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We’ve moved!

A La Mode has moved to a new home. All the existing posts have been moved over. Please update your bookmarks and tell everyone you know!

Find ALM on Facebook!

ALM is now on Facebook!

So far I’ve had no luck adding the Facebook “like” box to my page here. Once I figure it out I’ll add it.

Quickie: Here Comes the Sun

Sun protection is important year-round, but once the weather warms up we all spend more time outside. Gone are the days when brown, tanned skin was in style – the new tans are fake and sometimes unfortunately orange. But whether you choose to fake bake or embrace the pale, you need to protect your skin from sun damage!

Most facial moisturizers and some foundations contain a sunscreen now. But the sunscreen in that facial moisturizer and foundation may not be enough and the rest of your body needs protection too.

Confession: I don’t wear sunscreen every day. I use a facial moisturizer with SPF, but I don’t apply sunscreen anywhere else unless I’m planning to be outside all day. And with my fair Irish skin I really should. The truth is, almost everyone is making mistakes with our sun protection.

Allure Magazine explains the nine biggest sun-protection mistakes most of us make every day. Did you know that your face should get about a nickel-sized amount of sunscreen every day? And that your scalp still needs protecting? And that certain medications can increase your sun sensitivity? I didn’t either until I read this!

Quickie: Keep a Style File

A while back I was lucky enough to attend a fashion show hosted by Liz Claiborne’s Creative Director and my personal idol, Tim Gunn. Those attending the event were given a free gift – a black accordion folder made of heavy, coated board labeled a “style file.” The idea is that when you see a look you like in a magazine, or something you like in a catalog, you tear out the page and drop it in your style file. That way you don’t wind up buried under old magazines you’re keeping just for one article, and you can easily access all the ideas and inspirations you’ve kept when you want to update your look.

Any accordion folder will do for your own style file. Or even a binder with internal folders – anything that will allow you to keep things neatly organized. I have mine separated into these categories: fashion, beauty, social, accessories, hair, miscellaneous. I keep pictures of outfits I like, advertisements for products I want to try, makeup tutorials, trend reports, and anything else that catches my eye. That way when I want to refer back to something I have it easily at hand.

Go get yourself some cheap sunglasses…

Christina Aguilera in two-tone sunglasses. (Image courtesy of CelebritySunglassesFinder.com)

Time to break out the shades, people! (Actually, eye doctors recommend you wear sunglasses year-round. But spring and summer are when the new styles seem to come out anyway.) There’s no need to pay for a designer price tag when you’re looking for eye protection. Plenty of lower-priced sunglasses will do the same thing and look just as good.

According to EyeDoctorGuide.com you just need to keep a few things in mind:

• Look for a pair of sun glasses that provides UVA and UVB protection. Most glasses providing this protection have a label that designates them as UV safe. If they do not, do not assume that the glasses will protect you from UV radiation. Just because eye glasses are tinted does not mean they will provide you with ample protection from UV rays.

• Look for glasses that are dark enough they will help reduce sun reflection and glare, but not glasses that are so dark you have difficulty distinguishing traffic lights or signs.

• Find a pair of glasses that covers your eyes and line of site entirely.

• If buying children’s sunglasses, be sure they also protect against UV radiation.

• Make sure eyeglasses do not obscure your line of site.

This year’s sunglasses trends are very retro – oversized Jackie O. shades, the wayfarers look of the 1980s, and 1950s cat-eye shades are all hot right now. Brightly-colored two-tone frames (as seen on Christina above) are also popular. As someone who loves color (the more and brighter the better!), I love the two-tone look. It feels fresh and summery. But the more standard tortoiseshell or black shades are a perennial classic. The most important thing is to find a shape and color with which you’re happy – if you’re not comfortable, you won’t wear them. And no matter how much of a deal you got, no bargain find is really a bargain if it doesn’t get worn.

My current pair of sunglasses cost me $8 on sale at Target (my trusty shopping friend). You can see some of their current sunglasses here, but they have a lot more in-store.

GirlProps.com has a few different color options for only $9.99 if you like the two-tone look. (They have plenty of other styles too.) House of Sunglasses has a lot of options, from the classic to the crazy, all for just $9.99. If you want to imitate a celebrity look, try CelebritySunglassesFinder.com – just be aware that anything you find there will probably be expensive. I recommend using this site for ideas and finding a less pricey option elsewhere.

Keep in mind if you buy sunglasses online that you still want to look for that UV protection. Without it you may actually do more damage, since your pupils will dilate from the dark lenses but won’t be protected from the sun’s harmful rays. And remember – no trend is as important as your confidence! Find a look that fits comfortably and flatters your face and you can’t go wrong.

(Thanks to ZZ Top for the post title.)

20 Summer Dresses Under $50

The temperature is going up, which means it’s time to break out the breezy dresses! I love the way a good dress is an instant no-work outfit that looks put together and fab. After the jump, 20 dresses for your summer wardrobe under $50… Continue reading

Too fat for fashion?

Are you familiar with American Apparel? The retailer boasts a stock of American-made clothes ranging from basic tee shirts to… less basic pieces. They’re a popular brand because of their basics and because of their non-sweatshop approach. But they’re also a controversial brand – and only partially because they think people want to wear metallic leggings and neon scrunchies:

I'm not kidding.

These leggings cost $46.

No, most of the brand’s press is courtesy of their creepy, sleazy CEO, Dov Charney. Charney has been accused of sexual harassment, misogyny, and general creepiness more than a few times now. (The links describe him better than I ever could.) Their porny ads don’t do much to disprove the company’s image as degrading to women.

But now it seems AA is looking to alienate a whole new demographic: the plus-sized. A well-known plus-sized model and adult star recently blogged about asking an AA employee if the company had ever considered carrying larger sizes only to be told, “That’s not our demographic.” The website carries limited items in sizes up to 2X, but their men’s pants only go up to a waist of 34″ and the plus-size women’s stock is limited to mostly basic tees and tops.

In 2009 the Los Angeles Times reported that the average American woman wears a size 14, or an XL. Which means that retailers like AA are leaving a lot of us out of their “demographic.”

AA is currently suffering the media’s slings and arrows over this – and they’re not exactly a hard target – but they’re not alone in ignoring the reality of the American shopper. A size 8 model is considered plus-sized by industry standards. Size 8! That’s a full three sizes smaller than the average woman wearing clothes every day. And I find it hard to believe that any woman walking around the mall looking for a size 8 dress would be shopping at stores geared toward plus-sized women. The fact is, the fashion industry is unrealistic about women’s bodies. And the more women change the more the industry stays the same. Despite years of controversy the models that walk the runways still hover around size 0.

Plus-sized model Leona Palmer wrote a great blog for the Huffington Post about the image misconceptions surrounding plus-sized models. It has nothing to do with the AA issue, but she makes a lot of interesting points about how the fashion industry sees women with regard to our size.

AA isn’t the only retailer that refuses to carry clothes for a diverse clientele, but they’re one of the few willing to admit it openly. And as long as people keep shopping there they can afford to say what they like – though the business model may not be working out in the long-term as their stock sank to a new low this month. Which raises the question: how long can any business survive by excluding a majority of potential consumers?

(Images are from AmericanApparel.com.)