sacrificing your own preferences to keep up with status quo. The CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch, Mike Jeffries, was quoted in a now infamous 2006 article stating, "In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids," Jeffries said. "Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely." (CNN) 
In 2006, I was an 8th grader at a middle school that could have single handedly kept every Abercrombie in south Florida afloat. I was not one of the cool kids with a great attitude and a lot of friends, but I sure as hell wanted to be. I drained my parent’s bank accounts to buy the same outrageously overpriced clothes as the cool girls, all of which were from the sale rack and none of which fit me well. At such an impressionable age, you don't have a grasp on the whole picture; only what is right in front of you. 
While brands like Abercrombie capitalize on young teen girls extreme propensity to follow the crowd and belong to the inner circle, their marketing strategy symbolizes something entirely different to me now - being a teenage girl in this day and age sucks. You are groomed to be so concerned with your outward appearance at a time where your body is being hit by puberty at the speed of train, and you are no where near old enough to see the light at the end of that dark, all consuming tunnel (aka young adulthood). My stomach still churns reminiscing about that time in my life. 
So as I finish up my three hour long study session and secretly bid goodbye to those young girls in Starbucks, I thank my lucky stars that ill be entering my senior year of college this fall and not my freshman year in high school. I am certainly not free of any and all insecurities at this point in my life, I don't think anyone ever can be, but I know who I am on a deep enough level to not spend my days longing to be popular or portray myself as something that I am not. I wouldn't wish being fifteen again on anyone, because it turns out I am the one who is really carefree, after all. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Saved by Argan Oil

Surviving the side effects of harsh acne treatments and discovering an amazing product line in the process


If you have ever suffered from acne prone skin, you already understand my dilemma. If not, then consider yourself lucky. After years of battling pesky skin lesions, at 21 years old, I finally made a visit to the dermatologist. I was prescribed a healthy dose if skin clearing antibiotics and epiduo skin cream in order to fight my blemish war. Excited and ready to bid my pimples and black heads goodbye, I jumped head first into my treatment plan. It wasn't until a week into the treatment that the skin on my face began to itch and become as dry as the Mohave dessert. My face had become a miserable combination of zits and flakes, thus making makeup (my only salvation) impossible to wear. My dermatologist assured me that my symptoms were all natural and suggested I try the facial lotion samples she had given me because, "those always help patients with the dryness."
The samples did not help and my face remained a lizard-like mask. In typical Jamie fashion, decided to drown my sorrows in a glass of merlot and an online shopping spree. A few hours of comparing Sephora's prices with that of my other favorite retailers and $65 later, my life was about to change. 
I discovered Josie Maran's cosmetic and skin care line on the Sephora website, and thought that its simple ingredients and argan oil foundation sounded like a perfect fit for dry skin woes. After only a few days of using her argon infused cleaner twice a day, tinted moisturizer every morning as a makeup substitute, and straight argan oil each night before bed; I finally had skin that resembled that of a human. 
Six months later, I am almost completely acne free and my skin looks fresh and hydrated. My days of having a flaky face are no more, and I have argon oil to thank.

Argan Cleansing oil $32

Argan Daily Tinted Moisturizer $38

Pure moisturizing argan oil $48


While these products border on the more expensive side, you can get them all plus Josie's amazing multi-purpose blush stick for only $65 at QVC. (thats what I did!) Buy it here

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kardashian and cute







Top by ASOS, skirt by Kendall and Kylie for Pac Sun, wedges by Elle.

Other than the lovely antics of Scott Disick, I have never really been a fan of anything Kardashian-related. Their clothing line for Sears left something to be desired, and was much too overpriced for its target audience. All criticisms aside, the Kendall and Kylie for Pac Sun collection is actually pretty cute. A few of the items border on overkill-trendy, but for the price, many of the pieces are extremely wearable and perfect for the warmer, feel-good months.
I fell in love with the hypnotic print on this shear, double-slitted skirt, and was able to pull it off as high-waisted instead of having to get it hemmed for my petite 5"2 frame. I added a thin belt to highlight my waist, and a tight cropped ASOS tee to top the look off. The best part ? The skirt only cost me $39. Pac Sun really does not get enough credit; it really isn't just for skater girls in Etnies anymore.

You can shop the collection HERE, but be quick because pieces are selling out fast!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

When in New York City; Wear Fur

This is David. He loves cigarettes and Michael Kors.


Magnolia's cupcakes. NY must.








I have been one busy girl. My junior year in college is nearing a close as I finish taking my final exams and prepare my schedule for next semester. It has been a whirlwind, but a well-worth-it one at that. I secured the position as Editor-in-Chief on the school newspaper, as well as two summer internships. Before all of this, though, I took an early March trip to New York City with a few of my friends on the newspaper staff and attended a college journalism conference in Times Square. The trip was short, but our attempts at dressing like seasoned New Yorkers were pretty spot-on. At least we thought so...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The ultimate moral dilemma

A true story, unfortunately


Let's set the scene, it is around 9:30 pm, at a pitch dark and deserted bench at the center of my college's campus. I am chatting with my friend as he takes a cigarette break from our monotonous, weekly work at the school newspaper (AKA my only income). On about his fifth drag, I spot something shiny and gold hanging from the back side of the bench. Then I realize exactly what I am looking at - a genuine Marc Jacobs quilted bag, just hanging there all alone in the silence of the night. In utter disbelief that any girl in the universe would have the gall to leave such a precious artifact hanging on a bench, I had to open it up and find the culprit's I.D. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on which way you look at it, there was nothing inside of the bag other than a pair of spanx and some tampons.

I attend a small liberal arts college where the tuition hovers around a little more than 50k, and the heir to the Walgreens fortune along with a handful of Italian and Middle Eastern princes make up just some of the striking student body. Needless to say, if you go to my school you are either extremely wealthy, or at least decently intelligent and here on a hefty scholarship (like me).

I kept thinking to myself, "how could anyone who appreciates this bag as much as I do, just leave it here like a piece of garbage?" My fellow fashion enthusiast friend from work concurred. We stayed on that bench for what felt like hours, just waiting for the unappreciative girl to come running and pry the purse from our now drool soaked hands. No one so much as walked by. It was the perfect opportunity, and turning out to be the perfect crime.

We brought the bag into our office's bathroom and poured it's contents of the bag onto the counter. Still nothing but tampons and spanx, except tempting us even more, the authentic Marc Jacobs care tag still in the crisp white Marc Jacobs envelope proving to us that this was no knockoff. We were then faced with the ultimate moral dilemma of whether to have me keep the bag, or turn it into the school. In my twenty one years of life, I have never been faced with such a heart wrenching decision. Choosing a college wasn't even this difficult. Obviously, keeping this $675 bag would be stealing and stealing is morally corrupt and against all that I stand for. However, it was more likely than not that whoever this bag belonged to was already on the phone to her daddy asking for his Amex card number to buy a new one. It was also glaringly apparent to us that the owner of this bag had proved to be unworthy of its possession considering, THEY LEFT IT ON A BENCH.

Without the slightest inclination as to who it belonged to, I shoved the Marc Jacobs bag in my tote and returned to work. I would never be able to afford something like this on the minimum wage salary that I earn, and at the moment I have never wanted anything so bad in my life. I texted my friends and asked for their opinions on the matter, but got no were because all of them felt just as torn as I did.

When I got back to my apartment that night, the guilt began to sink in and my stomach was in knots. I knew I was in deep when I could no longer make my usual judgmental comments about people on trashy reality T.V, because I felt I, myself had stooped to their amoral level. I was a glorified purse theif. It was not a good feeling. I could barely sleep, and upon waking up I decided I needed to try and return this gorgeous Marc Jacobs bag, because I knew it could never truly be mine. My roommate and I agreed the best course of action would be to post signs claiming that a handbag was found along with my phone number. Best case scenario, no one calls and I get to keep the bag, guilt free.

As I obessivly checked my phone by the minute, hoping and wishing not to receive any "OMG you found my bag!" texts, by 6:30 the next day, sure enough, the owner of the abandoned Marc Jacobs bag was no longer a mystery. Who knew being a good person would feel so utterly terrible? I returned the bag to a beautiful, designer garb adorned girl with perfect skin and glowing blue eyes. The feeling was bitter sweet, but at least I know my karma bank account was now well into the millions because of this one. I plan on buying several lottery tickets within the next coming week.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Champagne taste on a Pabst budget

A smart and chic guide to holiday e-shopping


Like most college students my age, I have currently found myself in the awkward financial situation where my part time job can afford me a bit of luxe, but unfortunately cannot sustain the impact of numerous pricey Christmas gifts for my family and boyfriend.
90% of the time I never pay full price for anything, whether it be weekly groceries or a new Marc Jacobs bag. This is because I cannot click "purchase" without knowing full out that what I am about to spend my hard earned money on, is not available cheaper someplace else. You may consider me a cheapskate or a bit OCD, but I like to think of it as a part of the "smart shopping sense" that has been engraved into my soul since childhood, by my frugal-to-a-fault mother. 
For the next two weeks or so, I know I will be bombarded with a myriad of emails titled something along the lines of, SALE SALE SALE from all my favorite online shopping haunts. I also know that both the lure of these supposed amazing deals, paired with the guilt I will be feeling about purchasing the perfect holiday gifts for my family will begin eating away at my strong will (and wallet), thus I will indeed be buying something(s) in the near future. 
To cope with the eustress and regular old stress this time of year's shopping almost always brings forth, I have set aside a few ground rules and gift ideas that will hopefully keep this Christmas budget friendly and bountiful at the same time. 

1) Technology is your friend (and foe). If your find yourself ogling over, let's say, a Kate Spade iphone case for your sister at Bloomingdales, don't hesitate to use Google's shopping engine to see if there is a better deal available someplace else. Once in a while, third party coupon sites offer valid discount codes but these primarily are not the most reliable. ShopStyle.com is my favorite site to do designer shopping comparisons on. This site is basically the holy grail for finding specific designer items at the cheapest price possible, but from reputable stores only. Reputable is key, because while Amazon and Ebay may claim to have that same Kate Spade phone case for $5, most of the time if you read into the buyer comments, you will see that many come from disappointed shoppers who seriously doubt the legitimacy of their item. No one wants a knock-off under the tree!

2) Get the most bang for your buck. You cannot go wrong with gift sets. For two reasons; one-gift sets make the recipient feel like they have received multiple gifts from you (bonus points!), and two-because gift sets contain multiple items, there is a better chance that at least one of those items will be to the liking of the recipient. The major down side to gifts like these, however, are that they sometimes can be a huge rip off. To avoid this, I suggest inquiring about the value and general user satisfaction of the individual products before buying. Also, when it comes to the ever popular cosmetics set, always check out the size of the products first, to make sure you are not paying out the nose for sample sized cosmetics. The set I am thinking will be a great gift to my fashionable friend is this gift set from Sephora.com that offers three very wearable Stila cosmetic staples, as well as a basically identical full-sized clutch from designer CC SKYE. The clutch is sold out all over the web and retails for upwards of $175. So paying $50 for the clutch makes the Stila makeup seem like an amazing added bonus. 

3) Make it add up, for you that is. These days, to get consumers in and buying, many large retailers have begun to use point programs or purchase based coupon incentives as a part of their holiday marketing strategies. These programs allow you to receive a little bonus yourself for making the purchases you probably planned on making any ways. Sephora has its own point program, called Beauty Insider that allows members to rack up points for every purchase that can eventually be traded in for a pretty decent present for yourself. Sephora offers this all year long. For the holiday season, Saks Fifth Avenue is offering a program where for every $250 — $499 purchase, you can receive a $25 Saks gift card. You can earn up to $400 in Saks gift cards. All you have to do is enter the code "DEC2012" at checkout with qualifying purchase. These are just a few of the many offers out there right now that do not require a store credit card to be taken advantage of. This way, you get a little something in return for all your hard shopping work and research!

Don't let holiday shopping get the best of you, with these tips in mind, you can now shower your loved ones in luxurious gifts without landing your self on the naughty list for doing so. 
Happy Holidays!