A few years ago, I went through a terrible… well, it’s what my favorite relationship blogger Natalie M. Lue (NML) calls a ‘break down.’ We all know what a break up is, but according to NML, a ‘break down’ is when the person you’re interested in won’t let you in—you two don’t even get to the stage of a romantic relationship, everything just falls apart.
After months of being lied to, put down, ignored—each time we went around, the excuse was more clever, more believable—and that, combined with the fact that I was new to a lot of these subtle tricks and traps, ultimately, I broke down. Worse, nearly all of our friends and acquaintances in common vouched for him throughout the experience which really blurred the lines between reality, what I was feeling and what I hoped was actually happening. I think we’ve all experienced at least one painful relationship like this in our lives. Well, in the end, I learned my painful lesson: a spade is a spade.
But then I learned something even better: a chakram is a chakram.
Alright, hold onto your butts… this is going to start out epic and then get very silly, very fast.
Old School: This Dope Akira Jacket
So, here’s where the angerfying-ness comes in… I saw Akidearest wearing this f’ing rad jacket on Instagram, then noticed it was a re-stock (only a month ago), slept on the decision to spend $134, then made up my mind to go for it… and the next morning it was gone. Gone. So… yeah a little nerd rage there.
So, lemme ‘splain this to you… This bomber jacket is created by very popular, talented DeviantArt artist Lovina Yavari. It’s modeled after the jackets worn by the biker gang, The Capsules, in the classic 1988 anime movie Akira. (I hear they’re planning a remake of this in the U.S. soon… especially interesting since the sci fi movie is set in 2019.) More than that, the jacket is, get this, reversible. Which is sick! The inside of the jacket has scenes from -the actual manga- on the sleeves and back.
I know that I promised part two of my anime list, but I needed to take a break and share some of these cool geeky fashion items I saw on the mean streets of Washington, DC recently.
I haven’t quite got… stalker skillz? What would you call it–when you can stop people and take their picture right on the sidewalk. That weirds me out. But I am very good at remembering cool gear, remembering the minute details, and then finding it later, Google Search or not.
Have a peek…
Elf Ear Headphones
What makes these Elf Ear headphones even better is that the woman wearing them totally had wavy, kind of mussed hair and long sleeves that covered her hands almost… like a real elf! Awww…
Tacos and Planets Bag
This Forever21 bag is very, very cute and very, very subtle. The tacos and planets will make you giggle every time. I wonder why they chose tacos and planets? It’s just wonderful.
Faux fur Tote Bag
Okay so… I actually own this Urban Outfitters bag. And I am obsessed with it. It gets compliments. Also, I noticed it had loose jellybeans inside after I brought it home for some reason… but those must have been left by the magical fairies that brought me this cute bag! *squee* Get it now, because it’s really on sale. I’m very picky about bags and this one is pretty much perfect. In person, the brown bag has this slight silvery sheen and it is incredibly soft as well as handsome. Everything fits inside.
Louis Vuitton PALLAS
This Louis Vuitton PALLAS bag looked amazing in person. It was paired with tall stiletto heels, nice black slacks and a black peacoat. Lots of classy black peacoats out today in the slightly warmer weather.
Nike Check Solar Canvas Shoes
A very well-dressed man on the METRO was wearing these shoes with a nice black peacoat. I was really attracted to these shoes. They’re very chill-looking, and you just raise your eyebrows when you notice the big, black yet sophisticated Nike checkmark.
Sami Tudio Anti-Theft Backpack
And paired with this, those gray Nike shoes looked very cool. Find it on amazon.com.
And Bulbasaur… Seriously
And something for everyone… The Build-A-Bear in Pentagon City has pokémon, can you believe it?? Don’t make it a gift, get one for yourself. You can even have him specially made with the ‘Bulba!’ sound when you squeeze his squishy foot. I confess to also having this one and it is really lovely in person. Of course, you can also go online and get the special bundle.
When I got mine, the first thing I did… was give Leafy… a big hug.
I would also hug the Louis Vouitton bag if I could afford one. Shucks.
I’ve been wanting to share my personal list of top anime for a while because it isn’t a typical list at all, and I really want to see if I can turn some new people on to beautiful stories they haven’t heard of before. My favorite anime of all time made me feel something incredibly special or came along at a time in my life where I was ready for that particular story and capable of being blown away.
Since my list is probably unusual and I have a lot to say about each one, I’m breaking it up into part one and part two. Part one may be a little less surprising. Part two gets pretty wacky… Mainly, though, it’s fun to share one’s gateway anime and also which shows appealed to them most growing up. There’s like a party game in there somewhere: share your gateway anime; then the one that made you cry the most; then the one that made you laugh the most… And do a shot every time someone mentions Cowboy Bebop?
Anime From the Lens of a 90s Kid
A bit of context before I start my list… My sis forced us to watch Inuyasha in the 90s, so that was my gateway anime. And this also means I started in the era of downloading fansubs on forums… you couldn’t even buy the ones you wanted to watch subbed in English, let alone find dubbed versions of your favorite anime. Then I was exposed to Escaflowne, the classic Vampire Hunter D, Cowboy Bebop which since became another classic, Twelve Kingdoms… I didn’t find out about the Studio Ghibli stuff until college. And college was also when Bleach exploded onto the scene and I went to my first anime convention.
The upshot of my particular list being… you may not have heard of some of these before. And they are all freaking wonderful. I should also note—I chose these, not for their quality or popularity. For me, it’s all about how each show made me feel; actually, how much love they made me feel. How deeply each one has impacted me and shaped my sense of humor or how I see life, and storytelling. So I’d say this is a list ranked by complete and utter subjective, illogical, instinctive, passionate love. You will not agree. But you will be highly amused.
These are gifts everyone will like that you can get right now (like seriously, this instant) or even after you’ve hopped out of the car or jumped off the plane. Good luck, my fellow princes of procrastination, you kings of last minute gifting!
I’m ranking these by ease-of-access.
#1 Digital Copies of Video Games
I’m old school… I thought I was buying a copy of a game to send to my sister that would arrive in a plastic box and a tight wad of folded instructions inside to show her what to do after the CD installed on her computer and the game finished downloading gigs upon gigs of updates.
Cue Godvoice: “How wrong the 90s child was.”
Digital copies of online games like Cuphead, and certainly other digital games you can find in online stores, can be downloaded by you or your gift recipient in minutes. Then, once you have the game code, you can share it. The game may have an obvious ‘buy as gift’ option, or you may need to email it once you’ve received it after checkout. By the way, don’t make the same mistake I did… if you’re a n00b to this mysterious practice, don’t click through all the different windows after you buy a game until you accidentally redeem the code and claim it for yourself. Get the code, get it to the person you love.
“I’d be like Bruce Lee meets Musashi! Only better! God, I’m so brilliant!” – Fighter McWarrior
Sword. Chucks. You know, like nun-chucks, but all sword? Eyup… that’s what he just said.
These days, I am very proud to say that I was there when the amazing 8-Bit Theater webcomic (I consider it the king of webcomics… well, granddaddy king) introduced the idea of sword-chucks. I laughed like a madwoman when the overly-typical melee character, named Fighter of course, announced that it would probably be a good idea. Probably?!
Ahhh, 8-Bit Theater. A truly exceptional rabbit hole to find on the internet. What-it-is? A very, very good parody of Final Fantasy and many other 8-bit video games. But 8-Bit Theater isn’t just that. I loved the dark humor and blatant slapping around Brian Clevinger did of his own characters (I think I enjoyed Red Mage’s horribly embarassing misadventures with 20-sided die the best). And other than being straight up, effing funny… this webcomic had a pretty great plot.
I hope you’re ready, senpai. Our next rabbit hole involves a simulated Japanese high school and lots of juicy, yummy… murder.
So, the Senpai Notice Me music vid I mentioned last time caused me to dig a little further and find out what was actually behind all that dark hilarity. Why did it seem to feature a Japanese school girl running around taking out all the rivals for the boy she liked? And everyone was smiling about that? And it was a kinda cute & catchy, though creepy, tune? But this had to be a parody of a nice, wholesome senpai-related video game, right?
Um, no… Love Sick: Yandere Simulator is an actual computer game about a teen school girl who decides to take out all the rivals for her beloved senpai’s heart. Using murder. And other elimination methods. Yandere Simulator also has a GIANT following (and growing) eventhough it hasn’t even been completed yet. That’s very hard for me to wrap my mind around, but it sounds like that’s becoming more and more common these days for video games.
Yandere Simulator turned out to be another great online discovery that sucked me in, similar to the Ace Attorney games that I haven’t yet been able to play yet, becaaause… the fandom. Is. Hilarious. There is so much to be entertained by, and the game’s creator is fascinating, even inspiring. If you like video games and you like stories about the underdog punching corporate in-the-fayce, then read on.
Alrightykins… (Does anyone else but me say that??) I needed a break after the intense Ace Attorney week. Now I’m back with more things that I’ve discovered after going down various wonderful rabbit holes on the internet: Princess Bride references, another awesome Random Encounters music vid, a strangely unique anime find, and fall shoelace styles abound.
By the way, later this month, I’ll be talking about Japanese-themed trends and trendsetters thanks to some particularly fascinating experiences I’ve had recently and some excellent articles I’ve come across: my take on Uniqlo; a beginner’s guide to Harajuku; a look at Yoshiji Yamamoto… but before all that, I’ll fill you in on a really popular computer game set up like a Japanese high school dating sim gone horribly wrong. No, I’m not going to tell you the name of it so you can Google it and spoil the surprise. 🙂 So tune in again in the coming weeks…
Anyway, on with the show! Here’s something old school, rad, borrowed and bad for you to enjoy rite nao.
Old School: My name is Inigo Montoya… prepare to… line??
If you’re a big Princess Bride fan, then you know how this ends, “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” But the other day I was reminded that some years ago, one of my favorite YouTube celebs, Liam Kyle Sullivan, and his friends, they took it all to a whole new level. You know, what if during film shoot, Mandy Pantinkin didn’t quite get the iconic line that’s been everywhere, even on t-shirts, since.
Rad: Boy Meets Boy?
Picture this. Sicily, 1927. You’re sitting there, you’re minding your own business and then suddenly YouTube decides that you need to watch something called ‘The High School Life of a Fudanshi.’* You have no idea what a fudanshi is. But it sounds Japanese, and you’re a geek and you like anime so you’re like, “Hey, why not?” The subtitle ‘Boy Meets Boy’ even sounds progressive. Perhaps it’ll be enlightening… in the end, I laughed. My. Arse off.
“I wasn’t actually expected to live until I was 40… Truly soak that in for a moment and grasp the magnitude of what that means to be told something like that, to feel that as a person, to live that as a person, and then actually to defy those odds and still be here.
So here I am, actually 48 hours out from a birthday that I wasn’t sure I was going to make… I wasn’t expected to live, until now.”
For the self-improvement geeks out there… My favorite blogger, and possibly favorite person of all time, NML, says that a lot can change in a very short period of time. Let her tell you, in her own voice, about her phoenix-like comeback. (I’ll admit that her British accent and 90s jokes make it eeeeven better.)
If you’re hungry for even more solid, down-to-Earth advice on dating, friendship, family and office drama, and on self-empowerment and healing, Nat’s also got about 1,500 brilliant blog posts that tackle some of the seriousest sugar-honey-iced-tea that we all deal with in life, over on Baggage Reclaim. And she always does it with her own sassy, savvy, laugh-out-loud flair.
So, for the last “episode” of Ace Attorney week on Royal Jelly, I am going to share what is one of the best fanfiction stories I have ever, well… read. Ever. Hands down. And that’s a lot for me because I’ve written two successful series myself in the past. But the author of “Jumping to Conclusions”, SuperCornflake, (gotta love the ff.net handles) completely nailed it.
So, fair warning before we go any further… if you’re an Ace Attorney fan, but you don’t like alt pairings (which are non-canon pairings you don’t see in the official game/anime, as the image above suggests), this blog post is probably not for you. Feel free to skip this one, because the fanfic I’m about to review is a story about the two male leads finding themselves in a romance. …And it was SO awesome, because it was so beautifully done.
We’re on the third installment of Ace Attorney Week on Royal Jelly. I’m spreading the word about this amazing fandom in the hopes that other people will love it as much as I do. By the way, I don’t work for CAPCOM. (I so wish, though…)
So, we’ve gone over the video game playthroughs on YouTube, and the anime so far. All from the perspective of someone who’s just now falling in love with the fandom and doesn’t own the game… quite yet. Need more? Good, because I have a ton more for you. An endless source of Ace Attorney goodness, in fact. Today, I highly recommend the Ace Attorney reddit.
Reddit is already a wonderful thing, obviously. But the Ace Attorney reddit is just so… perfect. Being new, I don’t understand every reference being made, of course. But I’ve been so entertained by the ‘ladder-step-ladder’ reference and others, like the protagonist’s strange obsession with clean toilets, and the whole ‘Japanifornia’ thing which I’m secretly hoping to drop in any conversation not Ace Attorney-related, since that’s such a hilarious concept. What’s Japnifornia mean? Well, it seems that the story is supposed to take place in L.A., but then again, the original version is set in Japan. Which means, of course… that the entire game (and the anime) look like they’re in Japan, but they keep telling us it’s in L.A… So that’s something else slightly janky (and charming) about the series…
Soon after becoming obsessed with that music video, I discovered an anime of the Ace Attorney video game had been created. I also highly recommend the musical I watched, so focusing on these for today! Hours and hours of enjoyment coming your way…
I swear, YouTube keeps changing my life… In a week or two, I think I wolfed down two seasons’ worth of Ace Attorney on YouTube. According to Wikipedia, the anime wasn’t well-received by fans because it didn’t show enough of the characters’ inner struggles, which are apparent in the game. (For example, Wright and Edgeworth have a complex relationship, and Edgeworth himself experienced a great deal of trauma as a child… I will try hard not to spoil you on what happened to him.)
Shopping for a new fandom to become obsessed with?
Then it’s time for you to immerse deep beneath the slightly wonderful, overly-dramatic, emotionally intense world of… don’t laugh now… Ace Attorney. In fact, consider this Ace Attorney Week on Royal Jelly. I’ll be sharing new dimensions of the fandom for you to savor, all week long.
So… How to begin? You’re either cackling mad laughter right now because you already know and have been exposed to this CAPCOM video game for Nintendo DS that came out a whiiile back in 2001, or you are wondering how someone even made a video game (at this point, I realize you’re still taking my word for it) about… an attorney? In the first place? But there is so much more involved in this. And I’m not just talking spirit mediums. There’s also a movie, an anime, a few musicals, tons of beautiful fan art, moving fanfiction stories… This week, you’re in for a great ride.
Once again, I’m bringing you something old-school, rad, borrowed and bad for your private perusal. Maybe good girls are looking for something old and something new, something borrowed and something blue—but that’s not me. Not by a long shot. So, let me take you on a tour far deeper into the exotic world of geekchic…
Old-school: Teach Me Tiger
First, something old school before we get into the rad and the borrowed and the bad. And, honestly, if you skip down to onlinekyne, I won’t be offended…
I was watching an episode of my favorite PBS shows, Call the Midwife, and noticed a song I’d heard before… well, it was a re-run, so this was my second listen. But it was that second time around that I decided I was going to look it up. It’s very whispery and seductive, very sweet and bold: Teach Me Tiger, by April Stevens. I hope it sneaks up on you and squeezes you the way it got to me.
What a great song to own. And it makes me want to gather up a collection of dreamy 50s songs for those lovely, quiet moments at home.
Now, onto onlinekyne, the guy who’s making-me-my-raddest (once those Powder Room D wigs he YouTube-recommended arrive in the mail)…
Wearing wigs day-to-day has been going on for a while in the Black community, I think. But it’s becoming more and more trendy to wear wigs every day. It’s becoming mainstream! Which is cool.
Are you thinking about wearing your wigs more casually too? Here are some solid facts about daily wig wear to get you out of the ‘well, I’m not so sure…’ gray area. It is a tacky, tacky gray area you don’t need to be in to really do it. And I’m also sharing the best instructional videos I’ve found so far, especially for people of color. If you also have videos to share, just let me know. I’d love to add them to the list…
Why You Should Get Off the Wig Fence
Get a good wig and you’re set. In his videos, onlinekyne recommends Powder Room D and Wigisfashion (less expensive) as great places to get wigs in all kinds of styles. Once you have a good, dense wig with a lace front, nothing can really stop you. If you have darker skin and/or hair and you want something in a bright color, don’t let that stop you. Just pick a wig with dark roots. These sites will also tweeze, braid and customize the wig you want (you can even make up your own) if you’d like help.
You can always part it the way you want and tweeze the hairline to make it look more natural. Sure people might notice it’s a wig, but they will have a few moments of, ‘Oh my God, I love their dye job, I so want that… wait, is that real?’ which is priceless. Use makeup on the hair part to get it to match your own skin.
It’s easier than you think to style it to your taste. Showing my own noob status here, but… after years of treating my party wigs like fine china that I was afraid to even brush, look you don’t have to live that way. You can actually style a quality wig. You don’t have to be stuck with the style the wig was in when you bought it. How? If your wig is heat resistant, try a low heat curling iron, or use rollers with a clothes steamer to add heat, then leave them overnight. You can also tease the hair, cut the hair if it’s too long, and sew in more hair from other wigs…
Plenty of fairy godmothers with instructions on YouTube: There are lots of YouTube tutorial videos out there, but, seriously, just let onlinekyne or someone else clever show you what to do. Vloggers make it really easy.
Wig Bootcamp: Watch Training Videos
Some videos to start you off…
How to put on a lace front wig and shade the hairline to match your skin tone. Featuring some really luscious Powder Room D wigs…
How to style a wig using a curling iron… This one is impressive because the lace-front super-pink wig looks a lot like her own dyed hair by the time they’re done. An LA hairstylist @PhilonHair steps in to explain things completely.
Even more how-to wig instructions: And I am a huuuge fan of onlinekyne. I first stumbled into the world of onlinekyne when I was looking for more wig instructional videos on YouTube. His videos aren’t just very useful, they’re also really entertaining. Honestly, I like his videos more than any wig tutorials I’ve seen. (And I plan to be gushing over Kyne’s cool styles in my Old School, Rad, Borrowed Bad #3.) He has a lot of great, easy tips that he explains so well. So linking his entire how-to wig channel. I also highly recommend: Steaming Wigs Without a Steamer.
“At the end of the day, my channel is about the creativity and the technique, not buying things that I tell you to buy.” – onlinekyne
Now, that’s a great attitude to pursue this craft with. Ladies and gentlemen, have fun out there, it’s… uh… windy and… judgemental, in the world? Right? But style your wig well, use a lot of hairpins, and wear your beautiful mane with confidence.
Now is the best time to visit the Hillwood Estate and museum here in Washington, DC. And as a DC native, I’ve got some tips to help you spend the day feeling like you’re floating around Downton Abbey… but in a real American great house.
So let me use my posh Julia Child voice, “Now that the last breathy gasps of summer are upon us and Washington, DC has tempered a bit, some overcast weather and temperatures just slightly beneath 85 degrees make it possible to enjoy the many lovely and historical estate houses in the area.”
And none is more fabulous, even more magical, than the Hillwood Estate in northwest DC. Walk through a ‘theater of history’ of Hillwood and explore Russian and French furniture, even royal artifacts, stroll around the soothing gardens, have tea and sandwiches, enjoy the Spectacular jewelry exhibition, rare orchids in the greenhouse, and have fun perusing super-fancy kitsch in the gift shop.
What should you do at Hillwood?
I’m a DC native, and according to my mother, I first went to Hillwood in the 80s, when I was a baby (a very posh baby, apparently). As an adult (now, I’m more geek-chic), I’ve been to Hillwood three times since. So, I can tell you, confidently, that this is a very special place that will not leave you unsatisfied. Likely, you’ll leave sure that you need to come back to Hillwood and look at something you were dazzled with but couldn’t get around to because you were so busy being dazzled by everything else.
If you’re not a morning person, I recommend arriving around between 1 p.m.-noon. If you time things just right, you’ll be able to do things in the following order: the introductory film; a guided tour; tea and a walk around the gardens before you hit the gift shop. Ask when the guided tour and film begin at the Visitor’s Center when you arrive. And get ready to put that awesome little ‘fabulous!’ badge in just the right place on your shirt…
My mother and I saw the Hillwood introduction film that helps you place Marjorie Merriweather Post in recent history as the sole heiress to the Post fortune (think Grape Nuts cereal) who traveled around the world, was presented at the English court (yes, you read that right—just like Lady Rose on Downton Abbey), became a superior collector of rare French and Russian pieces and purchased the Hillwood Estate with the intention of cultivating it into a museum after her death. I can’t not say this—the effort and success she achieved is rather a lot like a pharaoh, like Cleopatra herself, building her pyramid her whole live through.
Our Guided Tour
The film and our tour guide (definitely get a guided tour if you can) helped impress upon us that Post was a great celebrity in the early 1900s, the richest woman in America during that time. So imagine a Kim Kardashian or Angelina Jolie type of celebrity, wandering all over the world collecting art, the paparazzi documenting her every move, every husband she marries, and all the best people coming to her home to see her desk once owned by a German princess, Marie Antoinette’s own brown leather swiveling dressing chair, a diamond-and-ruby-studded pocket watch belonging to Catherine the Great, czarina of Russia… And Post’s excellent taste in jewelry inspired styles later worn by other high society women, including Princess Diana herself. (This was a sparkling bracelet, part of the Spectacular! Exhibition of jewelry that’s been advertised all over DC this summer.) This is the legendary experience you do not want to miss at Hillwood.
Hillwood is the penultimate experience for anyone who likes shows like Downton Abbey or even wolfing down juicy historical articles on Wikipedia. I got into this funny habit lately of reading about the scandalous romantic lives of historical figures (you know, pull a name out the hat, like Mozart, and skip down to the ‘marriage’ or ‘life’ section of the Wikipedia article, and ontop of that, click on the names of all the people they have their affairs with—highly recommended), so I really enjoyed hearing about how strange Peter the Great was, and Catherine’s coup to throw him over when she was absolutely done with their ‘ghastly’ marriage… her lover helped, and then she went on to have, I think, eleven more lovers… and there a lot of great juicy stories inside of Hillwood, tied to the pieces Post chose to have in her collection. It is said to be a very feminine collection—furniture, dinner services—in that these are objects to enjoy close up and be adored for their details. Hillwood evokes a warm feeling, it is a home after all. It certainly does not have the feel of a cold museum.
So… Otakon just happened. This blog is all about expanding your horizons and trying things, geek-chic things that you might not really be familiar with. So let me ‘splain-to-you-the-Otakons…
Otakon came stealthily into DC like a ninja and maybe even alarmed some people who weren’t aware of this giant, Japanese pop culture-themed (really, anime is the biggest draw) convention that’s been in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area for a long time now. For years, it was in Baltimore.
Sadly, scheduling didn’t work out for me so I wasn’t able to go this year. Though, if you follow me on Instagram, you know that, at the least, I made it to the afterparty. I cosplayed as who else but Lottie Person from Snotgirl! Not an anime, but I swear that comic has serious anime vibes and is just waiting to get picked up by a major Japanese production group. My version of Lottie involved a Powder Room D wig (thanks for the tip, Onlinekyne!) and some accessories I already had at home, so it’s not an exact match. More of a… if Snotgirl was a geek-chic girl hanging out in DC version.
If you’re unfamiliar with Otakon and it sneaked up on you like it did me this year, I can answer some typical questions about it and cons (conventions) in general to help you get ready for next year…
You remember that one episode of The Simpsons, right? Where Homer loaded up the car with the Tetris theme playing in the background? He moved packages, and later baby Maggie and even folded his tall wife Marge in order to fit everyone into the car.
Well, if you do it right (and not break anybody’s neck or long blue hairstyle in the process) there’s some real value in approaching life like that…
You know, like Tetris! *doom music*
If you keep the Tetris theme song and a Tetris mindset close at hand whenever you face a repetitive task, I think it can calm you down and even add some humor to whatever it is you’re doing. Kind of like putting a smiley face sticker, a Hello Kitty, or an amusing hashtag on your real-life moment. (Wait, I hope there isn’t a #real life? Now THAT mess should be illegal; that’s taking hashtags too far…)
Why does Tetris make everything better? Well, other than its cultural context–a super-happy game that almost all people have loved playing for decades, now… Tetris is made for that in any case. Tetris is the original fidget-spinner, the original addicting portable game. People were obsessed with playing Tetris on airplaines and in the office before you could even put games on smartphones. And that was before smartphones or even mobile phones ever existed. You can thank Nintendo (you know, the Legend of Zelda and Pokémon GO people?), for that. Their easy-to-put-in-your-bag Gameboy system made it possible. And then, there was the Tetris-splosion that put Tetris on everyone’s computers… After growing up as a kid in the 90s, an insanely fun game like Tetris is never far from your consciousness.
If Dowager Countess Violet could have eaten a hamburger on Downtown Abbey, this definitely would have been it. Brie, fresh herbs and a toasted bun are so lovely together, you’ll be afraid to add ketchup. In fact, don’t. Just trust me on this one and try my geek-chic cheeseburger recipe. And rather than fries, I’m going to recommend some yummy, posh veggies for you, too.
You can finish this whole dinner in thirty minutes or so. (Don’t tell Mrs. Patmore we fed her family hamburgers, and in only a half hour!)
Where I got the idea
After years of watching Downton Abbey (thank you again, Julian Fellowes! Seriously, hashtag-Julian-Fellowes-right-now) I did not once, not ever think to myself, ‘Hey, this show needs some fancy hamburgers.’ Obviously, the show was great without hamburgers. Though, the many scenes with Dowager Countess Violet, (Aunt Violet to Mary, Edith and Sybil), and Isobel Crawley (Matthew’s mother) did leave me very curious about what they snacked on when they played cards or did puzzles and gossiped together in all those hilarious scenes. And then, we had the unbelievably fabulous family dinners with everyone in spectacular gowns, and the men in incredible suits. Even the servants looking on, watching the Crawleys dine, they looked very good. And that wasn’t just because of the talented casting directors…
Downton Abbey created a luxurious, refreshing vibe, right in our living rooms for years. And we never forgot we were also looking at a very close, wonderfully warm family seated around the well-appointed table. All that came together so magically.
Downton Abbey didn’t need hamburgers. But if they did need hamburgers on the show, then they’d need these herb brie burgers.
And, as a huge fan of the show, when I first made hamburgers using some odds and ends of dill and brie I had in the refrigerator, loved them, and wanted to find a good name for my posh cheeseburgers that captured the sophisticated, yet yummy homey flavor… my mind leaped to the Dowager Countess. The fanciest, most poshest dame I know.
I thought it would be fun to hook people up with some trendy, throwback, or otherwise awesome things going on in the world of geekdom and fashion. Here are my favorite finds for July…
And, I suppose… nice girls who are getting married look for something that is old, something that is new, something borrowed, and something that is blue. Well, I know that saying but… I don’t care. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Snotgirl is hardly old, but it did first come out last year. I am completely obsessed, OBSESSED, with this comic book from the creator of the Scott Pilgrim series and Leslie Hung (you *must* follow her on Instagram, by the way, her artwork is so le sigh… fabulous). Snotgirl is a beautiful fashion blogger with horrible allergies. Seriously, when that was explained to me in the comic book store, when I regularly deal with stupidly horrible allergies and keep up sort-of-a-fashion-blog (What blog? You’re reading it now), I thought I’d been bodysnatched, in… comic book form? Seriously though, I met a few other women who could relate to the social and emotional struggles of the green haired fashionista lead.
Glamour and glitter… fashion and fame! No—this could have easily been yet another reference to Jem and the Holograms on this blog, but it is not. Instead, believe it or not, for both fashion conscious, gear-head gamers and, you know, normal upstanding people, there are some serious opportunities to trick out your avatar in the new Pokémon Go anniversary update.
I’m talking about the cooler, far less challenging aspect of the Pokémon Go anniversary update that has nothing to do with egg timers, raiding or rare spawns. It’s the part of the game update that no one is talking about: the chance to be the very best, that no one ever was… looking good at all angles in that gym! Have you seen the new, improved gyms?! Gorgeous! And your headshot deserves to be right up there, looking better than even the Gym Leader. I’m telling you right now, anyone can do it.
Here’s more on the anniversary update and how to get your trainer looking good…
First of All, What Anniversary Update?
If you’ve been able to download the big update (please don’t get frustrated, locked out of your account, then turn back like I almost did… it totally is worth it), then you’re seeing rounder looking gyms with cool team flags hanging from them, and when you click to see if the inside is any different—surprise! It is! It is completely different. Not only can you see all the Pokémon lined up in a gangsta posse pose, like they’re the magnificent seven, you can see their trainers standing beside them if you click on each. And then, in the background against the dome is a pretty baller looking action shot of each trainer, posed, ready to fight. That’s right, if you make it into a gym, your avatar’s face, at some point, will be freeze-framed in what looks like a mini high-def plasma screen behind all the battling critters… I think you’ve got about eight seconds before it fades to white and it’s the next trainer’s turn on the runway. Continue reading Glamour in Pokémon Go: How to Dress Your Avatar for the New Update
Eugene Simms, chief style curator of ESA Style, LLC is a fearless stylist who weaves empowerment into his down-to-earth fashion advice and creative consultations for companies right here in Washington, DC. We chatted about everything from how to wear silk crepe pants, chic spring-weather layering and his favorite local tailors. Eugene even knows some very cool vintage boutiques in the city. There is a reason why I can’t stop talking about Eugene on this blog. Eugene has worked his own way up, at first self-taught and now expertly trained. He is fighting for his dream and has made himself peerless.
(And I have to be very for-real with you, our excellent dinner at Purple Patch in Mount Pleasant definitely helped frame the chic conversation.)
“Lead the pack, don’t follow it.”
“Style is effortless; it shouldn’t be forced or contrived.”
Yep, that’s Eugene again.
“Each and every day you have an opportunity to make many first impressions.”
I love this theory of fashionable reincarnation.
“Your closet should always make you happy. If something doesn’t make you happy, let it go.”
“Style is everything that you are.”
And effortless style is also everything that Eugene embodies.
Eugene is slim, tall, and certainly no stranger to fashion and all that flourishes from its elegant touch. You can tell that fashion has touched Eugene in his life because he always wears something that I’d call wow-some: His outfits cause you to stand up, shake his hand right away and smile. When we met at Purple Patch the other day, Eugene was wearing cobalt blue twill pants which smouldered in the golden lighting, a high Nehru collared coat with fine embroidery and warm rose socks. His glasses were rimmed with just enough metallic cobalt to polish off the look for a posh-ish Sunday evening dinner. I say ‘posh-ish’ because Purple Patch is a wonderful Filipino-American restaurant with high-tone dishes, but the soul of Mount Pleasant in northwest Washington, DC is also alive inside the space, so things are intelligent while affordable, multicultural and very chilled-out. I’m a Mount Pleasant native, I should know.
Here is how to shop and ensure that you’re getting exactly what you want, and at the best price too. Brought to you by the Posh Ranger.
You don’t realize it, but you’re holding your shopping bags on a battlefield. The other shoppers have those netted camo World War I helmets on, they’re lying in the trenches between long aisles of dresses on their hangers, and they’re holding their purses in both hands like rifles. Every time that some woman buys a blouse, or worse, a whole outfit, marked up to 200 percent or 1,000 percent of the price it cost to produce it, there’s a deafening explosion, debris flying and some banshee wail off in the distance somewhere. Even when things are on sale, you aren’t getting a deal; there’s carnage. Then, when we go home and sit on the bed, look down at all our shopping bags, the smile fades for a time. Our eyes get wide and we ask ourselves ‘What have I done?’ ‘Does this sweater really cost this much?’ Or the dreaded, ‘God, I’ll have to pay that LOFT card off in a week…’ Then, you dart into the bags that crackle like birthday wrapping paper, snatch off the tissue paper and finger your catch, feel the gently clinking beads or suave fabric of the dress until you feel better. Like Gollum.
Today, I had my first experience with selling clothes to a consignment or thrift store. Let me tell you exactly what goes down at consignment stores and give you some good tips for a couple stores here in Washington, DC. And a little warning, if you’re a fashionista, ‘going on consignment’ can feel like playing roulette with your soul.
If you’ve been following along all month, you’ve got your mad-pretty choker from one of the special choker hot spots in Washington, D.C., and you’ve got some great punk lip colors lined up. You’ve even mastered the ancient art of ombre. Here are a few more clever lipstick extras if you’d like to break the mold wide open. So then, on with doing the nineties fashion scene your way, much like a very independent freckle-faced orphan girl we all loved…
This may be a fashion blog, but let me tell you—nothing is more fashionable than a trendy Washington, D.C. hotspot full of inspired women determined to make positive connections. (We were also encouraged to “slay” in our best outfits, because ‘the friends who slay together, stay together.’) I went out to have fun, but the event was so outstandingly brilliant in concept and execution, I just had to write about it: “speed friending.”
The event, aimed at empowering Black women, was dreamed up by girlfriends Jazmin Childress and Lauren Ferrell just three weeks before. I briefly chatted with Jazmin about her goals for the event. Women, especially women of color, need more chances to meet and bond, not just network. So, why not create an event where we sit down, just like speed-dating, and then take turns chatting and moving around the room to see who we can connect with? Lovely concept.
No, there’s no special ombre lipstick out there… unless you have mad Photoshop skillz like I do. Instead, find out how you can get creative with layering to create ombre and other wildly fun lip looks.
Girl, don’t get me started about some ombre. I saw a woman on the 50 bus wearing the best denim sundress with bold purple lipstick with hot pink lipliner. And, she had blended it well. I also want to mention that very attractive plus-size sista with a dead-on sense of style. She was amazing. Another example of what you can do: at American Apparel in Georgetown, another Black woman, who unlocked the dressing room for me, had the best scarlet ombre lips I’d seen in the 90s or in 2016. The red liner seemed to blend into her nude lips, and I’m in a little panic right now that I have no idea how she did it and can’t imagine how I’ll figure it out. Dang, I should have just asked!
Get the Tools You Need
First, Make it Bright
Well, at least for solid rather than nude ombre lips, I can suggest some tools to help. Again, being kind of a wild-child, I saw Maybelline’s COLORsensational in Wickedly White and, long desperate to try white lipstick, I grabbed it. Now, I’ve tried it on, and white lipstick is definitely not everyday wear, and it might maybe be club wear but I’m not even certain of that… Continue reading Get Yo Ombre On
Other than nineties chokers, dark lipstick can be the centerpiece of any outfit you have, if you want to try the nineties trend this fall. Which is also so very nice for your budget. All over DC, I found deep sapphire, plum, glowing emerald and other clever colors, which are almost better than so many savage shades of burgundy.
NYX Cosmic Metals Lip Cream in Out of This World
And this time around, you can get away with being a little glossy, or you can keep your lips looking velvety soft with this year’s matte lipstick trend extending on into the fall. And then, there’s the magic of ombre lip color. If I can find my old Sam Fine makeup book specifically for women of color, I will be sure to share his ombre lipstick tips, fresh from the 90s, with you here on this blog…
But, oh, the sultry lipstick! Girl, let’s get started.
After writing about finding punked-out chokers for women, I realized I know of one excellent spot for men to rock 90s styles this fall: where else but ZARA?
ZARA Man has some great sophisticated-while-edgy styles for both genders, but I’ve noticed they have some serious punk vibes pervading the meat and potatoes of every man’s wardrobe. This season’s shirts and jeans at ZARA are brave, but understated with their punk undertones. And definitely check out the accessories section at ALDO for clever leather bracelets. I know, I know — I may sound like a commercial, but I swear, I’m just a huge and sincere fan of this store. And, a fashionable male co-worker of mine revolutionized the wheel for me when he explained that ZARA is always very good to men too.
Oh snap! Whether you’re ready for it yet or not, looks from the nineties have come back into fashion this fall. Yes, combat boots and plaid shirts may be involved—but I’m most excited about the 2016-meets-1995 unreal chokers that are bad-girl or bohemian while they seem to defy the laws of physics, and the dark, vampire-bitten lips in unbelievably creative sultry shades. You can cultivate these centerpieces of your “old school” outfit, and, actually, punk lips and chokers can save you some money too, if you pair them well with the clothes you already have.
Don’t skip the small stores at Wheaton’s Westfield Mall the next time you visit. You almost exclusively see Black women wearing these urban-chic styles as they stroll up and down U Street, queue up for Marvin’s, or lean over cocktails at Park and 14th downtown.
First, Lemme Break It Down
What is “Wheaton Plaza”?
Westfield Mall in Wheaton, Md. has gone through a lot of transformations since the first big facelift that I can remember: the arrival of Old Navy in the 90s. (I know you’re laughing at me and the throwback; it’s okay.) Back then, everyone was excited about this store with the clever ads and inexpensive, super-comfy clothing. If you visit this Maryland mall today (and it hardly feels like you’ve gone to Maryland if you’re coming from DC, when the Metro-bound folks can walk there in minutes from the subway), you won’t find an Old Navy; that’s long gone. But you will find other mainstream stores like Express, New York & Co, DSW, Macy’s and its Sephora counter, ALDO, H&M, Victoria Secret—all typical mall fare. Even better, though, are the brilliant little stores that have arrived in Wheaton, packed with brilliant, affordable styles that you can’t find in any of the big-name places.
I call these hidden gems since they may be the kinds of stores you wouldn’t go into precisely because they aren’t big names like H&M or Forever 21. Also, the mannequins are wearing strange things in the windows. I’m warning you now that the super-punk, downright scandalous raver clothing is pretty damn freaky!
I’ve been assaulted by blaringly bright fuzzy poofs at the mall, on the METRO, and dangerously distracted by them while crossing the street—women are clipping these fun charms onto their purses, even their work bags. But now, purse charms are bigger and crazier than I’ve ever seen after living in DC for decades. (And I survived the burning neon and blinding gold trends of the 90s!)
I was crossing busy North Capitol street recently and saw a young Black woman who’d paired a gigantic (okay, so about the size of your open hand) poof charm with a small shoulder bag. The comic juxtaposition was also clever—I recommend you try it too if you’d like to put your own twist on things.
So, where do you find the most slick, goofy or poofy purse charms in DC?
Another magical METRO moment happened this week when I noticed a Black woman in her 40s who’d paired her striking ethnic features with even more bold catseye glasses. Work those cheekbones, girl!
In a world where Black celebrities who’ve “made it” still get flack for being ‘too Black’ (think the negative reactions to Beyonce’s Black Panthers tribute), or a choice to wear dreadlocks at the Oscars unfairly earns comments about pot smoke (think Zendaya), Black women may feel pressure to downplay their best ethnic features at school and work.
ELLE magazine’s article about Zendaya was fantastic, by the way, if you want to know more about her other beautiful hair adventures (April edition, p. 252).
And then, unfortunately, when some Black women do become accomplished and are more accepted in mainstream society, we sometimes hear comments going in the other direction…
I think we’ve all tried matching our nails to the bag we know we’ll be using frequently. It helps amp up the color. But mis-matching your nails to a floral purse is sassy, and another way to go punk and help along an unusual floral print if you’ve just bought one. I recently got this Steve Madden quilted tote bag that has black leather punk accents and many earthtone or light-colored flowers.
Use this walkthrough to inspire your own brave mis-match combinations.
It’s a tale as old as time… looks from the 90s are coming back: shoes with studs and grommets, and this spring’s floral prints will be “quirky, irreverent, and a touch subversive” according to Allure magazine. Men and women are getting more options for punk shoes and floral patterns, and you can already see it happening on the streets of DC.
Floral print bags are really in, but the darker versions are irresistible. I have a huge BCBG navy blue tote bag that I love, and that my sisters hate because it errs on the side of ghetto fabulous and tacky… I use it for work anyway. But I recently ditched my favorite, spacious solid navy blue dream purse for another bag I’ve fallen in love with. I found this Steve Madden tote bag at DSW, in the clearance section. I liked the flowers, but was sold on the black zippers and other punk details.
Now that we’re at the start of real spring weather and on the razor edge of winter, the Black women of DC are wearing some very creative styles — and I’ve noticed. Here are a few precious spring finds, and one local store that has insane winter deals if you don’t mind going back, to stock up for the future.
Your Spring Flings
Red Valentino bag and matching hair
I saw a very cute artistic couple strolling on their way to Adams Morgan. The young woman had, no lie now, a beautiful bob cut that was the exact same color of this bag she was toting. WOW. That is so very difficult to do, but this girl nailed it. A wild, metallic paprika shade! I saw the big “V” on the bag and was able to track it down later with that much information.
CHANEL pearl glasses with matching shoes
First, before I explain what I saw while on the Red Line, here’s the extreme version on Rihanna, at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show.
Well, in real life, some lovely person thought to grab some conservative CHANEL shades for her on-the-way-to-work-wear with just a hint of those pearls…
Venturing out of your go-to stores can be scary enough when you have curves. And, being really, very honest—for a long time, I was nervous about being the only brown girl, stranded and unable to fit into anything, in an expensive boutique. But I was wrong; boutiquing is fun and there are some great reasons to buy and even sell your own clothes at vintage consignment stores.
So, if you’re still not convinced, in this part two of Curve-Friendly Boutiquing, I’m going to tell you a little more about consignment stores to help you shake off the last of your fears.
You won’t be ‘the only one’
Many already know this, but for the rare folks out there who don’t (like I used to be) — boutiques are for everyone. Whether you’re on U Street in northwest DC, or on King Street in Alexandria. Consignment clothing stores get most of their inventory from the general public (a general public of fellow fashionable women) who once loved, but can no longer keep their clothes. And those women come in all shapes, colors and sizes.
Trust me, you’ll go, everything will be cute, people will be superwoman-nice and you’ll have fun.
It’s like having a backstage pass
New clothes are new. Great. Good for them. But this is about access. This is about being exposed to brands and designers you’ve never heard of before, this is about finding something you’ve heard about but you thought was impossible to still get. This is about enjoying ridiculous discounts when you do find something you love, and it is in your size, and it is not from any store you’ve heard of before in your whole life. Do you see what I’m doing here? I’m giving you the Xzibit version. (You’re going to boutique ontop of your boutiquing, ontop of your boutiquing!) Normal shopping is bilateral: you and what’s on the hanger, or what the store has to offer you. Boutiquing yields all kinds of new benefits and sensations.
Should you avoid buying vintage clothing, just because you have the jelly that yo momma gave you?
A lot of women love to go to boutiques to find vintage clothing and I’m definitely one. However, when I first started visiting boutiques in the DC area, I got a little discouraged by dresses and pants that were in my size, but when I tried them on, they did not compliment my curves.
If you are a woman of color who avoids going to boutiques because she fears this kind of harrowing experience, definitely read on. You really don’t have to be afraid. I’ve picked up some great tips over the years.
1. To pick something that fits: Know your brands
I’ll use myself as an example to start with. I’m short, with a smaller bust, larger hips and derrier. The epitome of pear-shaped. I am very picky about where I shop normally (I almost get angsty about it), so I’m alright with going to Ann Taylor for a size small or extra-small shirt, but I do usually avoid buying my pants from Ann Taylor, no matter what kind of new ‘signature fit’ they’re promoting. Instead, I go to Ann Taylor LOFT or NY&CO for my pants and skirts. Sound familiar?
We all love the vintage looks you can hook out of the one-of-a-kind boutique shopping experience, but many of the popular stores in the area, such as Current Boutique (U Street, Alexandria, Bethesda, Clarendon), Mustard Seed (Bethesda) and Frugalista (Mount Pleasant) also have a range of your favorite brands. You can save a lot of frustration by homing into your size section and even then, homing in on your favorite brands. At that point, you may ask, ‘Why go to a boutique, then?’ But, these stores take clothes on consignment—which means you are still getting a great deal on something that has been gently worn, even something spectacular that a fellow fashionista needed to relocate out of her closet. Continue reading Curve-Friendly Boutiquing (Part One)
Ladies, this one is for the gentlemen. Today on the way to work, I saw a very fine brotha who seriously sparked my attention with his ebullient shoes.
Why? Because, though he was dressed well in a subtle red-check shirt (fine gray lines), a skinny navy blue tie, gray sport coat and pants, his sophisticated, sharp shoes were mesmerizing. I could not tell, for the life of me, whether he was wearing really nice sneakers or really sly oxfords on his way to work.
I really didn’t know what in the world he had on his feet and for a fashionista, that’s kind of exciting, a ‘you’re driving me up the wall!’ feeling. (A close cousin to the ‘kiss me, quick, you handsome bastard!’ feeling.) I tried but couldn’t spot the brand name. Later, I had to look them up on my cell phone…
On my way to work, I keep seeing women with hypnotic purple lipstick. Time to figure out exactly what they’re using!
So the thing about having a black DC fashion blog is that if you see several women of color wearing electric purple lipstick all of a sudden, and you’re seeing this going on for weeks, for months on your way to work—you can’t exactly Google “purple lipstick DC” and expect to find an explanation.
But Why Do It Have to be Burnin’ Purple, Young?
This is about right now, what Black women in DC are instinctively craving when they put on their makeup in the morning. Trends rarely happen in a void—purple lipstick has been popular for a few years, and friends tell me that purple hair is popular in California right now. People also see things on television or hear about them and then they want to try it too. And then, in the black community, there’s real joy in individualism, taking something and making it totally your own. But when things stick in the black DMV community, I still have to wonder what’s doing it?
And, I have to wonder why it’s not just purple, but it’s this fiery shade of electric purple, even fiery royal blue that I keep seeing burning on the lips of dark-skinned women walking to the METRO. I mean, they may have on their dead-eyed METRO faces like we all don when interminable train delays and crowd congestion await us underground—but those lips are bright and smiling even if they don’t feel like it.
Well, setting the derivatives of the trend aside (because I really doubt the depressing subway system is making us resort to happy colors), the fact is, that black women in DC are trying out hot purple lipstick. So, where can you find some for yourself, and how do you wear it?